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.
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.
Are you changing the date of pages to make them seem fresh when the content has not substantially changed?
To provide a cleaner and more consistent search experience, we’re changing how some rich results types are shown in Google’s search results. In particular, we’re reducing the visibility of FAQ rich results, and limiting How-To rich results to desktop devices. This change should finish rolling out globally within the next week.
Overview of the changes
For site owners, these changes primarily affect the use of FAQ and How-To structured data.
Going forward, FAQ (from FAQPage structured data) rich results will only be shown for well-known, authoritative government and health websites. For all other sites, this rich result will no longer be shown regularly. Sites may automatically be considered for this treatment depending on their eligibility.
While you can drop this structured data from your site, there’s no need to proactively remove it. Structured data that’s not being used does not cause problems for Search, but also has no visible effects in Google Search.
How-To (from HowTo structured data) rich results will only be shown for desktop users, and not for users on mobile devices. Note that with mobile indexing, Google indexes the mobile version of a website as the basis for indexing: to have How-To rich results shown on desktop, the mobile version of your website must include the appropriate markup.
Changes in Search Console reporting
For both of these items, you may also notice this change in the Search Console reporting for your website. In particular, this will be visible in the metrics shown for FAQ and How-To search appearances in the performance report, and in the number of impressions reported in the appropriate enhancement reports. This change does not affect the number of items reported in the enhancement reports. The search appearances, and the reports, will remain in Search Console for the time being.
This update is rolling out globally, in all languages and countries, over the course of the next week. This should not be considered a ranking change and won’t be listed in the Search status dashboard. Note that there will be a small holdback experiment, so some users may not see these changes right away.