Welcome to your April 2023 SEO News Recap! Last month, we shared the latest news about Google algorithm updates, clarification on what Bard is used for, the latest news on ChatGPT and Bing, and more. In this month’s SEO news update, we have the latest on AI and SEO, the impacts of a core update from March, a change coming to attribution models in GA4, and more.
Google March 2023 Core Update Was Big
The Google March 2023 Broad Core Update rolled out between March 15-28 and caused significant volatility in search rankings.
This algorithm update affected all types of sites with notable fluctuations observed on March 16 and around March 23-24. The March 2023 core update is considered significant compared to the September 2022 core update.
Like most broad core updates, it aims to promote or reward high-quality web pages, underscoring the need for site owners to improve overall site quality in line with Google’s core update advice.
Monitoring Google Algorithm Updates Is Easier
Google has integrated a new Ranking section into the Google Search Status Dashboard to streamline the display of confirmed ranking updates alongside existing crawling, indexing, and serving information.
The Ranking section aims to provide users with a more comprehensive view of search status updates and will display information on current and future algorithm updates.
For a quick check to see if an update is happening, check the Ranking page linked from the dashboard.
Bard Rolls Out & Google CEO Teases Future Uses of AI
Google introduced Bard, its AI chat bot, to the world in a slow rollout that started on March 21. Since then, most users in the US and UK have had a chance to play with it using their personal accounts. Bard feels different from Bing Chat, and Google seems to want to keep it that way, reminding users repeatedly that Bard is not Search.
In fact, just a few weeks after its release, Google added two features to the Bard chat interface with a “Google it” button and a section below it titled “Search related topics.”
During an interview with the Wall Street Journal in April, Google CEO Sundar Pichai shared his thoughts on how much Search could change over the next decade. While Google has been using large language models (LLMs) to enhance search over the years with features like Lens and Multisearch, bigger integrations may be coming that could lead to the process of searching the web becoming more of a conversation than a series of queries.
In the meantime, Google Spokesperson Lara Levin told Search Engine Land:
“We’re excited about bringing new AI-powered features to Search and will share more details soon.”
Those new features include Magi, a codename for a project that will allow users to complete financial transactions within the Google interface. For example, a user could book flights or buy shoes without leaving Google.
Learn more about the state of AI and search:
Bing Makes Gains While ChatGPT Faces Legal Woes
In Bing and ChatGPT news, the two are proving to be a powerful combination for the smaller search engine.
According to a late March report, since Bing introduced its chat experience to users, page traffic has increased by 15.4%, while Google has seen a very slight decline.
By early April, users were seeing “Stories” on Bing’s search results pages that were created by AI and that include short videos and other content snippets. We noticed that the accuracy of the stories was a little off while watching the Lentils video referenced in a Search Engine Roundtable article when the story mentioned vegan tacos, but the coinciding video showed meat tacos.
Rumbles of legal trouble for OpenAI have been sprinkled amidst all the news of advances in Bing’s use of ChatGPT. Consumer privacy is the biggest concern being addressed globally – from Italy’s outright ban of ChatGPT to other European countries warning of similar action if the chatbot violates GDPR or similar privacy policies.
Additional legal issues concerning AI tools include a potential defamation lawsuit against OpenAI by a mayor in Australia over inaccurate information about him created by ChatGPT and a class action lawsuit against popular AI art tools for using StableDiffusion, which was trained using copyrighted art. If you’re considering using any generative AI tool for your business, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the legal cases that are arising.
Google’s Policy & Stance on Generative AI To Write Content
Google has issued a prohibited use policy for its generative AI services to ensure responsible and ethical use of the technology. As AI-generated content becomes more common, Google emphasizes the importance of providing helpful content for users rather than using AI to mislead or manipulate search results.
Despite concerns raised by Google’s John Mueller about the current quality of AI-generated content, Google supports the use of AI in content creation as long as it remains valuable and written for people, not search engines. Google aims to promote responsible AI adoption while maintaining content quality standards.
Include a Visible Date on News Content
Danny Sullivan, a Google Search Liaison, recently took to Twitter to explain that Google wants to see recent information on news content. He shared:
“Dates on fresh content are important for Google to understand if the content is recent and recently updated.”
Putting dates in the metadata is not enough, though. Per Google’s Publisher Guidelines, the publication date should be visible on the page with proper structured data markup. It’s against Google’s guidelines to update the date on a story if a substantial amount of the article has not changed.
