Skip to main content

Weekly Update - August 20, 2022: Google Search helpful content update, Google Workspace Individual, Reels & Shorts

This week’s most talked-about news is the Google Search “helpful content” update, which aims to rank sites with original quality content higher in the search results than unhelpful unoriginal sites. Will there be collateral damage? We’ll see when the update rolls out next week.

Even if you don’t use TikTok, you should be thinking about making short vertical videos. This week Facebook and Instagram introduced a bunch of new features for Reels, and YouTube Shorts may bring new viewers to your longer videos.

And for productivity, Google Workspace Individual accounts are now available in more countries. Plus Google Meet has improved background replacement and noise cancellation.

Read on for details of those updates and more.

Want weekly updates in your email inbox? Subscribe to my newsletter.

Chat about tools for collaboration

On Sunday the 21st of August (11 AM PDT/ 6 PM UTC), I will be hosting #OnEBoardChat to discuss collaboration tools. Everyone is welcome to join in, and the discussion isn’t limited to just online collabs.

Follow me on Twitter, or check the #OnEBoardChat hashtag to join the conversation.

Personal news

I was honored to be awarded the Positive Impact Award at the Google Product Expert summit. And my fellow honorees are great company 
No, I don’t wear the cape around the house. But maybe I should put it on for video calls.

Google’s Helpful Content Update

Next week Google Search will launch what they are calling the “helpful content” update. Their goal is to make sure that unoriginal, unhelpful content ranks lower in the search results.

For example, movie review or tech review aggregators (unhelpful and unoriginal) should rank lower than original reviews (helpful and original). Google says it will especially impact online education, arts and entertainment, shopping, and tech-related content.

If you have a site or blog, read Google’s advice for creators. It is pretty much the same advice they have been giving all along. The tl;dr version:
  • Create content for people
  • Avoid creating content for search engines
The idea is that your site should focused and share your expertise, and you shouldn't publish content just because it’s trending or a hot topic. It also sounds like this will penalize automated content. And further demote “made for AdSense”-type sites.

The thing to keep in mind is that the “unhelpful” content can drag down your entire site in the Google Search results:
Any content — not just unhelpful content — on sites determined to have relatively high amounts of unhelpful content overall is less likely to perform well in Search, assuming there is other content elsewhere from the web that's better to display. For this reason, removing unhelpful content could help the rankings of your other content.
Barry Schwartz has rounded up the discussion and questions of SEO folk on Twitter, including some questions answered by Google’s Search Liaison Danny Sullivan and Google Search Advocate John Mueller. He also links to a bunch of other articles, that appear to mostly rehash the announcement and speculate, since there isn’t any other information out there yet.

What you can do is read Google’s advice and ask yourself the self-evaluation questions that you can use to review your site.

I admit that when I ask myself, “Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?” I feel a little concerned. Am I adding value here? I think so. But do Google’s automated systems think so? I’ll be watching my stats in Search Console.

Google Workspace Individual available in Europe

Google Workspace Individual is a paid subscription that adds premium features for Meet video meetings, Gmail and Google Calendar to your personal Google account. Subscribers can continue to use their @gmail email address, and no custom domain is required.

Originally Workspace Individual was only available in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Mexico and the United States.

It is now also available in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.

Note that if you are in one of the countries where Google Workspace Individual is available, and you are hosting a Meet call with 3 or more participants, you will see a prompt to sign up when your meeting nears the 60 minute time limit. There’s a 14 day free trial, so you can try it out risk free.

In addition to longer group meetings, it includes Meet features like meeting recording, live streaming to YouTube, breakout rooms, allowing people to join by phone or without a Google account, hand raising and polls.

 In Calendar you can create appointment slots and have a shareable appointment sign-up page. And in Gmail there are professional layouts for newsletters and marketing emails with “multi-send”.

Note that you can also access some premium Google Meet features with a Google One Premium subscription, including longer meetings, recording and live streaming to YouTube.

YouTube and Video

YouTube’s recommendations now “consider recent long-form videos from channels the viewer watches in Shorts”. If I’m understanding this correctly, this means that having popular Shorts may be able boost views on your longer videos.

YouTube Shorts will now have a watermark when you download them from YouTube Studio, similar to the watermark on TikTok videos. That should make YouTube’s involvement a bit more visible when creators share their Shorts cross-platform.

