Read Time: Approx. 4 Minutes 46 Seconds 
Author: Lewis Stretton & Liv Rutter 
Welcome to December’s edition, where we share the last updates of 2023 in the world of digital.  

Google Sunsets three mobile tools 

What is it?: On December 4th, Google announced that they had removed the Mobile-Friendly Test tool, the Mobile-Friendly Test API and the Mobile Usability report. This was after they announced in Spring of 2023 that this would be happening. 
Why is it important?: Google stated that the removal of all three of these tools doesn’t mean that mobile usability isn’t important for success within Google Search, and they understand that it’s critical for users who are using mobile devices more than ever. After the launch of the reports nearly ten years ago, they decided that other mobile usability options had emerged, including Lighthouse from Chrome. If you were to find the mobile usability report within the Google Search Console it will not work and the mobile-friendly testing tool will redirect you to Lighthouse. Finally, the test API will no longer return any results. 
What action should you take?: If you have been using any of the three tools for your clients or internal SEO work for your business, you will not be able to do so anymore. Google stated that the removal of these tools is because there are other Google tools out there that are more advanced. We recommend you have a look at Lighthouse first to help with your mobile-friendly tools and look for other tools as well. 

Google will start phasing out third party cookies 

What is it?: On January 4th, Google will phase out third-party cookies as 1% of the users globally will say their goodbyes. The plan is to remove all third-party cookies by the end of 2024. 
Why is it important?: It is important, as many businesses will be affected by this rollout. Many use third-party cookies for tracking performance or categorising their audience. So without the 1% of users, they will now be targeted in a completely different way on Google Chrome. This information was first announced to marketers back in 2020, with a plan to remove them before 2024. After many new tools from Google, like the introduction of GA4 (which tracks data without using third-party-cookies) this has meant that the process has now only started in 2024. 
What action should you take?: Since it was announced a couple of years ago, the team has been preparing in multiple different ways for the change. This includes multiple different performance sources and the use of GA4. We have also been advising our clients to collect more first party data through our brand partnership service. A world without cookies may seem scary at first, but we have prepared and so can you. 

Microsoft Bing adds a new deep search generative AI feature 

What is it?: Bing has a new generative AI feature which helps users with complex questions that don’t have simple answers. The new Deep Search feature is built on Bing’s web index and ranking system. It attempts to recognise the user’s intent with the question and brings back relevant results that don’t necessarily have the original keywords. The feature uses GPT-4 to recognise all possible intents and variations of the question to then expand the question to collect relevant results. As this feature is new only a small group of users have access as a trial. 
Why is it important?: This is important as it makes it easier and quicker for users to find specific results. However, this may affect how your site appears in the search results as it ranks the sites based on relevancy to the query. 
What action should you take?: Due to the small group of users having the trial feature, there is no initial actions you need to take. Just keep your eye out for any updates that may be released. 

X’s New Chat GPT Rival: Grok 

What is it?: Grok is a new AI chat bot developed by xAI – Elon Musk’s new artificial intelligence venture. The new chatbot contains web data from as recent as Q3 2023 as well as human input and real-time data from X. xAI said “Grok is designed to answer questions with a bit of wit and has a rebellious streak, so please don’t use it if you hate humour.” The roll out has already begun and will firstly prioritise long-term subscribers, but by week commencing 15th January 2024 all users should have access to this. 
Why is it Important?: This is important as it a new, creative, fun and exciting perspective on AI bots. It also collects data from X giving up to date information about trends which no other AI Chat Bot can do. 
What action should you take?: We would recommend logging into your X account and check to see if you have access to Grok. If not, you can sign up to get early access with the link below. 
Discover more: XAI, Grok, Launch of Grok 

Bonus Update 

Google and Yahoo are adding new sender requirements in order to make sure emails pass the SPAM check. This update will come into play on February 1st, it is being put in place to make it easier for inbox providers to identify legitimate senders. Although this may seem scary at first, this update should in fact make it easier for businesses to reach their subscribers. As the update is coming shortly, we recommend you make the changes now. If you are wondering if the changes are for yourself, Google stated that everyone should make the changes, especially bulk senders. One of the highest priority actions, would be to check the technical setup to ensure your sending domain in your DNS provider is setup to be DMARC authenticated. Other steps do follow specific for bulk senders. The final action is that they have made unsubscribing easier and clearer, this means your marketing emails must include a method to unsubscribe in just one step. 

Our final thoughts ... 

As the festive season arrived and the sun set on 2023, there was no let up on new features launched, with developments in AI continuing to be a hot topic. Heading into 2024, understanding the role of AI to help your business thrive and support your personal life can no longer be an afterthought. 
For further information on any of the latest product updates or anything new that is on your mind, get in touch with our team of digital experts today. 
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