Google’s September Helpful Content Update Is Up And Running!
Updated on: 27 October 2023
Google’s latest Helpful Content update is finally up and running, and it sent many digital marketers and content creators up into a frenzy. Google’s September update came with an updated ranking algorithm that seems to specifically target SEO-centric content that ranks well in SERPs but does little to inform or benefit users. We believe that with this update, Google is looking for content that has adequate real-life experience and information.
Basically, the bottom line is that if you realise that your targeted content has dropped in ranking after the September Helpful Content update, it is likely that Google’s algorithm ascertains that your content does not benefit users.
What is new in this September Helpful Content update?
This is not the first Helpful Content that Google has released, with the initial launch in August last year, and the first update in December of the same year. Yet, from what we have observed so far, we think that this update brings to the SEO community a significant change in Google’s model of helpfulness to promote content with first-hand experience and information.
While there are several new introductions in the September Helpful Content update, they are categorised under what Google has mentioned – Improved classifier. What exactly does that mean? Here are five new introductions that the update includes.
1. Content written by machines or people
In the previous update, Google emphasised the importance of helpful content that is generated by people for users and their stance on depending on AI to generate such content. In this update, Google changed their stance, stating that content that is created for users will do well in SERP ranking.
This means that content creators and digital marketers can rely on AI to generate content that benefits users.
2. Self-assess your content if hit
If you worry that this update might affect your content negatively, Google suggests that you should conduct a quick self-assessment. However, if you have been creating helpful content since the Helpful Content launch, then you do not need to worry. In fact, this update might benefit you as it is designed to promote helpful content.
3. Reviewed by experts
This is not particularly new information; as Google has stated before, one indication of helpful content is that it is written by an individual with knowledge of the topic. In this update, Google added another assessing question that you can ask yourself: “Is this content reviewed or written by an enthusiast or expert who demonstrates their knowledge and experience in the topic?”.
So, basically, what Google means is that it will be beneficial for you to have your content reviewed by an expert if you are not.
4. Changing the content date
Many website owners, content creators, and digital marketers sometimes change the dates or, worse, do not include the published dates in existing content to make it seem like the content is new. In this update, Google has added another assessing question that you can ask yourself: “Are you changing the content date to make it seem like it is new when the content has not changed substantially?”
5. Adding or removing content for search engines
Some of the SEO tactics that many use include generating as much fresh content or removing as much outdated content as possible in hopes of improving SERP ranking. With this update, Google has added another assessing question that you can ask yourself: “Are you adding or removing a lot of new and old content because you believe that it will improve your SERP ranking by making it seem updated?”
If you are affected by the September Helpful Content update, it is quite likely that it was due to the lack of experience
Google has been emphasising the importance of demonstrating E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) in every content, including AI-generated content. The September Helpful Content update emphasises the importance of showcasing real-world experiences.
Under Google’s rater guidelines, they have stated that common beneficial or helpful page purposes include:
- Allowing users to download or share files or software
- Allowing users to post or answer questions
- Offering related services or products
- Expressing a point of view or an opinion
- Demonstrating a personal skill or talent
- Sharing various forms of media, such as images or videos
- Sharing vital information regarding the topic
- Sharing a personal feeling, perspective, or experience regarding the topic
This new update was added in the last point to emphasise the importance of personal experiences. Hence, if your content was affected by the update, Google has probably assessed that your content lacks the personal aspect.
What can you do to mitigate the update?
It is clear that Google is taking the quality of search results seriously. Website owners, content creators, and digital marketers need to start getting serious and taking critical steps to improve the helpfulness and information of their content. Here are some ways to do so:
- Write about topics that you are passionate about and have relevant experience and expertise in.
- Conduct adequate research to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the associated information.
- Write in a straightforward and succinct manner, avoiding using too much technical jargon.
- Use graphics where possible, adding interest to your information and allowing you to break up your content.
By following these tips, you are able to generate content that is both SEO-friendly as well as user-friendly. Google is constantly improving their search engine algorithm in order to benefit its users. Hence, keeping up-to-date with the latest SEO practices is vital in ensuring that your practices are aligned with Google.
Where all else fails, it never hurts to get professional help engaging digital marketing agencies in Singapore that have the experience and tools to ensure that your content is well-optimised with healthy practices.