The SEO update by Yoast – December 2023 Edition


Update transcript

Hello everyone!

Are you all ready for the last SEO update from this year?

Alex and Carolyn, the SEOs at Yoast, will give you all the latest news and reflect a bit on the year of 2023.

One small spoiler, just a small one because I will leave the rest up to you, Alex and Carolyn.

2023 was the year with the most Google core updates ever.

There is a lot in store for you today.

I will leave it up to you to share.

Enjoy everyone.

I will be back when the Q&A starts.

Welcome to the SEO update by Yoast.

My name is Carolyn Shelby.

Alex will be joining us back again in a moment.

I guess I’ll just go ahead and get the housekeeping done while we’re waiting for Alex to fix his issues.

We are going to be discussing today the 2023 SEO news and review, SEO news in general, AI news of which there is a great deal this month, WordPress news, not too much news there, a little Yoast news, and then we’ve got our Q&A time where we’re going to be taking your questions and answering your questions, hopefully providing a ton of information.

I think that is my good friend Alex who has returned and joined us.

Can you hear me?

I can hear you.

How are you doing?

I’m good, thank you, now with all the technical problems gone.

That’s okay.

I went ahead and introduced us and I went through the table of contents.

We’re ready to rock and roll.

Are you ready to go?

Yes, I am.

Again, I just want to remind everyone that if you do have any questions, please feel free to ask.

We’ve got on the side a little button that you can click that asks you to see it.

It’s got a little question mark.

You can click on that.

You can add your questions in and then other audience members can upvote your questions to get them answered faster.

So please feel free to pop anything you have to say in there and we will get to it.

All right.

If you would like to learn more about today’s topics, here is the URL that you can go to afterwards.

The recording will be available and eventually we will also have a transcription for those of you who prefer to read and not listen.

The URL, just in case you’re wondering and or you can’t see, is Yoast.


And again, that will be available after the show is over.

When you register, we have been asking you if you have questions.

A lot of the questions that we’ve been getting are intro to SEO, SEO 101 questions that we’re not necessarily going to be able to answer in this show.

However, on January 4th, we have a How to Start with SEO webinar that everyone is welcome to join.

We do those every month, and they are great for answering your introductory level questions.

With all of that housekeeping out of the way, let us get into the 2023 SEO News in Review.

All right.

Are you ready, Alex?

I am.

I’m ready.

I can hear you.

You can hear me.

Let’s go.

Let’s do it.

All right.

Like Nynke said, the Google updates in 2023 increased.

We’re not even out of 2023 yet, but they’ve already released four core updates.

March, August, September, October.

It started in September and closed in October and November.

This was the most in a single year.

The previous high was three and that was in 2021.

The other big non core update that happened was the helpful content update, which I think is arguably the most impactful of of the year.

Alex, did you have you have a favorite core update?

Do you have a favorite update for the year?

I mean, call them favorites.

I mean, with these with these five specifically, if we want to talk about helpful content, I mean, that was definitely the biggest impact in my opinion.

From what I’ve seen, there was a lot of sites that got penalized and the core updates were kind of, you know, they’re very broad.

They hit 10 percent of things, but the forecasting wasn’t forecasting.

The turbulence wasn’t as strong as it was in previous years.

So while things have improved, you haven’t heard lots of people complaining that they’ve been hit too much by those core updates.

HCU, however, you’ve had a lot of big hits and helpful content is going to be, I think, a bit of content that we’re going to have to talk about in 2024.

What’s actually helpful and has everything that’s been helpful in the past and now no longer helpful, actually helpful and vice versa, which I think is going to be them mastering that part of the algorithm, which will be interesting because This is the second HCU.

There was one in September, October of 2022.

So this is an annual thing.

And even though it technically wasn’t newsworthy, I mean, we saw that a couple of search liaison Twitter handles deleted a tweet about how they’re not rolling this back, which is quite interesting as well to see that maybe they were quite adamant that they weren’t rolling anything back.

But now they’ve taken that statement away, meaning is there more to do?

Probably, I think it’s going to be an ongoing issue.

Just in the things that I’m doing for work heavily leaning into making sure that we’re writing content that is very helpful and we’re making the content that we have more helpful rather than just writing blog pieces to write blog pieces.

If you know what I mean, and I think there’s a lot of people that have that we just need to write content.

We need to crank out content mentality when I think that what this update has taught us is that it’s far more important to make sure that you’re contributing to the overall knowledge of the universe rather than just putting out puff pieces to fluff up your content.

Yeah, I think it’s made people think a lot more before they not even just hit publish but even go into draft mode you know here’s a page and back before September, you know some may say well here’s a keyword.

Let’s make a landing page for this keyword but now I feel like everyone has to take a step back and go.

What’s the point of that page, if we were to make it.

What are you achieving with this is the user going to get something out of it and if the answers no rethink your idea or don’t do it at all.

We distinctly have memories of people asking me to they would hire me to write press releases and I’d say okay what are we announcing?

Well we want to push fabricated metal buildings like okay but what are you announcing?

Oh we don’t have an announcement like well okay this is a press release so you’re supposed to announce something.

We’ll just make something up it’s like I can’t make up the news my friend.

You need to have something to say if you’re going to say something.

Yeah, at least if you do when you still want to that’s not to say that you can’t be creative about what that page is.

If you just want to get it out just you have to make sure that at least you adhere to those questions.


