If you’re a blogger, you’ve almost certainly heard about Google’s “Helpful Content Update” (aka HCU).

If not, it’s that thing that has (most likely) caused your organic traffic to plummet since around September of 2023.

Or, perhaps you’re one of the lucky few who have seen your traffic spike rather than plummet.

So, what in the world is happening? Is blogging dead? Are all “niche” sites eternally screwed?

Here’s my take.

Google Helpful Content Update - Are We in a Blogging Depression?

We are currently living through a “blogging depression,” as I call it.

The good news? What goes down must come up. (Wait, or is it the other way around?)

Anyway, let me explain…

I started my first blog a decade ago in 2014. 

I have lived through so many major Google updates that I’ve lost count.

Some updates have caused my traffic to spike. Others have caused me to lose 50-80% of my traffic.

For all of you whose traffic has plummeted – I’ve been there (the HCU hit my main blog hard as well).

You freak out.

Whether you’re blogging full-time like I am or using blogging as a side hustle, it’s definitely concerning.

This is your livelihood! You likely rely on affiliate commissions or ad revenue to make some money and pay the bills.

But in order to get affiliate commissions or ad revenue, you need traffic.

And it’s pretty damn hard to get traffic when Google basically says “your site isn’t helpful” (whatever the hell that means) and ranks sites such as Reddit and LinkedIn higher than yours for most keywords.

Here’s the thing…

The content on my site IS helpful. 

The vast majority of the articles I write are educational tutorials.

Do most of my articles have affiliate links in them? Yes.

Does that make my content “unhelpful?” Absolutely not.

I’m guessing you feel the same way about the content on your site.

If you spend only 15 minutes searching various keywords on Google, you’ll quickly realize that Google’s search results are unhelpful – NOT your website.

Major authoritative sites such as Forbes and CNET are ranking for keywords that they are absolutely NOT an “expert” on.

Search “are worms insects?” on Google.

What kind of site do you think would show as the featured snippet? If you guessed a BANK, you’d be correct!

Yes, PNC Bank currently shows as the featured snippet for the search query “are worms insects?”

PNC Bank Ranking for "Are Worms Insects?" Google Search Helpful Content Update

Not some science-backed nature website… a financial bank. Awesome.

Okay okay, that’s just one bad example. Surely that’s a mistake…

Search “how to use apple cider vinegar” on Google.

Apple cider vinegar is something you ingest in your body and has health implications.

What site do you think shows as the featured snippet? Surely a site with years of health expertise like WebMD, right?

Nah. CNET – The tech and software giant is currently ranking for the featured snippet, AHEAD of WebMD. 

CNET Ranking for How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar Ahead of WebMD Google Search Helpful Content Update

Didn’t you know? CNET knows more about health than WebMD does! (That’s sarcasm, FYI…) 

Don’t even get me started on Reddit, Quora, and LinkedIn.

To give you an idea of how bizarre this update is… 

According to Ahrefs, Reddit’s organic traffic was 140,000,000 visits per month in July of 2023.

Ahrefs Reddit Organic Traffic 140 Million Per Month Before Google Helpful Content Update July 2023

Now, in February of 2024, Reddit’s organic traffic is estimated at 560,000,000 visits per month.

Ahrefs Reddit Organic Traffic 565 Million Per Month After Google Helpful Content Update February 2024

That’s FOUR TIMES as much traffic as Reddit had only 7 months ago.

Can you imagine changing NOTHING on your website and gaining 4X your organic traffic in 7 months from a Google update? Must be nice!

In July of 2023, Quora’s organic traffic was estimated at 64,000,000 visits per month before the HCU.

Ahrefs Quora Organic Traffic 64 Million Per Month Before Google Helpful Content Update July 2023

Seven months later in February of 2024, Quora’s organic traffic is estimated at 221,000,000 visits per month, a 3.5x increase.

Ahrefs Quora Organic Traffic 221 Million Per Month After Google Helpful Content Update February 2024

Other sites such as LinkedIn have seen an increase of 100,000,000 organic visitors since some of the Google updates 7 months ago.

You now see bloggers posting product reviews, listicles, and comparison posts on high authority sites such as Reddit and LinkedIn because those are ranking much higher than most expert niche blogs! 

And, if that’s what Google is currently favoring in the search results, I can’t blame people for doing it.

How does posting an article on a site such as Reddit or LinkedIn rank higher than a blog that is an expert in that niche?

Take me for example. I’m an expert in WordPress, blogging, affiliate marketing, etc. 

Say I write a product review for a software product in WordPress and publish it on LinkedIn.

Why in the world would Google rank THAT article on LinkedIn higher than an article I write on my own blog?

Wouldn’t Google want to send users to a site that has DOZENS of articles written around that topic and has proven it’s an expert on that topic?

That would be infinitely more helpful than sending a visitor to a one-off written article on a site such as Reddit or LinkedIn.

If there’s ONE thing that has been extremely clear from Google’s HCU, it’s that GOOGLE has a major problem right now. Not your website.

