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Google Helpful Content Update for September 2023: Algorithm Changes

Google announced the September 2023 Helpful Content Udpate which contains two important changes to how sites are ranked

The September 2023 Helpful Content Update was announced by Google and is scheduled to be fully implemented in two weeks. While issuing a warning against third-party content housed on websites or their subdomains, the update appears to relax restrictions on automatically created content.

Along with updated instructions on what to do if a site lost visitors following a Helpful Content upgrade, Google also added more assistance to their documentation for the Helpful Content System.

Google Helpful Content System

For the purpose of boosting high-quality material and minimizing the search presence of content that is deemed to be unhelpful, Google has a method dubbed the Helpful material method.

Google presents it as a system that complements all the other systems used to rank websites.

This system’s main objective is to find quality signals that correspond to useful material.

What is The September Helpful Content Update About?

Google included advice in three new areas to their guidelines for the Helpful Content System:

Relaxing the rules regarding the hosting of third-party material on subdomains
Providing further information on what to do if a Helpful Content update causes your site to lose visitors

Google Loosens Guidance on Machine Generated Content

Google previously stated that the Helpful Content algorithm gives human-created content priority in its guidance on machine-generated content.

In order to better connect it with other, seemingly incongruous advise on AI material, that portion of the guidance has been removed, reflecting a change in Google’s perspective regarding AI content.

The initial advice was:

“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.”

The updated guidance:

“Our automated ranking systems use a signal produced by Google Search’s helpful content system to better ensure that people see original, helpful content made for people in search results.”

Third-Party Content On Main Website Or Subdomains

There is a longstanding trend of hosting third-party content on the main part of a website or on a subdomain.

An example of this is news media websites hosting third-party credit card affiliate content on a subdomain.

The idea behind theses strategies may be that some of the main site’s ranking power would help the subdomain content rank better.

Websites that post third-party material anywhere on their website may suffer as a result of Google’s Helpful material upgrade from September 2023.

The Helpful Content guidance’s newest part offers the following advice:

“If you host content from third parties on your primary website or any of its subdomains, be aware that this content might be reflected in site-wide signals we produce, such as the usefulness of the content.

Because of this, we advise against Google indexing any content that was created substantially independently of the parent site’s goals or without the primary site’s input or close oversight.

Obviously, those who publish guest posts should pay attention to this guidance, particularly the part about the content being relevant to the main site’s purpose or if it is, if the content was created with close supervision.

New Guidance On Recovering From Helpful Content Update

Finally, Google updated its recovery instructions should a site be impacted by a Helpful Content Update.

The newly introduced section of the manual advises locating useless content and replacing it.

Google’s latest advice:

“You should self-evaluate your material and fix or remove any that seems unhelpful if you’ve noticed a change in traffic that you feel may be due to this system (such as after a publicly-posted ranking modification to the system).

You can use the questions on our help page on how to make trustworthy, helpful material that puts the needs of other people first to self-evaluate your work.

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