The Google helpful content update finished rolling out around 2 pm ET on September 9th. That morning we reported we started to notice more widespread volatility and fluctuations, possibly related to the helpful content update. But now I am thinking that maybe those or most of those fluctuations were unrelated to the helpful content update?
First, let’s start with the quick facts for this Google helpful content update.
Google Helpful Content Update Quick Facts
Here are the most important things that we know right now in short form:
- Name: Google helpful content update
- Launch Date: It began to rollout on August 25th
- Rollout: It will take about two weeks to fully roll out
- Completed: The update finished rolling out on September 9, 2022, 15 days later.
- Targets: It looks at content that was created to rank well in search over help humans
- Search Only: This currently only impacts Google Search, not Google Discover or other Google surfaces. But Google may expand this to Discover and more in the future.
- Penalty: Google did not mention penalty but this update does seem to feel like a penalty for sites that will be hit by it
- Sitewide: This is a sitewide algorithm, so the whole site will be impacted by this update
- Not a core update: Many are going to say this is a core update, it is not.
- English Language but will expand: This is only looking at English-language content globally now but likely will expand to other languages.
- Impact: Google would not tell me what percentage of queries or searches were impacted by this update but Google did tell me it would be “meaningful.” Also, Google said this will be felt more for online-educational materials, entertainment, shopping, and tech-related content. Looking back, it did not seem to have a massive widespread impact at the same level as core updates or Panda updates.
- Recover: If you were hit by this, then you will need to look at your content and see if you can do better with Google’s advice below
- Refreshes: Google updates the scores constantly here but there is a timeout period, and a validation period and it can take several months to recover from this update.
On Friday afternoon, Google updated its ranking update page at around 2 pm ET to say the update is done rolling out. Danny Sullivan from Google also tweeted that it is done:
Yes. We’re there yet: https://t.co/gElfbRUpl2
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) September 9, 2022
Also, that morning we thought we started to see the first widespread fluctuations from this helpful content update. Prior, 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 early on seemed pretty minor in terms of what SEOs and tools are picking up, despite what we all thought would happen. Even Danny Sullivan even said himself it was not a huge shakeup but it was big in terms of the direction Google is going with ranking content.
So Friday morning, I thought maybe we started to see that this update had some legs. But now I am not too sure. Why?
Well, I am seeing a nice number of people reporting fluctuations and volatility from Friday were saying they sites are not all in English. And as we know, this initial release of the Google helpful content update impacts only sites written in English. The comments section here show a lot of people saying they noticed ranking changes but their sites are not in English. I am also seeing similar chatter on social, I’ll just share one, but there are many more:
Google Useful Content Update was announced as English-speaking queries only, however in my data I see several sites from Poland being affected on Sept 8th…
> Clicks&impressions down 85% (!)
> Avg. position without change
Any other SEOs seeing similar impact in non-EN markets? pic.twitter.com/jVxDOlRXGz
— Natalia Witczyk (@witczyk) September 11, 2022
Plus, it is very rare to see a big shake-up in the search results the day before the Google update is announced to be done. The majority of the volatility normally occurs in the first few to several days, not at the end of a two-week rollout.
What do you all think?
Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.