HomeOur BlogDecoding Google’s September 2023 Helpful Content Update: A Simplified Guide for SMBs and Local Businesses

Decoding Google’s September 2023 Helpful Content Update: A Simplified Guide for SMBs and Local Businesses

Googles September 2023 Helpful Content Update

On September 14, 2023, Google unveiled the September 2023 Helpful Content Update, a strategic move designed to elevate the quality of search results by rewarding websites that produce genuinely helpful and informative content.

This update zeroes in on identifying and demoting websites that churn out content primarily crafted to rank well in search engines, rather than to genuinely assist or inform people. This encompasses content that is thin, repetitive, or devoid of unique value.

If you’re wondering what this means for your business, don’t worry! We’re here to explain the update and ensure your local business not only adapts but thrives amidst these digital shifts.

Why Should You Care about Google’s Algorithm Updates?

Your business’s visibility on Google can be impacted by these updates. Your website might ascend in search results or, conversely, dip a bit. Understanding these updates helps you align your online presence to what Google considers valuable, ensuring your business remains visible to your cherished customers and clients.

Google’s New Content Guidelines (September 2023): The Simple Version for Business Owners

These new content guidelines will help business owners align their content to meet Google’s expectations from the September 2023 Helpful Content Update.

  • Better Sorting: Google has made its system for sorting and understanding content (called a “classifier”) better, although it didn’t share the nitty-gritty details of how.
  • Third-Party Content Caution: If your website hosts content from other creators or platforms, Google says to be careful. This content can affect how Google sees your site. If this third-party content isn’t closely supervised or independent, it might be a good idea to keep it from being indexed by Google.
  • Content Creation Flexibility: Google has softened its stance on who or what creates content. The content doesn’t necessarily have to be “created by people for people.” Instead, it just needs to be “created for people,” indicating that AI-assisted content is acceptable as long as it’s helpful.
  • Check Your Content: If your website takes a hit in rankings, Google suggests taking a good look at your content. If it’s helpful, you might not need to change anything, as the system is meant to reward good content.
  • Expert Reviews Matters: Google has highlighted the importance of expert reviews. Content that is written or reviewed by someone who really knows their stuff is valued.
  • Be Mindful of Date Changes: Google is aware that some sites change content dates to seem fresher and advises to be mindful of this.
  • Thoughtful Content Changes: Google advises against adding or removing a lot of content just to seem “fresh” and to enhance search rankings. Be mindful and intentional about why and how content is altered.
  • More to Come: Google has hinted at more updates focusing on unique expertise and experience, although this isn’t part of the September 2023 Helpful Content Update.

What Does This Update Mean for Your Business?

The September 2023 Helpful Content Update requires a strategic approach to content creation and website management. Let’s delve into what these guidelines mean for your business and how you can adapt effectively.

E.E.A.T Is Not Just for YMYL Websites Anymore

Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E.E.A.T) were previously associated predominantly with Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) websites. However, with the Helpful Content Update, Google might broaden the scope of E.E.A.T. to encompass all niches. This shows the importance of demonstrating your business’s expertise and credibility across your website. (Refer: Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines)

Example: A local hardware store can demonstrate its expertise by offering workshops and tutorials on home improvement projects. To establish authoritativeness, the store can share testimonials from satisfied customers and highlight partnerships with renowned tool brands.

Stay Relevant with Valuable Content

It’s essential that your content remains up-to-date and pertinent, and that it delivers genuine benefits to your audience. Prioritize offering unique insights, comprehensive details, and thoughtful evaluations of your content. Refrain from merely duplicating or rephrasing existing information from other sources.

Example: If you operate a local bookstore, think about sharing blogs on recommended reading lists for different seasons, the history and significance of classic literature, or insights into the world of independent publishing. This not only highlights your knowledge of the literary world but also offers valuable recommendations and insights to your readers, aligning with Google’s focus on creating helpful content.

Authenticity Builds Trust

Your online presence should mirror the uniqueness and authenticity of your business, aligning with Google’s focus on trustworthiness under the E.E.A.T principle.

