A round-up of Google algorithm updates in 2023

By | December 15, 2023

Our digital marketing world is transforming at an alarming rate, and staying on top of the latest Google algorithm updates is essential for SEO professionals, website owners, and marketers alike. 

The year 2023 has witnessed big changes in Google’s search algorithms, each aimed at improving the user experience and the quality of search results. But what were the key takeaways from this year’s Google algorithm updates? And how can you make sure your web design and content are adhering to these changes in 2024?


Why are Google algorithm updates important?

Google’s search algorithms are the secret sauce that powers the world’s most popular search engine. These algorithms determine how websites rank in search results, impacting the visibility and traffic of millions of businesses. To maintain its status as the leading search engine, Google regularly updates its algorithms. These updates help make sure users get the most relevant and high-quality search results.

However, while these updates are great news when you’re searching for a product or service — you’re more likely to find what you want — they can cause a lot of hassle for website owners, SEO experts and digital marketers. What was working one month, sending your traffic sky high, can suddenly have the opposite effect. 

So, what can you do? Well, keeping up to date with Google’s updates and changes can help you analyse and adapt your strategies to get the most out of your SERP results.

With that in mind, let’s delve into the Google algorithm updates of 2023, and see what we can learn from them.


1. Elevating user experience with the Core Web Vitals update

In May 2023, Google introduced a significant algorithm update called the Core Web Vitals. This update emphasised improving user experience by focusing on three key factors: 

  • How fast a page loads (Largest Contentful Paint)
  • How quickly it responds to user input (First Input Delay)
  • How stable the page layout is (Cumulative Layout Shift).

Google wanted to make sure that websites are offering a smooth and user-friendly experience — especially on mobile devices.

How can you make sure your website is meeting the update’s guidelines? Well, to adapt to this update, focus on making your web pages load faster, improve how quickly the website responds to user actions, and ensure that the page layout remains stable while users interact with it. 

These changes not only align with Google’s algorithm but also lead to better conversion rates. After all, happier website visitors are more likely to buy your product or enquire about your service.


2. Content is King, quality is the crown with the AI-driven Content Quality update

AI-generated content is all around us — from blog posts to pictures on social media. And it can even help rank websites. In August 2023, Google introduced the AI-driven Content Quality update. This update leverages advanced machine learning algorithms to assess and rank web content based on its relevance, depth, and overall quality.

To excel in this new landscape, content creators and marketers should prioritise producing high-quality, informative, and engaging content that genuinely serves the needs of their target audience. Keyword stuffing and thin, low-value content will no longer cut it in the SEO game anymore. 


3. Mobile optimisation is non-negotiable with the Mobile-First Indexing update

Did you know over 60% of searches are carried out on mobile devices? So it makes sense to focus on making sure your mobile website is up to scratch. It also gives an insight into why Google’s Mobile-First Indexing update, which has been in the works for several years, became a crucial ranking factor in 2023. This update means that Google predominantly uses the mobile version of a website’s content for ranking and indexing. 

Ensuring your website is mobile-friendly has never been more important. How can you do this? Here are a few areas you can work on to spruce up your mobile website:

  • Ensure responsive design
  • Make sure your mobile site has fast loading times
  • Create a seamless user experience (UX)

The long and short of it is that neglecting mobile optimisation can result in a significant drop in rankings and organic traffic — which can be catastrophic to your business.


3. E-A-T Update: Expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness

Have you heard of EAT (or E-A-T) before? Well, the E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) update, originally introduced in 2018, continued to be a significant ranking factor in 2023. Google places great importance on websites that demonstrate expertise, authority, and trustworthiness in their respective niches.

How do you do this? Take some time to showcase your expertise and make sure you cite credible sources. This will help establish you as an industry authority. Building a strong online reputation and cultivating trust among users can boost your credibility — and your SERP ranking.


3. Better understanding of user queries with the BERT update

BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) is an AI model that Google introduced in 2019 to better understand the context and nuances of user queries. 

Fast forward to 2023, and Google has supercharged BERT, empowering it to decode natural language and user intent with even greater precision.

To harness the power of this update, aim to craft content that not only directly answers user queries but does so with clarity and brevity. By deciphering what users seek and offering insightful, context-rich responses, you can catapult your content to greater visibility in search results.


4. The visual web with the video search optimisation update

In response to the increasing popularity of visual content, Google introduced updates aimed at enhancing video and visual search optimisation. This includes improved indexing and ranking for video content, as well as advancements in image recognition technology.

