Recovery from HCU - A Case Study

From HCU Setback to SEO Victory: SannidhiSEO's Story

My Helpful Content Update recovery story: Discover how I transformed my website's fate by overcoming the HCU setback with focused, quality-driven changes.

04th Apr 24 | 8 mins read

By Sannidhi

A sailor stands confidently at the helm of a sailboat, cruising through waters under a cloudy sky.

In the aftermath of Google's September 2023 Helpful Content Update (HCU), many SEO professionals and website owners faced unprecedented challenges. This isn't a tale of defeat but one of overcoming adversity, baring niches that Google has chosen to treat differently, particularly the travel sector that may be eclipsed by Search Generative Experience (SGE). My website, too, felt the update's impact, yet it emerged stronger by closely aligning with Search Engine Optimization principles and Google's guidelines. This case study about recovery from HCU, compact yet rich with insights, showcases my journey from setback to success. It highlights the power of adaptability, quality content, and a deep commitment to user experience—providing a ray of hope and a roadmap for others facing similar challenges.


Three years into its journey, this website initially served as a digital business card for SannidhiSEO venture, sidestepping the conventional race for SERP dominance. Despite its humble beginnings and a focus away from aggressive blogging or SEO campaigns, it quickly secured a spot at #2 on Google's SERPs for one of my early blogs: 15 Tips To Spot A Fake SEO on Wayback Machine. However, as my focus shifted away from the site, certain pages were removed from Google's index. This action prompted me to refine my web presence and align more closely with Google's vision for a cleaner, more useful Internet.

Notably, its small size and the deliberate lack of effort to craft pages destined for ranking meant it accumulated scant data in Google Search Console (GSC). Therefore, I will be sharing old URLs from, offering a glimpse into the site's evolutionary path. 

HCU Impact

For an extended period, my website slipped my mind, receding into the backdrop of my daily tasks. When I revisited my baby, I discovered the unexpected: key pages such as Tips To Deal With Fake GMB Reviews on Wayback Machine, GMB Ranking Tips on Wayback Machine and Common SEO Mistakes To Avoid on Wayback Machine had vanished from Google's index because of HCU. Although now merely echoes of their former selves on Wayback Machine, these pages mark a pivotal chapter in website evolution. In stark contrast, my blog on 15 Tips To Spot A Fake SEO on Wayback Machine steadfastly held its #2 position on Google’s SERPs.

The deindexing of the three aforementioned pages did not come as a shock; in truth, it resonated with a sense of appropriateness. It underscored Google's commitment to refining the web's quality, a mission I wholeheartedly support. This wasn't merely an algorithmic shift; it was a testament to Google's ongoing commitment to fostering more useful web content. This pivotal moment not only affirmed the necessity of adapting to changing SEO standards but also reinforced my dedication to crafting content that stands the test of time and algorithm updates, mirroring Google's ethos of prioritizing user benefit above all.

Recovering From HCU Setback

Recognizing that the key to HCU recovery challenges lay not in faulting Google but in introspection and action, I started a comprehensive site overhaul. The objective was clear: to significantly uplift the quality of content and the user experience on my website. This involved a meticulous redesign of the website to improve intuitiveness and the enrichment of content to ensure it met the highest standards of value and engagement for my audience. Here’s a snapshot of the strategic enhancements made:

Enriched Content Quality: I expanded the depth and breadth of my content, eliminating superfluous elements to focus on delivering substantial, valuable insights.

Refined Keyword Strategy: Beyond basic optimization, I leveraged more sophisticated keyword and synonym integration to enhance relevance and searchability without compromising natural language flow.

Upgraded Titles and Meta Descriptions: Each page received a tailored update, aimed at capturing attention and accurately reflecting the content's essence.

Alignment with Search Intent: Beyond mere rankings, my goal was to genuinely satisfy user queries with informative and relevant landing pages.

Streamlined User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI): Simplification was key; I focused on making navigation seamless and the overall aesthetic more engaging.

Internal Linking Strategy: I strengthened the site’s architecture with strategically placed internal links, improving navigation and content discoverability.

External Link Quality: I selectively incorporated external links to enrich content value.

Anchor Text Precision: I refined anchor texts for both internal and external links, making them more descriptive and contextually relevant.

Engaging Visuals: Informative images were strategically integrated enriching the user experience.

Current and Comprehensive Content: I ensured all information was up-to-date, reflecting the latest industry insights and practices.

