Google announces Helpful Content Update

A new type of Google update will be rolled out for the first time next week: the Helpful Content Update. Contrary to the name however, Google does not aim to improve the rankings of helpful content rankings, but punish bad content in a targeted manner.

Update: The roll-out started on 25th August, and is expected to take two weeks. The first change data will be visible in SISTRIX data from the 26th August. The roll-out was completed on the 9th September 2022.

Google has already announced that education, arts, entertainment, shopping and technology content will be particularly affected. The update will initially only be rolled out for English-language content. 

With this update, Google is targeting content that was primarily created for search engines and not for users. The search engine is thus reacting to increasing criticism of the quality of the search results.

In the communication about the update, Google points out, from different perspectives, that it will be important to create additional benefits with content in the future. A mere summary of the content that is already known (on the internet) is no longer sufficient. Personal experiences, opinions or other value-add content is required.

Without explicitly addressing the topic, content generated by machine learning could be a goal of this update. This is understandable from Google’s perspective; when automatically created summaries of (crawlable) internet content appears in the SERPs, why shouldn’t Google react?

What Google has already told us about the effects: The update will perform a site-wide classification of the content available. If the ratio between helpful and non-helpful content is too bad, all the page rankings will suffer – including the good content. This is very reminiscent of Penguin/Panda updates.

We’ll be monitoring movements in English-language search results very closely over the coming week and will report back with initial analysis as soon as data allows.

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