Is it actually going to be interpreted as helpful, whether you want it to be helpful or not isn’t part of the thing is whether it should be.

And if it is and it ranks they’re great and then you can manipulate that as you wish, if at all, to get them where they actually where you want them to go.

It’s interesting that they’re focusing more on making sure that all contents legitimate.

Because if it’s not, it’s essentially web spam, which is the old school term for writing content for search engines.

And speaking of spam, Google took out the how to and FAQ structured data results at one point during the year.

Ultimately they did give them back to us, but I think they took them out for a couple reasons.

One of which though was probably due to spam and abuse.

I do think that they needed to clear room to make the test the SGE results, but people were abusing like nobody’s business, the how to and the FAQ structured data results.

They were adding schema to things that absolutely had no business being FAQs, and it was screwing up the results.

Yeah and cannibalizing it too much like what color is the sky.

I mean we all kind of know it’s blue but still it would output and they took it away.

Now that they’ve brought it back, obviously they’ve not done it on a level at which it was before, which again makes you think about the kind of keyword that it should, that the FAQ snippet should be outputting on anyway.

There’s only certain kinds of phrases that you would want.

But again, I mean our advice is not to abuse it, but also not to just throw it away just because of kind of taking it out of the SERPs for maybe 90%.

Keep it in because it is schema, it’s structured data again, so long as it’s helpful.

I remember when this happened, there was a “are you going to take that out of the plugin?

” Why would we take that out of the plugin?

It still exists, it’s still functional.

Well Google says it doesn’t matter anymore.

There’s a difference between Google making it less featured and saying that it’s deprecated and doesn’t exist anymore.

So I think people got their collective undies in a bunch about this being taken off of the SERPs and it didn’t need to be the panic attack that it turned into.

Yeah, and hopefully some more proactive SEOs who knew they were maybe doing wrong or going against what helpful content might be in this sense might have taken that stuff away and then things have reduced and the abuse is less so, so then they bring it back, but obviously in a controlled manner.

Yeah, one of the other things that Google decided to start doing is they’re showing more Reddit, Quora, and TikTok results to showcase first person reviews and experiences with different products.

Just really featuring things from those user generated content platforms in a way that they’ve never done before, which is interesting.

And I do, I find this valuable when I’m looking at, let’s say product reviews or I’m trying to make a decision about one thing versus another.

If I type in, for example, the Phillips 5400 versus the Jura S8, which are super espresso makers, I will invariably get a Reddit post that explains exactly what some random person’s experience was in a coffee lovers group where they’re going to have very relevant users.

So I’m going to be getting relevant, useful, comparative information for me that isn’t sponsored by the company.

So I think this is something that we’re going to be also seeing a lot more of.

Whether or not this gets abused is another story, but I’m sure it will.

I mean, I’m sure I saw read somewhere that people just started adding Reddit to the end of their title tags, so that they could maybe rank the things and they would kind of cannibalize on the term Reddit, because people were just searching for a search term and then Reddit afterwards, which kind of does happen and people do do that.

And they find that instead of going into Reddit and trying to search and use Reddit search engine, they’ll use Google search engines to try and identify what they need to inside Reddit.

But to be fair, to get into these special results, it actually does have to be a result coming out of.

Yeah, coming out of Reddit.

Hopefully it’s less exploitable than simply tricking Google by adding keywords to the end of the title tag.

Yeah, but from its theory is correct.

I mean, Reddit, Quora, and I don’t know, I don’t use TikTok personally to ingest any information, but they are trustworthy, first hand experience, great UGC platforms that should provide the most helpful answer to it.

So theoretically it’s correct.

It’s that anyone can go on Reddit and try to do an SEO strategy on Reddit for keywords that they want to rank for in their own subreddits that’ll probably get abused.

And now you’ve got Google groups that are showing up everywhere.

AOL discussion forums are being dug out of basically archive.

org, aren’t they?

And now they’re all ranking really well.

You know, and I know we’ve got to move on, but I do want this is so reminiscent of early, early web days when, like, I don’t know if you remember use net news or if that’s before your time and I’m a hundred years old.

It would be interesting to me as these things start servicing more in search, because people will talk about some really, really inappropriate and personal things in those groups, because they thought they were relatively private and sheltered and weren’t going to be discovered by people on the general Internet.

And that might be changing.

So it’ll be interesting to see what kind of stuff gets surfaced as the year progresses.

People never remember that stuff doesn’t get deleted from the Internet.

No, if it’s on the Internet, it’s forever.

Yeah, what isn’t forever though?

Google is replacing some of the Core Web Vitals with new Core Web Vitals.

So that’s an interesting thing.

They have taken away FID and they’ve replaced it with INP.

And I’ve heard without getting too technical or or bogging things down.

People, much like with the how to’s and the FAQ schema, just because Google is replacing one of of the tests that they monitor on Core Web Vitals does not mean that Core Web Vitals no longer matters.

It doesn’t mean that speed no longer matters, and it doesn’t mean you can ignore it.

And I’m not sure how people are making that logically from one of the tests is being tweaked and made slightly different to, well, it doesn’t matter anymore.

We can ignore it.

So again, without getting too technical, I just want to say my only comment on this is please don’t make that assumption.

Continue to work on your Core Web Vitals.

Continue to make your user experience fantastic, because that’s what Google is looking for is great user experiences.

