Obviously, those who publish guest posts should pay attention to this guidance, particularly the part about the content being relevant to the main site’s purpose or if it is, if the content was created with close supervision. New Guidance On Recovering From Helpful Content Update Lastly, Google added new guidance on how to recover should a site be affected by any Helpful Content Update. The new paragraph added to the documentation recommends identifying unhelpful content and removing or replacing it. Google’s new guidance: “If you’ve noticed a change in traffic you suspect may be related to this system (such as after a publicly-posted ranking update to the system), then you should self-assess your content and fix or remove any that seems unhelpful. Our help page on how to create helpful, reliable people-first content has questions that you can use to self-assess your content to be successful with the helpful content system.”

Google has recently unveiled its September 2023 Helpful Content Update, set to roll out fully within the next two weeks.

This update brings significant alterations to how websites are ranked in Google’s search results. Notably, it relaxes the constraints on machine-generated content while introducing stricter scrutiny of third-party content hosted on websites or their associated subdomains.

The core framework underpinning this update is Google’s Helpful Content System, designed to enhance the prominence of valuable content in search results while diminishing the visibility of content deemed unhelpful. This system operates in tandem with various other ranking mechanisms employed by Google, all aimed at refining the user’s search experience.

The September Helpful Content Update encompasses three key areas of modification as elucidated in Google’s updated documentation.

 

Loosening Restrictions on Machine-Generated Content

Previously, Google emphasized its preference for human-generated content within the Helpful Content system. However, this update signals a shift in approach regarding AI-generated content, aligning it more harmoniously with other, seemingly contradictory, AI content guidelines.

The original guidance, which emphasized human-created content, has been revised to a more inclusive stance: “Google Search’s ahelpful content systemgenerates a signal used by our automated ranking systems to better ensure people see original, helpful content created for people in search results.”

 

Third-Party Content on Main Websites or Subdomains.

A common practice has been hosting third-party content on primary website domains or subdomains. For instance, news media websites might host third-party credit card affiliate content on a subdomain. The rationale behind this approach has been to leverage the main site’s ranking authority to enhance the visibility of subdomain content.

However, Google’s September 2023 Helpful Content update introduces a change that could adversely impact websites employing this strategy. A new section in the Helpful Content guidance advises caution: “If you host third-party content on your main site or in your subdomains, understand that such content may be included in site-wide signals we generate, such as the helpfulness of content.

For this reason, if that content is largely independent of the main site’s purpose or produced without close supervision or the involvement of the primary site, we recommend that it should be blocked from being indexed by Google.” This guidance particularly affects those who publish guest posts, emphasizing the importance of relevance to the main site’s purpose and supervision during content creation.

 

New Guidance on Recovering from a Helpful Content Update

Google now offers additional advice on how to recover if a site’s traffic is adversely affected by any changes resulting from the Helpful Content Update. Website owners are encouraged to identify unhelpful content and either remove it or replace it with more valuable alternatives.

Google’s new guidance states: “If you’ve noticed a change in traffic you suspect may be related to this system (such as after a publicly-posted ranking update to the system), then you should self-assess your content and fix or remove any that seems unhelpful. Our help page on how to create helpful, reliable people-first content has questions that you can use to self-assess your content to be successful with the helpful content system.”

In summary, Google’s September 2023 Helpful Content Update introduces significant changes to its ranking algorithm, primarily affecting machine-generated content, third-party content hosting, and recovery strategies for impacted websites. Website owners and content creators should take note of these changes to ensure their content remains favorable in Google’s search rankings. 

What is the Google September 2023 Helpful Content Update about?

The Google September 2023 Helpful Content Update introduces significant changes to how websites are ranked in Google’s search results. It includes revisions regarding machine-generated content, the hosting of third-party content, and offers guidance on how to recover if a site’s traffic is affected by the update.

    What is Google's Helpful Content System?

    Google’s Helpful Content System is a framework designed to promote high-quality, valuable content in search results while reducing the visibility of content deemed unhelpful. It operates in conjunction with other ranking mechanisms employed by Google to enhance the user’s search experience.

      How has the guidance on machine-generated content changed with the September 2023 Helpful Content Update?

      The update has loosened the constraints on machine-generated content, aligning Google’s approach more closely with other guidelines on AI-generated content. The emphasis on human-created content has been replaced with a more inclusive stance, ensuring a wider range of content is considered.

        How does the update affect websites hosting third-party content on their main website or subdomains?

        The update introduces stricter scrutiny of websites hosting third-party content. If this content is largely independent of the main site’s purpose or produced without close supervision, Google recommends blocking it from being indexed. This guidance has implications for websites that host guest posts or third-party content.

          What should website owners do if their site's traffic is negatively impacted by the Helpful Content Update?

          Google advises website owners to assess their content for any unhelpful elements and take action to either fix or remove them. The guidance encourages website owners to use Google’s help page on creating helpful, reliable, people-first content for self-assessment.

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