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Google September 2023 Helpful Content Update Current Impact

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Google Paper Logo Algo Burn Hcu

Google started to roll out the Google September 2023 Helpful Content Update last Thursday afternoon and I’ve been seeing mixed signals about how strong and widespread this update is. There are definitely site owners and SEOs claiming some of their sites were hit hard but the tracking tools are reporting relatively calm weather since the update started.

The chatter is pretty heated in the various forums however I am not seeing much talk on Twitter of this update. The weird thing is the chatter is not matching up with the tracking tools.

Since we are now over five days since it started rolling out, I wanted to cover what I am seeing.

Again, there is a lot chatter and SEOs are claiming traffic drops (or gains) from Google Search after this began rolling out. But again, most of those tracking tools have been pretty calm.

Many are reporting drops in traffic and visibility from 40% to upwards of 80% after being hit by this helpful content update.

SEO Chatter

Let’s look at what the chatter is showing in the WebmasterWorld forums and the comments here. The chatter did slowly start up a day after the update was announced.

Huge drop 10am sharp…traffic was very high this morning then right off the cliff. Hopefully temporary…

I love Google. I am now -30%. Destroy my site more G! Keep those downward spirals coming! They have a monopoly going but want to destroy their SERPS instead. Really hope this is temporary.

Mine was UK 19.00, exactly the same and has continued into today. It is now 12.30 UK time and in the last 17.5 hours I have had only ONE multiple page view visitor, in fact so far today I have had only 15% of my average traffic, yes 15%.

What on earth are they doing, quite simply Internet traffic does not switch on and off like this, it is blatantly being manipulated.

My traffic jumped up considerably from August 26th onward, and has been especially high in the last week. Interestingly, this past week there weren’t many new customers inquiring at all. Now with this 2nd update we are back to big drops and peaks, and as usual it’s USA traffic that is dropping, every other country is still high. It’s too early to tell whether this will hold…I’m thinking that this is the dialing back of the previous update.

Is anyone noticing a huge fluctuation today? Both up and down. My website moved up to the first 5 positions on the first page for the most used term in my niche. It stayed there for 2 hours.

Then returned to the 3rd page. But it’s fluctuating a lot today. My website has never come so close to the big competing companies in my niche.

I had a small drop when the useful content update started in december/22. I notice that several pages are recovering positions since yesterday.

Nothing more just. It seems like a kind of “fix” for G, after its disastrous update.

Yes, large drops with plateaus throughout the day starting at 10am yesterday and continuing through today. All of it is drops in USA traffic. It seems that around 9am this morning it jumped up a bit. but both Fridays and Saturdays are generally low traffic days so hard to tell. Interestingly, all the conversions stopped already while the traffic was very high. I do think GOOG is probably dialing back the previous update…they made a terrible mistake and allowed people to get decent traffic for far too long. That simply cannot be allowed to continue.

USA traffic -62% at 1pm on Sunday…Canada is -40% and Australia is -30%. USA was also down most of the day yesterday, but ended up +4% after a late night spike. Every other location is still strong. So this latest update is simply a rehash of the previous trends where USA/Canada and other English language searches drop off a cliff on a regular basis. This has nothing to do with “Helpful Content”, it’s really a “We’re Helping Ourselves to Your Income” update.

Saturday struggled to a 63% with today being even lower coming up to 17 hours and 32% … This is looking extremely pear-shaped !

I have noticed big movements all day since sep/15. Overall, I notice an increase in my traffic.

Big moves downward in USA / Canada traffic since the minute this was announced basically. It went from being +36% in the previous month to -50%-60% all day long with a mysterious pop of traffic in the eve making up the day’s loss.

Very, very slow weekend, like other said before. But today traffic was a little better. Some conversions and it seems that certain items that we put much effort in coming back. But that means nothing. Could be upside down tomorrow or in 10 minutes.

Sunday’s total traffic 45.5% with today after 16 hours at 32.5%, this is sub-Xmas / New Year / Easter Day levels for me. My global SERPs seem to be unaffected apart from USA localisation of half-a-dozen specific keywords.

Traffic for our informational travel site has been up slightly (most days, in the single digits) in week-over-week comparisons.Of the past seven days, all days but one were showing an improvement. Since these improvements have come at a time when we’re normally in a downhill slide that lasts until at least mid-December, the boosts are better than the raw percentages might suggest.

A page that was deleted over a month ago, has now started ranking for many keywords during this update.

