The SEO update by Yoast – January 2024 Edition


Update transcript

Hello, everyone.

Thanks for joining another SEO Update by Yoast.

While we’re all joining, I’m going to remove this video out of the screen.

Let us know where you’re joining from, and let us know what you think about our intro tune.

That’s the second time you’ve played this, so I hope you all like it.

My name is Nynke.

I’m the host for today, but our principal SEOs will take you through the news of today.

But before we start, I wanted to do some quick household notices, which gives everybody the time to join this stream as well.

The first question we always get is, will this webinar will be recorded?

Yes, we will record this webinar.

And if you signed up and seeing me talking right now, you will receive that recording automatically.

And we’ll have a big post with all kinds of resources, which I will now put on the screen, there you can find all the resources of this webinar.

It will appear in the green button below, or if you’re on mobile, switch to from the big screen so you can see the green buttons.

After we’ll discuss the news– or Alex and Carolyn will just invite on stage in a bit.

We’ll discuss the news.

We’ll have some time for Q&A. And we’re on Crowdcast, which means you can put your questions in a separate box so they don’t disappear in the chat.

But we actually have a nice overview of all the questions you have about SEO updates from this month.

So click the box with the question mark

or click the question mark if you’re on mobile

to put in your questions and also read the questions of others,

because you can upvote those questions, which helps us

a lot to determine what the most urgent questions are

that you have today.

So what I will do next is invite our principal SEOs on stage.

Let’s see if they’re there.

There’s Carolyn.

Hi, Alex.

Hey, hey.

I can hear you.


We can.

So these are our hosts, Alex and Carolyn.

They will take you through the news.

And when preparing this webinar, this update,

they thought January would be a slow month when

it comes to SEO updates.

Well, in the end, this month proved to be different.

And one of the things that I’m excited about to hear,

and I hope you are too, is the latest updates on AI

in the Google search results pages.

So hang on for that.

And then it will come up in our special AI news section.

And I will let Alex and Carolyn now take the stage

and talk you through all the updates of this month.

Good luck and enjoy.

I will see you for Q&A.

Thanks very much, Nynke.

And welcome, everyone.

Thanks for coming.

There’s over 1,100 sign-ups this month.

I think that’s–

Oh, my gosh.

No, one of our highest ever, I think.

Good job, guys.

I know.

Just do it.

Keep on doing it.

Keep on doing it next month as well.

Just keep going.

This is good for our KPIs, right?

Yes, excellent.

So let me start.

Let’s go through some stuff.

Let me make this.

Do you want to move us to stage left?

All these buttons everywhere.

And now we can start.

So who are we?

Very quickly, we’re both principal SEOs at Yoast.

Is that it?

That’s all they need to know.

That’s very good.

Two of us.

Pretty much, yeah.

And what are we going to discuss today?

We’re going to go through 2024 predictions and trends.

We’ll go through some SEO news, which

when I was devising these slides on the 7th,

really thought it was a slow news month.

But we’ll find out it really was not.

Next, we’ll go through AI news, which

has been a bit of a turbulent month for the technology.

And lastly, we’ll do Yoast news, because you might have missed,

there is no WordPress news because it’s really

been a slow news month for WordPress, which should

hopefully mean there’s double news next month, right?

I hope so.

And if we’ve got any time with all of that nonsense,

we’ll answer some questions you have.

So as you know, there’s a Q&A tab at the top

if you want to ask a question.

I don’t know which way I’m pointing, but to your right,

there is a tab where you can ask a question,

and other folks inside the audience can also vote.

So we’ll obviously be answering the most popular first.

If you want to read more about this

and get a few more links from all the citations,

because of course, we like to cite our sources,

you can get that by following this link or bookmarking it,

and you can get that afterwards, as well as being

able to access this replay.

And if this is a bit more advanced for you

and you’re just starting out in SEO,

there is a lot of nice little webinar series

that we have going on where there’s loads

that you can sign up on.

Just visit our website, go to the webinar section,

and you’ll be able to see all of the intro to SEO webinars

that we do.

So with that, predictions and trends for this year.

What do you think?

What did you say, Carolyn?

It’s going to be a different year, this one, isn’t it?

A bit interesting.

Hopefully a bit interesting, but it’s

so hard to make good predictions,

and I hate doing it because I feel a bit like they never

come true, or if I predicted it definitely won’t come true.

Kind of like with watching my favorite baseball teams.

If I don’t watch, they win.

If I do watch, then they don’t.

