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Google September 2023 Helpful Content Completed Rolling Out – Targeting SEO-First Content



Google September 2023 Helpful Content Completed Rolling Out - Targeting SEO-First Content

Google, at around 3 am ET this morning, announced that the September 2023 Google helpful content update has finished rolling out. It took about 14 days, starting on September 14, 2023, and completing today on September 28, 2023. This update really went after SEO-first content, which is why the SEO community is so heated about this specific update.

Technically, this update took 13 days and 11 hours to roll out as per the search status screen:

Google Search Status Hcu

Here are the X posts:

What The September 2023 Helpful Content Update Impacted

I believe this update was felt way more by the SEO industry than the average website owner, similar to when Google launched the Penguin update. It was what we all expected to happen from the first (August 2022) and second (December 2022) helpful content update but we simply did not see it until the third (September 2023) helpful content update.

Yes, this targeted content designed to rank well in search engines – search engine-first content (or maybe SEO-first content – if some want to call it that).

I know there are a ton of theories on what type of content this went after such as AI, low quality, unhelpful, etc. But it is all of that and more, including a mixture of that with horrible UX.

It took time for the impact to be seen because the tracking tools were unusually calm throughout most of the rollout of this update. We covered the heated SEO chatter around the damage this caused many SEOs on September 20th and Septmeber 26th.

Glenn Gabe said he did not see many tremors in the data, which is a tad unusual for Google updates:

As a reminder, Google is not rolling this update back, and we saw no signs of that happening. Although, the next version might be improved:

But this update felt like it impacted SEO-first content that was designed to rank well for search engines first and foremost.

Of course, we can all debate if that type of content is helpful but did your clients hire you (SEOs) to create content that is helpful or that ranks well in search engines?

September 2023 Google Helpful Content Update Quick Facts

Here are the most important things that we know right now in short form:

Name: Google September 2023 Helpful content update

Launch Date: September 14 at 4:20 pm ET
Rollout: Finished rolling out on September 28 at 3:00 am ET

Targets: It looks at content that was created to rank well in search over help humans

Search Only: This currently impacts Google Search and Google Discover.

Penalty: Google did not mention penalty but this update does seem to feel like a penalty for sites that will be hit by it

Promotes: This update promotes helpful content but soon will also demote unhelp content.

Sitewide: This is a sitewide algorithm, so the whole site will be impacted by this update

Not a core update: Many are going to say this is a core update, it is not.

Global and all languages: This is no longer just for English-language content, it is now all languages and global.

Impact: Google would not tell me what percentage of queries or searches were impacted by this update but Google did tell me it would be “meaningful.”

Also, Google said this will be felt more for online-educational materials, entertainment, shopping, and tech-related content.

Recover: If you were hit by this, then you will need to look at your content and see if you can do better with Google’s advice below

Refreshes: Google updates the scores constantly here but there is a timeout period, and a validation period and it can take several months to recover from this update.

Hammed Tajudeen is a graduate of Osun State Polytechnic, Iree with Higher National Diploma (HND) in Mass Communication