This means that Google extracts data on pages for ranking weeks before, launching the update. So, any quality changes you make will literally take months to take effect.

There isn’t any synchronization between their crawling, indexing and ranking systems, else their algos wouldn’t rank and display pages that haven’t existed for weeks.

In the first few days, it seemed like it was something intense. But it has stabilized for now. Slight movements so far, everything is warm…

UK traffic is down ~40% for today. First day seeing changes since the update was announced, not sure if it’s gonna stay or not.

The HCU is killing my 10-month old informational site. Yesterday -20% organic traffic compared to last week, today will end up being about -45%. I am hoping for a full recovery as with the August update, but this looks bad. Really bad. I tried my best with this site, I have proper topical authority, topical clusters, interlinking is excellent, and the blog posts are extremely helpful to the best of my abilities. This is ludicrous if it remains.

Well, this Helpful Content update reversed all the gains from the August Core Update.

For once, seeing an uplift in traffic since these last updates. It might go back down in a few days who knows.

Since September 19th my site has lost visibility on Google News and apparently on Google Discover. If before with keywords it was on 1-2 pages on Google News now it is on 4-6 pages.

My newest site is hit terribly. Today will end up at -40% at least. The site is extremely helpful and I’ve implemented some of the best SEO practices, so I’m completely lost… Perhaps it’s the SGE rolling out?

I’m finding very little info about this update, but there’s a huge impact in my niche/location (Tech/EU), since yesterday. SERP’s for a lot of terms that I track have completely been scrambled. I’m down about 50% of my search traffic personally. All that’s ranking right now are retailers and sites with tons of authority, often with results that aren’t as helpful in answering the search query. Independent/small publications all seem to be down, however helpful the content is (better answers for the query, actual product reviews, etc, doesn’t seem to help ranking for these sites). Really hope to see some of this reversed soon.

Same here. Lost about 40 to 50% of organic traffic today. Is it the SGE rolling out for everyone? Now AI ranks up perhaps? And organic traffic suffers? Just guessing, but no idea.

Same here. My rank tracker today has shown a disastrous loss of formerly secure keyword positions, most of which were ranking in the top 5 and have now fallen to page 2 or 3. But this new ordering only displays some of the time depending on page refresh.

I’m looking at the new results and I’m now being outranked by pages that are not even relevant to the query. Many sites that are ranking now are just e-commerce listings.

60% loss in traffic in the past 24 hours. There is insane volatility in my keywords, jumping from page 1 to 7 to 3, also the SERP results change every time I refresh.

So far approx -15% for my 16 year old, niche authority, highly relevant and helpful information site. It tanks further every day, especially US traffic.

My 7-year-old site is 15-20% down since Monday. I’m tired of this grind—one week up, next week down. Traffic does not increase at all. On top of it, lower ad revenue.

Seeing massive shake ups on my end and lost heaps of traffic, im not even counting at this point cause it seems to be on the hourly that more keywords are losing their positions to massive news sites, reddit and quora.

Lost 20% traffic (around 1k sessions). Seems like many featured snippets are gone.

Like most of you. Even I lost 45% traffic from my website since September 18-19. Thank you Google.

Yup, in the same boat. About 45% lost organic traffic on my main site.

Never happened before, it’s getting worst, down 50% all of sudden. This is the most unhelpful update even seen from Google, like Google set the criteria, only very high authoritive website must rank high on SERP, no matter the relevancy of content and quality.


That is just some, a sampling, of the chatter.

Google Tracking Tools

Here is what the tools are showing, as you can see, most are pretty calm since the 14th and 15th, when this update started to roll out. In fact, Semrush looks almost dead:

Semrush:

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SERPmetrics:

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Advanced Web Rankings:

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Accuranker:

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Mozcast:

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Cognitive SEO:

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Algoroo:

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RankRanger:

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SERPstat:

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Wincher:

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SERPwoo:

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Sistrix sent me some charts saying they are just noticing the first movements from this helpful content update:

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Glenn Gabe is also tracking this super closely early on was also not seeing big shifts but things may have changed in the past 24 hours:

This morning he noticed big changes:

This feels like a weird update.

What are you all seeing?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.



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Google Core Update Expected In Coming Weeks

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Google Core Fire Balls

Danny Sullivan, the Google Search Liaison, said that he expects the next core update will be rolling out in the coming weeks. He said it is hard to predict because these updates are not scheduled to a particular day but rather tested and then once approved are launched.

