Google Search's helpful content system and your website
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. This page explains more about how the system works, and what you can do to assess and improve your content.
How the helpful content system works
The helpful content system aims to better reward 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.
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.
Any content—not just unhelpful content—on sites determined to have relatively high amounts of unhelpful content overall is less likely to perform well in Search, assuming there is other content elsewhere from the web that's better to display. For this reason, removing unhelpful content could help the rankings of your other content.
This classifier process is entirely automated, using a machine-learning model. It works globally across all languages. It is not a manual action nor a spam action. Instead, it's just one of many signals Google evaluates to rank content.
This means that some people-first content on sites classified as having unhelpful content could still rank well, if there are other signals identifying that people-first content as helpful and relevant to a query. The signal is also weighted; sites with lots of unhelpful content may notice a stronger effect.
If you host third-party content on your main site or in your subdomains, understand that such content may be included in site-wide signals we generate, such as the helpfulness of content. For this reason, if that content is largely independent of the main site's purpose or produced without close supervision or the involvement of the primary site, we recommend that it should be blocked from being indexed by Google.
What does this system and updates to it mean for my site?
If you're producing helpful content, then you don't need to do anything; in fact this system may be good for your site, as it is designed to reward helpful content.
If you've noticed a change in traffic you suspect may be related to this system (such as after a publicly-posted ranking update to the system), then you should self-assess your content and fix or remove any that seems unhelpful. Our help page on how to create helpful, reliable people-first content has questions that you can use to self-assess your content to be successful with the helpful content system.
A natural question some will have is how long will it take for a site to do better, if it removes unhelpful content? Sites identified by this system may find the signal applied to them over a period of months. Our classifier runs continuously, allowing it to monitor newly-launched sites and existing ones. As it determines that the unhelpful content hasn't returned in the long-term, the classification will no longer apply.
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.