Google Algorithm Updates

Google’s September 2023 Helpful Content Update – what can we expect?

19 Sep 2023|3 MIN READ

In the ever-evolving landscape of search, Google's Helpful Content System has been a cornerstone since its inception in 2022. 

The last significant update was in December 2022, but the search giant has recently shaken things up again. On September 14, 2023, Google announced a fresh update to this pivotal system.

So, what's in store for content creators and SEO professionals? Let's delve into the intricacies of this update…

What’s new with Google’s Helpful Content Update?

Google is all about connecting people with helpful information. The latest helpful content update is part of a broader effort by Google to ensure that people see more original, helpful content created for people and not search engines.

The focus is on people-first content and Google aims to reward content that leaves visitors with a satisfying experience, while content failing to meet these expectations (content that is of little value or not particularly helpful to searchers) will experience decreased performance.

So, with a new update to this system being rolled out as we speak, what can we expect to change?

A shift in terminology

The phrase "Content written by people for people" has been refined to "Content created for people". This subtle change is more than just semantics; it reflects Google's acknowledgement of the role of Generative AI in content creation.

The updated guidelines now explicitly state that AI-generated content is permissible, provided it undergoes expert review and aligns with E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) criteria.

The importance of content freshness

Google is becoming increasingly vigilant about the authenticity of content updates. If you're merely changing the date or removing outdated content without adding substantial value, Google is onto you.

The update emphasises the necessity of meaningful changes that enhance the user experience and aid in decision-making, rather than superficial tweaks aimed solely at boosting rankings.

This suggests you should always think twice when updating your content in an attempt to make your content seem fresh. Are you making changes that will truly make the searchers’ lives easier and genuinely help them with a purchase decision? Or is it purely an attempt to boost your search rankings?

Key takeaways from Pi’s Search Experts

So, what can we learn from Google’s latest update? Our Search Experts at Pi gave us the lowdown…

Expert review is non-negotiable

Regardless of the content production method—be it human or AI—the need for expert review remains paramount. Content should be crafted with the user in mind, not just to appease search engines.

Substantial updates for content freshness

When updating your content, focus on making meaningful additions or revisions. A mere date change won’t cut it; your updates should genuinely improve the content’s utility and relevance.

The impact of third-party content

If your site hosts third-party or syndicated content, be aware that this material contributes to site-wide signals like content helpfulness. If such content diverges from your primary site’s purpose and lacks adequate oversight, consider preventing it from being indexed by Google.

Proactive content assessment

If you notice a sudden change in website traffic, especially following a public ranking update, it’s crucial to conduct a thorough content audit. Identify and rectify any content that falls short of the helpfulness criteria, either by enhancing it or removing it altogether.

Google’s latest Helpful Content Update serves as a wake-up call for all of us in the SEO and content creation sectors. This isn’t just another algorithmic tweak to keep us on our toes; it’s a fundamental shift in how Google views and evaluates content.

As we adapt to these changes, let’s not lose sight of the ultimate goal: crafting content that doesn’t just climb the SERP ladder but genuinely adds value to the user’s journey. Because at the end of the day, it’s not just about rankings; it’s about building a lasting, meaningful connection with your audience.

If you’d like to see how Pi’s Search Intelligence Platform can help you stay ahead of algorithm updates – get in touch with the team.

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