Dear Google. Please do more to help the website owners impacted by HCU and March Core.

Dear Google. Please do more to help the website owners impacted by HCU and March Core.

Dear Google. If you are reading this, I’d ask that you do more to help the business owners who have been impacted by the March Core Update and September helpful content updates to understand what is happening or what direction to take.

I know so many good, hardworking people who are struggling immensely right now and have no idea what to do. One of my friends is a recipe blogger. She worked hard to learn SEO and created a really nice recipe website. It was her passion. She made enough money with this website to be the sole income earner in her family and allow her spouse to retire. 

Her site was obliterated by the September helpful content update. She studied your documentation. She worked hard to improve, all the time not knowing what to work on. And was full of hope that the March core update would turn things around. It did not.

site strongly impacted by google updates

site strongly impacted by google updates

Now, I understand why. And in a moment I’m going to switch my tone and talk about why I’m excited and thankful for Google. But right now, I am frustrated and grieved. 

My traffic drop consultations became grief counseling sessions. I have had conversation after conversation with good, incredible creative and intelligent people who are at the end of their rope financially, mentally and physically. They’ve laid off staff. They are looking for jobs. They’re so worried about so many things. 

You could help these people with more clear communication.

You published a report this week that says fears of the economic future looks good. I believe it! People have accused me of being too excited about Google – a Google fangirl. You know, they are right. (Although I had to get rid of my TY GOOGLE license plate because people kept cutting me off and demonstrating the length of their middle finger.) I see that Google has worked for 25 years to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible. It boggles my mind what a gargantuan task this is. 

And I see where things are going. Search the way we know it now will not last forever. 

I urge you, Google, to share more with the SEO community and business owners about how Search is likely to change even more. Share more about why sites like the one above were impacted and whether they should even try to continue. 

There is a whole world of SEO’s who are advising businesses and have very little explanation to offer those impacted by recent updates other than, “Google says your content isn’t helpful.” What do they do? How is any business that is impacted supposed to get guidance to make decisions on shutting down or on trying a new strategy to produce original content (which is virtually impossible for most of these businesses as their revenue has shrunk to nothing.)

It has taken me a career of study to feel like I understand rankings enough to explain to a business owner that AI systems are so important to how search works. You say in your documentation that your systems use anonymized interaction data and transform that into signals for your machine learning systems to use. Why not be more transparent about what this means?

It should not fall on the shoulders of Glenn Gabe, Lily Ray, myself and a few others to be the primary source of information that people turn to when making these terrible business decisions. The March Core Update marked an evolution in how Google evaluates helpful content. It’s not possible for a small handful of people to understand what has happened and communicate it to an industry. Especially in today’s social media environment where anyone who talks about Google gets lambasted.

But also, I am excited

Your report tells us that AI will continue to improve rapidly and will streamline processes and accelerate the overall course of economic progress. It calls AI a general-purpose technology that will change the world as did the steam engine, the internal combustion engine, electrification and the computer. I believe it! I am so excited, mostly for how AI will change medicine. 

Your technology will lead to scientific breakthroughs. It will free up administrative time for intelligent people to spend more time on solving problems. It will help doctors diagnose difficult cases. It believe it will radically improve the world in ways we can’t even imagine.

The biggest concern as AI grows is the speed at which it will happen. AI will transform every industry and profession, just as electricity did. Except it will happen faster. No one needs to master a new programming language to work with AI. It’s immediately available. Everyone can learn new things and become better at a skill with the help of AI. AI will boost company productivity. It will allow low income countries to do things that are impossible today. It will do wonders for the Earth.

The report says that we currently have a problem where there are not enough workers to fill the jobs that are hiring. In the US in late 2023, if every unemployed American worker were placed, there still would be about 3 million open jobs.

There is so much opportunity to be had.

But what about those who need a new income now?

Google does offer courses in machine learning, and a new course on AI Essentials which looks quite good (but does cost money.) But this doesn’t help my friends who are currently trying to decide whether to keep trying to make money from their website. 

Google, I don’t know what the answer is. Perhaps more guidance on how a site impacted could legitimately improve, or if not possible, more guidance that perhaps these business owners should move on and look for new careers – with help on doing that somehow. I understand that Google would not want to help spammers and manipulators. But a very large number of websites impacted really were run by good, honest people who have no idea what they’ve done wrong.

I am excited for where things are headed. I don’t think there’s anything we can do to stop the progression of AI. And one day, we likely will be thankful that this technology made the world a much better place. But I am beyond saddened thinking of the loss and difficulties that the world will experience along the way. Sundar Pichai says that AI will be “net positive” for the world. Which means that as technology advances, it won’t be great for everyone.

I want to be excited and focus on what we can do with AI. It blew my mind that you invited me to I/O. I expect I’ll get even more excited about AI then. My children will not be happy because it’s already all I talk about. 🙂 If it would help, I’m happy to meet and chat again about the conversations I am having with business owners impacted by Google updates and how Google could help these people.

I’m looking forward to the future. I’m hoping to inspire others to be excited as well.


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