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Helpful Content Update: What to Take Away from this Google Algorithm Update?

le Friday 16 September 2022 - Mise à jour Saturday 02 March 2024
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Inside this article
Temps de lecture : 8 minutes

Yet another Google update is making a lot of noise! Since August 18, 2022, everyone is talking about "Helpful Content"... What's going to happen? What do you need to do to stay visible in the SERP? With a few weeks of hindsight, the answers to these questions are already beginning to take shape. Discover everything there is to know about this Google announcement which, know this, actually brings nothing really new!

🚀 Express Reading: Summary of what you will learn in this article

  • What is "Helpful Content Update"? As its name suggests ("Useful Content"), this update aims to favor the display of pages offering quality texts.
  • What does Google say? Nothing more than what has been repeated for years! A page must provide complete information and perfectly meet the needs of the user.
  • When does the update start? Helpful Content was deployed in the English-speaking SERPs between August 25 and September 9, 2022. No date has yet been specified for French-speaking sites.
  • What impact has been observed? Two weeks after the launch, few movements have been observed in Google's results pages.
  • Which sites have lost visibility? Some sites dealing with gaming, music, language (grammar and dictionary), coding, and offering adult content have plummeted in the SERP.
To know everything about the Helpful Content update, just keep reading 😊.

🤖 What Google says about its update

On August 18, 2022, Google announces on its blog[1] an update to its algorithm targeting the usefulness of content. Once again, their goal of offering quality content in the SERP is affirmed. Moreover, this desire has persisted since the Panda (2011) and Hummingbird (2013) updates.

Thus, a few days before the deployment of the Helpful Content Update, Google shares 2 points to consider. To be honest, this information is not new and aims once again to fight against spam. Here is the summary of what was communicated by the Mountain View Giant.

1. Favor the user experience

Content must be useful for the user! Therefore, quality pages must respond to the search intent and expectations of users. Nothing new! Indeed, Google had already published in 2011 relevant information for those who wish to create quality sites[2].

However, it is clear that many contents offered in the SERP are still of insufficient quality! Hence, probably Google's desire to further refine its algorithm... Thus, they take the opportunity to remind webmasters and site owners of good practices:

  • create useful content for your readership;
  • demonstrate your expertise;
  • affirm a clear objective;
  • propose a comprehensive text;
  • improve the UX during reading;
  • take into consideration the recommendations made by search engines.

2. Do not over-optimize for search engines

In the same vein as the first point, Google takes the opportunity to remind what not to do in SEO! Thus, Helpful Content should be able to better determine if your site (or your text) clearly demonstrates a desire to only position itself on the results pages.

  • Not targeting your audience (popular themes or solely for the purpose of positioning in the SERP);
  • not having a website with a specific theme;
  • grossly using automatic writing software;
  • not adding value compared to what has already been published;
  • publishing incomplete content (requiring further research);
  • always using the same number of words per article;
  • writing content outside your area of expertise;
  • giving unverifiable information.
To know all of Google's recommendations in terms of content creation, I invite you to refer to this article: "Google EAT Criteria: Why is it important for SEO?"

👀 The SEO impact of Google Helpful Content Update

What is Google?

The update of Google's algorithm was launched between August 25 and September 9, 2022. As always, this algo change was first launched on English-speaking sites. Note that this does not only concern the United States, but all content written in English.

On the French side, no official announcement has been made regarding the deployment date of Helpful Content. This gives us time to observe the repercussions of this update and, if necessary, to quickly adapt to this evolution.

Since the beginning of September 2022, SEO experts worldwide have been analyzing the effects of this new update. And the verdict is clear! Nothing (or almost nothing) has changed... A bit disappointing or reassuring, depending on your point of view!

Among the studies conducted by reference sites, those of Sistrix[3]&[4] are among the most interesting. It appears that, a few days after the launch of Helpful Content, no significant movement has been observed in Google's SERP.

If this proves true for the majority of sites, some have nevertheless noticed a significant loss of organic traffic. The site in question seems to suffer from a penalty due to thousands of similar pages (internal duplicate content). In addition, the following themes appear to be the most impacted: music, language, gaming, coding, adult.

However, due to the theme of the Helpful Content update, it is not surprising that the effects noticed are not considerable. Indeed, it has been over ten years that Google has been repeating the same thing! Thus, this improvement of the algorithm is in no way a major change for all those interested in SEO. At most, it is only a refinement of what already exists.

This is also confirmed by Danny Sullivan on Twitter[5] (Google Search Liasion's head):

> This (Helpful Content Update) is part of an ongoing effort, as we have explained. We will continue to refine its operation.


To stay informed about SEO news, SEO monitoring is essential!

😱 Communication by fear

It seems that with the announcement of the Helpful Content Update, Google used a well-known copywriting technique: playing with the reader's emotions! And the one chosen is none other than fear... Indeed, as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the subject of this update is not new.

Many agree then that the purpose of this communication was simply to scare spammers. This already seems obvious given the clear and precise name given to the update: "useful content". This method had already been used, as for "Page Experience" or "Mobile Friendly".

Moreover, the Mountain View firm knows perfectly well that this kind of announcement quickly creates a buzz in the SEO world. Thus, they ensure that their message is transmitted on a large scale. And, with 259 pages of results in less than a month, it is true that it worked quite well!

259 pages of results in 2 weeks on Helpful Content Update

So, for all those who have not yet understood, Google wants useful, comprehensive, and quality content!

⌚ A new algorithm update already announced

Helpful Content Update is barely deployed and Google is already announcing on Twitter[6] a new algorithm update! On September 12, 2022, we learn that a Core Update (major update) is already underway. However, no information is yet available on Google's blog dedicated to changes in ranking in search results[7].

Will there be a significant impact in the SERP this time? The verdict should fall before September 30, 2022…

## 🎬 Conclusion

By informing about its useful content update, Google once again affirms the desire to display quality results to its users. As it is not yet deployed for French-speaking sites, we do not yet know its impact. However, after its launch in the English-speaking world, very few sites seem to have lost visibility.

In any case, it's never too late to check the quality of your content and update your pages! Let's hope that one day Google will definitively ban spam sites and that only relevant results will be offered to users.

What should you do in the meantime? Check your content strategy, delete your useless pages, and continue to write complete and useful texts! And the good news is that by using SEOQuantum's tools, you can do all this 😉.

🙏 Sources used to write this article








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