During the last few weeks, Google has undertaken two key and one more minor update to its algorithms that are likely to impact many sites. For marketers, it is vital to understand what these updates are about and figure out what actions, if any, need to be taken before they begin to affect such factors as ranking.
The Helpful Content Update
This update began on August 25th and took 15 days to complete on September 9th. The helpful content update is targeted at content that has seemingly been created to boost ranking with the search engine rather than provide helpful or valuable information to online users. It seeks to enhance the visibility of high-quality content and penalize unhelpful content. The goal is to ensure content that is written to be helpful to human users is rewarded.
Online users have frequently been frustrated by top-ranking search results that turn out to not be as helpful in providing them with the information they want. This algorithm update seeks to reduce this frustration by downgrading webpages that are top ranking yet prove unhelpful. It will also be boosting the ranking of pages found to be useful, with content aimed at helping humans find the answers they want.
There has been some debate as to how search engine first content or SEO content has been geared towards impressing ranking algorithms. Google now wants to shift away from this and have content geared towards satisfying the human element rank better.
Google has indicated that though the algorithm will not be targeting specific niches, certain types of content will likely be affected, including arts and entertainment, shopping, tech-related, and online educational content. These segments are more likely to be affected as they typically have the highest level of content created to impress search engines rather than deliver helpful information to human users.
It is important to note that the impact will not just be on the particular webpage that is proving unhelpful. The impact is likely to be sitewide. The algorithm will look at how helpful all your web pages are, and if there is a pattern of unhelpfulness, the ranking of the entire website may be downgraded.
Since its institution, the update has yet to have caused much of a stir. The best way to tell if your site has been impacted is to look at any fluctuations in ranking that may have occurred since September 9th. Fortunately, experts predict that any affected sites should be able to recover in a matter of weeks if they take the necessary measures to ensure their content proves more helpful and satisfying to human users.
September 2022 Core Update
This is the second core update that has been carried out by Google this year. Its rollout began on September 12th and took two weeks to complete. Core updates are undertaken by Google several times a year. They are broad-based and designed to generally improve the relevance and authoritativeness of content that is ranked highly for online users. Their impact is often noticeable with some sites either falling or rising in rank as a result.
However, it does not mean that those that see their rank decline have made any mistakes. It is more likely that the update has refined how the algorithms assess content, allowing those that were being under-rewarded to rise higher than others.
For those sites that feel they have been providing helpful content to users but have suffered a setback in their ranking, the best fix will lie in looking at ways to improve their content and with time, earn the reward of a higher ranking from these updated algorithms. Google has listed a range of queries to use in the self-assessment of your content, including:
- Does the content provide insightful or interesting information beyond the obvious?
- Is the headline or page title exaggerated or shocking?
- Is the page worth bookmarking, recommending, or sharing with others?
- Does the page provide more value than that of other comparable pages in search results?
This update has proven less volatile than the previous core update done in May 2022. However there has still been some impact, so now is the time for marketers to delve into analytics data to determine if there has been any change in the ranking and visibility of any web pages. If there has been a decline, it will be necessary to review your online marketing plan and determine how to go about recovery.
September 2022 Product Reviews Update
This is the fifth version of Google’s product reviews update that was released on September 20th. It is targeted at the ranking of English-language product review-related content. Product reviews in other languages can be expected to be affected in future updates, but for now, this update will just focus on those in English.
Like other updates, it is intended to ensure online users get to view the most helpful content first. More visibility will be given to content that goes beyond the usual templated information. Lower-quality product reviews will not be penalized. However, it may still end up downgraded due to the boost in ranking being granted to more insightful reviews.
Though not a core update, Google is still recommending that those whose content includes product reviews also refer to their advice provided to those impacted by core updates. More specifically, when it comes to producing quality content. For any site that includes product reviews as content, now is a good time to examine your analytics data and determine if your ranking and traffic numbers have been impacted.