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How is Google’s “helpful content” rollout going?

Google mobile device

How is Google’s “helpful content” rollout going?

In August, Google announced an update based around “helpful content”, which was predicted by Search Engine Roundtable’s Barry Schwartz to have as much of an influence on search as the well-remembered Google Panda and Penguin updates did in the early 2010s.

Updates like Panda, Penguin and later Hummingbird were huge algorithm changes brought out to tackle “black hat” search engine optimisation (SEO) strategies, and caused significant volatility in Google’s search results. Over the years since, Google has all but stopped announcing updates in advance and giving them specific names. Instead, it has settled into a pattern of releasing “core updates” every few months, followed by largely the same advice about high-quality and meaningful content.

Two weeks have passed since Google made the “helpful content” announcement, but Schwartz has said this week that so far he is finding the effects of the change to be surprisingly “weak and slow”. He adds that the SEO community seems broadly unconcerned at present, and is not using Google’s specially set up feedback form for much in the way of chatter.

Schwartz compiled a handful of comments from over the weekend from webmasters saying their traffic had been affected, including one saying they were down 25% and many of their keywords had dropped from top spot to page two, but these were few and far between. In most cases, the only comments were on how little was happening.

However, perhaps it is for the best that the days of wild overnight changes are coming to an end and that Google is making its rollouts longer and more incremental. We’re still in relatively early days for this change, so when you see small changes, this could be a sign that it’s time to act.

At Engage Web, we like the idea of “helpful content”, and have long been of the belief that good-quality writing is what both your human visitors and search engines want to see. For content assistance, speak to our team today.

John Murray

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