Google’s Helpful Content System Uses Machine Learning To Know If Content Is Helpful


This is just a reminder that Google uses machine learning to understand if content is helpful or not within the Google helpful content system. This is not new, we’ve known this for over a year, but it seems many of us keep forgetting.

Google told me back when it was about to release the helpful content system that it aggregates a variety of signals about the page and site to determine the ranking of a page. Google would not say if links are part of those signals or not, but it does not seem so.

Google uses machine learning to identify such content – content designed to rank well in search and not be helpful to users. Google told me they validated these algorithms with quality raters and that using this system improves its search quality, just as Google validates any type of ranking improvement prior to launch, Google told me.

Danny Sullivan, the Google Search Liaison, repeated this Friday night on X, saying, “That brings things back to the helpful content system that yes, using machine learning to understand about content from words on the content and signals beyond it to know if it seems helpful.”

He added, “But the key thing is that it’s saying helpfulness often can’t be determined from “the words or images alone” which makes sense. I mean, if someone just wrote “Hey, this is helpful content!” anyone — not just a search engine — would look for ways to know it really was. That’s why the post went on to talk about how we use signals that “align with what humans might interpret as high quality or reliable.”

Here are those tweets if you want to dive into it, click through:

In short, you can’t fix a ranking issue related to the helpful content system by doing one or two things. The helpful content system really tries to understand if the content on your site is helpful or not. That is not fixing one or two things, that is looking at the overall content through all the pages on your site (yes, this is a sitewide algorithm) and that means you need to fix most of your content if you get hit by this update.

Forum discussion at X.



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