Ep. 249 - August 25, 2022 - Light Version

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The helpful content is live! This episode covers everything we know so far. Also covered: Google removes international targeting reporting from GSC, tips for using the crawl stats reporting in GSC and tips on deleting content.

SNYCU Podcast

There is no podcast episode this week, but if you missed last week’s you’ll want to catch Marie talking about what we can learn from “About this Result”. This information can help us improve E-A-T!

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News about Google’s Algorithms

Google’s helpful content update is live!

You’ve likely heard the news that Google is releasing a new update. This one really feels like it will have a big impact. The update is live as of today, August 25, 2022. So far there is little chatter of sites seeing changes. Google says it will take up to two weeks to fully roll out.

Google reached out to several SEOs that write about updates, including me, to fill us in on the upcoming change. They really wanted to help us understand the focus of the update – promoting what they call “people-first” content. 

I’ve listed anything I can find that is helpful about this update in my article on the helpful content update.

Here is what we know so far:

  • Its purpose is to promote content that is created to help people and demote content that is created primarily for search engines.
  • It’s a sitewide action and is weighted depending on severity.
  • The algo runs continuously. New sites can be impacted immediately. 
  • Recovery is possible for sites that remove unhelpful content, but the algo wants to see the site as helpful for a few months before lifting the unhelpful classification.
  • It’s not a manual action or a penalty. But it sounds to us like it will feel very much like a penalty.
  • The announcement gives us several questions to answer such as “Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise” or “Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?”
  • Google needs to complete the “starting data” before the rollout. This means that attempts to clean up unhelpful content will likely not be recognized at the time of rollout. 
  • Noindexing is a valid way to remove unhelpful content. Keep in mind that it may not be enough to just remove SEO-first content. There needs to be good, helpful content present in order to recover.
  • The update will likely strongly affect sites related to online education, arts and entertainment, shopping and tech. It is not specifically geared towards these sites, but there tends to be a lot of SEO generated content around these topics.
  • It’s possible that links from pages deemed helpful could count for more (although this is speculation for now). If true, this could really change a lot of things!
  • It will not directly affect Discover traffic. We say “directly” because most likely if your site suffers in its ability to rank organically, this will make it hard to rank in Discover.
  • User generated or submitted content on pages still counts as part of the content and can be deemed helpful or not.
  • Subdomains are often seen by Google as being separate from the root domain. It is possible that a solution could be to separate out “unhelpful content” to its own subdomain.

Here are a few more interesting tweets:


I like this idea of asking your readers whether your articles are helpful or not:


Aleyda Solis has made a checklist we can use:

Olaf Kopp feels E-A-T will play a major role in this update. We agree!


Most SEOs are not terribly concerned with what will happen:


I might be wrong, but I think it’s going to have a drastic effect on many sites, even many that feel they’ve got good content. We’ll see!

In the premium version of newsletter we have summarized articles from Wil Reynolds, Glenn Gabe, Lily Ray, Marie and also Michel Fortin on the upcoming helpful content update. In future episodes, there will be a lot of insight on this update available to premium members only.

MHC Announcements

Marie recently wrote an article for Search Engine Land on what SEOs can expect from the helpful content update.

If you are impacted by this update, I’ll be reviewing sites a little differently than I have in the past. Rather than doing a full site audit, I’ll be discussing your site with you over Zoom and then creating a video for you with my thoughts on what it will take for you to recover. The current cost of this review is $3000. You can book your call here.

Hourly consultation with Marie available

I have freed up some time for hourly consultation. If you’d like to do a Zoom call with me to discuss your site, my current hourly rate is $300. You can book time here. If you’re not certain whether you’d benefit most from a Zoom call or a full site review, you can reach out here.

Google Announcements

Improvements to the core web vitals report

Google is removing the International Targeting report from GSC 

John tells us Google is still honoring hreflang, but no longer reporting on it in GSC.


SEO Tips

Deleting content? This flowchart can help you make decisions

There’s more good advice here as well:

Some more thoughts on deleting content

It is helpful to hear how different SEOs approach the strategy of deleting content. Niche Site Lady says that the top 10 of her articles generate 75% of her traffic. As such, there’s room for cleanup! If you have too much unhelpful content on your site, it can cause a sitewide demotion with the unhelpful content update. 

Here’s what she did:

  • Get a list of article urls from GSC
  • Ordered them in order of clicks from high to low
  • Fewer than 10 clicks per month means an article should be manually reviewed
  • Articles under 6 months old stay as they haven’t had time to prove themselves yet
  • Low impressions or nowhere near page 1 means it’s a good candidate for removal
  • Low clicks but high impressions is a candidate for improving

Case study – great improvement after updating and republishing 60 urls

This was an interesting case study published on Twitter by Olaf Kopp.

Olaf updated content by changing the publication date, page titles in some cases and the content itself. The site had been hit hard by the December core update. But, Olaf started to see significant improvements immediately following making the changes, outside of a core update. It’s hard to comment further without knowing exactly what changes were made, but we still thought this was interesting enough to mention!

Other Interesting News

Links are not the same as buttons

We loved this thread by Kristina Azarenko

Links and buttons are very different from a UX perspective. Buttons trigger an action and are not meant for internal linking. Kristina says that often people will use a button where they should be using a link instead. We’d recommend reading the full thread.

Local SEO

Course from Claire Carlile on optimizing location pages

This looks really helpful!

Recommended Reading

How semantic-based knowledge graphs accelerate the value of data lakes
Navan Sharma – July 20, 2022

This article likely falls outside of the realm of SEO. It’s outside of my realm of expertise. However, I included it in newsletter because I feel a lot is being done with knowledge graphs and it can help us to learn more about these matters.

How Google uses NLP to better understand search queries, content
Olaf Kopp – August 23, 2022

Olaf discusses how natural language processing has opened the door for semantic search on Google and says that SEOs need to understand the switch to entity based search. I, Marie, anticipate that the changes we are about to see with the helpful content update are going to reflect more of Google’s advances in semantic search capabilities. 

A guide to writing useful content by page and article type
Adam Riemer – August 22, 2022

While we don’t yet know what types of “helpful content” Google will be promoting, this guide should still help SEOs produce good, useful content. Adam says good content doesn’t just cover every single detail on a topic but provide the searcher’s solution and make it easier for the searcher to navigate.


Looking for a new SEO job? SEOjobs.com is a job board curated by real SEOs for SEOs. Take a look at five of the hottest SEO job listing this week (below) and sign up for the weekly job listing email only available at SEOjobs.com.

Want More?

Premium members also get the following:

It’s well worth the $18 per month!

The following topics are covered in the premium version of this episode:

  • What we learned from each of the articles published so far on the helpful content update
  • The latest on the product reviews update
  • Tips on using the crawl stats report in GSC
  • Could owning two interlinking sites be seen by Google as a PBN?
  • Should you fix everything listed as an issue in the index coverage report?
  • Understanding how Google semantically understands a search query
  • Does Google stop rendering your page at 4 seconds flat?
  • Practical GA4 tips
  • A Slack group to discuss knowledge graphs
  • The difference between PAAs and Things to Know
  • Great info on TikTok marketing
  • Questions on headless SEO?
  • Using AI to generate blog images
You’ll also have access to all past episodes, including this one.

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