It’s clear to see that visual search optimisation is becoming a huge aspect of SEO, especially for eCommerce and content-rich websites. By creating high-quality visual content, optimising video metadata, and providing detailed alt text and captions for images, you can make the most out of this Google update.


5. Hyper-local SEO targeting update

Local SEO received a significant boost in 2023 with Google’s Hyper-Local Targeting update. This update focused on providing users with highly relevant local search results, especially for “near me” queries.

If your business operates in specific locations, here’s a clear path to success:

  • First, make sure your Google My Business profile shines — encourage customers to leave reviews, and ensure your Name, Address, and Phone (NAP) details are consistent online. 
  • But don’t stop there. use local schema markup to boost your visibility in local searches. 


6. A safe web is a trusted web with the security and HTTPS update

In 2023, Google continued to emphasise the importance of web security with its Security and HTTPS update. Websites that use secure HTTPS connections have been favoured in search rankings.

Ultimately, a secure website not only ranks better but also instils trust in users.


7. AI-Powered Predictive Search update

Google’s AI-Powered Predictive Search update in November 2023 was a game-changer. This update uses artificial intelligence to predict user search queries and display relevant results even before users finish typing their queries.

Make sure you’re conducting thorough keyword research and creating content that anticipates and answers user questions. This will make sure your content counts as part of Google’s predictive search results.


8. Meeting the growing demand with voice search optimisation

Have you ever used voice search to find something out? Maybe it’s when you’re in the middle of cooking and can’t type to look up a recipe because your hands are covered in flour. It’s a handy tool that’s becoming more and more popular. 

This year, its upward trajectory prompted Google to refine its Voice Search Optimisation update. This update aimed to provide more accurate and context-aware responses to voice queries.

To succeed in voice search optimisation, try to create conversational content. Where possible, optimise for local voice search, and make sure your websites load quickly on mobile devices.


9. The social signals integration update

Google took a step closer to integrating social signals into its search algorithm in 2023. While not a fully-fledged update, this trend suggests that social media presence and engagement may play a more significant role in search rankings in the future.

To stay ahead, businesses should invest in a strong social media strategy, build an active and engaged online community, and encourage social sharing of their content. Social signals can indirectly impact SEO by increasing brand visibility and traffic.


10. Inclusivity matters with the Accessibility Update

To make the web more accessible to all users, Google introduced the Accessibility Update in 2023. This update rewarded websites that prioritised accessibility features such as alt text for images, proper heading structure, and keyboard navigation support.

To make sure people from all walks of life can get the most out of your website and content, conduct an accessibility audit. Once you know where you can make improvements, do so. This not only adheres to Google’s guidelines but also demonstrates a commitment to inclusivity.


Navigate the ever-changing SEO landscape with NMG

The year 2023 brought a slew of Google algorithm updates, each with its own nuances and implications for SEO professionals and website owners. Staying ahead in this ever-changing landscape requires adaptability, a commitment to quality, and a deep understanding of user needs and expectations. That’s where the team at Narwhal Media Group can help.

Our Agency team brings together SEO experts, content writers, and designers to keep your website fresh and make sure your business is at the forefront of these dynamic changes.

Want to see how we can help? Feel free to get in touch with our friendly team.


Show All
28.09.23 Tansy Dando

How to balance content for SEO on eCommerce websites

In an online world where there are  12-24 million live eCommerce websites, it’s important that your eCommerce website stands out amongst the crowd. One way to do this is by achieving organic visibility for your eCommerce platform, which is an indispensable tool for your business’s growth.  eCommerce SEO isn’t just about using the right keywords […]

Read More

Top 10 secrets to branding your business

Starting your own brand or launching a startup can be an exciting journey filled with endless possibilities. But in today’s competitive business landscape, it’s crucial to establish a strong brand presence to stand out from the crowd and attract your target audience.  Successful startup branding and branding small businesses require careful planning, creativity, and a […]

Read More

Is SEO worth it for small businesses?

You might have heard of a little thing called Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) — the practice of tweaking and changing your website to make it rank better on search engine results pages like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. It doesn’t matter if you’re a multi-national company or a small start-up, every website can benefit from SEO. […]

Read More
09.04.24 Molly Govus

Metadata 101: How to write high-ranking meta titles and descriptions

When it comes to crafting good SEO content, it’s common to automatically think of blogs and landing page copy. But did you know that there’s another important aspect that directs your audience towards your content? Well, it’s all down to the power of metadata.  While many marketers are familiar with the throes of website copywriting, […]

Read More