If you are a BLACKPINK fan, join the #PinkVenomChallenge and create a YouTube Short with your best dance moves. No, I won’t be doing this.

The YouTube video editor Trim & Cut tool is new and improved. If you need to chop off or cut out a bit of video after upload (or in your live stream archive), give it a try.

Monetizing YouTube Partners should check out this Creator Insider video on how best to use “Supers”, including Super Chats and Super Stickers.

Meta has new features to make Reels more discoverable: An “Add Yours” sticker to encourage others to create similar content (and you get credit for starting a trend), cross-posting Reels from Instagram to Facebook, and new Insights and stats for your Facebook Reels. 

Plus you can “remix in sequence” TikTok-style, showing the original Reel; or, if you are not feeling creative, Facebook will automatically turn your Stories and Memories into Reels.

Facebook is now letting creators monetize with Stars on Reels, in addition to live streams and videos on demand. Fans buy Stars and add them to the videos and live streams they want to support. Eligibility for creators includes at least 1000 followers, being in a supported country, and compliance with Facebook’s monetization policies.

Twitch now allows streams to add customizable tags to their streams. They have also upgraded search so that channels using a particular tag are more discoverable.


If you use Flickr, submit your best images to the World Photography Day contest by September 2. You could win a Flickr Pro subscription, nice metal print or camera strap.

Web Publishing

Google Sites now lets you easily insert social media buttons. For “popular” social media sites (like YouTube and Twitter), Google Sites will automatically add a customizable icon, otherwise, you can upload your own image.

If you are using an older Blogger theme, and are missing the edit pencil on your posts, Blogger Product Expert Adam shares how to get that to reappear (at least for the time being).

TumblrMart is now available on both mobile and the web. If you use Tumblr, TumblrMart lets you gift ad-free browsing or dashboard crabs to another creator.

Social Networks

Meta’s strategy for promoting its metaverse creation sandbox Horizon Worlds is a bit baffling. This week CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced its availability in France and Spain with a super simplistic avatar selfie. New York Times tech columnist Kevin Roose called the graphics “worse than a 2008 Wii game”. There was so much mockery that Zuckerberg posted another update to explain that “it was taken very quickly to celebrate a launch” and that the graphics are actually better than that. Andrew Hutchinson at Social Media today points out that Meta’s metaverse risks “becoming so mocked, so criticized, that it’s labeled as a failure before it even begins” (invoking the failure of Google Glass). Maybe Zuck should consult his marketing department before posting again.

TikTok is launching a new feature that lets creators publish their TikTok Stories to Reddit, Facebook, Instagram and Instagram Stories.

Google Meet

There are now better backgrounds in Google Meet. They have improved foreground (that’s you) and background separation, so the background blur looks better. Some Google Workspace users will also use cloud-based processing of visual effects, for improved battery use and reduced CPU usage.

If you have an account that includes Google Meet’s noise cancellation, you will now see an indicator of how much noise is being removed. Noise cancellation is available for Google Workspace Individual, Google One Premium, and a number of Google Workspace editions.


In Google Docs you can now assign a checklist item to yourself or a colleague. This is available to all Google Workspace customers, but not personal Google accounts.


Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai in Motherboard: How a third-party SMS service was used to take over Signal accounts. Cloud communication company Twilio was compromised, which let the hijackers hack accounts on Signal that used the service.

Now this is an unexpected technical issue!

That’s all the updates for this week. Subscribe to get the Weekly Update in your email inbox or favorite feed reader every week. Miss last week’s update? Get it here.

Image: Photo of Ferris Wheel by Silvia from Pexels. Free for commercial use.


  1. If anyone else is struggling with the loss of the quick-edit pencil for Blogger posts, I made a quick bookmarklet that will let you edit any post entry fairly easily, and doesn't depend on Google or Blogger or the "pencil" at all. Also works for newer themes that never included the functionality. No template editing or etc., just a simple browser bookmarklet. See here how to do it: Bookmarklet to bring back quick edit for Blogger posts

  2. Yes - adding value. You read widely, and bring me a curated list. From which I can choose what interests me. I would miss seeing that at all without your help.


Post a Comment

Spam and personal attacks are not allowed. Any comment may be removed at my own discretion ~ Peggy