Sullivan said this on a comment on this site, over here, he wrote, “I would expect we’ll see one in the coming weeks, because that fits in with our general cycle.” “But precisely when, that’s just not known yet,” he added.

In fact, he added that these updates are simple not scheduled, he said, “the ranking team makes changes, tests those, evaluates those and eventually we get a launch date.” But that, I guess, has not happened yet and thus we don’t have a date yet. When it is ready, I assume Google will roll it out and let us know and that seems to happen pretty quickly after the testing and evaluations are all approved.

He wrote:

We’d tell you when the next core update will be if we knew. But we don’t know exactly yet, that’s all. These aren’t scheduled to a particular day. The ranking team makes changes, tests those, evaluates those and eventually we get a launch date. There have been many times I could have said “Core update next week!” because everything was on track for that to happen, but then there’s a need to do a bit more work or other things that might cause a pushback. I would expect we’ll see one in the coming weeks, because that fits in with our general cycle. But precisely when, that’s just not known yet.

As to seeing changes? Well, Sullivan did also say in the comments, “I do hope we can improve in some of these cases where creators with their hearts in the right places, and who are doing the real content effort behind that, are rewarded as we should be doing.” This echoes a lot of what Google said before.

He also added something I did not know, that he interviewed folks at HouseFresh and RetroDodo in front of about 50 Google Search Quality team members, so the Google team “could hear first-hand directly some of the things that they’ve had relayed from me, John or which they’ve read about,” he wrote. “It was incredibly useful, impactful, and I’m deeply grateful for both of those for agreeing to do it,” he added.

So maybe we will have a July 2024 core update or maybe it will be an August 2024 core update – or maybe later. It all depends on how the testing and evaluations go… For all we know, that might happen later today, so buckle up.

Forum discussion at us and X.

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How To Remove Thumbtack Book Links In Google Business Profiles

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Google Appointment Book

There are new reports that a booking/appointment system run by Thumbtack, a local search service, is automatically adding its booking links and service to Google Business Profiles. Well, you can opt out, if you don’t want it. But I am sure most businesses will have no clue this was added to their local listings in Google Search and Google Maps.

To opt out, you need to fill out this form. This is from the Thumbtack help page – so check there if the form no longer works, maybe there will be an updated link.

The book now button looks like this:

Google Business Profile Book Button

As reported to me by Colan Nielsen on X and posted in the Local Search Forum, this business does not want the book link to go to Thumbtack, but it does – at least when I wrote this.

Colan wrote, “Looks like Thumbtack is automatically adding booking links to Google Business Profiles.”

We saw this happen a lot over the years, we even called it hijacking appointment links in Google – including with Postmates.

The Thumbtack help document says, “we’ve automatically added a Thumbtack booking option through your Google Business Profile. No further action is needed from you.” So this is not an opt in thing, rather an opt out thing – which is not good.

So please be aware of this and be on the look out for changes to your booking link.

Forum discussion at Local Search Forum.

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Google Volatility, Indexing Bugs, Google Ads Broad Match Default & YouTube SEO Tips

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Google Volatility, Indexing Bugs, Google Ads Broad Match Default & YouTube SEO Tips


For the original iTunes version, click here.

This week, guess what, we had more volatility over the weekend and also a blip in the middle of the week. Google also had another indexing bug that lasted only about an hour. Google Search Console had a bug with new owner notifications. Google Search Console now lets you enter your shipping and return policies in settings. Google said it found the feedback it collected on the last core update really helpful. Google updated its URL best practices document to say don’t use fragments to change content on the page. Google Search will now extract composite images with trained algorithmic media types, i.e. AI. Google said if you are ranking for unrelated keywords in search, maybe try to make your content clearer. Google is testing country label tags in the search results. Google is testing auto-playing videos in the search results. Google is also testing thin video snippets. Google Ads enabled broad match by default for new search campaigns. Google Ads confirmed ads can show below featured snippets as part of its dynamic ad placement evolution. Google Ads is testing double row carousel shopping ads. Google Ads is testing people also browsed carousel.s Google Maps said it is not testing “add stop” ads. Bing is testing nutrition labels in the image results. Google Business Profiles added a consumer alerts page. Thumbtack is automatically adding its booking links to your Google Business Profile. YouTube shared some YouTube SEO advice and tips That was the search news this week at the Search Engine Roundtable.

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