Report: No Site Hit By The September Helpful Content Update Recovered Yet

Mar 22, 2024 - 7:51 am 484 by
Filed Under Google Updates

Google Content Spill Burned

As you know, the September 2023 helpful content update was brutal to many small site owners, bloggers, SEOs and others. Some of these folks were desperately waiting for a recovery and were hopeful that this March 2024 core update (which is still rolling out) would result in a recovery. But it does not appear that any site has yet recovered from the ranking declines they saw in September 2023.

I have personally not heard of anyone say they recovered from that September 2023 helpful content update and I track a ton of chatter across many forums and social media platforms. Heck, most of the comments left on this site are from site owners and SEOs who have been dealing with the outcome of the September helpful content update and no one has commented they recovered. In fact, many of them said they are seeing even less visibility from Google Search since the March core update.

But the data that Glenn Gabe posted on X yesterday says that of the over 200 sites he tracked that got hit with the helpful content update, zero - I repeat - zero have recovered. Glenn wrote, "Now that we are two weeks into the March core update, I ran the visibility numbers for several hundred sites impacted the September HCU(X). I haven't see one that recovered yet. Actually, most were down even more (see screenshots below of March impact and then overall impact since the September HCU)."

He shared some charts of random sites that were hit by the helpful content update in September 2023 and how their visibility was throughout yesterday:

Hcu Chart 1

Hcu Chart 2

Hcu Chart 3

Hcu Chart 4

Now, as Glenn said in his post, "Remember, the helpful content system has been baked into Google's core ranking systems now. Google explained that instead of one classifier and system, there are now multiple systems assessing the helpfulness of content." We covered this in our previous stories. And we know the core update still has a couple of weeks left to roll out. So maybe (but I am doubtful) the helpful content components of this core update will roll out at the tail end of this core update and we will see some recoveries?

I mean, Google said wait for the update to be over to see what needs to be done. But Google also said these updates are not perfect and they will collect feedback when it is over. The core update is still rolling out, the spam update is done and those manual actions were very painful.

Glenn added these important points:

Based on the first two weeks of the rollout, it seems the new approach is impacting those sites *more* than the original HCU classifier. But... there are probably more systems that need to be updated with the March core update (and Google said those systems would reinforce each other). So, there is a possibility that the multiple systems assessing helpfulness of content will get updated and things might change for some of those sites over the next two weeks. Time will tell, but for now, all are still down that I checked (and many are down more since the core update started rolling out). Stay tuned.

My gut feeling is that we won't see many recoveries but I've been wrong a lot in my life. I mean, Google did say a reduction of 40% of unhelpful content. But Google never really mentioned that sites would recover. But we will see, the update is not done yet.

Yesterday, Danny Sullivan, the Google Search Liaison responded to a site's decline on X implying that he and Google is aware of some expert sites not ranking well and that he hopes to see changes in the future for those sites. He wrote, "I know your site. It's on a list of sites I spent time exploring recently, where people have said they are experts, small sites that deserve better visibility. On our end, there are definitely things I hope we'll improve on."

Here is that post:

I am hopeful but not expecting to see recoveries with this March update. I do hope that we will see another update from Google very soon that may give some of these site owners some relief...

Here is Glenn's post:

Note - I spoke to Glenn to get more clarity on the data before writing this story.

Forum discussion at X.


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