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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.

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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.

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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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SEARCHENGINES

Daily Search Forum Recap: April 18, 2024

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Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.


Google Ads notified advertisers that some ad customizers will stop working soon. Google discontinued the limited use video carousel markup. Google Maps has new directions and travel features, plus a bunch of new EV features. Google Notes on Search might not end in May 2024 despite what people suggest. Google Business Profiles asked businesses to register their defibrillators, their AEDs.


Search Engine Roundtable Stories:


  • Google Notes On Search Won’t Necessarily Go Away In May


    There have been some people noticing that the Google Notes On Search labs experiment has an end date of May 2024 and thus they are expecting Notes on Search to be turned off by then. Just because it has that end date listed, it does not mean the labs experiment will end on that date.

  • Google Maps Releases New Directions, Travel & EV Features


    Google has announced a number of new travel features with Google Maps and Travel around driving alternatives, trains and buses, travel impact mode and then some new EV driving direction features. Google says these features are to give you more “sustainable choices.”

  • Google Ads Reminds Advertisers Some Ad Customizers Will Go Away May 31st


    On August 31, 2021, Google notified advertisers it would drop support for expanded text ads for responsive search ads. Google is now reminding advertisers that Ad customizers for text ads, expanded text ads and Dynamic Search Ads will stop serving after May 31, 2024.

  • Google Drops Video Carousel Markup


    Google has discontinued its support for video carousel markup and has thus removed it from its video structured data help documentation. Initially, Google tested video carousel on a limited number of sites and is now saying that it “ultimately found that it wasn’t useful for the ecosystem at scale.”

  • Google Business Profiles Register Your Defibrillator (AED)


    Google sent out emails a couple of days ago to businesses asking them to register their Automated External Defibrillator (AED) with Google Business Profiles. Google said, “you could save lives” if you do it.



  • Google NYC Earthquake Reaction Video


    A couple of weeks ago we had an earthquake in the New York region and I finally found a video from the Google NYC office of the reaction of some Googlers while the earthquake happened. These Googlers were recording a video and felt it but were unsure if that was a real earthquake.

Other Great Search Threads:

Search Engine Land Stories:

Other Great Search Stories:

Analytics

Industry & Business

Links & Content Marketing

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Local & Maps

Mobile & Voice

SEO

PPC

Search Features

Other Search

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Feedback:


Have feedback on this daily recap; let me know on Twitter @rustybrick or @seroundtable, on Threads, Mastodon and Bluesky and you can follow us on Facebook and on Google News and make sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or just contact us the old fashion way.



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SEARCHENGINES

Daily Search Forum Recap: April 17, 2024

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Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.


The Google March core update still is causing volatility and it is deepening. Google may make changes to the crawl stats report in Search Console. Google Search Console now shows unused ownership tokens. Google Maps will drop the review drafts. Google Add added generative AI for image generate for Demand Gen campaigns. Google Search is testing more sitelinks designs.


Search Engine Roundtable Stories:


  • Deepening Google Core Ranking Volatility Hits Yesterday & Today


    I know we just reported on more volatility this Monday, possibly related to the Google March 2024 core update, but we are seeing even more volatility over the past 24 hours related to this update. This volatility shows deepening movement for those who were hit, which is incredibly sad in many cases.

  • Google Search Console Adds Unused Ownership Tokens


    Google Search Console has a new security feature under user and permission management to help you manage your unused ownership tokens. Basically, it helps you manage who has permissions to your Search Console profiles and who should not, maybe some legacy verifications.


  • Google: Should We Explain The Crawl Stats Report in Search Console


    Martin Splitt from Google posted a one-line question asking, “Should we do something to explain the crawl stats report in GSC?” This was posted on Mastodon, which has a small audience, but the responses were pretty good.

  • New Google Ads AI Generated Image Tool For Demand Gen Campaigns


    Google Ads announced that Demand Gen campaigns are getting generative AI tools to create image assets. This is rolling out to advertisers around the world in English with more languages to come later this year, Google said.


  • Google Tests Horizontal Lines For Sitelinks & People Also Ask


    Google Search is testing horizontal lines under the sitelinks and the people also ask elements in the search results. This is a long horizontal line that goes across the while search result snippet.

  • Google Maps No Longer Will Support Draft Reviews


    Google Maps will soon stop supporting drafting reviews for local business listings and Google Business Profiles. Google said that starting July 16, 2024, review drafts will no longer be supported.

  • Doogler In Google Play Area


    Some of you love photos of dogs, so here is another one of a Doogler, a Google dog, in a play area, at the Google office. This was shared by the Life at Google Twitter account.

Other Great Search Threads:

Search Engine Land Stories:

Other Great Search Stories:

Analytics

Industry & Business

Links & Content Marketing

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Local & Maps

Mobile & Voice

SEO

PPC

Search Features

Other Search

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Feedback:


Have feedback on this daily recap; let me know on Twitter @rustybrick or @seroundtable, on Threads, Mastodon and Bluesky and you can follow us on Facebook and on Google News and make sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or just contact us the old fashion way.



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SEARCHENGINES

Daily Search Forum Recap: April 16, 2024

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Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.


Google will fight the site reputation abuse spam both algorithmically and with manual actions. Google is testing thumbs-up and down in product carousels. Google Ads similar product carousel is being tested. Google Search updated its image documentation. Google AdSense has a new ad format named ad intents.


Search Engine Roundtable Stories:


  • Google Will Fight Site Reputation Abuse Spam Both With Manual Actions & Algorithms


    Google’s new spam algorithm update also introduced new spam policies including the upcoming site reputation abuse policy that won’t go into effect until May 2024. Google has confirmed it will fight site reputation abuse spam using both manual actions (humans) and algorithms (machines).

  • Google Search Tests Thumbs Up/Down Buttons In Product Grid Results


    Google launched the style recommendations with thumbs up and down buttons not long ago after testing it in January. Now Google is showing this thumbs up and down buttons in the product grid search results, so Google can see what you like or dislike and then show you more products that you do like.

  • Google Ads “Similar Product” Carousel


    Google has a similar products section and carousel for Google Ads sponsored listings. We have seen similar products and similar shopping related results from the organic / free listings but now I am seeing examples of a search ad carousel for “similar products.”



  • Clarification: Google Search Supports Images Referenced From src Attribute


    Google has clarified in its image search help documentation that images are only extracted from the src attribute of img tags in Google Search. This is not new, but Google decided to update its documentation based on some questions it received about the topic.



  • Google AdSense New Ad Intents Formats – Links & Anchors In Content


    Google AdSense announced a new auto ads format named “Ad intents.” Ad intents places links and anchors showing organic search results with ads into existing text and pages on your site related to your content. Yea, it takes your content, and hyperlinks it to the Google search results.



  • 3-Wheel Tricycle At Google


    Google’s Ann Arbor office has this 3-wheel tricycle that some Googlers have used over the years to get around the office. This one looks like the hot pink Huffy brand. I spotted this recently on Instagram but the photo is from 2016.

Other Great Search Threads:

Search Engine Land Stories:

Other Great Search Stories:

Analytics

Industry & Business

Links & Content Marketing

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Local & Maps

Mobile & Voice

SEO

PPC

Search Features

Other Search

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Feedback:


Have feedback on this daily recap; let me know on Twitter @rustybrick or @seroundtable, on Threads, Mastodon and Bluesky and you can follow us on Facebook and on Google News and make sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or just contact us the old fashion way.



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