Google’s latest Helpful Content Update is hurting some brand publishers’ performance in search results pages.
For some brand publishers, the update is negatively impacting search traffic, particularly for those in health and travel. One brand publishing editor said their company’s content began dropping in search results in August. That’s despite the content being – in the company’s view – highly original and usually based on reporting and expertise.
According to SEO strategist Lily Ray, the most heavily impacted sites are low-quality ones with bad UX, rehashed facts and out of date information. “So far, to me, many of the biggest drops seem warranted, and I think this update was needed. But hopefully Google tweaks things so the legit, undeserving blogs get their visibility back,” Ray wrote on X.
The update also appears to be pushing answers from sites like Reddit and Quora higher in search results pages. In response, Google’s John Mueller said on X that in his experience, this is warranted, and has found that sites that are rehashing Reddit content, for example, will now rank lower. The algorithm now is surfacing the “original” post, even if it’s older, he said.
James de Roche, CEO at SEO agency Lead Comet said he’s seeing drops in organic traffic across sites but mostly for top of the funnel topics with little transactional value – content that answers questions that AI can easily answer, for example. De Roche says this may actually benefit brands who can use that data to see what content actually brings prospects to their website and keeps them there. “Plus, they can review content that dropped in rank or traffic and ask, “what can we do with this that AI can’t?” Then, update the content to meet those expectations and deliver that value,” he said