Google is at the forefront of search engine technology, and the company’s regular updates can significantly impact how websites are ranked. In September 2023, Google introduced the Helpful Content Update, which brings two significant changes that webmasters need to be aware of. This update is expected to finish rolling out within the next two weeks.
- Loosening Guidelines on AI-Generated Content
One of the significant changes with this update is Google’s approach to AI-generated content. Previously, Google emphasized the importance of human-created content in its ranking systems. However, the new update represents a shift in the company’s attitude towards AI content.
The previous guidance stated that the content system offered by Google Search generates a signal used by their automated ranking systems to ensure that people see original, helpful content written not written by AI in search results.
The updated guidance now states that content system offered by Google Search generates a signal utilized by their automated ranking systems to improve the visibility of original, useful content created for people in search results. This alteration suggests a more permissive stance on AI-generated content; bring it in sync with other guidance that may appear contradictory.
- Scrutiny of Third-Party Content on Websites
Another crucial aspect of the update is Google’s heightened scrutiny of third-party content hosted on websites. Many websites host third-party content on their main sites or subdomains. For example, news media websites often feature credit card affiliate content of a third-party on the subdomain. The rationale behind this practice is that the leading site’s authority may help the subdomain content rank more effectively.
However, Google’s September 2023 Helpful Content update introduces a change that may adversely affect websites hosting third-party content in any form. According to the updated guidance, if you host third-party content on your leading site or in your subdomains, you must understand that such content may be included in site-wide signals generated by Google, such as signals related to content helpfulness.
For this reason, if the hosted content is mainly free from the leading site’s purpose or is produced without close guidance or the involvement of the primary site, Google recommends blocking it from being indexed. This is a significant development that web publishers or a digital marketing agency should take seriously, particularly concerning content relevance and guidance.
- Guidance on Recovering from a Helpful Content Update
Google understands that algorithm changes and updates can sometimes lead to unexpected fluctuations in website traffic. To help webmasters recover from such situations, the September 2023 Helpful Content Update includes guidance on identifying and addressing unhelpful content issues. If you notice a change in traffic that you suspect is related to this system,
Google recommends a self-assessment of your content. It would help if you aimed to fix or remove any content that seems unhelpful. Google offers a help page with questions to assist in assessing your content effectively and aligning it with the Helpful Content System.
Google’s September 2023 Helpful Content Update introduces significant changes that webmasters should consider. The relaxed approach to AI-generated content and the increased scrutiny of third-party website content affect website rankings. Web publishers should take these changes thoughtfully and consider how they may impact their sites.