Another Google Algorithm update – heart is pounding in my chest; I feel the sweat and frustration creeping in as I read through the latest Google Algo release. This feeling has become all too familiar; this is Google’s 8th confirmed update of the year. Four confirmed updates just in the last two months, and many more unconfirmed. As I read through the latest unconfirmed Google Search Rankings Algorithm Update and all the chatter in the industry, I can’t help but ask myself: “Did search become better, more accurate, more intentional, more helpful, more dimensional?” over the last year?
For all of you who need a refresher, or whose head is still spinning from the previous updates, here are this year’s confirmed Google Algorithm updates:
- October 19, 2022: Spam update. This update is global and affects all languages. It combats spammy websites that engage in link farms and content farms. The rollout was complete as of October 21, 2022.
- September 20, 2022: Product reviews update, targeting ranking improvements for product review content that is helpful and useful to searchers. This update applies to English-language product reviews. The rollout was complete as of September 26, 2022.
- September 12, 2022: Core update. The rollout was complete as of September 26, 2022.
- August 25, 2022: Helpful content update, analyzing websites for delivering helpful content for users, content that meets users’ needs. The rollout was complete as of September 9, 2022.
- July 27, 2022: Product reviews update for English-language product reviews, when Google encouraged content creators to follow their guidelines to create high-quality product reviews. The rollout was complete as of August 2, 2022.
- May 25, 2022: Core update. The rollout was complete as of June 9, 2022.
- March 23, 2022: Product reviews update, identifies high-quality product reviews.
- February 22, 2022: Page experience update for desktop. The rollout was complete as of March 3, 2022.
It seems that Google’s focus hasn’t changed. They are still focusing on delivering the most relevant, and the highest quality content to users. Google’s algorithm updates seem to be targeting very specific behavior and practices and are aimed at combating misleading websites that try to click-bait the users, websites that write content for search engines and not users’ needs, low quality content and bad user experiences in search. All this by in turn promoting helpful content and genuine product reviews in hopes for a better web.
During SMX Next Event in November, Hyung-Jin Kim, VP of Engineering, Search at Google, said “the purpose of Google Algorithm updates is the same as it’s always been – rank high-quality content that is helpful for searchers.” What is different today is the technology to do that, an advanced technology of artificial intelligence and neural network that can better identify not only the high-quality, helpful content, but also the user’s intent behind the query, the meaning and context, as well as the user’s satisfaction.
Aside from the obvious, here are seven tips for improving your SEO strategy in 2023 and stay ahead of the competition:
- Optimize for visual search and multisearch: During SMX Next, Google’s own Hyung-Jin Kim said “Google is investing a lot in making search more visual,” and this is going to be a huge focus for Google next year. So make sure your SEO strategy for 2023 includes ways to make your website more visible in a visual/multisearch landscape that involves optimizations on images, videos and voice search.
- All your website pages should be written with E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness) in mind: Google has said E-A-T is not only applicable to YMYL (your money or your life) pages, but Google actually applies E-A-T as a criterion for high-quality content to every page on the web. So make sure your content has expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.
- Speed and core web vitals: Assessing your website pages’ performance, checking your CWV and making sure you deliver a fast, user-friendly website is essential. But it is also very important to understand how your competitors’ websites perform in search, whether they are faster or provide a better user experience. That could be a differentiating factor for rankings.
- Schema markup: If you’re still not using this markup today, you are way behind the curve. Schema is a must in helping Google understand the type of content to deliver in search results and promote increased click-through rate through featured snippets.
- Internal linking: Create an internal linking and semantic relationship within your website to make sure that not only customers can easily find the content on your site, but also that search engines can discover your content.
- Content value: Build content that adds value to your customers, helps them make decisions, informs them and improves their lives. For better use of budget and amplification opportunities, understand content topics that could be used on multiple channels, like popular topics on both search and social media.
- Lead with empathy: Don’t forget the relationship you should cultivate with your customers. This type of content might not necessarily rank high or drive a lot of traffic, but it helps you communicate your brand message and value to your customers, address pain points, establish trust and increase loyalty. Your website should reflect that.
The jury is still out on whether search is becoming more helpful and dimensional, but it does seem like we are rapidly moving in that direction. People should come first in any marketing strategy, SEO is no exception, and understanding that relationship is essential in establishing a healthy brand identity. As I look ahead to 2023, I am excited for a year full of aspirational content, website improvements, visual engagement, customer appreciation, and technological innovations.