Updated 8/25: Google confirms the helpful content update began rolling out on August 25. It will take up to two weeks to complete. The original story continues below.
Google announced it’s launching a new algorithm update next week called the helpful content update. It aims to boost content written for people and devalue content written primarily for SEO.
Unlike the recent product review update, which targets specific kinds of pages, the helpful content update is sitewide. That means it has the potential to impact all pages.
The helpful content update also introduces a new signal Google will use to rank webpages.
Although Google is giving a heads up regarding these algorithm changes, a week isn’t a long time to prepare. However, one could argue that all sites should be written for humans in the first place.
Here’s all the information available right now.
Google Helpful Content Update
Google published the following announcement on Twitter today:
“Next week, we will launch the “helpful content update” to better ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, rather than content made primarily for search engine traffic.”
The tweet links to a blog article with more information, including details on how websites can continue to succeed after the helpful content update rolls out.
What Does The Helpful Content Update Do?
This update introduces a new ranking signal that will negatively impact sites that publish high amounts of content with little value, are low-added value, or are unhelpful to searchers.
“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. For this reason, removing unhelpful content could help the rankings of your other content.”
What Should I Do If The Helpful Content Update Impacts Me?
If the helpful content update hits you, Google advises removing unhelpful content from your website.
Sites impacted by the update may find the effects to last several months, Google says. Google’s blog post continues:
“Our classifier for this update runs continuously, allowing it to monitor newly-launched sites and existing ones. As it determines that the unhelpful content has not returned in the long-term, the classification will no longer apply.”
Other Notes About Google’s Helpful Content Update
Lastly, here are some final notes about the helpful content update:
- The update is not a manual action. The process is automated using a machine-learning model.
- People-first content can still rank even if it’s published on sites with large amounts of unhelpful content.
- The signal is weighted, meaning some sites get hit harder than others.
- Only English searches will be impacted, to begin with.
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