Helpful Content Updates: What Do They Mean for Your SEO?
6 mins read

Helpful Content Updates: What Do They Mean for Your SEO?


Google released an update to its Helpful Content Update in September 2023, which is expected to be fully available by the end of the month. Key changes include:

  • Relaxed guide to AI-generated content
  • Action against third-party content
  • A stern look at false freshness
  • Better guidance for self-assessment of content usefulness

Compared to previous updates, most of these changes seem minor.

But some sites will be affected – even if you’re not guilty of these “SEO crimes” now, you’ll need to comply in the future.

Let’s explore further.

What is Google’s helpful content system?

Google’s goal has always been to provide its users with the most helpful and relevant information. Google is taking over more than 8.5 billion searches a day, and its users keep coming back because Big G delivers what people want and expect.

This is much harder when people try to game the system with SEO hacks and shortcuts.

It’s content that looks good on paper, but offers no real substance to the user.

This is why Google developed its helpful content system. These algorithms focus on quality signals to distinguish helpful from unhelpful content.

They work with Google’s other algorithms to deliver top-notch results.

What does the helpful September 2023 content update contain?

Every time there is a change in the algorithm, website owners go back to the drawing board to fix their problems in hopes of achieving higher rankings.

For some, this also means finding workarounds for the updates, even if their goal is not to be “helpful.”

In other words, find new ways to do it Hack the leaderboard.

For this reason, Google constantly releases new updates, such as the September 2023 Helpful Content Update.

This is what awaits you this time:

Google relies on AI-generated content

Previously, Google had taken a hard line against AI content. John Mueller, proponent of Google search, had to say that about AI-generated content in the last year:

“People have automatically generated content in many different ways… When you use machine learning tools to generate your content, it’s essentially the same as if you just jumbled up words, looked up synonyms, or used translation tricks that people used to do .”

However, Google’s helpful September 2023 content update shows that Google has at least partially changed its mind.

Regarding the usefulness of content, Google had previously stated that human-generated content would be prioritized.

Now that guidance has disappeared and is in line with Google’s evolving mood AI-created content.

Here’s the before:

“Google Search’s helpful content system generates a signal that is used by our automated ranking systems to better ensure people see original, helpful content written by people, for peoplein the search results.”

And here is this updated copy:

“Google Search’s helpful content system generates a signal that we use automated ranking systems to ensure people see original, helpful content created for people in the search results…”

This is an indication of that AI content won’t go anywhere, but marketers need to be smart about how they use it.

Third party content may be viewed as less helpful

Hosting third-party content on domains or subdomains is a popular trend. The idea is that the authority of the main domain can increase the content of the subdomain.

It works until it doesn’t work anymore.

Google’s Helpful Content update announces that third-party content may now be included in the site-wide signals that Google uses to determine the quality and usefulness of content.

“If you host third-party content on your main site or subdomains, please understand that such content may be included in site-wide signals we generate, such as: B. the usefulness of content.” If that content is largely independent of the purpose of the main page or was created without close supervision or involvement of the main page, we therefore recommend that it be blocked from indexing by Google.”

Note to Editors: If you host content that has little or nothing to do with the main purpose or content of your website, it may impact your rankings.

Google also says that this signal is weighted. Sites with a lot of unhelpful third-party content are likely to be more affected than sites with less helpful third-party content.

Google’s helpful content self-assessment guide is getting an upgrade

In order to adhere to Google’s rules for helpful content, publishers must understand and align themselves with Google’s definition of helpfulness. In this latest update, Google expands its general guidelines to help publishers self-assess whether they are producing helpful content.

You can view the full view Guidelines for self-assessment of helpful content for themselves.

We’ve highlighted some important changes based on the last update.

  • Ideally, content should be written or checked from an expert or someone who knows the topic well.
  • To keep your content appearing fresh, avoid changing the date of pages if the content has not changed significantly.
  • Don’t add a lot of new content and don’t remove a lot of old content to keep your website looking fresh.

Two out of three changes focus on feigned freshness, something publishers should take seriously.

Our new Ultimate SEO packages are designed to ensure you achieve these levels of excellence.

What to do if the helpful content update has a negative impact on your website?

If you’re already creating helpful content, these changes probably won’t impact your website. In fact, they could help you by penalizing outperformers who don’t live up to Google’s helpfulness standards.

However, some websites that produce unhelpful content (intentionally or unintentionally) may be in for a wake-up call.

Use this as an opportunity to learn and improve.

Check out Google’s self-assessment of helpful content.

Remove anything that isn’t helpful and invest in creating new, better content.

Speak to an expert to help you. A decline in the ranking does not have to be permanent.

If you need help creating helpful, Google-friendly content for your website, contact us. Hoth X you are taken care of. Our fully managed SEO service leaves no detail or opportunity untouched. Contact us to find out more.