Over the years, Google has stayed true to its vision – “to provide access to the world’s information in one click.” In their effort to make information universally accessible and useful, Google is constantly (and continuously) updating their technology and making changes to their search algorithm, thus staying relevant even as the content on the web and user expectations from search experience change.

2023 saw a substantial number of key changes – nine confirmed algorithmic updates, as well as the launch of the new Search Generative Experience.

Here is a list of all the major updates we saw to Google’s search algorithm in 2023, and some quick notes on how SEOs can adapt their SEO strategy to perform well in search engine rankings in 2024 and stay ahead of the evolving digital landscape.

Let’s get started!

2023 witnessed 9 impactful core Google search algorithm updates. SEO marketers must stay informed about the key algorithm changes in Google search so they may keep their websites aligned with the latest search engine standards, and work through any volatility in ranking they see associated with these updates.

1. November 2023 Reviews Update

In 2023, Google renamed their series of Product Reviews updates to “Reviews Updates”, emphasizing how it is now looking beyond product reviews and considering all high-quality, review-related content in its rankings process, and providing a set of best practices for creating them.

This key update could significantly impact search rankings, especially for sites that rely heavily on review content. It aims to reward the inclusion of insightful original research, analysis and genuine reviews from users or experts on web pages, ultimately aiding the search users in their purchase decision-making journey.

Useful tips from Google:

The simultaneous rollout of the reviews update may lead to changes in how review content is evaluated and ranked. Google mentioned that the 2023 November Reviews Update would be the last to receive periodic notifications on the Google Search Status Dashboard, as these updates will now occur at a regular and ongoing pace.

2. November 2023 Core Update

Google rolled out its fourth broad core algorithm update for 2023 in November, and the update appeared to be less volatile than the earlier updates.

Google on how core updates work:
“There’s nothing in a core update that targets specific pages or sites. Instead, the changes are about improving how our systems assess content overall. These changes may cause some pages that were previously under-rewarded to do better in search results.”

The rollout was completed by November 28, 2023.

3. October 2023 Core Update

The roll out of the third core algorithm update was completed by October 19, 2023. This coincided with the October 2023 spam update, making it challenging to isolate the impacts of each. This update was significant, as it caused volatility in search rankings for many sites, with notable fluctuations observed around mid-October.

4. October 2023 Spam Update

Google rolled out the October 2023 spam update, focusing on improving its spam detection across multiple languages, including Turkish, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Hindi, Chinese, and other languages.

Helpful link from Google: Google Search spam updates and your site

This update targeted specific types of spam: cloaking, hacked, auto-generated, and scraped spam. It followed several previous spam-related updates, with the roll-out completed on October 20, 2023.

With the strides made in generative AI in 2023, one thing is clear – search as we know it will be transformed. What will the future of search look like?
iQuanti’s SEO solutions experts have put together a quick guide to Google’s Search Generative Experience for digital marketers. Access the report here.

5. September 2023 Helpful Content Update

Probably one of the most impactful updates of 2023, the September helpful content update focused on improving the search engine’s ability to “ensure people see original, helpful content created for people in search results.”

The helpful content update uses specific signals to identify low-value content and this classifier process is entirely ML-led and automated. The SEO community reported a huge volatility in rankings, across industries, post this update. Websites with a lot of “unhelpful content” saw huge setbacks in ranking.
Some helpful links are below:

6. August 2023 Core Update

Google successfully completed the roll out of the second core algorithm update of the year by September 7, 2023.

The August 2023 update showed higher volatility than the March update. However, when it comes to pre-update, ranking volatility was already elevated by the time the August update rolled out.

7. April 2023 Reviews Update

Google released the April 2023 reviews update, expanding its product review updates to cover all types of reviews, including services, businesses, destinations, and media such as games and movies. Google also made several changes to its guidance documentation.

This update is expected to impact websites that publish any type of review content. It could affect organic traffic, rankings, and user experience. Websites that follow Google’s guidelines and publish high-quality reviews may see improvements in traffic and rankings, while those that do not could see a decline.

8. March 2023 Core Update

The first broad core update of 2023 finished rollout by March 28, 2023.

Google continued to look at factors such as experience & expertise to improve user journeys. As with all core updates, many websites saw fluctuations in ranks and other organic performance metrics, and the update appeared to be volatile.

It also seemed to align with Google’s updated search quality rater guidelines from January 2023 which provided direction to marketers in content quality, user experience best practices, and ensuring the E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) of your website and content.

iQuanti’s experts list 8 strategic SEO best practices for banks and financial services in 2024.
Read the full article here.

9. February 2023 Product Reviews Update

The February Products Reviews update aimed at bringing new languages to the product reviews update, including English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Russian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Polish.

This was the sixth release of the product reviews update and tried tries to promote review content that is above and beyond much of the templated information found on the web, which Google will increasingly promote in its search results rankings

The Final Word

Building impactful SEO programs for enterprise brands needs a deep understanding of the various elements to ensure a comprehensive and effective strategy. It also requires the SEOs to stay updated and be agile to effectively shift with the evolving technology and user expectations from their search experience.

If you have any questions or comments or need help assessing your existing SEO program/strategy, please feel free to reach out to our search experts today. Email us at marketing@iquanti.com.

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