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Google has released another update to its helpful content system. The update was released on September 14, 2023, and was completed two weeks later, on September 28, 2023. Google mentioned that this update will improve the classifier system it uses to determine the usefulness of content.

September 2023 Helpful Content Update - Incident Report

Google’s Official Announcement

Google announced the update in a post on X (formerly Twitter). On September 28, 2023, Google replied to the post announcing that the update had been completed.

What This Update Is About? 

Google removed references to “content written by peoplefrom the documentation of its helpful content update system. The updated article only mentions “content created for people.”

Google Helpful Content Update

This indicates that Google will now rank AI-written content insofar as it is useful for people. However, Google’s helpful content guideline was also updated to indicate that Google expects the AI-written content to be reviewed by an expert or enthusiast in the subject matter. 

As part of this update, Google is also expected to crack down on third-party content hosted on the subdomain or directory of other websites, along with websites that change dates or engage in other tricks intended to make Google think their content is fresher than it is. 

Update: It appears that Google didn’t target these sites as expected. That doesn’t mean such sites are safe, as we suspect Google may strike them in a future update. 

What Are People Saying?

Barry Schwartz replied to Google’s post, hinting that this update may favor AI-written posts, so far they are helpful to people. 

In a separate post, Glenn Gabe acknowledged the changes in Google’s documentation and added that this update may also target sites that rent their subdomains and directories out to smaller sites. 

Lily Ray also shared her insights into the Helpful Content update. She noted that online tool sites were the most affected. These sites often have too many ads, which, in most cases, destroys the experience for the visitor.

While many sites maintained their rankings, which is strange for an update of this magnitude, some movements were observed between September 20 and 26, 2023.

What’s Next – Dealing With This Update

This update specifically targeted sites with low-quality content, bad user experience, and content specifically created to rank in search. This update appears to have targeted online education, entertainment, shopping, and tech sites. These sites rarely have unique content, which may explain why they were the most hit.

With that said, you should use Rank Math Analytics to monitor your site. If you suspect you are affected by the update, watch the below video for tips on recovering from a Google update. 

Rank Math Google Updates

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