Google Announces Helpful Content Update Targeting Sites with Content Created for Search Engines-First

The Helpful Content Update was announced by Google on August 18, 2022. It completed roll out on September 9.

This update is a new change in Google’s search ranking algorithm.

The Helpful Content Update is focused on the quality of site content. It ensures that people get original, helpful content in the search results, and that web content is written for people first, rather than purely to improve rankings in the search engines.

What is Google’s Helpful Content Update?

The Helpful Content Update announced by Google helps to ensure that people get more original and helpful content written by people, for people, in the search results.

The Helpful Content Update will reward sites that provide useful and original content where the content meets user expectations. Sites that provide their users with valuable content written for people first will get better search rankings on Google.

Sites that provide content that is written primarily for the search engines, mainly to improve their search rankings, will find their search rankings negatively impacted.

The Helpful Content Update is a site-wide signal. If a site is negatively impacted, it can take months to recover their search rankings.

How to Ensure that Your Content Focuses on People-First?

In their announcement of the Helpful Content Update, Google’s advice is that website owners should focus on creating valuable web content that also follows the SEO best practices outlined in Google’s SEO guide. They reiterate that SEO is valuable when it is applied to people-first content.

Google has provided Guidelines for their Helpful Content Update.

I have added my comments below their guidelines.

1. Create Content for People-First

Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?

Does your site provide content that is useful to your target site visitors? The content on your site should be valuable to your visitors, and not on the site merely to increase search rankings. Focus on creating content that is original, valuable and useful to your site visitors.

Here is an excerpt from Google’s Core Updates blog :

Content and quality questions from Google

Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)?

Site content should demonstrate a high level of expertise and experience with the product or service. This is what Google has been stressing with E-A-T (expertise,authority and trust) guidelines.

This is an excerpt from Google’s Core Updates blog :

Expertise questions from Google

Other guidelines they provide are:

  • Does your site have a primary focus? Each page on your site should have a primary purpose to exist on the site.
  • After reading the content, the user should feel that the content has provided the information they need to achieve goals, without having to search for additional content to answer their question.
  • The content should be satisfying to the reader. Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines provides information on what they consider to be great content.
  • Google’s core updates and product reviews guidelines should be followed to maintain high quality content on your site.

2. Avoid Content Created Mainly for Search Engines

Most of Google’s advice in this section is to follow SEO best practices for creating people-first content, and to avoid creating content just for improving search rankings.

  • Avoid producing content on different topics, so that they will rank well on the search engines.
  • Avoid producing content of a certain word length to rank better. Google has indicated that they do not consider word length for SEO rankings.
  • Avoid using automation to produce content on different topics. Automated content is written to rank well on the search engines, but does not provide value to the reader.
  • Avoid writing about topics only because they are trending, or simply summarizing content without adding value.
  • Avoid producing content on niche topics where you do not have the expertise.
  • Avoid producing thin content that does not answer the reader’s questions. Remove these pages and replace them with high quality content.

To ensure your site provides helpful content, follow the webmaster guidelines. Excerpt below:

Basic content quality principles from Google

When does the Helpful Content Update Rollout?

The Helpful Content Update completed rollout on September 9, 2022.

Google will use a new site-wide search ranking signal powered by machine-learning to identify sites that have low-quality or unhelpful content. This signal will be added to the other search ranking signals for ranking web pages. This signal is automated and expected to run continuously to evaluate site content.

Sites that are identified as having a large amount of low-quality content are expected to see a negative impact to their search rankings. These sites will need to remove the low-quality content in order to be considered for higher search rankings in the future. It could take months to recover if a site is negatively impacted.

This update will affect English searches globally and will later expand to other languages.


The Helpful Content Update is focused on ensuring that people get original, useful content written by people, for people, when they search for information on Google. Website content needs to be written for people first and should provide valuable information to answer search queries.

Site content needs to demonstrate a high level of expertise and authority in the niche. Google has recommended that sites follow SEO best practices while ensuring that their content is helpful and valuable to their site visitors.

The Helpful Content Update has completed rollout on September 9. This update so far has not had a large impact on rankings like Google’s 2011 Panda update.

Post first published: August 23, 22. Updated: September 30, 22

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