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Google’s September 2023 Helpful Content Update: What you need to know

On 14 September 2023, Google officially launched its latest algorithm update, the September 2023 Helpful Content Update, aimed at improving the quality of search results and providing more clarity for content creators and SEO professionals. This update is expected to roll out fully over the next two weeks, with significant changes to Google’s helpful content system. Here’s what you need to know:

AI-generated content is accepted

In a notable shift, Google has revised its guidance on helpful content creation. Previously stating that content should be “created by people for people,” Google now simply emphasises that content should be “created for people.” This change suggests that AI-generated content is acceptable to Google, as long as it provides valuable information that serves users. This marks a significant development in how AI is influencing SEO practices.

Expertise can be verified

Google’s updated guidance clarifies that high-quality, expert content can be either “written by an expert or reviewed by an expert.” This means that content reviewed and verified by an expert can be considered as having expertise, even if the expert did not write the content themselves. This change highlights the importance of expert validation in content creation.

Third-party content guidelines

Google has also provided new guidelines regarding hosting third-party content on websites. If third-party content is hosted on the main site or in subdomains, Google recommends blocking it from being indexed if it is largely independent of the main site’s purpose or if it lacks proper supervision or involvement from the primary site. This change is aimed at preventing websites from manipulating search results by renting out subdomains for low-quality, unrelated content.

Date manipulation alert

To combat the practice of changing publication dates without making substantial content updates, Google has added a guideline that questions whether pages are altering their dates to appear fresh when there is no significant content change. This emphasises the importance of maintaining transparency and accuracy with publication dates.

The focus remains on quality

Despite these algorithm tweaks, Google’s overarching advice remains consistent: Create valuable and helpful content for human users rather than trying to manipulate search algorithms. The key takeaway for content creators is to stay committed to producing high-quality, user-focused content that adds genuine value.

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