August Helpful Content Update

Google Search’s helpful content update and your website

Google Search’s helpful content update generates a signal used by their automated ranking system to better ensure people see original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results. This page explains more about how the update works, and what you can do to assess and improve your content.

How the helpful content update works

The helpful content update aims to better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t perform as well.

The update generates a site-wide signal that we consider among many other signals for ranking web pages. Our systems automatically identify content that seems to have little value, low-added value or is otherwise not particularly helpful to those doing searches.

Any content—not just unhelpful content—on sites determined to have relatively high amounts of unhelpful content overall is less likely to perform well in Search, assuming there is other content elsewhere from the web that’s better to display. For this reason, removing unhelpful content could help the rankings of your other content.

This classifier process is entirely automated, using a machine-learning model. It is not a manual action nor a spam action. Instead, it’s just one of many signals Google evaluates to rank content.

This means that some people-first content on sites classified as having unhelpful content could still rank well, if there are other signals identifying that people-first content as helpful and relevant to a query. The signal is also weighted; sites with lots of unhelpful content may notice a stronger effect.

Currently, this update only involves English searches globally. We plan to expand to other languages in the future. We will also continue refining how the classifier detects unhelpful content, and we expect to share about any major changes on our Google Search ranking updates page.

What does this update mean for my site?

To learn more about how to create content that’s successful with helpful content updates, see our help page on how to create helpful, reliable people-first content, rather than search-engine first content. It has questions that you can ask yourself when assessing your own content.

A natural question some will have is how long will it take for a site to do better, if it removes unhelpful content? Sites identified by this update may find the signal applied to them over a period of months. Our classifier runs continuously, allowing it to monitor newly launched sites and existing ones. As it determines that the unhelpful content hasn’t returned in the long-term, the classification will no longer apply.


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