Google Announces September 2023 Helpful Content Update

Google announces helpful content update (Google logo plus a helping hand image)

Google has announced the ‘September 2023 Helpful Content Update,’ designed to reward content that is — as the update name suggests! — helpful.

Google's official announcement of the September Helpful Content Update
Google’s official announcement of the September Helpful Content Update

The update is expected to take about two weeks to roll out, and comes hot on the heels of the August 2023 Core Update, which only recently finished rolling out.

On the Google Search Central website, Google explains its helpful content system as follows:

“The helpful content system aims to better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t perform as well…The system automatically identifies content that seems to have little value, low-added value or is otherwise not particularly helpful to people.

Any content—not just unhelpful content—on sites determined to have relatively high amounts of unhelpful content overall is less likely to perform well in Search, assuming there is other content elsewhere from the web that’s better to display.”

If your site has been negatively impacted by a helpful content update, Google has the following advice for you:

“If you’ve noticed a change in traffic you suspect may be related to this system (such as after a publicly-posted ranking update to the system), then you should self-assess your content and fix or remove any that seems unhelpful. Our help page on how to create helpful, reliable people-first content has questions that you can use to self-assess your content to be successful with the helpful content system.”

As with recovering from core updates, it’s important not to panic if you see changes in your site traffic in the immediate aftermath of a helpful content update — it’s better to wait until the update has officially finished rolling out before trying to make your content more helpful.

(What constitutes ‘helpful’ is of course subjective, though — and you may disagree with Google’s assessment of your site’s helpfulness!)

You can learn more about the helpful content system here, and find out when the update has finished rolling out on the Google Search Status dashboard.

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