Google's September 2023 Helpful Content Update

Google’s algorithm updates are like the weather—constantly changing and frequently the subject of passionate discussion. And much like a meteorologist attempting to predict the next big storm, we’re here to dissect Google’s September 2023 ‘helpful content’ update. Grab your umbrellas, because it’s raining algorithmic insights!

The Rollout

This update took place over 14 days, commencing on September 14 and concluding on September 28. The gradual rollout was relatively unusual compared to Google’s previous major updates.

Volatility vs. Calm

One peculiar aspect of this update was the contradiction between Google’s tracking tools showing reduced volatility and the SEO community witnessing significant ranking fluctuations. It’s a reminder that the SEO world is a dynamic environment where real-world results might not always align with algorithm tracking.

The Purpose of “Helpful Content” Updates

The “helpful content” update, introduced about a year ago, specifically targets content primarily designed for search engine rankings, rather than providing value to users. This includes content that’s keyword-stuffed, relies on click-bait tactics, or offers little real information.

What’s the Focus of the New Update

The latest update carries forward the emphasis on rewarding content created for human readers, rather than for search engines. It continues to refine the guidelines, introducing a few notable changes.

Date Manipulation

Google now explicitly discourages changing the date of articles to appear fresh when the content hasn’t substantially changed. This move aims to deter tactics that exploit date adjustments for ranking benefits.

AI Content

Google’s new guidance signals a shift towards acceptance of machine-generated content, as long as it’s of high quality and relevance. The alteration from “written by people” to “helpful content created for people” suggests this change. While subject experts still hold an edge in producing insightful content, AI has its valuable applications.

Third-party Content

A new addition to the guidelines addresses hosting third-party content. Google recommends blocking such content from being indexed if it doesn’t align with the primary site’s purpose or lacks close supervision. This aligns with the broader goal of emphasizing original, valuable content.

No Need to Panic

Despite the changes, there’s no reason to panic. Google’s updates aim to promote quality content. If your SEO strategy prioritizes delivering valuable, informative, and user-centric content, you’re on the right track. These tweaks are designed to create a fairer, more informative web, which ultimately benefits both users and ethical SEO practitioners.

As the dust settles on Google’s September 2023 ‘helpful content’ update, we’re reminded that SEO is a dynamic dance between algorithms and quality content. Embracing these changes and producing content that genuinely helps users is the key to staying ahead in the search game. So, whether you’re navigating algorithmic waves or basking in the sun of high rankings, keep adapting, keep creating, and stay informed. The world of SEO never stands still, and neither should you.