What Businesses Should Know About Google’s Helpful Content Update

  •  September 27th, 2023
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  •  Posted in: SEO
DMI Professional Design That Reads 'September 2023 Google Helpful Content Update'

In the ever-evolving landscape of online search and digital marketing, staying informed about Google’s algorithm updates, like the September 2023 release, is paramount for businesses aiming to excel in the digital arena. On one side, you have Google’s Helpful Content Update, and on the other side are marketers, sparked with excitement and discussion about the recent change. In this article, we will unveil the main changes, unravel the implications, and deliver key insights your business needs to not just adapt in the ever-evolving landscape of Search Engine Optimization(SEO)––but thrive!

How Does the September 2023 Helpful Content Change Google’s Algorithm?

Google’s September 2023 Helpful Content update represents a subtle and, at the same time, substantial revision from previous algorithms. As the referee, Google’s Helpful Content system identifies signals that point to informative but genuinely useful content to users. The algorithm rewards websites that provide value while penalizing those trying to game the system. Those who have mastered their digital maneuvers with finesse earn a place in the SEO championship ring, or as we like to call it, the first page.

Google Added: Third Party Content and Subdomains

A strategy that Google has been aware of, but hasn’t slapped with a penalty until now, is using a subdomain to host third-party content to help the content rank better. For example, if a news website has a strong ranking power, it may ‘rent out’ a subdomain to a business under the guise that it will help the business rank on the first page. Back in 2019, Google had confirmed via Twitter (now X), that the developers knew websites were using this technique. However, they also clarified that while it wasn’t against the guidelines, future Google updates were in the works to identify those instances. Now that the Helpful Content change is here, website owners should proceed cautiously.

To be clear, if the content on the subdomain is relevant to the main website and has quality content, then website owners should not fear the Google search changes. Sites with subdomains should watch their rankings carefully and take action accordingly.

Helpful Content Update guidance from Google:

“If you host third-party content on your main site or in your subdomains, understand that such content may be included in site-wide signals we generate, such as the helpfulness of content.

For this reason, if that content is largely independent of the main site’s purpose or produced without close supervision or the involvement of the primary site, we recommend that it should be blocked from being indexed by Google.”

Google Changed: Created by Humans or AI

If you’re wondering how Google ranks AI-generated content, you should know that the newest Google search changes are less concerned about who or what wrote the content and more concerned about it being original and helpful. The helpful content update revised their guidance on AI content, changing from saying:

“Google Search’s helpful content system generates a signal used by our automated ranking systems to better ensure people see original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.”

To now read:

“Google Search’s helpful content system generates a signal used by our automated ranking systems to better ensure people see original, helpful content created for people in search results.”

Businesses shouldn’t get too excited about the idea of saving money by not needing to pay for a content writer just yet, though. Although AI has improved, it remains a long way from being perfect. Using AI runs the risk of misinformation and duplicate content (both of which will get a website stuck in the search engine’s penalty box.)

Google Updated: Self-Assessment Guidance

When you’re self-assessing your content, you should be aware of these key changes in Google’s Google’s Helpful Content Self-Assessment guidance, creating helpful, reliable, people-first content.

Change 1: Expert Reviewed: 

“Is this content written or reviewed by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?”

While the content doesn’t need to be written by an expert, it should certainly be reviewed by an expert. This is Google’s warning that misinformation can drag a site’s ranking down.

Change 2: Falsifying Updates:

“Are you changing the date of pages to make them seem fresh when the content has not substantially changed?”

If there wasn’t a significant change to a page, then changing the date unnecessarily will not bring in better results, and it could have a negative impact altogether.

Change 3: Falsifying Freshness

“Are you adding a lot of new content or removing a lot of older content, primarily because you believe it will help your search rankings overall, by somehow making your site seem “fresh?” (No, it won’t)”

Google is cracking down on websites that constantly remove and add content to a page to imply it’s updated.

What Our Experts Have to Say About the SEO Algorithm Update

The Google Helpful Content Update is a significant development in the world of SEO. This update underscores Google’s commitment to prioritizing content that genuinely serves user needs and provides valuable information. As SEO specialists, it’s essential for us to align our strategies with this update by focusing on high-quality, informative, and user-centric content. By doing so, we can not only maintain our search visibility but also build trust and credibility with our target audience. It’s a clear signal that SEO is evolving towards a more user-focused approach, and those who adapt will likely see long-term benefits in their search rankings and organic traffic.” – Caressa Stewart, Digital Team Lead

“Every Google algorithm update has always centered around the user experience. High-quality content should be the core of any website. If your website performed strongly before and now it’s not, analyze the pages that aren’t ranking well and assess your content against Google’s helpful content self-assessment.” Kristen Billingsley, SEO Specialist


Do You Think Your Business Was Affected by the Google Update? DMI Can Help!

Does your website need to make a comeback? Digital Marketing Inc. is a reigning champion in SEO strategies. We only use strategies that rightfully earn a spot on the first page of Google, and avoid black hat techniques that can put you on the bad side of their algorithm.