Over the last five years, Google has dominated the search market in the UK. Its share of searches has, on average, been around 97.5%, according to Statista. This makes Google-focused SEO highly important for UK businesses who want to see their websites perform well in search results. However, as Google continually makes improvements to its search engine, the way to optimise websites always changes. Here we look at some of the latest Google updates and what it means for SEO in 2023.
Page Experience Update
Like all businesses, today, Google is constantly trying to deliver a better customer experience to its users. However, this goes beyond Google’s own services to include the experience users have when they visit the sites listed in its search results. To rank well, therefore, you will need to offer a page experience in-line with what Google requires.
In 2023, websites will need to focus on aspects of technical SEO to achieve this. The Page Experience Update requires websites to load and respond quickly and stay stable on the page during loading. This, of course, has to happen on both mobile and desktop versions of the website. At the same time, websites will need to improve navigation and eradicate issues such as broken links and 404 errors to avoid being downranked.
Product Algorithm Update
Google is often the first place that people will turn to when looking for a product. Over recent years it has worked hard to improve the shopping experience for its users. Its algorithm is now advanced enough to determine shopper intent, learning from the search terms used where the consumer is on the purchasing journey. It will know if they are researching products, comparing products or ready to buy and will provide results based on that particular intent. This means websites may need to create different pages for each stage of the journey in order to appear in all the results.
Additionally, Google now analyses product reviews to determine which products to show to its users. As it wants to help them make better decisions, it is more likely to rank products that are rated highly by previous customers. For eCommerce stores, this makes it important to enable customer reviews to help the better products get noticed by Google. Of course, it also means that poorly rated products might disappear down the list.
When it comes to the way you sell products on your site, websites should aim to make it simple for customers to find what they are looking for, using detailed menus and product searches with filterable results. On product pages, provide detailed descriptions and trustworthy advice.
For decades, SEO agencies have tempted clients with promises of first-page ranking. Today, this is coming to an end as Google begins to roll out continual scrolling of search results. This has been in place on mobile for a while but is now being phased in on desktop searches too. Instead of new pages, users will be able to scroll down six pages worth of results, at the end of which will be a ‘See More Results’ button to keep on scrolling.
This is good news for the majority of sites that never got on the first page and got little in the way of any traffic. However, while the data is not yet available, it’s still very likely that the higher up the list your pages rank, the more traffic you will receive. The update, unfortunately, is not for the benefit of websites, but simply to remove the inconvenience to the user of having to click through to the next page.
Helpful Content Update
The Helpful Content Update is designed to improve the ranking of websites that offer their users a better experience in terms of the content they see. The websites that are likely to do better are those that have a primary focus or purpose and that produce content that would be found useful to those with an interest in that topic. Google states that the content should ‘clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge’ so that users would feel they have learnt what they need. It also mentions that the content must be created for people and not for the benefit of improving ranking.
Google’s search engine is not yet sophisticated enough to evaluate content at this level, so will look for other indicators that visitors find the page useful. This will include looking at analytics data like bounce rates and time spent on the page, as well as the number of backlinks and social shares that a page receives.
A recent innovation from Google is to bring together traditional text searches with the newer image searches in what is known as multi-search. Done through Google Lens, users can now search with both images and text at the same time to help them find exactly what they are looking for.
For websites, this means that the images used are going to be more relevant in search results so it may be worth replacing those that are merely decorative with ones that are more illustrative of what the page is about. At the same time, the alt-text and image descriptions will also increase in SEO importance.
Advancement with Google’s search engine invariably results in websites needing to modify how they carry out SEO. Hopefully, the information here will have shown you some of the key areas that need addressing in 2023. Boost SEO by speeding up your website with VPS Hosting and taking advantage of our All-In-One SEO Tool.