Google’s helpful content update did not yet target hosted third-party content
Google is currently rolling out the September 2023 helpful content update and with that Google made several updates to its helpful content documentation, which we covered in detail. But just because Google updated its documentation, it does not mean that those changes are reflected in the actual algorithm that Google has released.
Gary Illyes from the Google Search team said at PubCon today that those changes were just help documentation changes, that they were not implemented into the helpful content system yet.
Source. This is where I found this information, as I am not at this event now:
What changed in the documentation. As we reported over here, Google added a new section to its help document on the helpful content update on the topic of hosted third-party content. It reads, “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.”
Expecting changes. Many in the SEO community were expecting to see changes that resulted in these third-party sites see a drop in ranking for those types of content. But that didn’t really happen. So that question was brought up to Gary who clarified that this was not yet implemented into the algorithm. It will be one day but was not implemented yet.
Why we care. The documentation does not always reflect the real time state of the Google algorithms. Here is an example where Google made a change to its documentation but the live algorithm does not actually follow that change.
Ultimately, this is a stern warning that Google will likely go after such content practices. So it is probably best to clean up those third party hosted content programs from your site, if you have them.