2022 was a year that shook things up for SEO professionals, right?
Never-ending Google algorithm updates, GA4 getting closer to being a daily reality, and users changing search patterns—yup, there’s a lot to catch up on for 2023.
But how can you avoid getting lost in all this new information and find the best path to improve your SEO?
In this article, we will review all these 2022 changes, starting with the main Google algorithm updates. Next, we will look at some new tools, and we will help you understand what you really need to have a successful strategy this year. Let’s go!
Google’s Algorithm Updates
As the SEO landscape changed, SEO professionals had to adapt swiftly. Google rolled out many major algorithmic updates, such as broad core algorithm updates and the BERT update, which increased the importance of natural language processing and semantic search.
Additionally, the rise of voice search, mobile search, and other emerging technologies meant SEO pros had to adjust their strategies, as these changes can significantly impact SEO performance. On top of that, SEO methods had to stay up to date with new types of content and formats, such as structured data and other interactive elements.
Let’s look at the 2022 Google ranking updates list!
Page Experience Update
Implemented during the whole first quarter of 2022, this was a significant Google algorithm update focused on the overall user experience of web pages. It seeks to measure website quality that users experience on the front end. This update accounted for Core Web Vitals, mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, HTTPS usage, and intrusive interstitial guidelines, all of which aim to provide a better experience for users.
With this update, the Mobile-first Indexing that began in 2016 became even more qualified to prioritize websites providing a positive mobile experience, as many websites have already migrated from desktop-first indexing. Google will continue to prioritize mobile-first indexing.
It is most important to focus on the mobile user experience and use responsive website design to ensure both mobile and desktop versions of websites are easily crawled, indexed, and served to users. Users will expect a better mobile experience.
To measure the effectiveness of this approach, you should keep your eyes on Google Search Console using the “Experience” charts as you can see in the screenshot below.
Product Reviews Update
Over the year (March, July, and September), there were three updates related to product reviews. The main point was to prioritize product reviews’ visibility over organic search results, making them more prominent in SERPs. Consider the following best practices for good reviews:
- Include first-hand experience—meaning the end consumers’ point of view
- Provide a detailed description of the product, proving your company knows well what it is selling
- Show the consumer the advantages of buying the product through your e-commerce
- Add visuals, videos, or internal links for true experiences to help the consumer make a good purchase decision
- Look at advice from Google Search Central to write high-quality product reviews
Core Algorithm Update
There were two updates related to the Core Algorithm this year, in May and September—which was one less than in 2021. The Core Algorithm used to change many times per year; it usually affects and enhances different aspects of how Google provides helpful and reliable results on SERPs. Unlike other updates, it does not look at spam policies or manual actions. The main idea is to improve how the algorithm works to deliver better results for specific queries.“One way to think of how a core update operates is to imagine you made a list of the top 100 movies in 2021. A few years later, in 2024, you refresh the list. It’s going to naturally change. Some new and wonderful movies that never existed before will now be candidates for inclusion. You might also reassess some films and realize they deserve a higher place on the list than they had before.”
Google Search Central. “Google Search’s Core Updates and Your Website” | Google Search Central 12 October 2022
Helpful Content Update
Focused on people-first content, the Google Helpful Content Update in 2022 rewarded sites with original and helpful content that answered user queries. This update was looking for clear, accurate information that is easy to find and understand.
Creators will be expected to offer even more creative content, providing complete information about specific topics in a way that users feel satisfied—meaning they don’t need to do any more searching to find the information they want. Be sure yours is enough!
The expectation is that Google is removing useless content from the SERPs—thus, it’s time to do a cleaning!
- Take inventory of all existing content.
- Update the strategic materials and remove what no longer makes sense.
- Write for people, not for ranking.
- Don’t write about trends that are not correlated to your business or that do not make sense to your audience.
The Spam Update—much like the updates already mentioned—improves every year. And now it uses SpamBrain, an AI tool, to mitigate many different types of spam. Here are some examples of what you should avoid to ensure you follow Google’s Spam Policies:
- Cloaking; presenting different content to users
- Doorways; using different pages created only to manipulate search results without useful content
- Hacked content via code, page, and content injection
- Hidden text and links
- Keyword stuffing
- Link spam
- Machine-generated content without human review, etc.
In addition to what’s already been mentioned, it’s good to remember secondary (but equally significant) elements, such as the following.
One of Google’s quality-rater guidelines (previously known as E-A-T) is now E-E-A-T. What is expected is content that makes users perceive “expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.” With this last update, it is gaining one more “E” in reference to “experience.” It is also evolving to help Google provide more relevant and helpful information.
There is new snippet structure data related to product reviews. Google understands that reviews are valuable to users’ decision journeys, especially with regard to their pros-and-cons lists. So now they can highlight this in SERPs. If you don’t have structured data for it, Google can use pros and cons from the web page automatically.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console gained new features, and some of its reports have a new look. In January, they launched a URL Inspection API that can help developers debug and optimize indexed page issues individually. For example, you can request indexed URL data, and the API returns the indexed information available, such as index status, AMP, rich results, mobile usability, and user-declared and Google-selected canonicals.
Other Google Search Console improvements include:
- Connecting to Data Studio, and setting up custom dashboards, including bubble charts that can help queries perform analysis
- Updated pages classification reports
- New video index reports
- New HTTPs reports
- New Merchant Listings reports
- A new section for Shopping tab listings
GSC: Updated pages classification reports
Google Analytics 4
From July 1, 2023, standard Universal Google Analytics will no longer process data. For a while, It will still be possible to see your reports for a while. However, measuring new data will only be possible with Google Analytics 4. Websites using the 360 Universal Analytics version will have a slightly longer deadline: July 1, 2024. Get the ultimate guide to Google Analytics now!
Google claims the new generation (GA4) “is a new property designed for the future of measurement.” They promise some new possibilities, including:
- Collecting both website and app data to better understand the customer journey
- Using event-based (instead of session-based) data
- Enhancing privacy controls, such as cookieless measurement and behavioral and conversion modeling
- Predictive capabilities offering guidance without complex models
- Direct integration into media platforms to help drive actions on your website or app
So, Are You Ready to Rock your SEO in 2023?
Wow! What a year!
As we can see, all these algorithm updates focused on improving the relevance and accuracy of search results, as well as rewarding sites for providing helpful, high-quality content. In 2023, SEO professionals will have to quickly adapt to updates and ensure their content and websites provide original and useful information.
On the other hand, Google tools have new features to improve how we can measure different data—which can be great when we need to identify opportunities or solve problems fast, right?
Yes! It can be hard to keep up with so much all the time, but your team can always act to ensure they’re ready to improve their strategy.
Here are some tips to help you be sure you’re on the right track to meet your users’ expectations.
- Don’t write to gain ranking. Write to people!
- Beware of using content generated by AI tools. You can keep using a little, but don’t forget, human reviews are essential.
- Don’t write about trends unrelated to your business or irrelevant to your audience.
- Be sure to implement a well-done meta tag strategy connected to the content you’re really presenting.
- Supply complete information to satisfy your audience.
- Consider high-quality link building, including trusting internal and external links that truly make sense to your audience.
Yes, always keep the audience in mind!
- Always stay attuned to changes related to users’ behaviors (e.g. voice research).
- Use inclusive and natural language.
- Support fast-loading page speeds.
- Provide safe browsing and secure experiences.
- Perform frequent SEO audits to take advantage of improvement opportunities.
- Consider frequent content audits to ensure you stay faithful to your strategy.
Finally, you don’t need to memorize what each update is for individually. At the end of the day, what you need to understand is that they are all connected, and together they work to satisfy the user.
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