In September 2023, Google introduced the Helpful Content Update, bringing about significant changes to its algorithm. This update focuses on improving the quality of search results by promoting helpful and relevant content while cracking down on certain practices.
In this update, Google added guidance in 3 areas:
- Loosening the guidance on machine-generated content
- Hosting third-party content on subdomains (or on main domain)
- Offering additional guidance on what to do if your site loses traffic from a Helpful Content update
Let’s take a look at the key aspects of the update and discuss how it affects SEO content.
1. Loosening the guidance on machine-generated content
One of the notable changes in the September 2023 update is the loosening of guidance on machine-generated content. Previously, Google emphasized the importance of human-created content in its ranking system. However, with this update, Google has adjusted its stance to align better with the evolving landscape of artificial intelligence (AI) content. The updated guidance acknowledges that AI-generated content can also be original and helpful, and it may now receive more favorable treatment in search rankings.
Impact on SEO content: Content creators and SEO professionals can now explore the use of AI-generated content to supplement their efforts. However, it’s crucial to ensure that AI-generated content meets the same standards of quality, relevance, and usefulness as human-created content.
2. Hosting third-party content on subdomains or the main domain
Another significant aspect of the Helpful Content Update is the focus on third-party content hosted on subdomains or the main domain. Google has recognized the trend of hosting third-party content on websites, often with the intention of leveraging the site’s ranking power. In response, Google has introduced measures to assess the helpfulness and relevance of such third-party content.
Impact on SEO content: Website owners hosting third-party content should be cautious. If the third-party content is independent of the main site’s purpose or lacks close supervision, Google recommends blocking it from being indexed. This change emphasizes the importance of maintaining control over the content hosted on your website to ensure its alignment with your site’s overall purpose and quality standards.
3. Guidance on recovering from a Helpful Content update
Google has also provided additional guidance on how to recover if a website experiences a drop in traffic following a Helpful Content update. In such cases, it is recommended to identify and address any unhelpful content on the website. This may involve removing or replacing content that no longer aligns with Google’s criteria for helpfulness.
Impact on SEO content: Website owners and SEO professionals should regularly evaluate their content and ensure its relevance and usefulness. Suppose a website experiences a traffic drop after a Helpful Content update. In that case, it is essential to conduct a thorough analysis of the affected pages and make necessary improvements to regain visibility in search results.
Google’s September 2023 Helpful Content Update brings about important algorithm changes, impacting how SEO content is evaluated and ranked. The loosening of guidance on machine-generated content opens up new possibilities for content creation, while the scrutiny of third-party content emphasizes the importance of maintaining control over the content hosted on your website. Additionally, the guidance on recovering from a Helpful Content update highlights the need for ongoing evaluation and improvement of SEO content. By staying informed and adapting to these changes, content creators and SEO professionals can optimize their strategies to deliver helpful and relevant content that aligns with Google’s evolving criteria.