Google’s December 2022 Helpful Content Update started rolling out on 5 December 2022 across search results. And it will take about two weeks to fully roll out. The same was confirmed by Google in a tweet, where the search engine giant also stated that the update is an improvement to its classifier titled ‘Helpful Content System’ and will target websites in all languages across the globe. It’s important to remember that Helpful Content System was launched only a couple of months ago in August 2022. The system was introduced (an algorithm that keeps running in the background) to reward webpages created for people rather than search engines, and is aimed to elevate and promote content that is both unique and helpful, and adds some real value above what other publishers are offering. You can read in detail about Helpful Content Update here.
The Dec. 2022 helpful content update was released Dec. 5, starting to become more visible today & will take about two weeks to fully roll out. It improves our classifier & works across content globally in all languages. Our help page explains more: https://t.co/MS7hbcBTsp
— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) December 6, 2022
Recap: What is Helpful Content System and Helpful Content Update?
As stated by Google in its document on Google Search Central:
“Google Search’s Helpful Content System generates a signal used by our automated ranking systems to better ensure people see original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results. The helpful content system aims to better 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 ranking web pages. Our systems automatically identify content that seems to have little value, low-added value or is otherwise not particularly helpful to those doing searches.
Any content—not just unhelpful content—on sites determined to have 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.”
It is also important to remember that the system is entirely automated and uses an e-machine learning model. And that it is neither a manual action nor an action against spam. It is but one of the many signals Google uses to rank content on the search engine result pages. It also means that websites that have generally been classified as having unhelpful content could still rank higher through any of its pages that offers valuable, helpful content with respect to the query.
So, by extension, any fine-tuning to the way how the system evaluates Helpful Content gets referred to as a “Helpful Content Update”. After the update finishes, the previous way of evaluation or classifier effectively ends, replaced by the new one. “Periodically, we refine how the classifier detects unhelpful content. When we do this in a notable way, we share this as a “helpful content update” on our Google Search ranking updates page. After such an update finishes rolling out, and if the refined classifier sees that content has improved, then the unhelpful classification from our previous classifier may no longer apply.” says Google.
Tips on Creating People-first Content Keeping Helpful Content System in Mind
Google’s document on “Creating helpful, reliable, people-first content” is an in-depth guide on how to go about it. Here are some important highlights from it nevertheless.
- Focus on creating original content with original information and correct reporting after detailed research and analysis
- The piece of content needs to be a comprehensive description of the topic with relevant insights
- While writing, think about if it is the kind of write-up you’d share with a friend or recommend someone
- Also think about it beforehand whether it is the kind of content that you’d love to see published in media or rather hide it under the rug
If all this and more that Google suggests is already a major part of your content strategy, you are on the right track and Helpful Content Updates shouldn’t be a bother. However, if by the end of the update, you see your website demoted on certain pages or more, you know where the problem lies. We are keeping an eye on the industry chatter and will update you as and when this update finishes rolling out. Until then!