Google WILL get this ironed out. Imagine if Google’s results stayed like this for eternity. How awful would that be? 😂

Google has been saying for years that they want users to create the absolute BEST content for people, not just search engines.

Well, that’s what people are doing. Then Google slips up and releases an update like this which completely goes against everything they preach.

They know the results are not good right now. There has been an outcry to get this fixed. 

I’m seeing bloggers making some DRASTIC changes to their sites in hopes of “recovering” from Google’s HCU.

Changing domain names, completely removing all affiliate links from articles (what in the world??), selling their entire site, you name it.

Oh my gosh, please stop the madness.

I don’t care if Joe Schmo updated every single blog post, removed exactly 482 words from 14 sections, rubbed his rabbit’s foot, said some voodoo magic, and then recovered from the HCU.

Tens of thousands of bloggers are working to “recover” their blog from the HCU and are ultimately doing much more harm than good.

Please… just hang tight. Better times are ahead.

When we’re in an actual depression (referring to the stock market), do you know what MOST people do?

They freak out. They overreact. They SELL EVERYTHING. They pivot and change where their money is kept.

And you know what happens? They end up losing everything.

Unfortunately, there have likely already been thousands of bloggers who think they’ve “lost everything” and sold what they’ve built or given up.

But do you know who WINS during a depression? 

The very smart few who have learned how to navigate murky waters.

The ones who don’t overreact. 

The ones who are in it for the long term.

The ones that not only HOLD their money, but DOUBLE DOWN while stocks are cheap and invest even more.

I’ll tell you what I’m doing as a result of the HCU… Nothing.

Just like I’ve done with dozens of other major Google updates that have affected traffic.

The blogging mantra doesn’t change – Work on creating the absolute BEST content on a given topic for PEOPLE, not just search engines.

I’ve been doing that since day 1 and I will continue to do that while Google figures out their sh*t.


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  1. Very helpful. I’ve been hobby blogging since 2012 and decided to get more serious and monetize this year. A FB group I’m a part of has stressed me out with all the doom and gloom talk. I enjoy blogging as a creative outlet at the very least. Your post has encouraged me to stay the course. Thanks!

    1. Hi Stacy! You’ve been blogging even longer than I have. It’s crazy how much doom and gloom talk there is that I’m seeing in multiple other blogging groups. That’s why I used the analogy of an actual depression (referring to the stock market) because people are behaving very much the same way. They think there’s no hope, selling everything, doing crazy things to their websites that are only going to hurt them more, etc. Google’s search results are not helpful at all right now. Stay the course and keep creating content that is helpful for people 🙂 Google will get it figured out.

  2. Hi Jake,

    This is an excellent article. Thanks!! I’m in the same boat. I see Reddit overtake my article, and I don’t even find it helpful. People comment on Reddit to sound important, but the answer is plain wrong. Visitors should instead read my article.

    I have an article that ranked in the top 5 all year long last year. This year, however, the article disappeared from the SERP—I mean from the top 100—several times and bounced back to the top 5.

    As you know, it’s not funny to lose traffic. But overall, I’m not a victim of the last “helpful” update. It’s not over yet 🙁

    1. Hi Edy, really sorry to hear you’ve been hit hard by the HCU as so many other bloggers have. Some of the Reddit results that are showing up for product reviews, comparison posts, or even informational posts are really really bad. They are either incorrect, not comprehensive, or pointing to some video that is 2-3 years old. It’s really odd what results are showing above the truly helpful posts from expert niche blogging sites. I don’t think anyone could look at the Google search results right now and tell you that they’re truly helpful. Google will get it sorted out, but it does take a while to make major changes like this.

  3. I am glad I read your article because this is also what I think. Try to get through these awfull updates, survive and hope for the best. My 14 years old blog, 160K page views, good authority has been crushed, especially in the march update. I lost 80% of my ad revenues. All my competitors still have a featured image in the serps, mine have all dispapeared. Some days I am sooo depressed. I keep hoping that Google is going to wake up and revert all that nonsense. Anyways, you gave me a bit of hope !

    1. Hi Stéphanie! Wow, that’s crazy you lost 80% of your ad revenue on a 14 year old blog with 160K page views 🤯 I’m really sorry to hear that. I can’t imagine how crushing that would be to have an algorithm change affect your revenue that much. It is taking Google quite a while to get this sorted out, but I fully believe they will get it turned around because they have to. There’s no way Google can keep their search results in their current state and expect to be the “top” search engine in the world. They’re not helpful at all and showing some bizarre results above actually helpful pages from expert blogs.

      That all being said, I do always recommend bloggers diversify wherever they can and not put all their eggs in one basket. For example, I have my blog which generates revenue through affiliate marketing, I have a YouTube channel which covers many of the same topics (combining blog posts with videos), I sell digital products, and I have an email list. That way, when you do have an extended period where organic traffic has majorly slowed from a Google algorithm update, you can also focus some time on other outlets to produce some revenue.

      Wishing you luck!

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