Yeah, exactly.

And it’s also just because a report isn’t there doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing that stuff anyway.


I mean, absolutely.

I’ll saying, oh, no, no, don’t make don’t make an efficient, well performing website.

They’re definitely not sending that message.

Absolutely not.

One of the things that Google is doing, though, is they’re continuing to iterate on the SGE and.

They’re continuing to iterate on SGE and AI integration.

So SGE is the Search Generative Experience.

It’s an experimental update to Google search engine that uses artificial intelligence to generate contextual answers to complex questions, which is neat.

But it’s not available to everyone yet because it’s still in beta.

So I know Alex, you don’t have access to it.

No, and I don’t know many people who do.

And the only to be honest with you, the only ways I’m seeing all of this is through someone like you or someone else in America tweeting and embedding an image or a video of what they see.

And, stuff that, roundtable and SEJ kind of pump out.

But other than that, I don’t have direct access and most people I know obviously are in the same geographic area.

Well, I went ahead and I turned it on.

So you do have to kind of log into it to play with it.

So I logged into it to play with it and I ran a test and it is interesting.

So it doesn’t, I don’t know if you can see this, but there’s little arrows next to some of the sentences.

So originally those were kind of collapsed.

And if I want to read more information, I have to click on the little arrow.

I mean, it’s pulling information for that particular paragraph from multiple different sources and kind of assembling them and basically writing a summary of what it found.

So that was interesting.

I didn’t find any immediate information that was horrible or wrong.

It’s not bad.

I’m interested to see what else what else happens.

Well, as an end user.

That’s great.

That’s brilliant.


And the information really quickly in context.

It’s generally accurate.

As an SEO,.

if you’re not clicking on a website now, you’re getting the answer again, which is always a position zero issue.

I know some people are most likely going to ask a question, something like, is SGE going to take away and cannibalize visits from a site?

And I think that’s a really good kind of question.

It’d be interesting to see where they are going because they’re going to have to site places.

People are going to still want to delve in for further reading.

And it’s what to do with that information, but I’d still go ahead with saying, if it’s helpful, I still think this HCU and the way in which they talk about firsthand content, the way they describe content is also going to go hand in hand with what they’re about to do with SG and around Gemini.

So, so yeah, it’s really interesting that they’re giving you that answer, but it’s got to come from somewhere.


Yeah, it’s pulling from the main website and it’s pulling from Wikipedia and other Knowledge Graph articles.

So, I think making sure that you’ve got your entities, you know, if you’ve got a Wikipedia article, if you’ve got the opportunity to fill out entity data and have your organization schema all up to date, I think that’s definitely going to help.

One other thing that happened that was big in 2023 is that people were saying that ChatGPT being integrated into Bing was going to be the Google killer and all these other things that were coming out with AI were going to be the Google killer.

If you look at this graph, all of that blue in that column is Google’s market share.

The teeny weeny little slices of color at the top are the other search engines market shares.

So, have they made inroads?


Have they made significant inroads?

No, not at all.

No, and it is interesting because one, the way in which it was portrayed, especially with ChatGPT and also that part we’re going into Bing chat as well.

People are like, well, Microsoft are going to get this monopoly back.

And that did not happen at all.

It didn’t even, it didn’t even make a massive dent and I had to really when we were doing the rehearsal for this before I had to squint really well to see that Yandex has got maybe a pixel more on that graph.

And that’s it.

But no one else has changed whatsoever.

In fact, maybe Bing has got smaller over the year, meaning maybe that people have gone on to it and you know how humans love change, don’t we, of course, so we’ll have tried it out.

It’s not quite right and going back.

It’s kind of like what I do with Apple products.

I don’t buy anything till v3.

I’ll let v1 and v2, the people who are more loyal to loyal to the brand, do what they need to do and experiment.

But to me v1 of any product is an experiment.

You know, it’s beta tests.

So, so next year, this is that’s going to be the year that’s going to be way more interesting.

But again, I don’t think it will do anything to the market share.

Given how much everything’s grown though, just in the last year, because AI just came out, just really started making a big dent in things, I would say about this time last year, right?

And the amount it’s grown in a year, if this rate of growth and rate of improvement keeps pace, I mean, it’s possible the landscape could be entirely different when we meet back here next year.

I’m still skeptical.

I don’t know, maybe my history with NFTs worth looking at.

Unfortunately, it’s that’s a whole other webinar of let’s see what we learned from history of that was more echo bubble.

But it was interesting to see that a lot of techies in this context, a lot of techies who understood the tech, they knew what it can do and they knew that it could be mass adopted and they want it mass adopted.

But the problem in the NFT space is that they wanted it done in their terms, which is not aligned with mass adoption.

Whereas this is actually mass adoption.

It’d be interesting to see what we do.

But it does show that people do FOMO and there’s this peak of finding something out.

They discover it experiments and then they go back to their normal ways, just like voice search.

Yep, those are the big things in SEO this year.

And I think, you know, just real quick to review Google is still the champ.

Google has not been unseated.

So please don’t stop optimizing for Google, because that is still where the most of your traffic is coming from.

On the upside, our new robot overlords have not yet taken over everything.

Skynet is not yet sent sentient, even though I’m pretty sure that this was the year it was supposed to happen.

So AI hasn’t taken over everything and SEO is still not dead.

