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    2023 Google Algorithm Updates: Our Real-World Observations

    2023 Google Algorithm Updates: Our Real-World Observations

    2023 has been a huge year for SEO, with new algorithm updates rolling out almost every month. In its efforts to both provide a premium search experience for users, and keep up with increasing competition, Google is making constant changes.

    With strong focuses on helpful content, and improving reviews, let’s dive into this year’s wrap-up of Google’s algorithm updates.

    January-March 2023 Google Algorithm Updates

    February 2023 Product Reviews Update

    On February 21st, Google introduced its first update of 2023; the Product Reviews Update. Completed by March 18th, this update included changes to the reviews system, with the aim of better rewarding high-quality reviews.

    The Product Reviews Update focused on showing in-depth product reviews from real experiences, rather than short, unhelpful summaries.

    Rolled out across several languages, this update may have impacted search rankings for websites displaying poor product reviews.

    graph showing 2023 seo results for a client in the industrial equipment industry
    We noticed an uplift in visibility from 21 Feb with many clients, particularly those with in-depth product details. This client deals with industrial machinery.

    March 2023 Core Update

    On March 15, Google released the March 2023 Broad Core Update. This significant algorithm update targeted all content types and was aimed at rewarding good user experiences.

    For website owners, SEO professionals, and marketers, this update points to a key requirement – websites must deliver premium UX to remain competitive in SEO.

    Considering helpful content and robust E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness) signals is critical.

    graph showing seo results 2023 for a client in the allied health industry
    While a lot of volatility was experienced across various sectors, this Allied Health company rebounded strongly due to a strong content strategy.

    April-June 2023 Google Algorithm Updates

    April 2023 Review Update

    Launched on April 12, the April Review Update adjusted the algorithms for product, service, destination, game, and movie reviews.

    This update was crucial for both SEO professionals and businesses relying on customer reviews, as it continued to emphasise the need for high-quality reviews.

    The need to follow E-E-A-T principles is no different for reviews – they should highlight expertise, provide evidence, and present a balanced discussion, to empower users to make well-informed decisions.

    graph showing seo results for client in the local Perth gardening industry
    A local gardening service, which relies heavily on reviews has benefited greatly from the April Review Update.

    July-August 2023 Google Algorithm Updates

    August 2023 Core Update

    After a small break, the next Google algorithm update of 2023 was the August Core Update. As with many algorithm changes, Google has remained quiet about what this update was targeting.

    graph showing 2023 seo results for client in the trades industry
    Judging by the results from our client in the trades industry, we can see massive improvements in visibility as the August Core Update rolled out.

    Our SEO strategy for this long-time client focused on high-quality content targeting short and long-tail keywords.

    In a highly competitive market, results were stable for almost a year until the August update rewarded our efforts with huge ranking improvements!

    This brought our client to the #1 position for their industry’s top keyword with, on average, 4400 keyword searches per month. (Semrush)

    September-October 2023 Google algorithm updates

    September 2023 Helpful Content Update

    The September 2023 Helpful Content Update, which began on September 14 and ended on September 28, gave a clear indication of Google’s priorities. Enhancing user’s search experience by rewarding websites with valuable, informative, and user-friendly content was the key focus. There were three pivotal changes to the Helpful Content System’s guidelines:

    1. Adjustments to the guidance on machine-generated content
    2. Revised rules for hosting third-party content on subdomains or the primary domain
    3. Additional advice on what to do if a website experiences traffic loss following a Helpful Content Update
    graph showing seo 2023 results for client in the beauty industry
    After the September Helpful Content update rolled out, our client in the beauty industry experienced a huge boost in visibility.

    Our successful SEO strategy for this client was about more than just keywords. We focused on creating helpful, relevant, and engaging content with improved readability.

    With rising cost of living pressures, this industry is one of the first to be impacted by cuts in discretionary spend. By implementing a solid helpful content strategy, we helped this client not only stay competitive but grow exponentially.

    October 2023 Spam Update

    In response to the September 2023 Helpful Content Update, the October 2023 Spam Update aimed to combat the rise of manipulative SEO tactics and content spam.

    Google sought to penalise websites engaging in deceptive practices, keyword stuffing, and other black-hat tactics.

    The objective was to maintain the integrity of search results and ensure users receive genuine and trustworthy information.

    By devaluing sites using manipulative SEO tactics, the sites implementing quality content were rewarded with improved rankings.

    graph showing 2023 seo results for client in the pest control industry
    We saw particularly impressive results from this update from a client in the pest control industry.

    In an industry which typically invests heavily in SEO, creating high competition and, often, spammy techniques; after more than two years of updating our client’s website with informative, helpful content and technical site fixes, we were rewarded.

    Discover the latest techniques to write content Google loves with our 2023 SEO copywriting how-to guide.

    November-December 2023 Google algorithm updates

    November 2023 Review Update Overview

    Commencing on November 8, 2023, the rollout of the November 2023 Review Update took 29 days. This update was designed to evaluate articles, blog posts, and other independent pieces centred around opinions and analysis. It does not analyse third-party reviews, such as those posted by users on product or service pages.

    This update recognises and rewards reviews characterised by insightful analysis and original research, written with first-hand experience.

    Reviews should:

    1. Showcase expertise
    2. Present compelling evidence
    3. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the subject matter thoroughly

    The main objective is to provide users with comprehensive information, allowing them to make well-informed decisions about the subject matter.

    Google also announced this will be the last time Google will confirm an update to the reviews system/algorithm. “We’ll no longer be giving periodic notifications of improvements to our reviews system,” the company said.

    November 2023 Broad Core Update

    The November 2023 Broad Core Update rolled out changes aiming to refine the search experience, prioritise high-quality content, and enhance user satisfaction.

    The effects of this rollout are still to be seen. As always, we recommend keeping a close watch over your site’s rankings, and don’t panic if you lose some positions.

    We have observed the update already having a significant impact on SERPs in some sectors.

    graph showing seo results for client in the local perth storage industry
    Since the update began rolling out on November 2nd, this local Perth storage industry client had a jump in visibility which has since been maintained.

    Google usually tries to avoid rolling out major updates over the holiday season, so this should be the last algorithm update of 2023.

    Now let’s look forward to the MASSIVE changes coming in 2024! Hold tight, people…

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