It may be a new year, but some things don’t change as we bring you the latest updates from the world of digital. This month we zoom in on multiple changes affecting the SEO landscape, the market readiness of GA4, along with the biggest buzz topic in town at the moment, ‘ChatGPT’. 

Google launch multiple ranking updates 

What is it?: When everyone thought that Google had closed up shop for Christmas with their 2022 algorithm updates, we saw the unusual situation of two updates being rolled out together. On the 6th December, Google announced that the second iteration of its Google Helpful Content update was rolling out. This was closely followed by a link spam algorithm update, announced on the 14th. 
Why is it important?: Typically, Google would not launch two significant newsworthy updates at the same time. The challenge that marketers face, as a result of this, is determining which of the two updates has affected your performance if you notice a drop in rankings. Whilst RankRanger have reported that these updates are less volatile than previous iterations, these could have significant impact on the SEO traffic and conversion data you see, if not managed and measured correctly. 
What action should you take?: Unlike most algorithm updates which typically take two weeks to roll out, reports in January have confirmed that these algorithm updates are still rolling out as we end the second week of 2023. In respect of the content update, we would always advocate a customer first approach to creating content, rather than a search engine first approach. On the link front, whilst the ranking update is still ongoing, there is an opportunity to cleanse any links that may be deemed as unnatural and low quality. 
We are closely monitoring our client partners average position and have yet to see any detrimental impact as a result of these updates. As always, we would recommend a pre, during and post review of performance, to ensure you have not been impacted. If you do see negative performance, we would recommend you look to see if this is site wide or affecting specific pages / keyword rankings, which may help diagnose whether this is a content or link issue. 

Google continue to invest time in getting GA4 market ready 

What is it?: December has seen further updates to GA4, including: 
Recreation of Universal Analytics audiences in GA4 
Personalisation of home page reporting dashboards 
Personalisation of dimensions and metrics 
New metrics / dimensions including day parting views, views per session and average session duration 
New data views including landing page, traffic acquisition and demographic and tech details 
Why is it important?: In 2022, Google announced its plans to deprecate universal analytics in favour of GA4. The verdict from the industry has been mixed so far, with many features not available, making reporting and applying data traditionally used to make decisions more challenging or impossible. It looks like Google are recognising the user feedback, in an effort to make the platform market ready. The big question is whether this is enough to appease a lukewarm industry? 
What action should you take?: If you haven’t already, now is the time to ensure that your setup is tracking the metrics that you need. Unless there is a change of heart from Google, advertisers will need to migrate their measurement to GA4 by July, with Universal Analytics tracking sunsetting at this point. We would also recommend that you ear mark time to replicate your regular reporting from GA4, to identify any gaps and discrepancies, to ensure internal stakeholders are educated. We feel there are still changes that will come over the coming months to ensure GA4 is market ready. We will continue to update on any future developments as we hear about them. 

Is ChatGPT the new threat for Google? 

What is it?: At the start of December, OpenAPI unveiled ChatGPT, which is being positioned as the most advanced and user friendly chatbot to enter the public domain to date. It’s a large language learning model chatbot developed by OpenAI, providing highly qualified and accurate human like responses to questions that it is posed. 
Why is it important?: In 2022, there was much discussion about the growth and usage of TikTok and whether this has started to replace searches in Google for the new generation of internet users. The full application of ChatGPT is still to be determined, however if it can be applied into every day living, you can see how the demand for searching across Google and other search engines could diminish. 
What action should you take?: As mentioned above, ChatGPT is still extremely immature and is not really being applied yet, with the version made available to the public only a demo. There is also a question at the moment on the sustainability of a solution like this, with continuous input to the learning model required to ensure answers are both up to date and have the correct context. We would expect that the immediate application in digital will be the customer service platforms, seeking how their chat bot technology could be enhanced. This would be extremely advantageous for both brands and consumers, who are both often left frustrated with the lack of intelligence that Chat Bots provide for customer service queries. There is also discussion in the SEO industry on how this could help with the creation of new content, however with updates like the Google Helpful Content Update continuously being rolled out, we cannot see how this application would be positive either for the customer and search engines results. As we say though, it is still early days. We will keep you up to date in future applications of any use cases and new providers in the market. 

Our final thoughts ... 

As we enter into the 2023, the big question on digital marketers’ minds is the role of search engines for consumers. Whilst clearly the likes of Google are not going away, new technological advances coupled with a new generation looking to consume content in different ways will potentially reduce share of time and also cause growth numbers to plateau. It is essential that brands understand how their different audiences spend their time online and ensure a full multichannel approach is being embraced to cater for their needs. 
If you would like further information on any of the above updates or you would like to access a free no obligation consultation, please get in touch to understand how we can help you. 
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