Example: Share stories of how your business adapted to challenges, customer stories, or how your services have evolved based on customer feedback. For instance, a local repair shop could share stories of unique repair challenges and how they overcame them, building authenticity and showcasing expertise.

Mobile Optimization Is Non-Negotiable

In today’s mobile-centric world, ensuring your website is optimized for mobile users is crucial. Google gauges user satisfaction and the utility of content by analyzing search result data, such as clicks. A positive website experience, particularly on mobile, can reduce the likelihood of users bouncing back to search results. Therefore, a seamless mobile experience isn’t just about aesthetics; it directly impacts how Google perceives the value of your content.

Example: If you manage a local coffee shop, ensure that your online menu is mobile-responsive, with clear visuals of your offerings, easy-to-find store hours, and a simple process for online orders or reservations. This ensures customers can effortlessly engage with your business from their mobile devices, reducing the chances of them returning to search results out of frustration.

Engage, Connect, and Build a Community

Engaging with your audience through various online platforms builds a community around your brand.

Example: A local café could engage with its customers by sharing behind-the-scenes glimpses on social media, responding to comments, and perhaps even hosting a virtual “Coffee Chat” session where they discuss different coffee beans and brewing techniques.

Expert Review and Content Quality

With the new guidelines placing significant emphasis on expert reviews, it’s advisable to have your content either reviewed or co-developed with industry specialists to bolster its credibility and worth. It’s essential to ensure that the content is devoid of factual inaccuracies and conveys information in a reliable manner.

Example: A fitness center could collaborate with a certified nutritionist to create content related to diet and nutrition, ensuring the information is not only valuable but also credible.

Mindful Management of Content and Updates

Be intentional about content updates and management, ensuring changes, additions, or removals are done with the intention of genuinely enhancing the value, while also adhering to Google’s guidelines on content freshness and quality. Avoid changing content dates without substantial updates or adding content just to appear “fresh.”

Example: A recruitment agency should update its job listings, blog posts, or candidate resources only when there is substantial new information or improvements to be added. For instance, updating a blog post on resume writing should involve incorporating new trends or tools rather than merely changing the publication date to make it appear fresh. Similarly, job listings should be kept up to date, ensuring that all posted positions are still available and removing those that have been filled to maintain the accuracy and reliability of the information provided to job seekers.

Focus on People-First Content

Content should be created primarily for people, not just for search engine rankings. Content created primarily to attract search engine visits or manipulate rankings can be counterproductive. Ensure that the primary purpose of your content is to benefit and inform your audience and make sure that the content is useful, demonstrates first-hand expertise, and provides a satisfying experience for the reader.

Example: A craft store can share DIY tutorials, ensuring they are easy to follow and genuinely helpful to craft enthusiasts.

Charting the Course Ahead

With the SERPs in constant flux, especially with the recent October 2023 spam update and the October 2023 core update, it’s evident that Google search results are becoming more dynamic and competitive.

SEO is not a set-and-forget strategy; it’s an ongoing journey. As Google continues to refine its algorithm, it’s essential for businesses to stay agile. Regularly update your website, monitor your Google rankings, and adjust your strategy in line with the evolving digital landscape. By staying informed and proactive, you can ensure that your business remains resilient and relevant, no matter how many updates Google rolls out.


While Google’s algorithm keeps changing, consider these updates as opportunities to refine and enhance your online presence. With each update, Google nudges us towards being better for our customers, and by adapting, your business will not merely survive but thrive amidst these digital shifts.

Need a guiding hand through these Google updates? Numero Uno Web Solutions is here to assist. Let’s ensure your business continues to shine in the digital domain, navigating through every update with finesse. Reach out to us, and let’s keep your digital presence robust and vibrant together!

About Adrian Newman, BA

President, Numero Uno Web Solutions

Adrian has been in the performance marketing industry for over 25 years and is the co-founder of Numero Uno Web Solutions.

Adrian has been involved in virtually every facet of direct and digital marketing from copywriting and graphic design to database management and production.

A BA graduate of York University, Adrian has volunteered as a mentor with his alma mater's Career Mentorship Program for students with disabilities and has been a director for public real estate investment trust.