What Is the Helpful Content Update and How Does It Impact Search Rank?

In September, Google announced its helpful content update, which included changes related to content creation, web hosting, and other topics. Understanding this update is key to maintaining a solid search rank, as well as to avoid decreased traffic.

How Does the Helpful Content Update Work?

Google prioritizes quality content, as online content that is relevant, accurate, and informative is most likely to provide an optimal user experience. Accordingly, Google’s update includes three crucial factors:

Third-Party Content Hosting

Many websites feature third-party content, which is usually hosted on the website itself or a via subdomain. Going forward, Google recommends that any third-party content that’s not considered relevant should not be indexed along with other content on the site.

Changes to the Self-Assessment Guide

Google slightly tweaked the wording of its guide, which is designed to help marketers create quality content, and added new suggestions. In this case, the search engine recommends that content is at least reviewed by a person knowledgeable of the topic, that content is not falsely made to look new when it’s not, and that marketers should not add or eliminate content simply to enhance search ranking.

AI-Created Content

Google has been pretty vocal about favoring content that’s created by humans, as opposed to generated by AI. The updated language excised the phrase “written by people,” which suggests that AI-generated content will be more widely accepted. However, the search engine still emphasizes that content must be helpful and original.

What Should Online Marketers Expect?

Google’s new updates may seem rather dramatic, particularly when it comes to the wider acceptance of AI-created content. However, the changes all reflect the current thinking regarding what makes for quality content. As a result, marketers can maintain a favorable search ranking by:

  • Ensuring that content is relevant and accurate
  • Refraining from hosting irrelevant third-party information on sites
  • Making certain that content comes from a place of knowledge by involving experts in creation or review
  • Using AI tools responsibly and prioritizing the user experience above all else
  • Avoiding short-cuts to boost search rank, such as generating new batches of content for the sole purpose of placing higher in search results

By maintaining a solid content strategy, marketers can remain within the recommended guidelines included in the helpful content update.

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