Quality Over Quantity for SEO
A Twitter user asked John Mueller if a site could release thousands of pages at once or if they should be rolled out slowly over time. John gave the OK to release them all at once as long as they’re unique and helpful to users.
In the past, releasing that many pages at once could have signaled a red flag to Google. That’s no longer the case if they are quality pages that would be useful to people.
Mitigate Spam Risk & Don’t Waste Crawl Budget
John Mueller says that to mitigate the risk of spammy search results, site owners should block via meta robots or disallow in robots.txt site search result pages (e.g. site.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=1234abcd).
Not blocking access to these pages opens them up for spam attacks, which we have seen on several Magento sites recently. Be sure to also check /collections/vendors if you’re on Shopify as this often-unused page has also become a vulnerability and can serve spammy content to Googlebot. This kind of spammy content can quickly deplete your crawl budget and potentially cause problems on your site if not addressed sooner than later.
Google Search Launches 5 New Info Literacy & Fact Checking Features
Google announced a new set of features to help people better understand where information is coming from and learn about the quality of their search results.
The goal of this information literacy and fact-checking initiative is to continue helping users…
“…find high-quality information from around the world, from a variety of diverse and credible sources, and find new perspectives to help them better understand the world.”
Here’s a breakdown of the new tools:
- About this result gives users information about why a result was deemed a useful answer to their query.
- About this author shows background and experience details for the page’s author.
- About this page gives context about a website’s reputation and purpose.
The new “About…” features are all accessed by clicking the three dots in the upper corner of each search result. They are all globally available now for Search in English and will be expanding into other languages in the future.
- Perspectives carousels will expand and diversify the voices and sources we see in Top Stories results (coming soon in English in the U.S. for desktop and mobile).
- Content advisories will automatically appear for topics that are evolving rapidly to help users identify informational gaps in their search results.
Four Attribution Models Sunsetting in Google Ads & Analytics This Summer
Google announced that it will deprecate four attribution models this year due to “increasingly low adoption rates”: first-click, linear, time decay, and position-based attribution.
These attribution models will be sunset in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) beginning in May and in Google Ads beginning in June. This change aligns with Google’s shift towards data-driven attribution in late 2021 and will take place just before the end-of-days for Universal Analytics.
Tying It All Together: April 2023 SEO News Recap
If you think it feels impossible to keep up with the rapidly changing SEO landscape, you’re not alone. At ROI Revolution, our experts are dedicated to keeping up with the transformations so that you don’t get caught off guard. To explore how we can help you achieve your business growth goals through SEO, send a message to our team.
- Search Engine Roundtable, Google March 2023 Broad Core Update Finished Rolling Out.
- Search Engine Land, How the March 2023 Google core update compared to previous core updates.
- Google Search Central, Google Search’s core updates and your website.
- Google, Google Search Status Dashboard.
- Search Engine Roundtable, Google Ranking Updates Added To Google Search Status Dashboard.
- Google, Google Search Status Dashboard Ranking Page.
- Search Engine Roundtable, Google Bard Begins To Slowly Rollout – Citations, Limitations & Early Access.
- Search Engine Roundtable, Google Bard Adds Google It Related Topics & Release Notes Page.
- Search Engine Roundtable, Google CEO: Search will evolve substantively in next 10 years.
- Search Engine Land, Google planning new search engine while working on new search features under Project Magi.
- Search Engine Land, The new Bing making (small) gains on Google Search.
- Search Engine Roundtable, Bing AI-Generated Stories In Search Results.
- Search Engine Journal, ChatGPT And Generative AI Tools Face Legal Woes Worldwide.
- Google Privacy & Terms, Generative AI Prohibited Use Policy.
- Search Engine Roundtable, Google’s John Mueller On Using AI To Write Content…
- Search Engine Roundtable, Evergreen Content Doesn’t Rank As Well In Google When Topic Is In News.
- Search Engine Roundtable, Google: No SEO Reason To Delay Release Of Thousands Of Pages.
- Search Engine Roundtable, Google: If You Can’t Block No Result Found Internal Search Results Then Block All Search Results.
- Google The Keyword Blog, Five new ways to verify info with Google Search.
- Search Engine Land, Google to sunset 4 attribution models in Ads and Analytics.
- Google Analytics Help, Universal Analytics is going away.