And it’s not like superstition, right?

It is a little bit superstition, but AI is going to be big.

I think how we end up embracing AI is going to really be,

I think, determined by how this year goes.

This year is really–

it’s big.

Everybody knows it’s here.

Now what are we going to do with it,

and how is it going to be rolled out,

and are we going– is humanity going

to be responsible with it, or are we

going to abuse it like we have a tendency to do with everything

else and ruin it?

So it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

Well, our trends and predictions maybe

watch that we aren’t to be trusted,

so let’s dig into all of this.

So the first thing that you said as part of a trend

or predictions, kind of alluding to this already.

So only in the last couple of weeks have Google announced

that they’ve introduced two new features that use AI technology

to enhance your search experience.

So the first one, as you can see,

is a video of a nice little dog wearing some cool goggles.

And you can use your finger on your phone.

You can just do that around the sunglasses,

and then all that.

I’ve got a Facebook message for some reason.

Very good timing.

And when you do that, you can then search on Google,

and it will show you related products, which you can then

go and buy.

The more interesting thing, in my opinion,

is multi-search, which is the second thing

they’ve introduced, where you can take a picture of something

and then you can ask a question about that picture.

So here they’re using a backgammon set.

And instead of taking a picture, the obvious answer

is, what is it?

But that’s not the question they’re asking.

They want to know what it is, but more importantly, they

want to know how to play it.

So that multi-search option is very interesting

in the way in which people are using the beginning of the search


I feel like this is going to be a game changer,

because one of the things that has always–

I feel like differentiated people–

and there’s people that can articulate

what they want to know and get good search results.

And these people have always been

able to get good search results.

And there are a lot of people who cannot articulate

what it is they want to find.

They just put in inadequate search queries.

So what this is doing is this is taking those visual people

and helping them find stuff.

Have you ever looked at something

that’s been like, that thing, that thing-a-bob?

And people are like, ha ha ha, what’s a thing-a-bob?

It’s like, that thing, that thing that’s right there

that I don’t know the name for.

This helps you with that, because now you just

take a picture of that thing that you don’t know the name for.

The machine goes, oh, I know exactly what that is,

because I’m smart.

And then you go, yeah, that thing right there

that I don’t know what to call it, how do I do it?

And it will tell you.

And I think that’s going to make–

I don’t know– almost level the playing field for those people

that are far more visual than they are word-oriented.

And so I’m excited about this.

I think it’s going to make search a lot more beneficial

and a better experience for more people

rather than just the people who happen

to be very good at name recall and articulating

what it is they want.

Yeah, kind of like going away from command prompt,

in a way, to do things instead of being very specific,

which I guess is–

this is our prediction, I guess– is

the growth of voice and visual.

And whilst we’ve heard that voice search is on the up,

and we’ve heard it all the time, and when Alexa first came out,

it was, I saw those graphs.

And this time, based on the current data

of the last month, in the next year, everything will be voice.

And no one will be typing again.

And obviously, that isn’t true.

But it’s definitely–

You still have to know what it is you want to ask, though,

even with voice search.

And there are a lot of people who are just so visual

that they know exactly what they want by looking at it,

but they just couldn’t tell you–

they couldn’t articulate the process to get to it.

And this kind of bypasses that.

And if you think about computers,

where were the big leaps in computers?

Prior to Windows coming out, everything

was very command prompt.

And there are tons of people who just do not

want to deal with a command prompt.

And Windows really democratized or leveled

the playing field for those people

that wanted to drag and drop.

This is that next step forward, that next giant leap, I think.

And it’s going to be–

I think this is going to be easily and widely adopted quickly.

Yeah, and I think it’s interesting the way

that people will use this behavior,

because I think they will adopt this way more than voice

search, because it is easy to have the phone on you.

And we’ve all done it.

We’ve all been in a store.

And we’ve tried to find out what something is.

But you have to start with Search or open the Amazon app

or some other app that you’re using.

But now that it’s cool, I use this mug as a good example.

If I took a picture of this, the one would be, what is this?

It’s a mug.

It’s a metal mug by Vodum or however you pronounce it.

But now, with multi-search using that as an example,

I should say, can I get a bigger version of this?

And it will tell me.

It will know what it is.

It doesn’t even need to tell me what it is.

It just needs to find a bigger version of it,

because that is my search intent.

It’s changing that way.

But that makes things in predictions and trends

for this year become more important.

Well, how do you classify content that way?

And the best way I was–

we were describing this as semantic search and intent.

