On August 25, Google released the August 2022 Helpful Content Update. It was presented as one of the most important search algorithm updates in recent years. And, as its name implies, it was aimed at websites with a relatively high amount of unsatisfactory or useless content, where the content was written for search engines rather than users.


What is the August 2022 Helpful Content Update

The new August 2022 Helpful Content Update, as Google explains, focuses on “content that seems to have been created primarily to rank well in search engines rather than help or inform people.” Therefore, the goal of this helpful content update is to help search engines find “high-quality content.” In this way, Google wants to reward the best and most useful content, written for humans and to help users.

More and more we find content written specifically in order to rank in search engines. It is what we could call “search engine-first content” or “SEO content”. Google’s new algorithm aims to demote those types of websites while promoting more useful websites, designed for humans, above search engines.

In presenting this new update, Google explained that it is an “ongoing effort to reduce low-quality content and make it easier to find content that feels authentic and useful in search.”

As for the sites that may be most affected, although these algorithms do not usually target any specific niche, Google has explained that, on this occasion, the following areas may be most affected:

  • Online educational materials.
  • Art and Entertainment.
  • Shopping.
  • Technology related.

This is because, historically, these are the fields in which the most content focused on search engines is usually written.


The Helpful Content Update will affect the entire site

Unlike previous Google search algorithm updates that are applied on a page-by-page basis, the August 2022 Helpful Content Update will be applied site-wide. This means that if Google determines that a website is producing a relatively high amount of useless content, primarily written to rank in search, the entire site will be affected. It will not only affect the individual pages or sections with the useless content.

Also, Google will not indicate what percentage of a website’s pages must be useful or useless to trigger this ranker.


Its effects could take months to recover

One of the most talked about features of this update is its aftermath. The August 2022 Helpful Content Update doesn’t just penalize the entire website if it finds an indeterminate amount of useless content. If not, in addition, once the site is affected, it may take several months to recover.

Google explains that a website needs to prove to itself that over time it no longer publishes content for the sole reason of ranking in search engines and that takes time. So there will be a waiting period, perhaps a validation period, that affected websites will have to go through to show Google’s algorithms that the site provides useful content to humans first.

As Google explained, although this validation period is automated, although they update their ranking scores on their site on an ongoing basis, it likely won’t be reflected in Google’s rankings for several months. “The sites identified by this update may find the signal applied to them over a period of months. Our classifier for this update runs continuously, allowing you to monitor new and existing sites. Since it determines that the useless content has not returned in the long term, the classification will no longer apply.


A Helpful Content Classifier Using Machine Learning

With this new update, Google is using a new machine learning algorithm that can evaluate and identify useless content. In this way, the algorithms will improve over time thanks to machine learning and adjustments by Google engineers.

Mountain View has indicated that the August 2022 Helpful Content Update looks at a wide variety of signals about the page and website to determine content ratings. Although they have not specified the type of signals it uses.


As we explained, the August 2022 Helpful Content Update began on August 25, and after its development over 15 days, it was completed on September 9. At the moment it only affects sites in English, but Google has already announced its future progressive implementation to other languages.

At the moment, first impressions are disappointing. No big changes have been seen in the English-speaking SEO world. Possibly the algorithm is fine-tuning its machine learning…

Francesc es el responsable de Content Marketing de Sinapsis. Con más de diez años de dedicación al copywriting ha acumulado una gran experiencia en diversos temas aunque su mayor pasión sigue siendo el marketing online. Friky de corazón, ha encontrado en el SEO una nueva forma de seguir "jugando".