Google helpful content system can now impact Google Discover visibility
Google core updates and other algorithm updates impacted Discover, but now Google says the helpful content system does as well.
Google has updated some of its search documentation to say now that the Google helpful content system can impact your site’s visibility not just in Google Search but also in Google Discover. This was a bit of a surprise to me because Google has not communicated this change up until now, and we have had a few helpful content updates since its first communication.
New communication. Google updated this document to say, “The system generates a site-wide signal that we consider among many other signals for use in Google Search (which includes Discover). The system automatically identifies content that seems to have little value, low-added value or is otherwise not particularly helpful to people.”
Previous communication. Previously, when Google first launched, they said that the helpful content update/system only impacted Google Search visibility, not Google Discover. Google told us that the helpful content “update targets only Google search right now.” “However, Google may look to cover additional products (e.g., Google Discover) in the coming months,” Google added.
When exactly this changed, I do not know yet; I did ask Google.
Other ranking systems. Other ranking systems at Google do and have impacted the visibility of sites in Google Discover. Algorithm updates like Google core updates and others, Google confirmed many times impacted Google Discover visibility.
Google updated its Discover help document to say, “As part of Google Search, Discover uses many of the same signals and systems used by Search to determine helpful, people-first content. Given this, those looking for success with Discover should review our advice on creating helpful, reliable, people-first content.”
The older version said, “Our automated systems surface content in Discover from sites that have many individual pages that demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T). Those looking to improve E-A-T can consider some of the same questions we encourage site owners to consider for Search. While Search and Discover are different, the overall principles for E-A-T as it applies to content within them are similar.”
Why we care. So now, if you saw any visibility changes, both positive or negative, in Google Discover around the time of any Google search ranking update, including now a helpful content system update – you may be able to attribute it to that update.
Postscript. Originally the helpful content update only impacted Google Search, not Google Discover. This morning Google updated a help document to say the helpful content update/system impacts Google Discover. Later today, after I asked Danny Sullivan a number of questions, he looked into it and said, it still does not impact Google Discover.
Postscript 2. March 7th, Danny Sullivan corrected himself, he said Google does indeed use the helpful content update for Google Discover. He posted a clarification on Mastodon, saying, “Sorry for the confusion over this. Did more checking. We do indeed use it and have done so since last October. But it’s a very light use. So we’re leaving the page as is, but as I also said, we won’t be confirming each search signal used by Discover. “If you want to be successful with Discover, which is part of Search, it makes sense to pay attention to the things that are helpful with Search.”