This is just in the same way as the mug.

My intent is to find a bigger version of this mug.

So adopting that in terms of content strategy and entities

and therefore schema is even more important,

because knowledge graph is–

this seems to be more dependent on knowledge graph now,

even more so than it was, say, a year or two years ago.

And having entities and being able to find content structure

around that is going to be really important.

And I mean, I love how I found this Simpsons image from Moz.

I don’t know whoever made it, but they’re amazing.

But it is sourced in Moz.

And this does show the entity of the Simpsons

and how things are related in a really easy to understand way.

So with your products, it’s going

to be really important that you’ve got your product

schema set up correctly and that you’ve got your ecommerce

system set up correctly, because you’re

going to want the search engines to know that this mug comes

in three different sizes.

And it’s all the same mug.

It’s just different sizes.

So that’s going to play into how did you set up

your store in the first place?

Because if you make each one of the sizes a different product

and you don’t tie them together properly,

you’re not helping the search engines deliver that answer

to the user who says, I want this mug,

but I don’t want it in the 24 ounce.

I want it in the 36 ounce.

So it’s very interesting.

But also with that, not only do you

have to have semantics and entities all sorted and more

optimized than ever, but this also goes–

if I want to go back one slide, this

shows that images and video, rich media for those products

or anything you’re describing is even more important.

Because if you were going back again to the dog,

if I was selling those goggles and I didn’t have an image

of them, this search wouldn’t ever find me.

But I may have great content in words around these goggles.

But if I don’t have an image, it may not identify it.

So again, it goes into entities are important,

but getting everything right.

Don’t just force that.

And that’s almost the opposite.

That’s almost the opposite of the way it’s been.

The way it’s been has been–

the way it’s been has been.

Anyway, you’ve had the image and the SEOs have been saying,

but you have to describe it in text.

And now we’re saying that in addition to the text,

you have to make sure that you have the image.

So it really is kind of a coming together of everything

that we’ve been doing before and a more integrated understanding

for the search engines of how things work.

Yeah, which is now goes–

again, entities also go hand in hand to what do you–

why is this important for someone who’s watching now

and listening?

In short, that means you need to get your content structure

really knuckled down, build topical authorities,

and have a proper content strategy around that.

So if I use my mug as an example,

I now should think about everything

to do with mugs that may be helpful to me finding

a large mug or a mug that is very close to the one

that I took a picture of.

Having pictures of them, having videos,

but talking about anything from the product itself to its uses.

All of that kind of stuff will go hand in hand

to building topical authority and building the EEAT

around mugs or trucks.

Useful things about–

anything useful you can think of,

like going back to your mug, what cars

do we know that the mug fits in the cup holder for?

Do we know of any cars that the mug doesn’t fit in?

If I were a consumer, what kind of information

might I be looking for around that mug?

And then make sure you talk about that.

And those are good–

those are topic seeds for building out additional content.

First-person experience.

Those are useful items that are going

to help you with your content, help you with your authority,

help you with your expertise, and help the user ultimately.

Yeah, which brings us to probably our last prediction

and trend, which we’re going to talk about a little bit later,

is SGE and its wider adoption.

So when I was writing this, my thoughts were, well,

SGE is going to be rolling out quite aggressively this quarter,

maybe, at least in the US.

But maybe it’s not.

And we’ll chat about that later.

But one of the reasons that could be why

is due to the fact that SGE is so much different.

But because of that, organic rankings go down.

So you kind of have to pay to be above the fold in any way,

shape, or form.

And it’s not just PPC.

It’s anything.

Even for your own brand terms, it’s

really shocking how far down that SGE is pushing

those organic rankings and how different the SGE results are

from the traditional organic rankings.

So where you would expect to rank number one

for your own brand term, that is no longer the case

because SGE is just functioning differently.


Well, give the audience a working example,

a hypothetical example of how this may apply to them.

A hypothetical example that I may have heard from a friend,

it’s– so you have to pay for position one now.

You have to pay to be above the fold.

SGE is taking up a ton of room underneath that.

And where you would have expected to be number one

because someone is searching directly for your brand term,

now you’re not.

It’s the commonality I found between the first result

and then the horizontal scrolling results

was that they said the brand name first.

They said it first in the title.

They said it first in the headline.

And they said that word was first in the body copy too.

Whereas if it is your own brand, you

tend not to say your own brand name that prominently

and that much all over the place on your site, which

means all of these people who are sometimes competitors who

are talking about you or wrote an article about you,

that article might outrank you for your own brand term,

which is horrifying if you’re a brand.

