In late August, Google rolled out the “Helpful Content Update” — its newest algorithm upgrade intended to promote visibility of URLs written for people instead of over-optimized for search engines. Upon rollout, we published a blog that provided an overview of the update and various tips to ensure that you’re creating user-first content to avoid traffic setbacks.
In a Tweet shared yesterday, Google announced a second rollout of the update that began on Monday, December 5, 2022. Similar to the first one, Google said to expect full implementation to take roughly two weeks. That’s a critical time of year for B2B technology brands actively shaping their 2023 content strategies.
What’s New About the December Helpful Content Update?
As usual, Google has been relatively tight-lipped regarding the specifics of the update. However, we do know that it builds upon the summer update. The significant addition is that the Helpful Content Update now impacts all global content across all languages.
What Websites Will the New Helpful Content Update Rollout Impact?
Like all major algorithm updates, Google allows all negatively impacted domains to make the necessary changes needed to adhere to updated guidelines and recover in subsequent rollouts.
This is good news for domains impacted by over-optimized content from the summer update. If you rewrote or no-indexed potentially problematic content after the August rollout, you may experience signs of recovery from this December update. If not, you may experience further setbacks.
Mobilizing to Build Insurance in Your Content Strategy
With the rollout expected to last two weeks, it will be important to keep a very close eye on your organic rankings and traffic levels to determine whether you’ve been directly impacted. Here are a few specific actions you can take:
- Analyze week-over-week organic impressions in Google Search Console. Do you see any significant changes from the norm? Any sharp reduction in visibility for specific URLs?
- If so, I’d highly recommend planning for significant rewrites of that content to be prioritized in Q1. To be extra safe, you could no-index content that’s potentially putting you in harm's way before rewriting. Remember that the Helpful Content Update is a sitewide algorithm—it doesn’t just impact the low-quality individual URLs but the entire domain of those who do not comply.
- Separately, in a hectic week at Google HQ, the search engine announced Monday that “Continuous Scrolling” will begin for desktop users. This means that users will see up to six pages worth of results without clicking the “more” button at the bottom of the search result page.
- For brands, this could mean increasing impressions for results you currently have ranking outside of the first six to 10 positions. Though new for desktop, this feature has been tested on mobile devices for quite some time now. To take advantage of this opportunity, I recommend auditing year-to-date mobile impressions and optimizing the top 10-15% of the URLs that fall outside of an average position of 10.
For now, all brands can do is wait and see if—and how—they will be impacted. Regardless of what happens with this or future updates, we recommend continuing only to write content that is, first and foremost, valuable to your target audience. Only then should you consider the technical optimizations critical to the organic visibility of the material you produce. Google has now doubled down on the fact that producing content for its eyes first will result in far more harm than good.