No, if anything, I think it’s even more important in the next year because you have to.

it’s like what’s happening with the search landscapes, what’s happened to the social landscape.

There was only like two to deal with.

But now and there was usually social media management wasn’t even a job.

It was part of the marketer’s job.

It was a little part.

And now its own skill.

But now it’s growing so much that, like I was saying before, I don’t use TikTok, but there are TikTok specialists as well as Snapchat and Facebook.

And now this is the different way you’re fighting with so many things to maintain it that an SEO’s job is going to be harder, but more creative.

And it will be harder to abuse things in the future, which is something I’m a fan of personally.

Let’s go on now to this month’s news.

This will be SEO news that happened since the last time we talked to you.

I don’t know how many people are going to really be.

Really concerned about this, but on November, 27th.

The crawl rate limiter tool deprecation was announced by Google.

It’s officially going to shut down January 8th.

Google says the tool isn’t useful since the crawler already reacts and adjusts without manual input.

The question a lot of you are going to be asking is what is this tool?

And I’ve never heard of it and I don’t care.

Fact of the matter is most of you don’t care about this because it’s generally only applicable to sites that have, you know, tens of thousands of articles and posts rather than your standard, a couple hundred posts.

Maybe, it gets up to a thousand.

What this does is when the Google crawler, the bot comes through, it will hammer your site.

If you’ve got tens of thousands or more posts, and you’ve got the bot coming through.

Just hitting your site and calling something every millisecond.

It’s going to cripple your server.

So what you do is you go into the crawl rate limiter tool and you say, hey, Google, I’m not going to block you.

You can still come through, but I really need you to slow your roll because you’re crippling my server.

And this request to them will be honored for a month, maybe two months before they resume their normal cadence.

What has happened is Google has built their crawler to adjust to sense when it’s crippling your server.

And in theory, it’s going to ratchet itself back on its own.

In practice, if any bot is hammering your site to the point that it’s crippling your server, you have better options now for limiting that.

Most people are using Cloudflare.

You can go to Cloudflare and you can tell it, oh, hey, these bots are crippling my site.

Can you throttle them?

And Cloudflare will say, get on that right away.

And it does an excellent job.

So the tool is going away.

This really only matters if you’ve got a big site and you’ve had situations where the bots are hammering your site and you need to slow them down.

That’s the gist of that.

Yeah, it may be worth mentioning in Cloudflare in the pro account.

I think you can have more advanced rules and regulations over what can be done.

So if your site is really getting hit and the default out of the box free version isn’t doing it for you, it may be worth just paying for one month and checking out what the other rules that are applicable can do for you, which is quite cool for some users.

You know, in Cloudflare, even if you have to pay for it, there are really reasonably priced options.

So in a situation where you need those tools, I feel like that’s a good investment.

Yeah, yeah.

That’s something that’s deprecating.

But Google have been adding a lot more stuff, haven’t they?

They have added new schema support.

So discussions forum and profile schema support was announced also on November 27th, which, of course, is like a few days, six days after our last show.

So had they announced it a week earlier, we could have talked about it last month.

But they didn’t.

So now we’re talking about it here.

The discussion forum and profile schema has always existed or it’s existed for a long time, at least.

So it’s not like the schema itself is new, but Google’s using it in the search now.

So there’s new support for it.

And then there is also a new report in Search Console.

But I think you had more details about this.


So it’s kind of been split into two in this part.

It’s kind of the same vertical.

So if you think of a forum in general, you would sign up and you can post the forum.

That’s the discussion forum schema in there.

That’s kind of not something that’s covered in Yoast.

But you may want to double check if you’ve got a third party plugin in WordPress, at least things like BBPress and BuddyPress and things like that.

They might have already done the updating.

But in terms of profile schema, profile page, that’s connected to the author of who not I’m going to distinguish from an actual not an actual author, a person who makes a post, but in a forum, someone who’s commenting on a forum post will have a link to their profile.

And that’s where profile schema can come in.

But it also works for being an author of a post that kind of covers both.

So schema will have the author and it will also have profile page.

And that adds to the knowledge graph.

But more importantly to know, even though they’re now being reported in Search Console, that does not mean like Carolyn said, it was a new feature that was invented six weeks ago.

It’s been around for ages.

It’s embedded into Yoast, both free and premium from a profile page point of view anyway, and not the discussion forum because we don’t cover that.

But that’s something that you should be able to see.

If you go into Search Console and you’ve got Yoast installed, you should be able to now see a profile page report that should have an uptick in green bars that tell you that you get in valid pages.

But that is interesting.

But it’s also backing up that first hand experience thing.

This is a dream for places like Reddit, this schema.

This is exactly what Google want to have populated.

And therefore, again, makes me think about where they’re going with this.

Each of us are going to have and then you go into EEAT, it’s all going to be linking together.

Just think of this as one huge database and it is in its own knowledge graph about you and entities and things.

And it’s just all the way that it’s all connecting together.

The fact that they’re reporting on it in Search Console, let alone just validating it, means that I think they’re going to have big plans for this next year.


They’ve also added some interesting things to their organization, organization schema.

They’ve expanded the support a little bit.

I’m not as familiar with this as you are, so why don’t you educate me?


So organization, again, hasn’t been invented recently.

It’s been around for ages.

There’s been some structural conflicts between different schema entities.

And they’ve kind of now given best practice on what the best way of outputting that is.

So, for example, logo and image, which are two different entities.