The other problem is that because your organic listing

has gotten pushed so far down, you’re

losing 50% of your traffic for that brand term.

And you’re having to make that up by spending

the money on the paid search.

So I mean, that’s great for Google.

It sucks for brands.

And I can’t imagine that big brands that pay Google

a lot of money are going to be particularly

tolerant of that for an extended period of time.

So I feel like there’s some algorithm adjustments that

need to happen.

But because it’s AI, because it’s generative,

it’s not a function of changing the formula.

It’s a function of teaching it to do something else.

And how do you teach it to do that thing

without having unintended consequences?

And everything kind of has unintended consequences.

So it feels like we’re wading into murky waters,

and we don’t exactly know what we’re about to step on.

Which is exactly why–

we’ll chat more about the news– why

they might be pulling search generative experience back

a little bit, or not.

It’s aggressive.

Someone in the comments just said,

how does that work with site authority?

And wouldn’t the brand site have more authority

than a site that wrote an article about them?

You would think, right?

Except that’s not how it’s working, which is the weird.

So it really does seem to be relying a lot more

on the text on the page, rather than the pure authority

of the site, which is what you expect in the organic rankings.

The organic rankings themselves haven’t changed radically.

But these SGE results are almost rarely

coming from the same set of results

that you’re getting from organic, which is why I think

it’s not quite ready for prime time.

And there’s going to either be a delay in rolling it out,

or there’s going to be some kind of pivot,

because this is clearly not–

it’s not good for brands, and brands pay the bills.


And we can talk more about how SGE and AI’s functionality

inside search results affects us when we

go through the AI news later.

So that’s mainly the trends and predictions.

Let’s go through the SEO news, the slow news month that

actually turned out to be really, really busy.

It’s the slow news month, it wasn’t?

It was.

Well, I started generating the sites for this on the 8th of Jan.

Or no, no, the 5th, because I thought

I’d get ahead of the month, see what

was going on over Christmas.

Well, it turns out that no one works over Christmas,

including the people who write the news.

So then on the 8th and 9th of Jan, everything came back.

But let’s go through them.

So on the 4th–

so someone was working in the between days.

There was an article on Search Engine Land about Google

starting to phase out third party cookies.

So in short, third party cookies is a good great example of this,

is retargeting things like Facebook pixels,

any tracking that is not hosted on the server of which

your website is on, or goes to any other source in that matter.

Now, privacy is winning a little bit.

And Google is enforcing inside their browser

first party cookies only.

Now, how does this affect everyone else?

Things with like GA4 are OK for some countries for now.

But that’s Google going through some issues there.

But one thing to note is that if you’re using affiliate tracking

or any other tracking that you may think that gathers data when

that person is browsing on a website that is not yours,

you have to think about what to do next.

Because those platforms will either have a first party cookie update.

So Facebook do have an updated pixel that you can use that

will be more limited and less personalized.

But at least you’ve got something.

Or if you’re an affiliate site and this

is your main way of making income is through third party cookie data,

you’ve got to think of a dramatic change quite fast that doesn’t affect you.

Because that stuff is starting to happen and roll out now.

In short, did I say everything there, Carolyn?

I think you covered everything.

I think the affiliate sites especially are getting hammered

from 12 different directions right now.

And I know that with the helpful content update,

affiliate sites have taken a big hit too.

So I think maybe not necessarily SEO related,

but affiliate businesses are in for a bumpy ride this year.


And we wish them luck though, because whilst they

are there to make money and that’s some of the point of affiliate sites,

I do find them helpful.

Not all of them, but I do find some of them helpful.

And they do make me find out about products.

So I can’t blame them all.

So what else happened?

On the 8th of January, Google–

Oh, go on.

Were you going to say something then, Carolyn?

I was waiting to chime in because I was really surprised to see

that it required clarification.

I interrupted Alex while he was reading the headline.

Google clarifies primary source of snippets.

This was an article in Search Engine Journal.

And apparently, Google felt the need to clarify in their documentation

that even though you’ve defined your meta-description on your site,

they might not always use the meta-description that you’ve provided

and that they wanted you to know that they’re not making up

a new meta-description.

They’re taking it from a place on your page that fits the query better.

And I knew that already.

So I was surprised that they felt the need to clarify that,

to be perfectly honest.

But I guess there are people that didn’t know that.

And Google wanted to make sure that everybody was clear.

