Helpful Content Update Case Study: How Packted Recovered HCU Penalty

Helpful Content Update Penalty Recovery Case Study #1: After the October and November HCU, the volatility index across all regions is high. As shown in the below image, it was ATH striking at 9.1 in the United States, desktop version. This report shows the volatility sensor as 6.4, which is again a high range. It seems to be an effect of the recent back-to-back core updates and Helpful Content Updates that Google launched.

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Arts & Entertainment websites show top-notch volatility and most of them got hit by Google’s HCU penalty. Packted, one of my LinkedIn peers ‘Preeti Gupta’s‘ website had gone through a search console traffic drop after those updates. How she recovered from that will give you an immense idea of the evolving nature of Google’s ranking signal and its current state.

Packted got HCU Penalty

‘Packted’ showed a huge traffic drop on some of their pages. She shared one of her main traffic-bringing web pages to get hit by HCU.

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The particular webpage used to get 16-20 clicks every day from an impression of 100-120 per day. Just after the successful roll-out of the November 2023 Helpful Content Update, the traffic and impressions dropped to a mere zero, showing a penalty hit. From some other websites, our team got a snapshot of the recent HCU and concluded that HCU can be limited to a particular webpage or, a whole site. Both cases are possible.

Preeti noted:

This page was consistently ranking in the top three before it got hit, and now it was not even in the top 100 results.

– Preeti Gupta

How Packted Recovered from that Penalty

As Google never settles itself in one algorithm and constantly evolving, it is essential to follow best practices as it mentions in its documentation.

Forget about ranking, the most important metric that Google considers when showing or rather choosing a website to show up on SERP is “Search Intent”. When the webpage and terms within it match best to a user’s query (If Google’s algo thinks so), it gets most of the things covered then.

That’s what Preeti followed. In a conversation with Mike Blazer on X and Mastodon, She had a deep understanding of ‘Matching Search Intent’. Let’s discuss this in detail.

When a user searches ‘How to open settings in iPhone’, he surely does not want to land on a webpage that covers ‘latest iPhone features’. He just wants to know how to open the bloody setting.

That is a perfect match for a user’s query.

Bloggers are currently writing in-depth blog posts. That’s perfectly alright. But it is also important to stick to the topic and let the user know the solution without wasting any more time.

If you consider dwell time as a factor, you can embed a video that explains that particular topic.

Here Preeti did exactly that. She made changes, as explained by Mike. She made some changes to her introduction and the whole content. Preeti changed the so-called ‘detailed’ article to a ‘straight-forward’ one that users want to know.

After Google recrawls the webpage, it shows on the top 3 again.

This case study lets you re-strategize your content-writing effort and if already got hit by an HCU penalty, how to recover from there. Please do share.

The Author

Shekhar Chatterjee

Shekhar Chatterjee has an experience over a decade in this field and he just loves this job of a "Mix" of SEO and Journalism to make people aware of what's happening in the field of search engine marketing. He currently working with Hoichoi TV as an SEO Manager and is dedicated to sharing News and tips that other SEOs are paying thousands of $ for.

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