Logo was embedded in one area of the nest of one part of schema, but is now inside the organization.

It didn’t invalidate anything and we knew about it in-house, but we didn’t want to make this fix because we knew at the time it was going to cause a lot of errors because of this problem.

Google has now closed that error.

So now in that, we’re going to be making adjustments to our plugin as well.

I don’t know the date of release, but we will be doing things to ensure that everything already is valid, by the way.

But we’re going to make the new version even more valid, but we’re going to structure it in the more correct way that Google have now left us with the example.

But it goes with logo and URL.

It also adds contact points as well.

So, for example, if you’re a drop ship kind of site or you’re just a freelancer or any business without a physical address, you can still be contacted by email or telephone number or other methods.

So they’ve added all of that inside organization, which is pretty cool.

It is pretty cool.

One of the things that is not cool is the announcement.

It was a story that Barry Schwartz wrote on search engine roundtable on November 27th.

A lot of things happened on November 27th.

Yeah, he said the SEO value of 404 link rescue is not worth the effort.

He was quoting John Mueller, who is, as you know, from Google.

So, in the story, if you read it, John Mueller says that bringing back a 404 page is not necessary due to good SEO.

He says it’s probably the efforts, probably less value than.

The result is less value than the effort.

What happens is bringing back a 404 page.

You’re looking for pages that are linking into you.

And if they’re linking into a page that doesn’t exist anymore, the 404 link rescue is where you either recreate that page.

You recreate the URL and redirect the URL to similar content or you otherwise restore that connection between the site that’s linking to you and you rather than having it come to a 404.

And the theory is that what you’re doing is you’re recapturing or kind of repatriating link authority.


I had issues with the way this is presented because people tend to take what Google says in very absolute, you know, absolute interpretations.

And this is by no means an absolute statement.

What he said is that it’s probably less value than the effort.

He didn’t say it is absolutely less value than the effort.

And I can think of several situations where it is valuable.

You don’t need to do this for every single broken link that you encounter.

But if you have thousands of broken links, and you can fix that quickly and easily.

I would say that’s worth the effort.

If you have a backlink from The White House or from Buckingham Palace.

That link is probably worth a ton.

A Wikipedia link is worth a ton.

Those are links that it is worth the effort to rescue those URLs and bring them back from the grave.

It’s not clickbaity and I don’t feel like it’s sensationalism, but it does tend to be interpreted that way.

I think by a lot of people.

So I would say learn to read the nuance in some of these Google proclamations.

It’s not that 404 link rescue is a total waste of time.

You just need to be judicious about which URLs you resurrect and which ones you don’t.

Yeah, maybe I think about it from a business case point of view.

Like, is there actually a reason why that page needs to come back away from SEO purely SEO, because there might actually be a business case where, for example, rankings on that great on it or weren’t before.

Maybe that’s why it went.

But actually it gets a lot of visits and what to do with those visits and what was the page and can it be helpful if you do bring it back?

Is it going to be helpful again if you go back to the HCU questions?

Will it actually serve anyone that’s going to visit from that link if anyone does visit?

So there’s that balance of is it authoritative?

The White House, it might be embedded somewhere in the back of the website that no one is ever going to visit.

But you and I both know that the DA is great on that, and you should do something with it.

Whether it’s redirected like what’s being mentioned or whether you just bring the page back is fine.

But if you get in loads of visits from a site is linking to you, why wouldn’t you want to cater for those visits?

But yeah, I agree.

I agree with one of the people in the chat.

A lot feels like more effort than value.

That’s correct.

But they’ll be examples where it will be worth the effort and worth the value.

And I think this is where expertise and knowledge about SEO comes in.

Understanding how to determine what’s a waste of time backlink and what’s really, hey, I should stop what I’m doing and go make this right.

I spend a lot of time resuscitating and recuperating Wikipedia links because they’re valuable.


Yeah, I don’t waste time with spam links, obviously, but sometimes spam links are worth resuscitating when they exist in the hundreds of thousands because pennies make pounds, right?

Yeah, exactly.

So, yeah, that’s that’s 404.

So what else is what else has happened?

Because there’s still lots that’s happened.

Well, we did have the November.

Well, it started in October.

So that core update that started in October finally finished this month on November 29th.

Google announced that they it took 26 days to roll out.

If that’s weeks longer than average, that’s crazy.

Plus they rolled out this core update overlapping Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

When I was growing up, we didn’t do things over Black Friday because you should have everything done by Black Friday and anything you do over Black Friday screws up the rest of the year.

So Google deciding to do a core update over Black Friday feels.

And vindictive to me, but it doesn’t seem to have caused a lot of problems.

Yeah, which is good to know, right, but it’s still an improvement rather than bashing a load of sites.

There’s a lot that happened in it, but there’s a lot of bullet points that you should actually read afterwards and some good links that will share afterwards.

Yeah, so just real quick the things that happened in the core update, it was updating targets.

The update targets all types of content and is not a penalty, which is good to know.

It was a global update.

So everybody got hit.

Not just not just a specific language.

I have been hearing a lot of things about how discover traffic has been tanking for a lot of news sites and a lot of news sites traffic in general has been tanking, but that does feel more niche.

Niche specific and not something that’s happening to everyone.

So I guess the general advice is if you got hit, if you feel like you got hit, Google says to examine your content to see if you can improve with their core update advice, which is provided at the Google Search Central blog.

