May 2023 proved to be a big month for SEO news. But unlike most of these monthly updates this year, it doesn’t center around AI (but of course we’ll still mention it). Google had its yearly I/O conference with a whole host of news and updates, plus a rumored algorithm update. Buckle up, here’s your Maybe 2023 SEO Update.
On May 11, Google posted a recap of their conference called 100 things we announced at I/O 2023. Ok, 100 is a lot. We won’t cover all that, but some of the highlights that apply to search and SEO news.
Introduction of Search Labs
Google calls a new way for the general public to test and try their new products and ideas Search Labs. Pretty soon a little icon in the Google App or Chrome Desktop browser to sign up. Driven by AI, Google will take the queries you type in, and give little snapshots of key information or ways to further narrow your search or dig deeper. Then when you click on the next steps, a conversational mode will open where you can keep asking for more information. Plus, it allows for feedback to improve Search over time. This Search Labs applies to general informational search, plus Shopping with tips or factors you should consider before purchasing.
Safe Search on Google
Everyone wants to make sure their data is safe as they browse the internet. This update introduces the Safe Browsing API that uses AI to identify dangerous sites and files to try and stop scams before they start or can affect you and your computer. This API impacts search, Google Drive files, and more.
Preventing Spam was also a big piece of Google I/O. They’re opening a feature that helps users review files sent to you to know if it’s spam before opening it. Additionally, Google will expand access to a dark web report so anyone with a Gmail account to see where their email address appears on the dark web.
And in the coming months, Google announced a new tool called About this Image which will give a user context about an image on search like when it was first indexed, where it first appeared, where else it shows up on the internet, or if fact-checking sites can back up if it’s real or not. This can help you know if an image is real or generated by AI as that continues to become a blurred line with all these new technological advances.
Google Suite AI Features
Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, Gmail, etc., have been a staple in workplaces worldwide for years. And AI will now help to streamline or make a lot of those Workspace apps even better. AI can help you write an email using Gmail that does take context into consideration for the message. It can help suggest images from search based on text in Slides, and automate data classification for better data analytics in Sheets. Then in Docs, Google added AI smart chips, variables, templates, and a proofread suggestion pane that can all help enhance a document and the content within.
Language Processing & Bard
Last year, Google announced PaLM, a language processing model that ultimately powers Bard. PaLM 2, announced at I/O powers 25 other Google services. Google says PaLM 2 is a drastic improvement over its predecessor and even beats Chat GPT4 (a competitor to Bard), depending on the task.
And speaking of Bard, Google announced several other improvements. Bard’s capabilities are expanding to 180 countries, still in English. But 40 more languages are on the way, including Japanese and Korean, available now. There’s no longer a waitlist to join and try Bard, so anyone can sign up and interact with the tool. Google says you can soon use images in Bard prompts to enhance a search or create more creative content, plus Bard can respond with images as well. And another big feature, Google is working to integrate Bard with other popular apps outside the Google world like Adobe, Kayak, OpenTable, ZipRecruiter, Instacart, and more.
Fewer Local Pack Search Results?
Outside of I/O, there are a few more Google updates we want to talk about.
World-renowned SEO expert who seems to know all announcements out of Google before they’re even announced, Barry Schwartz, also posted some information about fewer Local Pack Results on Google Search. That can mean less website traffic for local businesses.
While Google hasn’t confirmed anything, several in a group called Local Search Forum have had the same observation. Check out these two examples from Joy Hawkins in the chat from when she searched for ‘philadelphia car accident lawyer’ in late April, to what it looked like in mid-June.
Tracking some interesting examples of SERPs that used to always return local packs and no longer do (consistently). Feel free to weigh in here with more examples if you have them > https://t.co/QvuUxKDTIC pic.twitter.com/xNKXX8i9Bd
— Joy Hawkins (@JoyanneHawkins) May 11, 2023
Some local queries show a difference while others do not. So if you’re a local business, or manage a Google Business Profile for more local results, check to see what your monthly report says. You might notice a change. We will keep monitoring this to see if we can notice any big changes or specifics around what triggers fewer results for local results.
Google News Best Practices
Websites that post news, current event, etc., have a unique job. In SEO, it’s very hard to rank quickly. But with news or things that catch public attention, you need to race to be the first one to publish the information. Google has its specific News section for this type of content. It’s very likely that a user will type into Google an event and read one of the first articles that comes up if they want to learn more. And in May, they released an SEO Best Practice Guide for news sites to follow to try and get that top ranking that constantly changes.
News content can show on Google in Top Stories and the News tab. The latter focuses on news-specific results. The former is a feature displaying relevant and high-quality news content that varies depending on the query, device, and location. Ultimately, getting to the top of these results will need some good SEO best practices.
But The Google experts who posted the content also emphasize the importance of E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) in news content. That means the content creator/author/journalist should have the necessary first-hand experience of a topic and background to be knowledgeable. Trustworthiness can be the most important part with clear information published about the authors, the publication itself, and the publisher. In addition, news sites have a higher chance of ranking well if they have a consistent history of posting E-E-A-T worthy news-related content. Publishers should also avoid an abundance of ads that overtake the readability of the content.