Welcome to our August 2023 SEO News Recap! Last month, we shared the latest on ChatGPT, AI shopping features, building trust for Google Shopping, and more.
In this month’s update, we have the latest on core algorithm updates, generative AI for organic search, new options in GA4, and more.
Jump to each August 2023 SEO news topic using the links below:
- Google Launches the August 2023 Core Algorithm Update
- Latest Updates in Google’s Generative AI & Search
- Enhanced Learning With AI-Generated Content
- Google Enhances Site Name Support With Revised Guidelines & Resources
- GA4 Adds New Data Segmentation Options
- Fix Website Vulnerabilities to Avoid Spammy Link Networks
- Google Clarifies Supported Characters in URL Structures
- Google Recommends Adding Customer Support Details to Merchant Center
- CNET Deletes Old Content, Causing Controversy
- Bing Chat Upgrades Visual Search Capabilities
Google Launches the August 2023 Core Algorithm Update
On Tuesday, August 22nd, Google announced the release of the August 2023 Core Update.
As usual, not much detail is available about what’s changing, but the ROI Revolution SEO team is keeping an eye on our clients’ site performance and rankings for changes and potential trends. Most core algorithm updates take about two weeks to complete, and during the rollout process, businesses can expect to see an uptick in website search ranking volatility.
Learn more about Google’s core algorithm updates in our consistently updated blog article, Google Algorithm Updates: History & Latest Changes.
Latest Updates in Google’s Generative AI & Search
In recent weeks, Google’s Search Generative Experience has improved in its capabilities, transforming the way users interact with information from the web. Hopefully, these enhancements are a welcome addition for both casual browsers and seasoned researchers.
Here are some highlights of the recent SGE news:
- Visual enhancements in AI-powered overviews. Google’s generative AI-driven Search experience (SGE) now offers improved visuals for better comprehension. Users can expect images and videos within AI overviews, fostering a more intuitive understanding of search results.
- Faster AI overviews for quicker answers. SGE now prioritizes rapid responses by halving the time it takes to generate AI overviews. This accelerates the retrieval of information for both simple inquiries, like finding nearby lunch spots, or more complex research tasks, like budget-friendly apartment upgrades.
- The impact of AI-generated content and link attribution. Some noteworthy UI updates within SGE have led to enhanced link prominence and a focus on aiding the comprehension of complex topics. However, concerns have arisen about potential conflicts between AI-generated summaries and content creators seeking credit for their work through link attribution.
This topic resonates with questions raised regarding the accuracy of performance reporting for AI-generated results. It’s essential to not only give credit where it’s deserved but also to be able to track and report these results in Google Search Console.
Enhanced Learning With AI-Generated Content
Google’s ongoing enhancements to the Search Generative Experience (SGE) offer users improved ways to absorb information. Recent SGE upgrades include contextual definition links for terms and color-coded syntax highlighting for coding segments to help with understanding.
The experimental “SGE while browsing” feature enables users to interact with AI-generated key points and relevant links within lengthy articles that are not behind a paywall. Google’s commitment to transparency is also improving with the addition of publish dates to links, providing insights into information recency.
Google Enhances Site Name Support With Revised Guidelines & Resources
Google has rolled out improvements to its site names feature, which displays site names in search results.
The update includes expanded support for subdomains in multiple languages on all devices, improvements to site name selection, and the introduction of alternateName property to indicate preferred site names. Users are advised to utilize WebSite structured data and alternateName property to enhance site name selection.
Google has also addressed potential issues with internal pages not displaying the correct site name and is actively working on a solution.
To provide additional resources and clarity, Google’s Webmaster Help forums now feature revised guidelines, FAQs, resources, and timelines for the site names feature.
GA4 Adds New Data Segmentation Options
As SEOs, we spend a lot of time combing through data in tools like Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
With the move to GA4, Google Analytics has slowly been adding in more features to make the new GA feel similar, in some cases, to UA. GA4 has finally added the ability to segment the data we look at with match types like “begins with,” “exactly matches,” and regex.
Why should you care? This type of filtering can be extremely helpful when attempting to view a section of a site, like a blog or product pages, so you can identify patterns, trends, or anomalies.
Fix Website Vulnerabilities to Avoid Spammy Link Networks
Earlier this year, we noticed vulnerabilities on some websites. Last month, John Mueller reminded us why it is important to fix these issues as soon as possible: spammers often share these vulnerabilities with other spammers in their networks.