Yeah, and a very quick thing to do that’s freely available.

Go into Search Console and check what what rankings you have for certain keywords and what pages you also had indexed and being visited in terms of clicks and impressions and do a quick comparison three months on three months and you’ll very quickly see maybe something glaringly obvious either in a singular page or a pattern of keywords that you’ll be able to maybe do something about.

And just real quick, and I hadn’t planned on mentioning this, but if you should be getting in the habit of annotating your search, I’m having a stroke.

I think your analytics annotate your analytics with big things that you’ve changed.

If you’re not keeping a change log, which is something that a lot of developers keep you as the SEO should be keeping track of any major technical changes that you’ve made to your site, and you can annotate your like your Google Analytics with specific dates.

So you’ll have a little flag on a specific date and if traffic changes and it corresponds to a flag.

Now you can go back and say oh this is what I changed on that day that must have broke something.

And now you know where to start looking to roll that back and repair the damage.

Yeah, which is good to do that can be proactive quite quickly.

Okay, so video mode.

Now only shows on pages where video is the main content.

Very briefly, if you’ve, let’s say you’ve got a piece of content you’ve got 1000 word article, and halfway down you’ve got an embedded video in YouTube.

It used to be the fact that that YouTube video would then get embedded into SERP itself.

But now, what they’ve done is they’ve changed that to say well that isn’t the main element of the page.

Therefore, you shouldn’t have the thumbnail, because it’s actually contextual as part of the content.

Again, I get that they’re doing it to reduce a bit of abuse as the all of us SEOs will have done in the past once we knew it was an opportunity to get more real estate, but also it provides an opportunity for people who actually do have video as the main bits of content to be focused as such.

So, in short, if you want to actually get those videos back you have to ensure put the video at the top of the page.

It has to just whatever the content is which shouldn’t be a lot should describe exactly what that video is to the point that you might want to create your own post types or get video gallery to do such a thing.

But at the moment, if you’ve just, again, put a video in for the search engine.

It now knows, and it’s going to tell you otherwise.

This is now a report you can see inside Search Console.

And you can, you can either decide to leave it there as an error remove the video, or you can decide to move the video into another page and make that the prominent content.

Yeah, and I’m, I’m almost happy to see this to be perfectly honest because people would add completely irrelevant videos to their content just to get that that thumbnail and it was aggravating because you would think that you’re going to watch a video that’s relevant, and then it’s not and then I feel like I’ve wasted my time so it was, it was creating a bad user experience.

And I think that reinforces that Google is making changes to make better user experiences.

So yeah, and there’s only one more bit of SEO news for the month isn’t there.

Yeah, I was gonna say speaking of ranking signals openness so on December 15 which was just a few days ago, there was an interesting conversation about whether or not how, how open your store is makes any difference in looking at SEO.

Yeah, it was from an original tweet by Joy Hawkins.

She was implying that the fact that if a physical location is open, you will rank better at the time that it’s open.

Google have kind of implied that that is a ranking factor.

But before we, before we just stop there you have to remember that doesn’t mean that you should just change your business hours to 24 seven.


So if you’re not open you will get your, you might not get penalized but they’ll, figure this out and again, I feel like this is their testing waters to see how it’s abused because it will be by some people that I’ve seen out in the wild offices that are open 24/7 that should definitely not be open 24/7.

But it is handy for genuine businesses who should be ranking more at certain times of the day that the Baker came to mind to me where at four in the afternoon.

To know the directions to the baker right now maybe not but five in the morning, when you actually want the freshest piece of bread that you can get that actually it might be more relevant to rank the local bakery over bread and, you know, the normal organic position one to 10.

So, I kind of, I kind of agree with this.

But again, let’s see how it’s abused by some black hatters.

Yeah, let’s move into AI news because I, we’ve got a lot here to go through.

Let’s quick fire these because I fire them.

So, like, November 21.

On the Search Engine Journal Kristi Hines wrote open AI announces free ChatGPT voice capabilities in the mobile app.

This is cool.

However, I don’t personally see how much this is going to make a difference to people.

I just said it’s an well ChatGPT says it’s a fresh opportunity for brand marketers and SEO professionals to explore voice optimized strategies.

I don’t see that but if you say so.

I mean, that’s just a prediction.

Let’s see maybe we’ll eat our words.

Okay, let’s see if they can dictate the trend.

Well, in additional news on stuff that sounds cool, but doesn’t actually work.

On November 22nd, Google Bards latest update enhanced the understanding of YouTube videos.

And again, this comes to us from Kristi Hines at SEJ.

So in theory, Bard can read YouTube videos and analyze them for content strategies and all sorts of other fun stuff.

But if you read the article, she demonstrated that there are some gaps in Bards knowledge and analysis which I think is kind of a nice way of saying, yeah, this is cool but maybe not ready for prime time.


I mean, it’s got a lot to learn, hasn’t it.

There is a lot to learn especially in YouTube just seems to be such a cesspool sometimes but that could just be my experience and the fact that my kid watches Mr.

Beast videos all the time.

Yeah, but it will under the AI will understand the different kinds of crap that’s on YouTube.

Or will the AI believe that humanity is a waste of time and just decide to extinct us all.

I mean, you know, those things could happen.

You don’t want YouTube to judge humanity.

Oh, my God.

No, no, we absolutely do not.

