Danny Sullivan: Google Helpful Content Update Is Big But Not A Huge Shake-Up

So many of you, including myself, are wondering why Google would make such a big deal of an upcoming update, the helpful content update, when the update itself is not that huge of a shakeup to the search results. There is an interesting back and forth between Glenn Gabe, an SEO consultant, and Danny Sullivan, Google’s Search Liaison, about just that.

As a reminder, only 20% of SEOs said they noticed any ranking changes related to the helpful content update and I believe a good percentage of that 20% are confused and misattributing the changes they see to the wrong thing – i.e. it is not the helpful content update.

The Google helpful content update so far seems pretty minor in terms of what SEOs and tools are picking up, despite what we all thought would happen. Keep in mind, that the update is not done and we do expect more from it but I don’t know how much more we will see with this update being that it should be done rolling out any minute/day now.

Now, Danny Sullivan said yesterday afternoon on Twitter that the helpful content update “is big.” He explained it is big in the sense “that it’s an important guidance people should pay attention to.” “That’s why we made such a big effort to talk about it,” he added. But “big” does not mean a “huge shake-up,” he said; “But that’s not the same as everyone claiming it would be a huge shake-up that we did not say to expect.”

Danny also said that Google will “keep refining the classifier.” “I expect it’s likely if we do a big revision, we’d share about that,” he added. But with this round, he said “If you went through this initial release and had no change then 1) congrats, lots of content is helpful and that’s probably you or 2) if you do have unhelpful content, you shouldn’t think that we won’t figure that out and consider changing what you’re doing.” So just because you were not hit this time, you might be next time?

I wanted to share the back and forth because honestly, I found the conversation interesting, because I too, felt this would be a huge shake-up and I was also wrong.

Here are those tweets:

So it’s big but not big in the sense that it is a huge shake-up in the Google search results. It is big in that this is something Google wanted us all to understand. So big like a page experience update in terms of messaging, but super minor in terms of the impact overall to how the search results changed for most of us.

But expect more, more in the future – maybe not with this specific rollout…

Forum discussion at Twitter.

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