Google was hard at work throughout July and August, rolling out significant updates like the Helpful Content Update while also resolving widespread outages that occurred in early August. From confirmations of a new result type to new Video Performance Reports in Google Search Console, we’ve got all the insights you need to evaluate the impact of these changes on your website in Conductor, adjust your content creation strategy accordingly, and increase your visibility in SERPs.

What’s new in the Google July and August 2022 updates

  • Helpful content update
  • New Video Performance Reports in Google Search Console
  • New result type, called Perspectives, being tested

Google introduces helpful content update

In the famous words of Sam Cooke, “A change is gonna come.” On Aug. 18, Google announced the release of a new algorithm update called the helpful content update. Google shared that this update is “part of a broader effort to ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.” Google began rolling out this update on Aug. 25 and expects it to take around two weeks to complete. 

What does Google’s helpful content update mean for content creators

With this update, Google is doubling down on its prioritization of people-first content within search rankings. The primary goal of the helpful content update is to rank content written for people higher and devalue content written solely for search engines. This is a sitewide update, meaning it could potentially impact all of the pages on your site.

The update also introduced a new ranking signal focused on deprioritizing sites that publish significant amounts of content but provide little value or are unhelpful to users. According to Google, the focus is on rewarding content “where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t perform as well.”

Content creators and digital marketers will need to renew their focus on creating content for people instead of creating content for the sole purpose of ranking well in SERP. To help content creators analyze their content and evaluate whether or not it’s providing value, Google provided the following list of questions. If you answer yes to a majority of the questions below, then there is some good news: you are on the right track and will most likely not be negatively impacted by this update.

  • “Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?
  • Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)?
  • Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
  • After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
  • Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
  • Are you keeping in mind our guidance for core updates and for product reviews?”*

*Source: Google Search Central Blog, August 2022

Evaluating data around Google’s helpful content update

At the time of writing, we’re only a week into the rollout of the helpful content update. After reviewing Organic SERP performance and Keyword rankings from this week in the Conductor SEO Platform, there are some common trends we’re seeing in the data. 

Websites focused on creating people-first content are initially seeing positive impacts from the update. We’re noticing significant increases of ranking keywords moving onto Page 1 for website pages that provide valuable and helpful content to users. In addition to an increase in Page 1 keywords, we have also noticed an increase in these sites gaining universal result types such as Featured Snippets, otherwise known as Answer Boxes and People Also Ask Results—highly visible and competitive SERP features. 

Pat Reinhart, VP of Customer Success at Conductor, shared some additional insights on the impact the helpful content update has had across the Organic SERPs so far: 

“Based on SERP data from SEMRush’s Sensor, I believe some of this volatility we’re seeing in the News Category could be part of the Helpful Content Update. This begs the question, is part of Google’s intent with the update to combat low-quality news that is focused on ranking for key terms instead of providing true value to readers? While this is currently a theory, it’s something I’m interested in continuing to monitor as we’re noticing low volatility across other categories.”

Chart displaying SERP volatility over the last 30 days including a recent very high spike in volatility

How to measure the impact of Google’s helpful content update

Conductor users can leverage a few different sections within our Enterprise SEO Platform to measure the impact of the update across their site and work to ensure the content on their websites is created with a people-first foundation in mind. 

The Keywords section of the Platform makes it easy to monitor and measure the potential changes your keyword ranks may experience following the completion of the update. 

Conductor Platform Keywords Report showing visibility over time

Content Guidance simplifies the process of reviewing the content on your website’s pages and provides topic- and page-specific suggestions to help you and your team create and optimize people-first content for your audience.

Conductor Platform's Content Guidance feature's readout of recommendation for 'home insurance' optimizations

Under Measure, the Page Groups Report in the Platform makes it easy to group different types of susceptible content you want to monitor and measure for any potential impact from this update. If you notice certain areas of your site over-performing or underperforming in the next few weeks, this could be a sign that they were impacted by the helpful content update.

Conductor Platform's Page Report displaying YoY organic performance and tracked annotations

Google announces new Video Performance Reports on Google Search Console

Looking back to updates from July, Google announced the release of a new report within Google Search Console called Video indexing. Google plans to roll this update out gradually over the next few months. Here is what we know so far:

  • If Google detects videos on your site, the Video indexing report will appear in the coverage section.
  • The Video indexing report shows how many indexed pages on your site contain one or more videos and how many of those pages could be indexed.

This new feature will make it easier to understand the performance of your videos, along with simplifying the process of finding and fixing issues with your videos. The report shows the status of video indexing on your site and will help you understand:

  • How many pages Google has detected a video on
  • Which videos were indexed successfully 
  • If the video was not indexed, what are the issues preventing indexation
New Video Performance Report in Google Search Console including chart of with number of videos indexed

If you fix a current problem, you can use the report to validate your fixes and track performance after the issue is resolved. 

Users of Conductor can create a custom annotation for pages with video issues and track the performance of their pages after the video is made indexable. Users can also reference data within the Search Console Analytics section to confirm and validate what they see in GSC.

Google confirms testing on a new Result Type: Perspectives

While not officially announced or rolled out yet, Google has recently confirmed they’re testing out a new universal result type called Perspectives. The Perspectives result type looks similar to their featured snippets, especially their multifaceted snippets.

The goal of this new universal result type is to help users find helpful information they’re looking for in a new way. Conductor’s Result Types section of the platform does not currently provide reporting or insights on the Perspectives result type as it hasn’t been officially rolled out by Google as of Sept. 1. But stay tuned for updates and additional details on how you can target, measure the performance, and evaluate the impact of this new result type.

An update on the Google outages from early August

On Aug. 8, Google experienced widespread outages that resulted in ranking disruptions and indexing issues for a significant number of sites and various data sets. Google issued a formal apology, sharing, “We apologize for the inconvenience. We worked to quickly address the issue and our services are now back online.”

Following Google’s apology, a spokesperson from Google elaborated on the cause of the outages, stating that it was due to a software update that resulted in unintended consequences. However, rumors online also point to a Google data center fire in Iowa that could be another cause of the outages, but Google has not confirmed this. 

Reviewing the impact of Google’s outages

As soon as the outage began, users flocked online to discuss and share details on how their websites were impacted. By Aug. 10, the prevailing sentiment online was that rankings and indexation issues had been resolved for the most part. 

Users of Conductor can review their keyword rankings in the Keywords section of the Platform during the outage to get a better understanding of how the outages may have affected their rankings. 

For concerns related to the indexability of pages on your site, our friends over at Real-Time SEO Auditing & Monitoring Platform ContentKing make it easy to track changes to and receive alerts about the indexability of the pages on your website. To access, navigate to Pages in ContentKing. Then Select Columns where you will see a few different indexability metrics you can activate. From there, filter and slice as needed.

ContentKing Pages analytics view with indexability metrics

Stay ahead of future Google updates

Don’t let Google updates take you by surprise. Access all the information you need on recent updates in our Google Core Algorithm Update Hub. Find insights on the latest best practices from Google, tips on how to adjust your strategy related to recent updates, and how to measure the impact of updates across your site.

Register for our monthly 30|30 webinars to stay one step ahead of the competition and better understand the impact of future algorithm updates. You’ll get all the latest SEO insights in under 30 minutes, hosted by leading SEO expert and VP of Customer Success at Conductor, Pat Reinhart.

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