Google Working On Surfacing More Heartful Helpful Content In Search

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Last week we reported how Danny Sullivan, Google’s Search Liaison, said how they are looking for ways to better promote sites that were hit by that helpful content update in September. Now, over the weekend, John Mueller from Google added, “the team working on this is explictly evaluating how sites can / will improve in Search for the next update.”

John said this on X, making it clear that he “can’t make any promises” but he wrote, “the team working on this is explictly evaluating how sites can / will improve in Search for the next update.” Then came this line, where he expresses his personal feelings about content creators who take “helpfulness to heart.” He wrote, “It would be great to show more users the content that folks have worked hard on, and where sites have taken helpfulness to heart.”

As a reminder, when the March 2024 core update came out, many who were hit by that September 2023 helpful content update were expecting to see some sort of recoveries but no one did. Talking about the “heart,” this was soul-crushing (let alone financially devastating) for so many of these publishers.

The issue might be that Google applied this helpful content signal, which is now in the core updates – helpful content updates are no longer too broadly? John wrote before that saying, “I imagine for most sites strongly affected, the effects will be site-wide for the time being, and it will take until the next update to see similar strong effects (assuming the new state of the site is significantly better than before).” This means to me that maybe some of the less helpful content on a site is dragging down the helpful content on that same site and maybe the ratio is just too much? I don’t know for sure.

Here is that post on X:

It stems from this original post:

But it goes deeper, searching for a query and site name still buries a lot of these sites. Google’s Danny Sullivan says he hopes to see improvements there:

Again, a lot of this was communicated at a higher level earlier last week – which I covered here but now we see similar communication from another Googler – so it seems more hopeful?

Reminds me of that buckle up chatter from 6 months ago. So hopefully after whatever changes Google’s search engineers make, we will see sites not just recover but also grow? But Google has set us up to tell us this may take a lot of time, despite earlier saying it can be weeks which turned into several months.

Meanwhile, SEOs are saying that Google’s AI Overviews are happy to use content from sites destroyed by the helpful content update – that the content is helpful enough for AI Overviews but not for directly ranking in Google Search:

Are you taking helpfulness to heart? If so, are you hopeful?

Forum discussion at X.

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