Try For Free

December 2023 SEO Industry Updates

  • Industry News
  • By multiple authors
  • 7 minutes read

Google and the search industry had some major announcements roll out in December 2023. Here are the things you need to know from the Conductor Customer Success team.

Google Confirms Business ‘Openness’ As Local Ranking Factor

By Caroline Wilson

The what:

Open business hours affect visibility in local search and maps, as 'openness' is confirmed by Google as a local ranking factor.

This is mainly for non-navigational queries where a user is not sure of a business name specifically but is looking to do something (i.e find a bar to drink at in Chicago or pizza restaurants in NYC).

Google has started to remove businesses from the Local Pack when they are closed as they want to ensure the user has the best experience possible when searching.

The why:

Keeping operating hours current in Google Business Profiles is essential for visibility and customer experience.

Google also stated that listing false hours can backfire - so don’t start listing your hours at 24/7 as this won’t help you! This could even lead to your Google My Business profile being suspended.

For everyone:

  • Monitor how your Local Pack result types have ranked recently.
  • Make sure you have accurate hours in your GMB profiles.
  • Correct any issues regarding GMB and build a report that shows the performance over time for non-navigational queries, geo-modified, or 'near me' local keywords.

For Conductor customers:

  • Use Result Types and Explorer to identify any keywords that are generating a Local Pack.
  • Track these Local Pack related keywords and create a dedicated Keyword Group for them.
  • Build a report to monitor these keywords and pages to ensure success.

Read more about this:

Google Alters Search Rankings To Prioritize First-Hand Knowledge

By Harris Owusu

The what:

Google is now prioritizing content that offers a first-person perspective. If we understand Google's emphasis on providing users with a more tailored experience, this development isn't surprising and aligns with the E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness) initiative.

This means that there will be ranking changes that put first-person perspectives higher in the SERPs so users can identify individual experiences, advice, and opinions when searching for specific information.

Also, Google will make it easier for users to re-find websites they have previously visited.

Google clearly wants to push a lot of user-generated content onto the SERPs to make sure users have the ability to learn from other people’s experiences first hand.

The why:

In light of this announcement, it's vital for companies to prioritize creating content that resonates with the searcher through a first-person perspective.

There was however some concern over this as recently Google Groups started seeing a significant rise in organic traffic. Google Groups allows for people to discuss and share common interests and these conversations can be ranked.

People were abusing Google Groups as they were posting spammy and dangerous content that was ranking and there has already been a big decrease in traffic.

Other forum sites such as Reddit & Quora are seeing a massive increase in organic traffic, with Reddit even seeing up to a 50% increase in organic traffic in the last few months. You might have noticed that these sites are now being shown directly in the SERP.

Year over Year Page 1 keyword rankings increases by Reddit & Quora

Keyword rankings from Conductor
Reddit has seen a 176% YOY increase in Page 1 keywords
Keyword rankings from Conductor
Quora has seen a 101% YOY increase in Page 1 Keywords

Reddit appearing directly in the SERPs:

Discussions and forums on Google
Discussions and forums on Google

Whether it's product reviews, how-tos, or blog content, it's important to approach these areas from a human standpoint by addressing users' inquiries. It's also imperative that those writing the content are very close to the topic or have the appropriate experience.

When creating content, websites should also consider displaying an author, creator, reviewer on the site in a clear way so Google and the user understand who is writing the content and why they are trustworthy around this topic.

For everyone:

  • Continue to create content that matches E-E-A-T
  • Be as specific as possible when creating content to address the questions a user might have.
  • Authorship is becoming more of a necessity vs. a nice to have on your website.

For Conductor customers:

  • Identify the full topic we might want to target by doing keyword research in Explorer .
  • Also, use the data around the People Also Ask questions, Social Mentions, and Question Related Keywords to understand what users might want to know around this topic.
  • Create a report in Workspaces or a Content Brief to address all the relevant areas of a topic.
  • Pro Tip: Use ContentKing to identify the content on your site that is missing Author schema markup or pages that are outdated.

Read more about this:

Google is expanding Search Generative Experience to over 120 new countries

By Francisco Arnaudo

The what:

Google is expanding Search Generative Experience to over 120 new countries after positive feedback from earlier launches in the US, India and Japan.

Users found the AI generated results useful for complex searches.

Early stages of SGE have been very helpful in addressing long tail conversational type queries as Google is starting to consolidate articles and sources into on answer directly on the SERP.

The why:

We are following SGE development closely as it will have a significant impact for the SEO industry. This is further validation that people are finding the new tech helpful and reinforces Google's utility as more than a search engine.

SGE is apparently supposed to be ending in the US in December 2023 so we are anxiously awaiting to see if Google will continue the experiment or release another phase of it in the new year.

For everyone:

  • Opt in to SGE and experiment to see what shows up for your priority keywords and if your pages are being sourced in SGE.
  • With the upcoming release of SGE, there could likely be a decrease in CTR or organic traffic so make sure to set expectations in your business around the unknown.

For Conductor customers:

  • Our new feature Writing Assistant can help ensure your content is optimized for SGE AI driven search results by reviewing SEO performance, readability, and discovering content gaps before you publish.
  • Use the AI powered "People Also Ask" feature to assess how good of a job you are doing at answering common questions around your primary topic.

Read more about this:

Spammy Websites Taking Over Google Search Results

By Zack Kadish

The what:

Google search results recently have been filled with a ton of different spam results that are diluting the SERPs entirely.

The domains that are currently ranking well for a lot of different keywords are incredibly spammy and many of them are brand new (registered within the last 48 hours).

The why:

This goes completely against the last few updates where Google has prioritized and emphasized E-E-A-T and creating high-quality content that helps the users.

Spammers seem to be gaming the system by targeting longer tail keywords which are easier to rank for. Additionally, they are targeting more local related phrases as this does use a different algorithm than non-local searches.

Google is aware of the issue and is actively looking to address and combat these spammy search results.

Lily Ray has done a fantastic job documenting this occurring in the SERPs recently.

Spammy results on Google
Spammy results on Google

For everyone:

  • Continue to have great high-quality content for your users.
  • Monitor your rank for target keywords and the performance of your content.
  • Google will likely release a new update to fix these issues and these sites will only benefit from a short term gain of gaming the system.

Read more about this:

Share this article

Ready to maximize your website's potential?

Try Conductor Intelligence free for 30 days
TrustRadius logo
G2 logo
SoftwareReviews logo