SEO Insights: November 2023 Report
There’s been little space to breathe since October’s Spam and Core update. With the holiday season ramping up, November is always a busy month for Google as it works to limit seasonal spikes in spam. This year has been no exception, with multiple major updates rolling out that have kept SEOs on their toes.
November Core Update
The November 2023 Core update rollout completed on 28th November, about 26 days after it started on 2nd November. This was a prolonged and sizable update resulting in further fluctuations in the search results.
And this all occurred whilst the November 2023 Reviews update (more below) also started rolling out on the 8th. Having two updates rolling out simultaneously can present an additional challenge as sites may see overlapping impacts from both updates.
Amidst these updates, one thing remains constant – we stress the importance of keeping content fresh and tightly aligned with user search intent. This continues to be critical in maintaining and improving search rankings, as we’ve seen from this latest update’s impact.
Google’s search results are always evolving, and seasonal patterns are becoming more pronounced year after year. As Google’s algorithms grow more adept at understanding context and intent, leveraging these seasonal trends and patterns will only become more important for overall search performance.
For example, shopping-related listings are typically promoted more aggressively leading up to Black Friday and the winter holidays. By understanding these seasonal shifts, we can proactively optimise our clients’ sites so they can capitalise on key seasonal search queries.
The November 2023 Reviews update was the third such update this year. Notably, Google has confirmed this will be the last announced reviews update, as they will now inform ongoing regular improvements.
Rather than periodic reviews updates, Google will be evaluating and improving how they handle all reviewable content types – services, businesses, destinations, products, etc. – on an ongoing basis. Changes to review content may now be reflected much faster in search results rather than waiting for a dedicated periodic update.
What can we learn from this change? Experience, Expertise, Authority and Trust (E-E-A-T) are not just ‘once in an update’ considerations. They must be factored into every element of SEO.
Increasing CTR and Engagement
Recent statements from Google also confirm that page engagement and click-through-rate (CTR) data is being factored into rankings. This aligns with showing users the most useful results.
As a company, we employ many strategies to increase CTR from search results, including ensuring pages are up-to-date and displaying recent dates, implementing intent-driven meta descriptions and meta titles, and pulling reviews and images through to the search results.
At the beginning of the year, we predicted that ‘featured snippets are going to be even more beneficial and lucrative in 2023’ . This is proving to be the case in more ways than one.
By claiming the featured snippet for a search query, sites can benefit from a boost in CTR from the search, and a coveted spot in the search results. Google will only display content in a featured snippet if it perceives it to closely answer the search intent and act as an authority on the subject – both highly important factors going into 2024.
Factors such as dwell time (how long a user spends actively engaging with content on a website) and scroll depth (how far a user scrolls down on a webpage) help indicate to Google content quality and relevance. Google perceives long dwell times and scroll depths as signals that the websites are providing valuable information to users, which can potentially influence search rankings.
It’s perhaps no surprise then, that Google has prioritised event-based metrics such as these in GA4. Going forwards, engagement and CRO factors will inform a much bigger part of our SEO strategies as we continue to evolve our understanding of user interaction on client sites.
But how do you encourage visitors to spend more time on a page? It’s no longer enough to solely chase top competitors. Focus on providing added value to searchers through videos, visuals, tools, and other creative enhancements. Keeping visitors engaged leads to better click and interaction metrics which Google will reward in rankings.
The Road Ahead
As always, we make it our priority to be ready for Google updates when they come. We regularly review and update client content to keep it fresh, relevant and tightly aligned to user intent.
We also continue to work closely with clients to ensure their sites closely match Google’s evolving expectations for a positive, useful searcher experience. Our ongoing optimisation ensures we achieve strong, lasting rankings for clients, well beyond this holiday season into 2024 and beyond.