Seems a nitpicky thing to do, but–

Unless they were getting a lot of questions, the same questions

somewhere else from a lot of beginners, because it

isn’t obvious to a novice, right?

But it’s so obvious to us that–

It felt obvious to me because I remember the things that I write.

So when I see a meta-description that’s different than what I had on the page,

I will recognize the piece that they took as something else that is on the page.

But usually, if you click through, you can find exactly what they used,

that snippet that they took.

It is a snippet.

It’s a snippet of somewhere else on the page

that they felt made a better meta-description than the meta-description you provided,

which is going to happen a lot if you are very formulaic in how

you generate your meta-description.

So if you have 500 pages and all 500 pages start out kind of the same in terms

of the meta-description, or they’re all really similar,

Google is probably going to say that this isn’t unique enough,

or I bet I can do it better.

And that’s really all they’re doing is they’re trying

to provide a better meta-description.


But good to have clarification, right?

So the next one, Google are getting rid of Google websites.

So some people in the audience may even have Google websites

on the Google business profiles.

They’re going away.

They’ll be shutting down from the 1st of March, which is only a few weeks away.


It’s coming up.

Yeah, it really is.

And I didn’t think that was a lot of time, because my assumption is

that they’re very big novices, people who open these websites,

and that they won’t know how to even deal with a transition

in such a short period of time.

Whereas for us, it’s easier, right?

We know how to get a new website if we needed to.

But not only that, they’re only allowing a redirect for 90 days,

and then they’re just going to remove the redirects.

I’m not sure why they do that.

It’s not like there’s lots of money saving happening,

if you were to have 30–

I don’t know why.

There must be a reason why they’re only giving 90 days.

But it’s interesting.

And then there’ll just be four XX pages after that.

So the only reason you would need a Google redirect to that page

is if you were using the Google sites or Google websites domain

instead of your own domain.

So they’re really kind of pushing people to get their own domains,

which to be perfectly frank, if you have a business,

you should have your own domain.

And I think the reason that they’re getting away

from that is people were spamming that system

because they wanted to piggyback on the authority that came

inherently with that Google domain.

So there was a lot of cheating going on,

and I think they’re trying to get rid of that.


Well, to answer Cheryl, who’s listening,

a four XX page is either a 404 or a 410,

or can be four and then two other digits,

the reason I specifically said four XX

is because Google haven’t confirmed

whether it’s going to be a 404 or a 410.

My assumption is 404 because they said the term page not

found, whereas a 410 is a different response, a HTT–


Yeah, those are–

–if it’s removed.

They’re header status codes.

And the 404 means it’s not here, it’s not found.

410 means I have obliterated it and nuked it from orbit,

and it will never come back.

So we don’t know if they’re nuking it from orbit

or just making it disappear, but either way, it gone.


So yeah, I hope that answers your question, Cheryl.

Way to go with queue skipping Q&A as well, by the way.


No, it’s fine.

No, I did that.

So the next thing was Google Perspectives,

which is quite a new thing, which

is going off the firsthand experience thing

that Google are going on about for more,

getting us more involved in contributing

towards firsthand experience as well as consuming it.

So it’s unsurprising that nearly 75%

are taken by Twitter, YouTube, and Reddit.

That makes sense.

But then we were talking about perspectives.

What is a perspective in terms of SEO?

Why should we care about it?

Should we do anything differently

to maybe get ourselves more exposure on perspectives?

Because if we’re a brand, we’re not a perspective.

We’re our own perspective.

So it might be interesting to– what’s

your point of view on perspectives in this sense?

So in this sense, to make sure that your firsthand experience

and perspective is getting seen, you almost definitely

have to either be putting out full firsthand experience

content on YouTube, helpful firsthand experience on Reddit.

And getting onto Reddit could be an issue,

depending on how tied into your brand you are

and if your account is new or not.

What are perspectives?

Perspectives– when you do a Google query, especially

a news-related query, many times now there

is a new carousel underneath the news called perspectives.

And those would be, instead of traditional news and news

outlets, it’s firsthand experience types of reports.

So in Reddit, you would get a subreddit

from whatever the topic happens to be.

I think last time we talked about super

automatic espresso makers.

So rather than getting product reviews or newspaper paid

reviews, which are kind of biased because you

pay to be in those, it would pop up some forum posts

where real users, in theory, have used that product

and talked about and shared their experiences

with the product.

So we really want to–

Google’s really trying to, I think,

go to places that people trust more.

