Google’s September 2023 Helpful Content Update: What to Know
Google is rolling out its new September 2023 Helpful Content Update. This update will finish its rollout in the next two weeks. As with any update to a search engine, sites may be affected differently. Your traffic could grow or take a hit, depending on a variety of factors. This update is intended to be a step toward providing users with more relevant content across the whole search engine.
About Google’s Helpful Content System
Google has a system designed to promote helpful content for users and reduce the number of irrelevant search results, aptly called the Helpful Content System. Google uses this and other systems to rank websites. It identifies and recognizes signals of quality for each website; the more signals a website has, the more relevant Google deems it to be for a specific search term.
What Specifically was Changed with the Update?
Google loosened the guidance on machine-generated content, which means that AI content will be included in Google’s results more frequently if deemed appropriate and accurate. There were also changes made to potentially negatively affect the relevance of third-party content, which is hosted on subdomains or main domains. The update also includes guidance from Google on what to do if you lose traffic from this.
What this Means for AI
Google’s previous guidance stated that they would prioritize “content written by people, for people” in their search results. They have changed the wording to say they would prioritize “content created for people” which is more all-encompassing, and includes any kind of content, regardless of the nature of the writer. The priority has shifted away from the writer, and more towards the accuracy and relevancy of the content itself. This doesn’t necessarily give AI-generated content an advantage, but it removes the disadvantage. Now all content is simply viewed as content.
Third-Party Content on Your Website
Many websites host third-party content on the main part of their website or subdomain. Third-party services are hosted on a shared and public origin, widely used by a variety of sites, and are uninfluenced by an individual site owner. Basically, any service that operates on your website that you do not develop, own, or operate, but are instead run by another party. If your website has less original content and acts mainly as a host for a third-party service, you are at a disadvantage following this update.
Google’s Advice on How to Recover from the Update
If your website takes a hit in traffic, Google’s guidance recommends that you self-assess your content against the new set of guidelines and fix or remove anything on your site that may be viewed as unhelpful or irrelevant to searchers. Visit Google’s help page on how to self-assess your website or contact BluShark Digital.