SEO news recap - Magnifying glass sitting on top of computer keyboard.

Welcome to our October 2023 SEO News Recap! Last month, we shared the latest on ChatGPT, title tags and meta descriptions, and the core algorithm updates that have happened since last month.

In this month’s update, we have updates on several algorithm updates that have been released recently, how Google is expanding its AI search experience, and more.

Jump to each October 2023 SEO news topic using the links below:

A Gaggle of Google Updates

The wave of Google updates that started in August continued well into October, causing higher volatility than usual through the period.

The September 2023 Helpful Content Update (the third HCU since August 2022) finished rolling out on September 28. Chatter, weather patterns, and data analysis show that content written only to rank well in SERPs and sites with terrible UX were the largest targets.

Content written by AI in addition to low-quality and unhelpful content also saw drops.

Even before its completion, Google spokesperson John Mueller was already letting SEOs know that the results of the update wouldn’t be rolled back by Google.

Reminding X (formerly Twitter) readers that the Helpful Content System is designed to downgrade poor-quality pages and improve the visibility of “awesome” content, John said the system is doing its job, but Google still has more work to do to improve it.

Just a week after that update, Google initiated the October 2023 Spam Update, which aims to reduce the number of spammy sites shown in the SERPs. The goal of this update focused on cleaning up “several types of spam … reported in Turkish, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Hindi, Chinese, and other languages.”

Only one day later, on October 5th, Google surprised everyone by rolling out the October 2023 Core Algorithm Update.

Two major updates by Google at the same time theoretically could cause confusion if a website saw declines during the period. However, in this case, Google’s spokespeople took to social media to remind everyone that if your site has spammy practices, it was probably affected by the Spam Update. If your site isn’t spammy, declines are likely attributable to the Core Update.

Both October updates completed on October 19th. Think your site was affected by these updates? To see how ROI Revolution’s SEO team can help you reach your full potential, book a meeting.

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Google: Focus on Unique, Compelling Content

With the influx of AI-generated content on the web, many site owners believe that using tools like ChatGPT for research and content creation is key to ranking well.

In an exchange with one person on X who asked why his site’s rankings declined, John Mueller said:

“I think you should focus on unique, compelling, high-quality content that adds to the web. As you have it now, it looks like a compilation of ChatGPT output on topics that tons of sites have already covered.”

The fact that Google is looking for high-quality content that “adds to the web” should serve as inspiration to make your content stand out with unique perspectives, fresh data, and insights that others haven’t considered.

High-Quality Links Are Important, but Not a Top 3 Ranking Factor

We all know that internal links and backlinks are important to your SEO, but Gary Illyes from Google said these aren’t listed in the top 3 ranking signals anymore.

Links from high-quality sources are still important (as are internal links throughout your site), but as we always say here at ROI Revolution, the quality of those links is more critical than the total number that you have.

If a Good Page Isn’t Indexed, It Might Be Your Site’s Fault

Google tries to index high-quality, helpful pages, but sometimes it misses relevant ones.

John Muller said on X, “A page can be of high quality and still not be indexed – it’s not guaranteed.”

If your site has trouble getting high-value pages indexed, it may be a sign of a sitewide quality issue.

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Manage How Your Content Is Used in AI Training & SGE

Google-Extended, a new standalone product token, allows web publishers to have control over how their sites contribute Vertex AI and Bard. Instructions can be applied to a robot.txt file to block certain areas of your website from being used to train these APIs.

Keep in mind that each company (including Google, GPT, and Bing) has its own bots crawling your site and needs to be blocked separately if you want to opt out of all API training models.

Similarly, Google-Extended doesn’t prevent your site’s content from being pulled into Search Generative Experience (SGE) results.

Google explained that SGE results are just like traditional search results. Site administrators will need to manage which pages are indexed via Googlebot user agent instructions (through the robots.txt file) and noindex meta tags.

To learn more about using AI in your organic search efforts, read our blog: Using AI for SEO.

Google Adds “About This Result” in SGE

As Google expands its AI search experiences, a new attribution element has been announced for Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) results.

“About this result” allows users to see which sources were used to synthesize the information they see in the AI-assisted results. Users can also explicitly see if AI was used to generate the response, when they opted in, and whether the information was personalized for them.

Indented Search Results Are Out

Indented search results, which were used by Google to display secondary listings for a single domain on a SERP, were removed prior to the October 2023 Core Update.

Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan stated that indented results were just not as helpful as they used to be since Google introduced the continuous scroll feature.

Google Denies Altering Search Queries in Favor of Monetization

In early October, published an op-ed piece that claimed Google had a history of replacing searcher’s queries with ones that made them more money. The op-ed has since been removed by Wired’s leadership, but not before Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan responded to the allegations on X.

Danny explained that the writer seemed “to misunderstand how keyword matching is related to showing relevant ads on Google Search.”

He also reminded readers that how Google answers user queries with organic links is a separate process from how Google surfaces ads for the same query.

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Book a Meeting to Start Achieving Your Potential With SEO

The large amount of October 2023 SEO news is not uncommon. Even the most established brands get caught off-guard by the everchanging world of SEO.

Have you ever wondered what heights you could reach with a guide to show you the way? The organic search experts at ROI Revolution are dedicated to helping our clients successfully navigate the path to profitable growth. To explore the difference that comes with having a guide you can trust, book a meeting with our team today.