And what this is is kind of an indictment of the trust

that people have in what news sites, traditional news sites,

are offering.

People don’t necessarily trust the news anymore

because there are so many opportunities for you

to buy your way into the news.

And people know that the big brands are

paying for those reviews.

They’re paying for the reviews to be not bad.

And they’re paying for the links that are in those.

Whereas in Reddit, to a lesser extent, I would say YouTube,

but definitely in Reddit and Quora and some of the forums,

you’re getting, for the most part,

real people with real experiences sharing real useful


And no agenda or no visible agenda,

which is something we were talking about before when

we’re going through this is the problem

news publishers have that you’ve just described in SEO terms.

It’s much harder for them to complete the T out of EEAT

because they’re being less trustworthy because the platform

that they are on may have an agenda and therefore

less of a perspective.

So I hope that explains everything to Eric and others.

But of course, with perspectives,

that can be abused, can’t it?

Because of course, when that happened, all of a sudden,

the subreddit SEO on Reddit got taken over

by new mods who were from new accounts of less than a year

and started deleting half of the community posts in there.

So even though they’re on a perspective-friendly platform,

whoever is behind it– and I don’t think we found out

who it is or what the agenda is yet.

They look like cryptobros.

Yeah, it might be a cryptobro or two.

But again, what’s there?

Why are they in there out of everywhere?

Are they just going to affiliate somewhere

to some central European exchange or something?

Yeah, probably.

So it’s interesting, that part.

But it also shows that these platforms,

even though they may seem more objective,

are still controlled in some way, maybe,

or edited by a subjective person or people.

So everything is subjective.

And I think Reddit especially is really

going to have to jump out and get a handle on what’s

going on with their moderators and make sure

that things aren’t being abused or overtaken,

because they’ve really been given a gift by the Google

gods in terms of this new visibility that they’re getting.

And if they want to maintain that and keep it,

they’re going to have to really get

a grip on the spam and these kinds of shenanigans.

Yeah, and to answer Monique’s question very quickly,

when it comes to geographical regions–

so you may be in a country where Reddit isn’t that popular–

two things.

A, it may provide another perspective platform that

is your version of Reddit in your country.

The other thing is that it may provide more visibility

to places like Reddit, where they weren’t as visible

in the past, where they are right now

or could be in the future.

And if Reddit is showing up in your geographical region,

but it’s not popular yet, this is an opportunity for you

to jump out and get in there first before everyone else gets

in there.

Get on the bandwagon before everyone else is on the bandwagon.


And Susan’s point’s good.

You don’t tend to have less trust for comments made

by people on Quora because they are a true firsthand experience

and therefore a perspective, and you

would think there’s no agenda.

So yeah, the next thing that happened

is Google dropped thousands of search quality

raters in the latest cuts.

So they terminated a contract with Appen,

which I’m sure it was worth $82 million or something silly

like that.

Yeah, that’s what it was.

Yeah, and it’s crazy.

Yeah, 82.8.

Sorry, I was $800,000 off.

Thousands of remote workers to be search quality raters.

Is this AI taking people’s jobs?

From a search engine, funnily enough,

and we’re worried on the other side of things.

It’s an internal thing maybe.

We don’t know the result yet because they do use other vendors

like we mentioned, and there’s uncertainty there.

And no one else has said that their contract

was canceled, I’ve noticed.

But this is the biggest one.

And everything could be done by AI, if not now,

definitely in the future.

But you know more about search quality rater questions,

don’t you?

I’ve seen the search quality rater questions.

And the questions that I have seen,

they’re given a checklist to go through.

And the types of questions that they’re

supposed to answer for Google are questions that

could be answered by a machine.

They’re objective for the most part.

They’re not terribly subjective, which means you could have–

you could program an LLM or a GPT to deal with those

and not have to deal with the possibility

that you’ve got a human who has maybe another agenda,

or they’re taking kickbacks, or they’re having a bad day.

So this type of task does seem like something

that would be a good candidate for AI.

And if it’s going to save money and redirect those funds

into something else, it’s probably a good business

decision, at the very least, on the part of the search



Next up is there was a study from a German education–

a German university, I think, saying

that Google’s getting worse as a search experience.

But I’m a bit dubious on the data.

It was very product-specific and not so general,

because that’s obviously such a small subset of queries.

But what they did find was that there’s

a lot of web spam out there, which we probably knew

what was harder to identify.


Or a right.

But it does show that over time, the results got better.

