If you’re someone who dislikes surprises, we can only imagine how navigating the volatile world of Google can leave you feeling. With nearly as many unexpected updates as the expected in 2022 alone, it can feel as though any planning you try to do may be in vain. It’s tough, and though we may never be given full insight into all updates rolling out, we can make predictions – based on industry goings on, historic updates and what the experts have to say.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the big algorithm predictions for this year, and what you can do to stay not only in the loop, but ahead of many of them too.
- Prediction 1: Google volatility will increase
- Prediction 2: Visual search will lead in importance
- Prediction 3: Tech SEO will be taken more seriously
- Prediction 4: Entity association will become increasingly important
- Prediction 5: Some businesses will forget about Universal Analytics going away
- Staying ahead of Google algorithm updates
a) Using Google Alerts
b) Following SEO experts
c) Making changes sequentially
d) Recovery strategies
Prediction 1: Google volatility will increase
2022 proved that Google was holding nothing back, as the time between algorithm updates shortened, and on some occasions, were rolled out on top of each other.
In 2023, we foresee more algorithm changes happening in even less time, meaning far more volatility and making it harder to identify which updates are impacting your website the most as they roll out. However, update effects should be quicker, and take less time to take effect. It will be a case of monitoring the environment and making an action plan to ensure you are as well-equipped as possible for the roll outs (more information on this below). On this point, Google is getting better at announcing updates too – and this transparency should help you better prepare as well.
Prediction 2: Visual search will lead in importance
With 40% of Gen Z users preferring TikTok and Instagram over Google for search, Google is changing to keep up, and to provide the most useful content based on search intent. This can be seen as early as 2021 – where Google confirmed it was working on plans to allow the search engine to index Instagram and TikTok videos in Search. And now, if you search for a keyword followed by the word “TikTok”, Google presents rows of results of TikTok videos before displaying the list of links.
With visual content being a generally easier format to consume too, it’s predicted that visual search will rule the roost in 2023. Businesses will continue to look for ways to add visuals to the buyer journey – from online snippets and clickable social media, as well as more general images, videos and infographics. With the rise of AI making searching and shopping far more fun too – visual search will seemingly know no limits.
We foresee fashion brands continuing to invest in ‘Shop The Look’ capabilities for example, as well as Maps functionally becoming far more personal. This could include Maps determining the vibe of an area (e.g whether it has a good food/art/cultural scene), as well as image matching depending on local businesses – for example, a user takes a picture of a croissant, and then Google recommends local bakeries.
And don’t forget all the image AI tools out there that are making it far easier for businesses to create what they need quickly and efficiently – such as DALL.E 2. We recommend having a play around with it. We also recommend considering your content strategy and how images can play a more prominent role too – if it doesn’t already.
Prediction 3: Tech SEO will be taken more seriously
Google and other search engines want to provide users with a good experience, and therefore it’s becoming increasingly important to ensure your website works at the technical level.
According to an Aberdeen Group study, a one second delay in page loading makes page views drop by 11%, with customer satisfaction dropping by 16% and conversation rates declining by 7%. Interestingly, if website loading time is only 1-3 seconds, the bounce rate probability is only 32%, but an extra second triples user bounce rate, causing it to soar up to 90%.
Beyond page speed, checking regularly for broken links, error codes, security status, structured data and indexability – among other checks in a good tech audit – will become far more the norm – the ‘’always on’’ mentality. Companies should have a system that monitors their websites continuously, because if something breaks and they don’t realise – this will cause more problems when it comes to search – creating a bad experience for users.
Sites should be audited regularly too. If you want to check your website every day, tools such as ContentKing and Lumar are good ones to check out.
Prediction 4: Entity association will become increasingly important
Entity optimisation is the process of using Google’s machine learning algorithms to decipher the content on a website and its pages. Machine learning aids Google in understanding a piece of text on a webpage by firstly determining the most meaningful entities and linking these to other data Google already has on the topic.
Keywords – for example – are seen as entities that are interlinked with each other and when combined with semantics, help Google understand search intent far better. Due to this, the main keyword will no longer be the main focus for a piece of content, and various entities will work together to increase the chances of getting ranked in the SERPs.