Grammar and Accuracy: Rigorous proofreading ensured impeccable language and the conveyance of professionalism.

Accessibility Enhancements: Every image was assigned appropriate ALT values, and filenames were updated for clarity and SEO benefits. 

URL Optimization: URLs were revised for clarity and SEO effectiveness.

Commitment to Blogging: I embraced a robust blogging schedule, prioritizing quality in every post to foster engagement and authority.

At the same time, carefully avoiding common SEO mistakes as documented in the blog.

Through these focused efforts, I aimed not just to recover from the HCU impact but to set a new standard for content excellence on my site, aligning closely with Google’s guidelines and the ever-evolving expectations of my users.

To visually underscore the effectiveness of my strategic overhaul, I invite you to compare the before-and-after states of website pages. This comparison not only showcases the refined aesthetics and enhanced navigability but also highlights the enriched content quality and improved user engagement. Through this juxtaposition, the tangible benefits of my focused efforts—ranging from improved search engine visibility to a more compelling user experience—are made evident. I encourage you to explore these changes and share your insights or observations. Your feedback is invaluable as I continue to refine my website's presence, aligning even more closely with Google’s guidelines and the evolving expectations of my users.

Main pages:

Old Homepage - New Homepage

Old Services - New Services

Old Packages - New Packages

Old About Website Performance - New About Website Performance

Old About - New About

Old FAQs - New FAQs

Old Contact - New Contact

Old Privacy Policy - New Privacy Policy


Old Main Blog - New Main Blog

Old Spot Fake SEO - New Spot Fake SEO

Old SEO Mistakes To Avoid - New SEO Mistakes To Avoid

Old GMB Ranking Tips - New GBP Ranking Tips

Old Manage Fake GMB Reviews - New Manage Fake GBP Reviews

Old Techies And Opportunities - New Techies And Opportunities

Old Understanding TLDs - New Understanding TLDs

Old Google Ranking Scam - New Google Ranking Scam

A man in a plaid shirt and cap stands in a field with the caption 'It ain't much but, honest work' superimposed at the bottom.


In the aftermath of my strategic overhaul, Google swiftly reindexed my entire site, save for the three pages previously removed from its database: Fake GMB Reviews on Wayback Machine, GMB Ranking Tips on Wayback Machine and Common SEO Mistakes on Wayback Machine. Notably, the revamped content didn't just regain its place in the index; it ascended in the rankings, signaling a successful alignment with Google's quality benchmarks.

Patience, however, wore thin for the trio of deindexed pages, which remained overlooked by Google's crawlers. Adopting a proactive stance, I opted for a strategic pivot—altering their URLs and requesting re-indexation. This move paid dividends as Google promptly recognized and reinstated these pages in its search results, bestowing them with favorable rankings.

A particular challenge arose with the URL modification of a page (from /blog/Tips-To-Spot-A-Fake-SEO to /blog/spot-fake-seo-agencies-and-consultants ) that had proudly occupied the #2 spot for over two years. The absence of a redirection and canonical capability within Google Sites (using which this site is built) led to a dilemma when the original URL continued to claim its high rank, albeit leading to a 404 error upon clicks. Realizing the folly in forfeiting such a coveted position, I reverted to the original URL, albeit at the cost of its standing, now finding it on the second page of search results. I hope it will be back to #2 position soon for my desired search query.

Despite this hiccup, my sentiment remains overwhelmingly positive. The reindexing of all pages and the improved rankings of several among them stand as testaments to the efficacy of my efforts for recovery from HCU. For those curious about tangible outcomes, the improved visibility of my content is evident in search results for any blog title or its variants. This journey, marked by both challenges and victories, underscores a pivotal learning curve and a steadfast commitment to excellence in optimization for Google Search. Each step, whether forward or backward, has been instrumental in shaping a more resilient and SEO-compliant website, poised to deliver genuine value to its audience.


The essence of bouncing back from HCU hit lies in fostering a holistic approach to website quality, driven by genuine, user-first content. This case study underscores the importance of adaptability and the continuous pursuit of excellence in Search Engine Optimization. By sharing this narrative, I aim not just to recount my website's rebound from the update but to inspire and guide others through their recovery from Helpful Content Update process, anchored in the enduring principles of quality, relevance, and user satisfaction. This tale of revival from the aftermath of Google's Helpful Content Update is a testament to the resilience and dynamism inherent in the world of SEO, offering valuable insights for those facing similar challenges.

May Google bless you all.