But that happened in a time where

they were getting rid of more affiliate knockoff sites,

subdomains, Parasite SEO, all of those kind of things

that where they were actually getting rid of a lot of web

spam last year.

And I would probably say that the last quarter, of course,

is going to be a little better than the first three quarters.

But if a Google spokesperson is telemachable,

it doesn’t reflect the overall quality and helpfulness

of search.

I kind of do agree.

But then again, if I was a Google spokesperson,

that’s the classic reply, right?

There’s nothing else you can say other than we’re improving

stuff, and we always will.

I think it’s a tug of war.

Sometimes they’re going to be better,

and sometimes they’re going to be worse.

And they’re just constantly fighting

against the onslaught of spam.

And every time they close a–

every time you close up a hole in the fence,

the spammers dig another hole or cut some chains

in the chain link.


What we do.

It’s the Google fence.

The way it’s always been.

And always will be.

So yeah, there’s just one study.

But I get what it means with all the spam.

But of course, we’re all white hat here, aren’t we?



So the next one is on the 18th of January,

Google is to change European search results

to show comparison sites, or maybe more comparison sites.

So this mainly affects people in Europe, essentially.

It might affect more territories,

as the law may pass through other territories.

But in Europe, there’s the DMA, the Digital Markets Act.

In short, why should you care?

It’s good for you.

Because now, more third party sites and comparison sites

are going to be in search instead of Google’s own.

So of course, things like Google Flights is a good example.

There’ll be less of that and more Expedia,,

airline specific results coming up.

That’s basically so that there’s laws against Google taking

too much monopoly, in short.

But this is good.

This is good for what’s in sites, which is great.

It’s forcing Google almost to go back

to their roots of being a search engine instead

of an everything engine.

And they really want to be an everything engine,

but it is kind of monopolistic the way they’re doing it.

So it’s probably good that they’re

being restrained a little bit.


Now, we’ve got to go into the AI news.

But this is how much other news happened this month.

So I’m just going to say them, and then we’re

going to go onto AI because there’s just too much happening.

So FAQ rich results disappeared again.

Big, big, big bluff.

But they’ll be back.

They’ll be back.

Google said no SEO is perfect.

That’s obvious.

You can never have perfect SEO.

Otherwise, we wouldn’t all be in the job.

The next thing, this is your thing more,

author bylines not a ranking factor.

I know.


Just because they say it’s not a ranking factor, friends,

does not mean it’s not important.

They use the bylines to help determine where

the content on the page starts.

So is it a true ranking factor?

It’s not truly a ranking factor, but it does affect

how they read your stuff.

Just like HTML structure, it’s not truly a ranking factor.

It’s not specifically a ranking factor.

But it affects how they read and understand your content,

which does affect your rank.

So when Google says stuff, you have

to pay very close attention to how they phrase it.

Is it a ranking factor?


But does it still affect your rank?



And always, why wouldn’t you just miss that if it’s not

a factor anyway?

It’s natural.

So yeah, Google sitemaps ping endpoint, officially

no longer working at all.

Why does it matter?

It doesn’t much.

There’s a ping endpoint in Yoast SEO.

That’s going to be removed.

But it being there isn’t a problem.

It just goes to a dead end, and that’s it.

40% of Americans use TikTok as a search engine now,

which is crazy.

But it does show the way in which people

use search, visual search specifically,

to find what they want.

Why should we care?

Maybe we should do more video production.

If you’re a brand that can anyway

connect into an audience that TikTok are on or engage with,

do it, and maybe invest this paid into there

and see what happens.

Google ranking–

Oh, go on.

Does that mean we have to dance to do TikTok?

I’m not dancing.

I see I’m on a train sometimes, and I just

pass and watch fully grown adults all dancing to a wall.

I just am never going to find that normal ever.

The next thing, Google, if you had opening times,

your ranking may have got affected.

So what happened next?

SEOs tried to abuse it.

People were open 24 hours a day, and that is now

a bug that has been shut.

But there was actually a bit of that happening.

And lastly, Google’s SEO starter guides

going to be cut in half, which is interesting.

A bit of content restructuring, a bit of tidying up,

but maybe they won’t rank as well for SEO starter guides.

Let’s wait and see.

I think they had their SEO starter guides spread

across too many pages.

When I was working for the mouse,

we had a situation where Wikipedia and other very deep

single page content sites would frequently

outrank Marvel for their superhero backstories

and things like that.