Well, in more AI news Bing on December 6 announced that they were introducing Deep Search and other AI Copilot enhancements.

And there are a ton of things that they announced in this probably more than we can get through in the time we have left.

But the some of the interesting things I know there is a new DALL-E 3 model that’s out that’s supposed to make even better pictures, which is probably good and or bad depending on how you look at it.

I mean, these fake pictures are getting really realistic and really difficult to kind of tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not.

But they have also made improvements to the code interpreter improvements to their video understanding and questions and answers when you’re using CoPilot in Edge.

Yeah, so there’s under read there.

Well, what I do like about this is that the day later, Google decides to announce things, don’t they?

So this was the sixth of December.

Google Gemini.

We’re going to talk about Google Gemini.

It’s like they’re all playing this game of press releases with each other, which is interesting for this race to, you know, everyone needs to.

I don’t think you need to be so fast personally I work on what you’ve got perfect it and then, you know, do it.

I guess they were doing that this year with Gemini.

They’ve now split that into three modules if you want to call them that Ultra, which they say is our largest and most capable model Pro, which is scaling across a wide range of tasks.

And Nano is the efficient model for mobile devices, which is where they might might be going with the voice search kind of thing and experience that I know you can have on mobile and say Android also or Apple also.

And they’re probably split into three so that they can have three different pricing tiers because this is all going to be monetized, which is much like what.

Only X announced on December 8th.

They’ve got a GPT rival.

Yes, it was Bing and then Google did it and then Elon Musk went right.

They’ve done it now.

Let’s get our press release out in the next 24 hours.

But the thing with the thing with this zone, and we don’t have to spend a lot of time on it.

So, Grok is supposedly able to in real time incorporate data from X posts into its responses, which is awesome.

But I can’t use it because it’s not it’s not that you have to have.

Premium, you know, the little blue checkmark to use it.

You have to have X premium plus I’m already paying for the checkmark.

I’m not going to give them extra money to use this.

So I would love to test it and tell you how it works, but I can’t because I’m not paying for it.

No, and I don’t think many people will be but, again, I’d rather wait until it’s a massive option.

So, yeah, so that’s all the AI news.

I think let’s take a quick peek at WordPress news.

The only really big thing that happened in the last month is that Matt Mullenweg gave his annual State of the Word keynote address.

Mullenweg, as you know, is the co founder of the WordPress project.

It’s the Rich Tabor has an X series of posts where he goes into all of the all of the demos and he’s got great videos and screenshots.

It’s probably more than we can discuss here, but I would recommend I think we’ll have the link available to you.

Go read his series on on X and you’ll be able to get.

With the information about Mullenweg’s State of the Word.

Yeah, we were going to cover it, but not only are we strapped for time because we’ve had so much talk about, but actually it’s a full hour.

And if you’re interested in WordPress in any way, you should just watch it.

Just watch it.

And also I’ve put in Rich’s X thread in the chat here, which is also a very good short and down version.

See what’s coming up.

But yeah, that’s a whole this that that can be its own webinar or series within itself, which we maybe will do another time.

But we’ll see.

So yeah, that’s the main WordPress news very quickly is is Yoast SEO product news.

We’ve only got one quick one that we’ve put out this month, haven’t we?

Yep, in Yoast SEO Premium.

In the WooCommerce SEO module for the new AI features, you can now do the titles and descriptions within WooCommerce specifically for your products.

So they work a little bit differently than for the regular titles and descriptions, because they are geared specifically to help you sell your products.


Love it.

Of course I do.

Now, aren’t we?

That is pretty much it.

We do have our next SEO update on January 30th.

And instead of a retrospective on 2023, we’re going to be a look forward at predictions for 2024.

And I think we’re going to welcome Nynke back and go over to Q&A.

Definitely, because we have a lot of questions, so I know we’ll not cover all of them, but I think a few of them are really worth discussing quickly.

So let me get one of the actually the most upvoted question on screen right here.

So the question by Mike is, is it better to use personal words like my tips or our experience?

Google knows it’s actually your experience that you’re using in the article.

And maybe also that you’re not using AI.

I’m not sure if that excludes each other, but still, will it help rank higher?

That’s another it depends, isn’t it?

It depends who the author is, because if the author is a brand and there’s no name attached to that author, then you might do the collective we our.

But personally, I mean, it’s always been famous that people like people, not brands, that at any point you can have a human representative to talk or write about something, that it should be that person.

And that person is generally a singular.

What do you think, Carolyn?

I think what he’s asking is, so personal pronouns would include plurals.

And I think that you would almost have to have personal pronouns in your in your writing to differentiate it from.

I mean, it has to it has to be somebody’s experience, though, even if it’s a collective our, it’s still belonging to someone.

So, yeah, I think it would be important.

And I think that might be one of the signals that Google uses to make that determination.

So I would it’s worth a test, but I would say that naturally, if you’re writing naturally, you’re just going to have to use the personal pronouns.

So I think I think it’s a safe bet to say that that’s going to be helpful.

And it’s probably what your visitors like the most as well.

If they feel attached to your brand and they want to know about your personal experience, it is probably the most usual way to go.


Okay, let’s go to the next one, because these algorithm updates that cause a lot of changes, of course, and we’ve seen in chat that a few people also said, like, my my website is probably hit or affected by that.

So in this case, it’s about a news websites.