Some SEO experts believe that entities will surpass other ranking factors shortly, and therefore, businesses would be wise to learn more about these entities and how to update their marketing strategies accordingly.
Prediction 5: Some businesses will forget about Universal Analytics going away
As Google states: ‘’On July 1, 2023, standard Universal Analytics properties will no longer process data. You’ll be able to see your Universal Analytics reports for a period of time after July 1, 2023. However, new data will only flow into Google Analytics 4 properties.’’
It’s therefore imperative that GA4 is set up to ensure you can track past results, and continue to track for the future. If not, not only will results tracking become difficult, but so will making projections about results for the coming quarter, mid-year and upcoming years. You also won’t be able to see which channels are most profitable – potentially leading to budget wastage and inefficient strategies.
We can’t express the importance of getting GA4 set up enough here at NORTH, and for some guidance to start you off, we recommend clicking here.
Staying ahead of Google algorithm updates
Fortunately, there are lots of ways to stay in the know of upcoming updates, and this includes setting up Google alerts, following SEO experts and having a recovery strategy should an update impact your website in unexpected ways. Let’s detail these tactics – among others – now:
Using Google Alerts
Setting up a Google alert (though www.google.com/alerts/) keeps you in the know of algorithm updates. You can customise updates based on:
- The phrase you want to be notified about (e.g. ‘google algorithm update’)
- How often (as it happens, once a day or once a week)
- The language of the update
- The region of the information
- How many results (you can choose between only the best results and all results)
- Where to deliver updates too (a designated email address)
By having this set up, as new content gets released on algorithm updates, you can get an email alert, helping you prepare, plan and adjust strategy accordingly to put you in the best possible position to deal with the update effectively.
What’s more, Google Alerts can help you keep track of changes in search results and keep you at least on par with – if not ahead of – the competition. This helps you identify what industry players, brands and competitors are saying about the updates and what they’re doing to mitigate them. This can feed into your strategy too.
Following SEO experts
Subscribing to industry newsletters such as Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, The Weekly SEO and #SEOFOMO can keep you up to date with the latest insight on impending updates, as well as other goings on in the industry. Following industry experts too – many of whom contribute to the aforementioned sites – can also support your efforts. Some of our favourites here at NORTH include John Mueller, Nathan Johns, Aleyda Solis, Patrick Reinhart, Andrew Charlton and Areej Abuali – among many fantastic others. You can follow them on Twitter too, as well as relevant hashtags such as #GoogleUpdate and #GoogleAlgorithm to stay in the know.
Making changes sequentially
Because the smallest changes to your strategy can lead to great impact, it’s recommended you make changes to your website and its content slowly, and one at a time.
If you change multiple elements all at once, you may be unsure which was most effective, or – should a change cause an error – what the source was. We understand the want to action any updates asap, but this could do more harm than good. Take a step back, formulate an action plan and then go through this, one step at a time.
If any of Google’s updates impact your website – especially when you were unaware – having a good recovery strategy in place can help to mitigate the majority of – if not all – issues that may arise. The following aspects could form part of your recovery strategy:
- Identifying content that has been hit by the update, using tools such as SEMRush for positioning tracking, and Google Analytics and Google Search Console for pages that have seen drops in traffic. Then, ensure they’re relevant, up to date and providing useful information in depth and unlike what your competitors are doing.
- Sense-check your poorly-performing pages against Google’s relevance questions. Google has a set of questions that it recommends asking yourself when trying to improve any content that has been impacted by an update. These include: Does the content provide original information, reporting, research, or analysis?; Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond the obvious?; Does the main heading or page title avoid exaggerating or being shocking in nature?; Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?; Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results? You can then update your content – if needed – based on your answers.
- Consideration of authority factors, and specifically looking at aspects such as: whether your website is secure; having an ‘About’ page with clear contact details; displaying any credentials, awards and partnerships; ensuring content is factually-correct, as well as grammatically.
- Conducting competitor research – especially if you see a drop in search rankings, but a/a number of competitors’ rankings rise. This suggests their strategies are along the right tracks. You could use SEMRush to look at the keywords present in their content, who is linking to their content and who is mentioning these brands to give you an idea of how to update your own strategy.
For further insight on update preparation, or for information on any of our fantastic services here at NORTH, including SEO and Digital PR, please get in touch with us today.