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Unhelpful Recovery Times to Google’s Helpful Content Update

May 3, 2024

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John Mueller, a Senior Search Analyst at Google, has been addressing concerns about websites not recovering from a ranking drop after the September 2023 Google Helpful Content update, despite the completion of the March 2024 Google core update.Β 

Mueller recently said:

β€œWhile recoveries are still possible, some things take much longer to be reassessed (sometimes months, at the moment), and some bigger effects require another update cycle.”

What was the Helpful Content Update?

Google implemented the September 2023 Helpful Content update to uncover content with the sole purpose of ranking high in search engines while offering no help to the reader.

Google said:

  • β€œThe update will help make sure that unoriginal, low-quality content doesn’t rank highly in Search.”
  •  β€œThe update will tackle content that seems to have been primarily created for ranking well in search engines.”

Besides the Helpful Content update, in March 2024, Google released its spam updates (with new spam policies), and recovery times are hurting a lot of websites!

Google March 2024 Core Update 

Google began further core updates (completed on April 19) across numerous systems, reporting that we’d see multiple fluctuations in the coming weeks.

Google explained the reason for the core update:

  • β€œThe core update should lead to a reduction in unhelpful, low-quality, unoriginal content in its search results by 40%.”

Google reported:

  •  β€œThe update helped reduce low-quality and unoriginal content in search results by 45%.”

Google warned:

  • β€œThis update will result in more ranking changes than previous core updates!”

Fast forward to May 2024, and recovery is slow

Site owners who did not recover from the September 2023 Helpful Content update may have hoped the latest update would solve the problem.

However, as Google’s March 2024 Core Update didn’t contain the needed answer, recovery might not happen soon! 

Google wrote on Search Central:

Here’s Google’s John Mueller’s response to recent concerns about recovery times on X:

How will Google’s Helpful Content update impact SEOs?

We knew significant changes were coming to search rankings, so should we find recovery times surprising?

In November 2023, Google’s Danny Sullivan said:

Even so, if Google’s recent update determines your site contains a high degree of unhelpful content, it won’t rank well in search, and it doesn’t matter that it also has helpful content because the classification affects everything on your website. 

So, what is helpful content?

Google’s new Helpful Content update intends to reward content written for humans, but the question is, how does Google define helpful content?

According to Google (and a recent Search Engine Land post), helpful content is:

  • Created for a specific audience: Websites with an intended audience should provide content specifically for their readers, not just to attract traffic from search engines. 
  • Trustworthy and credible: Any content you provide should leave the reader feeling comfortable that you are an authority on the subject.
  • Features expertise: Content should provide interesting information or an insightful analysis that draws on expert sources and provides originality and additional value.
  • Meet your reader’s needs: Your content should fulfill your reader’s intent (why they`re reading) by answering any questions your headline (and subheadings) ask.
Terry O'Toole

Terry O'Toole

Terry is a seasoned content marketing specialist with over six years of experience writing content that helps small businesses navigate where small businesses meet marketing - SEO, Social Media Marketing, etc. Terry has a proven track record of creating top-performing content in search results. When he is not writing content, Terry can be found on his boat in Italy or chilling in his villa in Spain.

SEO Power Plays

Read by 10,000+ world-class SEOs, CEOs, Founders, & Marketers. Strategy breakdown: monday.com's 77% traffic boost πŸš€ + Industry news and expert tidbits every Wednesday πŸ” + in-depth SEO strategy tips every Sunday ✨