Google Helpful Content Update: What You Need to Know

Google Search will perform a major new algorithm update next week. This introduces some new ranking factors that will hopefully improve the quality of the content served in the SERPs.

What you need to know:

  • The update will be out next week. It will take two weeks to complete, in English only.
  • If you get hit, you can recover by removing “not useful” content.
  • It’s a site-wide signal
  • It has been added to the Google Algorithm toolkit – it will always be running in the background.
  • Since this is a site-wide signal, being deceived for unnecessary content will likely affect you … at the site level.
  • It is, however, weighted: “sites with a lot of useless content will find the strongest signal for them.”

How does Google determine unhelpful content?

Google will use some fully automatic ML signals to determine what is “not useful”. This means that there may be some unexpected content marked as “not useful”. These are some of the signs they see as examples of “useless content”.

  • Content that primarily aims to attract search engines rather than users.
  • Content on “different topics in the hope that some of them will work well”
  • Extensive automation
  • Summarize what others say without adding value
  • Write about trendy things without thinking about your audience
  • Write about a particular word count
  • Entering a niche subject area with no “any real expertise, but mainly because you thought you were getting search traffic?”
  • Promise to answer unanswered questions (suggesting a release date for a product / tv / movie where one is unconfirmed, etc.)

Our current assumptions include:

  • If your content is too similar to other content currently ranking, it could be considered useless
    • This could mean the content you get from sources like vendors, real estate MLS, and review content.
  • Google may run further scans next week to gather information for this update – make sure your site’s speed is good and all unhelpful content has been removed before that time.
    • It might also be a good idea not to release any major SEO-related website updates next week.
  • It’s important to avoid getting hit with this update if possible, as it can take months to recover.

Other initial thoughts

  • There are places where we can see that this algorithm has already been implemented. Bespoke content is king.
  • List-like content is probably a target
  • Expect volatility

And questions we still don’t have the answer to:

  • What does this mean for location pages?
  • Is AI content toast?

LSG continuously monitors the effect this has on sites – we’ll let you know how it goes.

You can read more about this update from GoogleAnd Glenn Gabe has a helpful article here.

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By LocalBizWebsiteDesign

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