Your Google search ranking could change over the next few weeks.
Google has officially rolled out its new helpful content update. The update is a sitewide signal designed to target websites with an unusually high amount of content that Google has deemed to be unsatisfying or unhelpful. Websites that write content for the sole purpose of scoring high on Google searches with little or no intent on helping people find what they are looking for will suffer the biggest hit.
Google made the announcement on August 25th of 2022, after the update had already been released, stating that it could take a couple of weeks for it to be complete.
Search Engine First Over Human First Content
The purpose of the update is to produce more helpful content when searching on the net. Google said, “This is an ongoing effort to reduce low-quality content and make it easier to find content that feels authentic and useful in Search.”
Search engine first content is content that seems to have been generated primarily for the purpose of ranking well on Google Search. Designed to draw traffic to their page, it is focused just on showing a high number of visitors. This could be the first web page that pops up in your search results, but when you visit the page, there is no relevant information on the topic.
Human first content is web content specifically aimed at providing useful information relative to the search topic. Human first implies that you write your content based on what your followers’ needs may be, not on how well it performs in a web search. Using SEO’s best practices can still be helpful, so long as it doesn’t draw you away from the human element. When people search the web, they are looking for answers. Your web content might have a high search ranking, but can it answer their questions?
The focus of the update targets this very problem and is designed to weed out websites where content is basically useless in that it offers no real or useful information.
What to Do If Your Website Is Hit
If your website is hit by the update, it could take several months to recover. Google has provided a list of questions you need to ask yourself about your web content. Using the list as a guide can help put you back on the right track as far as providing useful content. The classifier for the update runs continuously, allowing it to monitor new websites as well as existing ones. If you follow the new guidelines and revise your web content accordingly, the signal can recognize the change in your content and no longer hamper your page’s search ranking.
The classifier process is completely automated, using a machine-learning model. The update impacts English searches globally to begin with, with other languages being added later. The signal is weighted, meaning it will have a different effect on different sites, depending on how much unhelpful content it detects.
If your site has a good amount of helpful content, the effect won’t be as severe as sites with large amounts of search engine first content.