Google said this is an “ongoing effort to reduce low-quality content and make it easier to find content that feels authentic and useful in Search.” This targets websites which have a huge amount of unhelpful content for readers, where the content is only for search engines.
The helpful content update looks to weed out content written for the purpose of ranking in search engines that do not help or inform people. Google said this update will "tackle content that seems to have been primarily created for ranking well in search engines." The update will "help make sure that unoriginal, low-quality content doesn't rank highly in Search," Google added. So if you are writing content with the purpose of driving search engine visibility and traffic, you might be hit by this.
Google Helpful Content Update Quick Facts
Here are the most important things that we know right now in short form:
Name: Google helpful content update
Launch Date: To be announced but likely the week of August 22nd
Rollout: It will take about two weeks to fully roll out
Targets: It looks at content that was created to rank well in search over help humans
Search Only: This currently only impacts Google Search, not Google Discover or other Google surfaces. But Google may expand this to Discover and more in the future.
Penalty: Google did not mention penalty but this update does seem to feel like a penalty for sites that will be hit by it
Sitewide: This is a sitewide algorithm, so the whole site will be impacted by this update
Not a core update: Many are going to say this is a core update, it is not.
English Language but will expand: This is only looking at English-language content globally now but likely will expand to other languages.
Impact: Google would not tell me what percentage of queries or searches were impacted by this update but Google did tell me it would be "meaningful." Also, Google said this will be felt more for online-educational materials, entertainment, shopping, and tech-related content.
Recover: If you were hit by this, then you will need to look at your content and see if you can do better with Google's advice below
Refreshes: Google updates the scores constantly here but there is a timeout period, and a validation period and it can take several months to recover from this update.
This is a sitewide algorithm, meaning if the machine learning algorithm determines that a relatively high amount of your content is unsatisfying or unhelpful content, that may lead to a site being flagged by this classifier and thus your whole site will be impacted.