December 22 Helpful Content Update

Google Search’s helpful content system generates a signal used by their automated ranking systems to ensure people see original, helpful content written by people, for people, not AI, in search results. This page explains more about how the system works, and what you can do to improve your content.

The helpful content system aims to 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 system generates a site-wide signal that we consider among many other signals for use in Google Search. The system automatically identifies content that seems to have little value, low-added value or is otherwise not particularly helpful to people.

Any content—not just unhelpful—on sites with 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 works globally across all languages. 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 unhelpful content could still rank well if other signals identify that people-first content is helpful and relevant to a query. The signal is also weighted; sites with lots of unhelpful content may notice a stronger effect.

What does this update mean for my site?

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

Periodically, Google refines how the classifier detects unhelpful content. When it’s done notably, they share this as a “helpful content update” on the Google Search ranking updates page. After such an update has finished rolling out, and if the refined classifier sees that content has improved, then the unhelpful classification from the previous classifier may no longer apply.


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