Tips to recover from last Google HCU update

If you are reading this article, it means my strategy to recover from the last Google Helpful Content Update (HCU) works. The reason you are reading this article is most likely that your websites were affected by this update, and even though the update has finished, you don't see any recovery.

My first piece of advice is to stop reading Quora and Reddit posts about this update. Most affected websites had bad-quality content, spam backlinks, or just pure keyword density abuse. I've read various comments from self-proclaimed SEO experts on Reddit, most of them recommending not to do any major updates on the website until an official answer from the Google development team, and very few of them were pointing out the real issue why those websites were wiped from the search engine index.

If you are still not aware of what the Google Helpful Content Update (HCU) is, here is a brief explanation of what happened. Started in September 2023, the Google Helpful Content Update began its rollout on September 14th and completed on September 28th, taking a total of 14 days. This update is designed to enhance user experience through prioritized valuable content and reduce spam and AI-generated content from search results. However, there is no transparency about how that would happen, and this has significant implications for website traffic and rankings. However, the update itself prolonged until the end of March 2024, affecting many websites, some of them being completely wiped from the Google Search Results. Recently, all data related to the new Google Helpful Update HCU was completely wiped from any Chat Artificial Intelligence like Chat GPT, meaning there is now even less transparency of what happened in the background during this update. What is certain is that Google reduces the amount of ad places, making the auctions for each ad spot cost more for the sellers.

Now that you are a little bit familiar with what happened during this update, below are some tips and tricks to slowly recover from this update, all of which were tested on my website, and I recovered most of the traffic and revenue I used to have before the update started. Before digging into the subject, these tips and tricks may not be suitable for your niche.

  1. 1. Do not post blog articles with pure AI-generated content.

    This is pretty obvious. Best practices, according to SemRush, tell us that a blog post must be between 1500-2000 words. Usually, a Chat AI will not be able to generate such articles directly, and if you ask multiple questions putting them together to form an article, you may end up with repetitive content that has zero value to the user. I have already tested the AI-generated content, and it indexes just like any other normal article. So, for now, this is just a myth that may somehow be fixed in the future. Also, what I have noticed is that an AI will not provide you with the sources of the information. Google likes sources from credible authoritative websites. You should make sure that if you are posting statistics, you should also provide the source of the information. AI will not generate visually appealing content, which means you can't just ask Chat GPT to create an article for you and post it right away. You at least need to style the article and make it appealing to the audience.

  2. 2. Update your old content.

    Like many other bloggers, I started my blog posting countless AI-generated articles just to have a starting point. Even if I chose the right subject, the content was poor and really not worth being indexed. I also had articles with outdated statistics that stopped performing and jumped down on the search results ladder. After updating those articles with reasonable, helpful, and up-to-date information, my articles and website content started performing very well on Google Search Results, most of them being in the top 3 results based on the specific keyword. When updating the article, make sure to use up-to-date statistics and make the content as visually appealing as possible. This will also lead to referred content due to your article being shared on various platforms.

  3. 3. Keywords Density.

    You must be careful to not overuse keywords in your content. Even though there is no official information from Google on how their keyword search algorithm works, according to many SEO Experts, the best practice that leads to good SEO results, pushing the article in the first results, is using a keyword density of 1-2%. Meaning you should have the keywords maximum twice every 100 words. Overusing the keyword in the article just to obtain a high density may lead to search bots penalizing the content and pushing it down on the search results ladder.

    Using Google Webmaster Tools, under pages, you can check how your content is performing. Find the pages that are lacking views and clicks, and based on the content of those pages, make sure to work on the keyword density.

  4. 4. Do not rely on organic traffic.

    This is probably the best tip I can offer. You should never rely only on a single traffic source. For example, with this last HCU update, websites that managed to build a very good audience on social media platforms are still performing very well because most of their traffic comes from their formed audience. Start building a dedicated community on Reddit, Facebook, Linkedin, TikTok, or any other preferred social media platform to ensure you have this referred traffic, which most of the time may be better than just relying on the organic traffic. Register on other search engine webmasters, for example, Bing Webmaster Tools and submit your sitemaps. This will give you a better appearance on Bing Search Engine as well. For example, Google is indexing only half of the pages that Bing does for my website.

Who were the most affected by the Google Helpful Content Update (HCU)? Well, the answer is simple, bloggers. Because let's keep it real, nowadays everyone knows how to use Chat GPT or other AI engines. Why would I bother searching on thousands of blogs when I can just ask Chat GPT and have a brief? Well, as I previously said, Chat GPT will not provide you with the source of the information, and sometimes will give you wrong results that you will have to research later on, and where are you going to do the research if not in a dedicated blog. The problem is, many legit blogs that post abstract content and private research were also affected by the update, showing that the Helpful Content Update was not really aiming for its purpose, at least not for now. But we'll see what the future holds. What is certain is that up to this day, Google is the most used search engine in EU and USA, and content creators will have to deal with any update whether they provide transparency or not.

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