How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO Globally


This post was sponsored by Trisolute News Dashboard. The opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor’s own.

Wondering why some of your articles’ visibility seemed to suddenly dip this year?

Could this be part of a larger trend?

On August 25, 2022, Google started rolling out an update that could be quite interesting for news publishers and their visibility. On September 12, they rolled out yet another core update.

These core updates were named “Helpful Content Update(s)”.

Today, we’ll be showing you how news publishers around the world were impacted by them.

What Is The Helpful Content Update?

Google’s Helpful Content Update is an algorithm update that focuses on:

  • Weeding out content that is written for the sole purpose of getting a good ranking.
  • Deprioritizing articles that don’t contain any informational or helpful content for the reader.
  • Rewarding content that is helpful to readers.

Google frequently updates its algorithm in order to better match content to searchers, and sometimes, publishers’ visibility is heavily impacted.

Which Google Categories Has The Helpful Content Update Impacted?

In this article, we’ll be showcasing which publishers around the world were impacted by the Helpful Content Update.

We examined each of Google’s categories to see whether we would find something extraordinary around the time the updates were executed and picked out one or two countries per category where the changes were especially obvious.

Those categories were:

  • Top Stories.
  • Country-Specific News.
  • World News.
  • Business News.
  • Science & Technology News.
  • Entertainment News.
  • Sports News.
  • Health News.
  • COVID-19 News.

All of the data shown in this article is taken from Trisolute’s News Dashboard.

How We Discovered The Impact Of The Helpful Content Update

We wanted to make sure to look at the most visible publishers for the generally freshest, most newsworthy keywords based on Google News and Trends to get the most impactful results for the publisher landscape.

All rankings are based on a near real-time 15-minute crawling interval, so, we used the following filter settings on the KPI Dashboard → Mobile News Box:

  • Date Range: July 25, 2022 – September 25, 2022 (Week 30 – Week 38).
  • Top 10 Competitors.
  • All Ranking Types.
  • General Keyword Set.

With those filter settings, we took a look at different countries from all over the world individually.

Let’s have a look:

Top Stories

Mexico

Here, we can observe that the two publishers, El Financiero and Infobae, have obviously been affected by the updates:

While El Financiero showed a rise in its visibility following the August update, Infobae dropped in visibility afterward.

After the September update, El Financiero then showed a visible drop as well.

How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different CountriesScreenshot from Trisolute News Dashboard, October 2022

The two vertical dashed lines mark the two updates respectively.

The Verdict:

Publishers seem to have been affected slightly more by the August update than by the September update, both positively and negatively.

Country-Specific News

Switzerland

20 Minutes and Blick both rose in visibility after the August update.

Then, in week 36 (September 5 – September 11), 20 Minutes had its peak in visibility, while Blick had already started to drop.

From week 36 to week 37, the week when the second update happened, both publishers displayed an extreme drop.

How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different CountriesScreenshot from Trisolute News Dashboard, October 2022

The Verdict:

While publishers seemed to have benefitted from the August update in this category, the September update led to a drop in their visibility.

World News

Colombia

For Columbia, there was an increase in visibility after the August update, especially for El Tiempo and Semana, while the visibility of El Espectador nearly stagnated.

However, the visibility dropped for all three publishers before the September update and remained at an almost constant level after it.

Only El Espectador was able to regain visibility after the second update.

How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different CountriesScreenshot from Trisolute News Dashboard, October 2022

The Verdict:

Both updates have caused a lot of turbulence in visibility for publishers.

Business News

Peru

Here, we can observe that between the two updates, CNN saw losses in visibility, but these evened out again towards the September update.

RPP was also able to build up visibility at first, but lost it leading up to and after the September update.

For El Comercio, there was a short-term upswing after the August update, but it flattened out again.

How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different CountriesScreenshot from Trisolute News Dashboard, October 2022

The Verdict:

The first update seems to have had a stronger and more negative effect on publishers in Peru than the second one.

Science & Technology News

France

In the Science & Technology category, publishers in France have largely been able to maintain or even build their visibility after the August update.

However, both Jeuxvideo and Gamekult lost visibility after the September update – only Le Monde increased its visibility after both updates.

How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different CountriesScreenshot from Trisolute News Dashboard, October 2022

The Verdict:

For most of the French publishers, the two Google updates in the Science & Technology category resulted in a loss in visibility.

Entertainment News

Australia

In the Australian Entertainment category, News.com.au’s visibility increased leading up to the August update, only to then show an extreme drop that lasted until the week of the September update.

This led to the visibility curve flattening again.