And yeah, didn’t it’s currently not probably showing on the search results page.

So what would you would this person do continue as they did, publishing a lot of helpful content, or maybe find new tactics to try and rank for.

That’s a good question, because I don’t know exactly why these news sites are getting hit.

There are a number of theories going on, and there are a lot of news sites that are being hit with parasite SEO.

And of penalties, or they’re suffering because of it.

And it’s when you’ve got sub domains that have been rented out or URLs that have been rented out to other parties.

All of that.

The depth of that content, the, the quantity and quality of that content is now affecting your scores.

So there are, this is probably a deeper question than we can answer.

So, maybe I will tackle that for one of the upcoming Ask Yoasie columns.


And I think in general, we can say writing helpful content is always, it’s never bad.



Always, if you’re writing content thinking should I be ranking for this don’t write that thing.

It’s just the user.

I would say if you’re really worried maybe improve your editorial guidelines to be a bit stricter.

Maybe don’t, it depends how many posts you’re putting out as well each day if you put it out, maybe chill out a bit and put less on, but maybe longer form them make them more helpful for people.

Especially for news, if it’s not news.

If it’s not news you can use is it really news.

That’s a good one.

Yeah, cool.

Okay, I hope he finds your answers interesting.

Okay, let’s do one more because I think although we have a quick one to use.

So, in also the algorithm updates theme, the helpful content updates will that mark the end of long form content.

Only if your long form content is unhelpful.

Yeah, yeah.

It depends what you’re doing if you’re just talking about, you know, something really simple, and you’re just padding out words and you essentially filibustering in a way, just to get a word count, you’re doing it wrong.

But that’s not to say that some study about the economics of the US, for example, isn’t going to need 50,000 words and therefore, it’s going to be helpful.

That’s the whole point of like, we’ve all opened up 120 page reports on something like all of that content is for something and for someone.

But again, if 100 of those pages are just useless, then maybe not.

I’ve written 100 page reports for school before where I it literally was just garbage text in the middle because I had to hit the 100 page count and that report was useless.

Did I get a good grade on it?

Maybe I don’t remember, but that’s probably because the teacher didn’t read it.

It wasn’t necessary.

I could have written that report in four pages and it would have been every bit as relevant.

So use the amount of words that you need to answer the question.

And also think is that is that report going to be shared by the person who just read it?

Like if I’m that person who just read Carolyn’s report, I’m not going to give that to someone else and go, this is a really helpful report.

I’m just going to.


I’m just going to take it in.

That’s an annoying waste of my life and I’m not going to make anyone else go through that.

And that’s kind of what Google does on their results.

If they find that that page is not worth it to the next person, why would they why would they rank it?

Why would they show it?

Yeah, exactly.

OK, one more on the AI and then we really have to do finish up.

But AI had a lot of news this month as well.

So I think it’s worth answering this question from Francine.

The question is, does AI mean people do not visit the website anymore because the info is already there in the search results on the search results page?

In some cases, yes.

That is the thing that is going to happen.

I think what we’ll have to do is if you find that you’re losing a lot of traffic to SGE, you may need to refine your content to make sure that you’re answering a question that can’t be easily summarized or something that would require them coming to you.

In in lieu of that, if you can’t do that, you want to be the article that is being cited by whatever’s generating it.

And a lot of them aren’t doing citations right now, but I think they’re going to have to start because otherwise it’s kind of plagiarism.

So I see citations coming in the future and you want to be that citation, even if you can’t be the site that they visit.

Which is kind of what we we kind of mentioned this before earlier on.

Naturally, when we’re talking about well SEO not being dead, it’s more important.

This is literally the reason why it is more important because you’re going to have to not feed just user.

Now you’re going to have to feed an LLM and that needs to be satisfied as well to show the human the end result.

But then again, is the answer helpful if I go back to the baker?

What’s the baker’s opening times?

I don’t need to visit the website.

I know the opening times and therefore you’ve got me already.

My footfalls going to be there and that’s my conversion.

But if I need to know something specific about what kind of bread you sell, maybe I do need to visit your site and maybe you can answer that.

That is covered in AI.

But, you know, give it a little bit of everything.

So you can have a full overview as a user, not just what the AI serves you or whatever.


OK, I think that’s it.

And I know there has been a lot of other questions, but due to all the news of this whole year and this month, we couldn’t cover everything.

So as this is the last webinar of 2023, I want to thank everybody who’s been here maybe throughout the whole year or just joined this last edition of this year with us and for everyone celebrating holidays.


Don’t eat too much.

And for everyone being online all those days, happy optimizing.

And we’re excited to see you in the next edition on January 30th.

Yes, that’s it.

See you next year everyone.

Have a great rest of your day.

Bye bye.


Topics & sources

SEO news

AI news

WordPress news

Presented by

Carolyn Shelby, Principal SEO at Yoast

Carolyn Shelby

Carolyn is our Principal SEO. She leverages more than two decades of hands-on experience optimizing websites for maximum visibility and engagement. She specializes in enterprise and news SEO, and is passionate about demystifying the intricacies of search engine optimization for businesses of all sizes.

Alex Moss, Principal SEO at Yoast

Alex Moss

Alex is our Principal SEO. With a background in technical SEO, he has been working in Search since its infancy and also has years of knowledge of WordPress, developing several plugins over the years. He is involved within many aspects of Yoast from product roadmap to content strategy.