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September 2023 SEO Industry Updates

  • Industry News
  • By multiple authors
  • 7 minutes read

Google and the search industry had some major announcements roll out in August 2023. Here are the things you need to know from the Conductor Customer Success team.

Volatility of Google’s August Core Update

By Lauren Phillips

The what:

The recent Google Core Algorithm Update in August officially came to the end in the beginning of September, around the 8th. Google is infamous for pushing these updates during holiday times (think of it as a special present to SEOs).

Various industries continued to see volatility into September as they saw a sudden drop in keyword rankings, impressions, and even traffic.

In short, there have been many surges and drops but overall the SEO community is expecting to see equilibrium in the near future.

The why:

Customers across various firms might be seeing some extreme and volatile data points but this should not cause any panic. While many industries saw increases and decreases in search visibility and clicks

However, the purpose of these algorithm updates are to promote/reward good content and NOT to penalize.

Google has not confirmed the number of searches or percentage of queries impacted during the update but it reached far and wide instantaneously.

For everyone:

  • If you were impacted by the Google Algorithm Update, read more around Conductor’s guide on how to navigate this.
  • To improve your search performance after an update, Google recommends the following:
  • Look closely at pages that aren’t performing well.
  • Check what search terms led people to those pages.
  • Compare your content to the questions Google provides on its help page.
  • Monitor this within Google Search Console, your analytics provider, or whatever SEO platform you are using.

For Conductor customers:

  • We should be monitoring our priority keywords and pages in Keyword Groups & Page Groups to see if there are any changes in rank or traffic.
  • If you have Organic Marketplace Requests, consider requesting a Content Audit to benchmark your priority subfolders performance.
  • If you notice content that is not performing well, use our Writing Assistant to identify areas of improvement for SEO.

Read more

Google Announces A Helpful Content Update loosening its restrictions on AI generated content

By Mahmoud Kaaki

The what:

On September 14th, Google unveiled a new Helpful Content Update emphasizing the creation of valuable content.

The update is now officially completed and it's highly recommended to assess site performance. For sites impacted, optimizing or removing "unhelpful" content as necessary is advised.

When Google releases these Helpful Content Updates, the improvements that you are making to your content will likely not be visible until the next update occurs. This is very similar to Google Penguin-like updates where the algorithms are updating in real time.

Google states in their documentation , "Periodically, we refine how the classifier detects unhelpful content. When we do this in a notable way, we share this as a "helpful content update" on our Google Search ranking updates page. After such an update finishes rolling out, and if the refined classifier sees that content has improved, then the unhelpful classification from our previous classifier may no longer apply."

In this update, Google is loosening its guidance on AI-generated content by dropping the words "written by people" and becoming "helpful content created for people in search results."

Google’s guidance was originally: “Google Search’s helpful content system generates a signal used by our automated ranking systems to better ensure people see original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.”

However, with this update they also updated their guidance to: “Google Search’s helpful content system generates a signal used by our automated ranking systems to better ensure people see original, helpful content created for people in search results.”

Additionally, the update includes stricter guidelines for hosting third-party content, emphasizing alignment with the site's purpose and quality. Google is also highlighting the importance of expert review in the content creation process, recommending subject matter experts review content for enhanced quality and credibility.

Lastly, Google warns against the manipulation of date publishing to give a false impression of content freshness, as it's actively monitoring these signals.

The why

Google is reinforcing the importance of high-quality content for users. This update highlights the role of human expertise in content creation alongside AI. Additionally, it introduces stricter guidelines for hosting third-party content and encourages transparency in date manipulation, making content authenticity a priority for search rankings.

Google once again is showing that they will be rewarding content on sites that is helpful for their users and shows authoritativeness around the topic.

While Google might be loosening their restrictions on AI generated content, they want to make sure that E-E-A-T is not sacrificed during this process and the content that users are consuming is useful, helpful, and original.

For everyone:

  • Monitor your site’s traffic and keyword rankings prior to the Helpful Content Update being fully rolled out within Google Search Console, your analytics provider, or whatever SEO platform you are using.
  • Ensure the content we have on our site is providing value to our users and is original.
  • Once the update is complete, make sure we are actively checking our performance and make the necessary changes to our content if we are impacted.

For Conductor customers:

  • Go to Pages and examine your site performance over time. Make sure to leave an annotation marking the date of the update. Start examining and assessing your content performance and zoom in on your content using Page Groups .
  • Keyword Groups are also a great tool to measure shifts in your average ranking based on a topic. If you discover an anomaly, then delve into that group and uncover affected keywords.
  • For the affected term, visit Content Guidance to discover new ways to enhance your content and rank competitively on the SERP.
  • If you require further guidance, feel free to tap into the Marketplace and submit a request for a Content Audit, Page Optimization Brief, or Content Creation Brief.

Update on Changes to HowTo and FAQ Rich Results

By Zack Kakuda

The what:

Last month, we talked more about how Google recently announced that they were reducing the visibility of FAQ rich results and limiting How-To rich results to desktop only. Google later announced they were extending the how-to change to desktop as well. As of September 13th, Google has officially depreciated the How-To rich result

The why:

Google is constantly experimenting with search experience for users and found it best to reduce the visibility of FAQ results and remove How-To rich results entirely. FAQ rich results will now only be shown for well-known, high-authority government and health websites.

Google also wants to ensure a cleaner SERP experience and especially with Search Generative Experience coming soon, it could create a crowded SERP with duplicative results.

This update is being rolled out globally and while it’s not considered a ranking change, there might be some impact on your metrics within Google Search Console for FAQ and How-To search appearances.

For everyone:

  • Monitor the pages where you implemented FAQ or How-To schema to understand any potential impact.
  • Re-evaluate your content to see if there are additional ways to make sure we are creating the same experience within the content for our users that they might have seen on the SERP.

For Conductor customers:

  • The Conductor Customer Success team encourages users to regularly check Result Types so they can understand if any of their rich results have been affected.
  • By using Explorer and Content Guidance , we can identify keywords that generate People Also Ask or Answer Boxes and implement these questions/answers on our content so we can be visible when a user searches for them.
    • Please note Conductor does not track HowTo rich snippets.
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