Last week, Google announced that a new sitewide algorithm is on the horizon! The Helpful Content Update will go live this week and is said to be one of the most significant updates in the past 10 years. The aim? To elevate user-generated content and depreciate content curated exclusively for search engine optimization (SEO).
Google released the announcement on August 18, 2022, saying, “We’re launching what we’re calling the Helpful Content Update that’s part of a broader effort to ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.”
The helpful content update is fully automated, utilizing a machine-learning model. It also incorporates a new ranking indicator that will have a negative effect on websites that produce a lot of content that provides little to no value to users.
This is not to say that only websites with predominantly useful content will rank. On the contrary, even if people-first content is published on websites with a lot of useless content, it can rank nevertheless.
“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.”, said Google.
Only English-language searches will be impacted to start; however, this may be extended to other languages and products like Google Discover soon.
It’s important to note, however, that taking a people-first approach does not invalidate following Google’s SEO best practices. Instead, the key is to implement SEO for people-first content.
According to Google, the update’s impacts on websites may persist for a while, and it could take affected websites several months to bounce back:
“Our classifier for this update runs continuously, allowing it to monitor newly-launched sites and existing ones. As it determines that the unhelpful content has not returned in the long-term, the classification will no longer apply.”
Although a week’s notice doesn’t give marketers or site owners much time to prepare, Google has made some suggestions that may be helpful.
The Helpful Content Algorithm Update is estimated to take around two weeks to roll out. Watch this space to keep up to date regarding when the update will roll out and end.
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Fifth Google Product Review Algorithm Update Set To Launch in August: Another big announcement made last week is the preparation for Google’s fifth version of its Product Review Algorithm Update, also said to roll out this month. This comes shortly after the July Product Update and the recently announced pending Helpful Content Update, which makes three updates in one month. This seems to align with Google’s quest to display more valuable, “in-depth reviews based on first-hand experience in search results” and remove low-quality information from the first page. Besides the emphasis on English content users use to guide their shopping decisions, Google hasn’t released many details about what to expect. The rollout is scheduled to coincide with the completion of the Helpful Content Update. Although unconfirmed, experts at Search Engine Journal suspect that the two updates may be linked based on their comparable traits. Perhaps the data obtained from the Helpful Content Update may be applied to the Product Review Algorithm Update. Alternatively, it could be used to pinpoint low-quality product reviews not picked up in the previous update, meaning pages that weren’t previously affected could expect a decline in rankings.
Google’s Search Console Migration Finally Complete: Google’s Search Console Update is finally complete. Around two months back, Google started to move all Search Console properties to a new, simplified classification scheme. Before this, Google Search Console reports used two statuses to indicate if items are valid or invalid, using labels such as Valid, Warning, and Error. A page or item is considered valid if it doesn’t contain any serious concerns related to the report and invalid otherwise. Although both vary according to the type of report, an invalid status could still include warnings. So what’s new, you may ask? According to Search Engine Journal, there is no change to the way individual problems are classified by Search Console. What has changed is that these groupings no longer have a text label. Instead, groupings are now indicated by color and iconography. To be explicit, Google Search Console isn’t altering the data in reports. This modification only impacts the classification of issues. For more information, visit Google’s new help page.
Google Search Console Bug Affect Indexed Pages: According to Google, the incorrect number of indexed pages was recently reported due to an internal problem with Search Console, where pages were being mislabeled. However, Google announced via Twitter on August 17, 2022, that the issue has since been fixed. Google cautions that, as a result, you’ll probably notice a decline in the number of indexed pages in the Index Coverage report. This is not because the pages vanished from Google’s index. Instead, they were never actually indexed in the first place. In other words, it’s a reporting rather than a website problem. So, if you’ve been preparing reports for customers and incorporating the inaccurate amount of indexed pages, this issue shouldn’t be overlooked. Additionally, you may want to monitor Google’s indexing status for your most essential URLs and newly released content.
Google Search Console Coverage Report Gets Updated: on August 15, Google updated the coverage report statuses and repaired the validate fix button. Additionally, Search Engine Roundtable reported that Google also included a new source column and a method to filter the report by pages submitted again. Outside of the usual invalid or valid/indexed, or not indexed information, there are two relatively new items in this report. The first change is that an “unsubmitted pages only” filter has been added to the coverage report filter, replacing the “indexed, not submitted” filter. Additionally, a “Source” column was included in these reports. According to Search Engine Land, this should help you better grasp the faults in Search Console reports and help you determine which issues to give preference to. This tweak purely affects reporting and has no bearing on how Google crawls, indexes, or ranks your content.
Google Merchant Center Policy Updated: Google’s Merchant Center policy no longer automatically removes shopping listings when the return and refund policies and/or contact information are missing. Search Engine Land reported that this specific policy change impacts only free listings; paid listings remain exempt. In the past, Google would simply disregard listings from Google Merchant Center feeds if they didn’t have a return or refund policy. Additionally, Google would automatically dismiss Google Merchant Center feed listings with insufficient contact details. One factor to consider is that although the policies for the free listings policies have not changed, the type of enforcement has. As a result, Google may decrease the products’ visibility through Google Search even though it will keep those listings with the problems active.
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