This means that additional spammers may access your site and attempt similar malicious activities. Fixing the issues (404ing pages or adding “noindex” tags) means you’re less likely to encounter “spammers who leech off your site.”
Google Clarifies Supported Characters in URL Structures
Google released updates to its URL structure guidelines, which clarify expectations and special character allowances. Unsurprisingly, Google emphasizes that URL structures should be simple, constructed logically, and intelligible to human users.
Regarding special characters, they wrote:
“Google supports URLs as defined by RFC 3986. Characters defined by the standard as reserved must be percent encoded. Unreserved ASCII characters may be left in the non-encoded form. Additionally, characters in the non-ASCII range should be UTF-8 encoded.”
Additionally, they recommend converting all text to lowercase to help Google’s algorithm read and understand URLs.
Google Recommends Adding Customer Support Details to Merchant Center
A common pain point for online shoppers is difficulty finding customer support and return information on retailers’ websites. To mitigate this, Google wants business owners to add these details to their Merchant Center accounts to improve shopper experience and build trust.
This recommendation aligns with Google’s efforts to make search more user-friendly and helpful overall.
For instructions on how to add those details, follow this step-by-step guide to update this information.
CNET Deletes Old Content, Causing Controversy
The technology-focused news site CNET.com deleted thousands of articles in recent weeks. That action created quite a stir among SEOs. Some supported CNET’s content culling while others thought it was a bad idea.
An internal memo said that deleting old articles “sends a signal to Google that says CNET is fresh, relevant and worthy of being placed higher than our competitors in search results.”
But some SEOs disagree.
A week after the information’s release, John Mueller told Mastadon users that the action was reasonable and would probably have minimal impact on the site’s SEO. Since CNET’s plan for content removal was nuanced and focused on content that may be confusing to users, the plan made sense for the news site.
For ecommerce sites, there are alternatives to deleting content just because it’s old.
For example, noindexing pages that have outdated information but still have value to show authoritativeness may be more viable than deleting and redirecting them. Another option is placing older content in an archive that requires a login to gain access.
Because each website is different, your best bet before making blanket content deletions is to consult SEO professionals like the team at ROI Revolution.
Bing Chat Upgrades Visual Search Capabilities
Bing Chat rolled out its visual search feature, allowing users to upload or take a photo and ask questions about it.
The AI-powered chat bot “can understand the context of an image, interpret it, and answer questions about it,” setting the feature apart from traditional reverse image searching capabilities.
In addition to the visual search rollout, Bing Chat users are able to copy images to their clipboards and paste them directly into the search bar as of August 28th. Although it’s a small change, it’s a sign that Bing Chat is optimizing for user-friendly experiences.
Tying It All Together: August 2023 SEO News Recap
If you’re involved in the SEO landscape at all, you know that the large amount of August 2023 SEO news is not usual. Organic search trends and requirements are always transforming – which gets overwhelming easily.
The SEO experts at ROI Revolution are dedicated to staying up-to-date with all of the changes so that our clients are positioned to crush their competition.
What if you had a team of experts helping you stay ahead of your competitors based on all the latest changes in organic search? To discover the profitable growth opportunities that are awaiting your brand through SEO, send a message to our team today.
- Google, Google Search Status Dashboard.
- Google The Keyword Blog (Search), 3 new things you can do with generative AI in Search.
- Search Engine Land, A tale of two snippets: What link attribution in SGE tells us about search.
- Search Engine Roundtable, Google Search Console Performance Reporting Not Tracking Search Generative Experience Yet.
- Google The Keyword Blog (Search), Learn as you search (and browse) using generative AI.
- Search Engine Roundtable, Google Search Generative Experience Now Has Definition Overlay Links.
- Search Engine Roundtable, Google’s Revised Site Name Questions & Resources Thread.
- Google Search Central Blog, An update on site names.
- Google Search Console Help, Questions about site names.
- Search Engine Journal, Google Analytics 4 Gets Regex Filtering For Customized.
- Search Engine Roundtable, Google: Spammy Link Networks Share Vulnerable Sources With Each Other.
- Google Search Central Documentation, URL structure best practices for Google.
- Search Engine Roundtable, Google Merchant Center Next Wants You To Add Your Customer Support Details.
- Search Engine Land, Google warns against content pruning as CNET deletes thousands of pages.
- Search Engine Roundtable, Google: CNET’s Content Pruning Plans Reasonable But SEO Impact Would Be Unnoticeable.
- Microsoft Bing Blogs, Bing Chat Enterprise announced, multimodal Visual Search rolling out to Bing Chat.