How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different CountriesScreenshot from Trisolute News Dashboard, October 2022

The Verdict:

The first update in August seems to have had a significantly negative impact on Australian publishers in the Entertainment category, while the second update in September had a more positive impact.

United Kingdom

For publishers in the U.K., the two updates showed significant influences on visibility, as can be seen below for the Daily Mail and the Mirror.

Both publishers showed an increase in their visibility leading up to Week 34.

Then, when the August update took place, both of their visibilities dropped significantly.

For the Daily Mail, the graph drops continuously, even through the September update, but for the Mirror, this second update made them drop even more in terms of visibility.

How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different CountriesScreenshot from Trisolute News Dashboard, October 2022

The Verdict:

Here, the first update in August had a significant effect on the publishers’ visibility; the second one only had a moderate effect.

Sports News

Canada

In the Canadian Sports category, TSN held visibility during the August update, but lost it slightly in the week before and during the September update. However, they gained it back after the update.

CBC’s visibility, on the other hand, went the other way: Before the August update, their visibility increased significantly, and then dropped off slightly at the time of the September update and in the following week.

How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different CountriesScreenshot from Trisolute News Dashboard, October 2022

The Verdict:

The August update had a larger impact on publishers’ visibility in the Sports category, for some immediately at the time of the update, and for others in the following weeks.

Health News

Austria

In the Health category, Austrian publishers Der Standard and ORF were able to significantly increase visibility after the August update and also brought this increase through the September update with slight fluctuations.

In contrast, both Kurier and Vienna.at lost visibility after the August update, but were also able to make up for this after the September update.

How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different CountriesScreenshot from Trisolute News Dashboard, October 2022

The Verdict:

For publishers in Austria, the August update seems to have had the largest impact on their visibility in the Health category, with it being negative for some publishers and positive for others.

United States

In the U.S. Health category, the progressions seem to have been identical between NPR and The New York Times, because initially, both lost visibility after the August update.

However, NPR continued to lose visibility until the September update and after that, their visibility increased slightly again.

For The New York Times, on the other hand, things got a bit more turbulent: First, they regained visibility between the two updates, only to lose it significantly in the week of the September update, and regain it in the week after the update.

How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different CountriesScreenshot from Trisolute News Dashboard, October 2022

The Verdict:

The August update seems to have had a negative impact on the publishers’ visibility in the Health category, while the second update in September had a positive effect.

COVID-19 News

Brazil

In the COVID-19 category in Brazil, the three publishers Globo, Abril, and UOL showed little to no changes in their visibility in the week of the August update.

In week 36 though, which marks the week immediately before the September update, both Abril and Globo dropped in their visibility, while UOL rose.

For Globo, this drop continued throughout the September update as UOL continued to rise; only Abril was able to catch itself again and flatten the curve.

How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different CountriesScreenshot from Trisolute News Dashboard, October 2022

The Verdict:

Brazil’s top publishers seem to have been significantly more impacted by the September update than by the August update.

Germany

In the German COVID-19 category, DER SPIEGEL particularly gained visibility in the week leading up to the August update and then slowly lost it again throughout it.

Through the September update, the trend for DER SPIEGEL then went up again.

The picture is different for Die Zeit: Here, the publisher lost visibility in the week before the August update and regained it throughout. They were also able to maintain this visibility with slight reductions in the time between the updates.

However, they then lost visibility dramatically through the September update.

How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different CountriesScreenshot from Trisolute News Dashboard, October 2022

The Verdict:

Here, both updates seem to have had an impact on visibility simultaneously.

Key Findings For How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected Publishers

For top publishers in most countries, the first Helpful Content Update in August seems to have had a more significant impact on their visibility than the second one in September. It cannot be clearly said that publishers’ visibility was only negatively impacted by the updates, since some clearly benefitted from them.

Here are some other interesting takeaways we noticed:

  • Publishers from Argentina, Australia, Canada, and Germany showed noticeable changes in visibility around the updates in all of Google’s categories.
  • The Country-Specific News category was the only category where publishers from all countries showed anomalies in some way.
  • In the Business News category, Brazil was the only country that showed no noticeable changes in top publishers’ visibility.
  • The categories Country-Specific News, Business News, Science & Technology News, Entertainment News, and Health News were most affected by the update.
  • The BBC was affected by the top 10 rankings of the World category in four countries (Australia, Canada, Mexico, and Peru) and was therefore the most affected publisher in this analysis.

Want to learn more about your visibility in Google News? Schedule a free demo.


Image Credits

Featured Image: Image by Trisolute News Dashboard. Used with permission.





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