Google Again Says You Can Recover From Helpful Content Damage With Next Core Update

Google Again Says You Can Recover From Helpful Content Damage With Next Core Update

Google once again said you can recover from the damage inflicted on your site by the September 2023 helpful content update with the next core update. Danny Sullivan, the Google Search Liaison, said on X, “Yes, people who have had impacts with core ranking updates may see changes (if our systems believe they’ve improved) after the next broad one we have.”

Sullivan was not able to say when that next core update will happen but he said when it does and if enough changes are made to your site, than you can recover with that next core update.

Sullivan posted on X in response to this question:


Hey @searchliaison is there any rough estimate on the next core update, please? If I remember correctly @JohnMu suggested recovery from the HCU could be possible with the next one (maybe even before) but it’s very tough to stay positive right now with our visibility suppressed.


I know people keep referring to the helpful content system (or update), and I understand that — but we don’t have a separate system like that now. It’s all part of our core ranking systems.

Which leads to, yes, people who have had impacts with core ranking updates may see changes (if our systems believe they’ve improved) after the next broad one we have. This explains more about that.

I don’t have timing to share, but we do them several times during the year.

As a reminder, zero sites have recovered yet from that September helpful content update, not even after the March 2024 core update.

Google has said these recoveries take much longer than some other update recoveries. Depsite there being some miscommunication around recovery timing from Google. Google did say sites cannot only recovery but also grow if things are done right. But what does it take to recover – that is what everyone is asking.

Update: Danny Sullivan posted a bit later today on X:

I’ll try again. I’m not sure it will help, because I find when I respond to these types of questions, people can focus way too much on some minor things I say, interpret them in ways I didn’t mean (or didn’t even say), and ignore or miss the actual main response to a question.

Right now, as you know, there are people who are still looking for ways to recover traffic after our recent updates. They read our advice. They read advice from others. They read news about ranking systems that we may or may not be using. It’s an even-more-than-usual confusing time.

I greatly sympathize with that. I don’t think it should be that confusing for people who want to create content. Ideally, you make great content, Google recognizes it, and it shows well in our search results. I also think that still works for a wide range of queries. I am not saying we’re perfect. We’re not. We’ve definitely had issues with some of the updates not doing what I’d consider right by some content creators. Others in the search team recognize this, as well. That’s all stuff I hope our systems will get better at. It is something the ranking teams — of which I’m part of — are looking at.

But back to the “what do I do now?” for those who are confused and are wondering how to recover. I didn’t say “make your site for social!” I didn’t say “turn your pages into an email form.” I didn’t say don’t be a good page for people who arrive at it from search.

I said, that if you’re feeling confused, to do this as your touchstone:

“Everyone should focus on doing whatever they think is best for their readers.”

This shouldn’t be a controversial issue. That should be the foundation for anyone who creates content. Why are you doing something on your page? It should be for your readers. Your visitors. Your customers.

Where I’ve seen creators go wrong, it’s because they often fixate too much on doing some particular thing that they think is the thing that somehow will rank them better.

What things? That’s already where the creators start going wrong again. In the past, I’ve given examples of specific things I think people are doing only because they think “Google likes it” and not because they’d otherwise do it. Then people obsess on those particular things, thinking the things themselves were somehow bad (which wasn’t what I said) and miss the larger point that doing content things just for Google may cause you to miss focusing on doing great things for your readers — which, in turn, is what we’re trying to reward.

I’ve said this fundamental point thing time and time again. Others from Google have, as well. People can (and do) mock that advice. People virtually shout “he’s gaslighting” or “but I’ve been doing that since September and it hasn’t helped!” I get all that.

But it remains the best advice I have to offer for those looking to recover. That’s because the ranking changes we make are aiming to reward content that’s meant for readers. Aim for your readers, and you’re aiming ahead of where the ranking systems are trying to go. It’s what I talked about here.

Forum discussion at X.



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