And the difference was that at the House of Mouse,

we would put every single little section about that superhero

on a different URL, which made for a very broad and thin

content base instead of one single deep page of content.

And Google always prefers the deep content over this.

So I would tell them is we don’t want cookie sheet content.

We want like chili pot content.

You want it deep and full of meat.

I like that.

Always good to make food related comparisons, right?

OK, AI news.

It’s been busy-ish, but I don’t think

it’s been good for the technology that’s

trying to grow up around us.

Let’s talk about this other report

that was made by Authoritas.

Well, we kind of talked about that already, I think.

We did.

We did.

But this has a little bit more detail.

But it’s interesting because Authoritas

say it’s going to be the biggest change.

It’s so dramatic that it may not be

able to be done in the way that they want to yet.

But we did discuss a lot of this, but it is a bit scary

to know that 93.8% of generative links in that data set

came from sources outside top-ranking organic domains,

which makes it interesting because anyone

can play the game now and get there.

But is that the right thing to do?

Well, it depends on who you’re talking to.

It’s horrifying from a brand perspective.

And like I said, I think they’re going

to have to do something to fix this because the brands are

the ones that pay the bills.

The brands are the ones that invest a lot of money

and pay, and they’re not going to tolerate

this kind of incursion into their territory

by these non-players who are just adjusting their keyword

usage to leapfrog into those premium positions

above the fold.

I’d be interested to see how this plays out,

but I have a hard time believing that it’s not

going to get adjusted because in its current state,

I just don’t feel like it’s tenable.


And even the content that it produces

is now a legal issue, right?

We’ve got, again, “New York Times” taking open AI.

And now there’s illegal arguments

on what fair use is on content and transformative

and what that means in terms of what ChatGPT

and other LLMs are doing to output that information

that it’s finding from “New York Times.”

There is an argument to say it is “New York Times” is content,

but the objective person in me is trying to say,

well, you did publish it, right, on the internet?

Well, so they published it, and news is not necessarily

generating brand new information.

News is collecting information that they

got from other sources, other primary sources.

They’re the ones putting it together,

and they’re transforming it and putting it out.

So I feel like on the one hand, their argument is not

the greatest argument.

But on the other hand, if they file the lawsuit in New York,

which they probably did, New York juries

tend to be far more generous to New York plaintiffs

than they are to the Silicon Valley defendants.

And I would expect this to be decided

in favor of the “New York Times” if the case is

being heard in New York.

Does that mean that it’s correct?


I don’t know.

All they’ll do is they’ll–

It’s interesting.

If “New York Times” win, all OpenAI will do

is take the judgment, tell the LLM to read it,

and ensure that they don’t go away from binding by the law,

which it should be able to do with a good LLM.

Here, ChatGPT, read this article and then rewrite it

to make sure that it doesn’t look anything

like the original article, but maintains

all of the same facts.


And then we’ll spit it out.

Yeah, be 33.7% transformative, and we’re good.

We’re all good to go.

And we’ll give you the result.

So the influence on AI, though.

Look at this graph.

What can you see?

Can you see all the dramatic changes?

Well, hey, Bing gained almost 1% market share.

1%, you know, almost.


I mean, there was a lot of talk in the last year

about Bing Chat and people going, oh, they’re finally

embracing AI.

I remember us talking a year ago, before even

Yoast, talking about how Bing was surprising that Bing really

made the effort.

And now what’s Google going to do?

And they have to catch him up.

And now here we are.

And it was as though Google kind of sat back and watched Bing

make their faults and learn from them

whilst trying to build their own thing,

but also not figuring out what they’re doing themselves.

It’s crazy.

It’s a big responsibility for a lot of people

who are actually involved in AI.

And they have to be innovative in everything.

They do in a place where it’s central now to the output.

Well, you know, Google’s in a position

where they’re so far ahead of everyone else

that they can kind of sit back and let everybody else shoot

their shot and then do whatever it

is they were going to do anyway after everyone else has

expended their ammo.

But either way, whatever Bing did didn’t do enough.

I mean, I’m sure the stakeholders there

who were quite annoyed with the predictions–

I’d love to see the predicted graph from last year going,

this is what’s stat counters going to show in Jan 2024.

You watch Alex Moss and Carolyn Shelby

will be talking about how, remember Google.

And now look, it didn’t happen, unfortunately.

But that’s another issue is Google.

We’ve been talking about the search generative experience,

the problems, the dramatic shift in results.

And then they produce content that explain

what they’re doing with AI.

But within that, it says, we’ll continue

to offer search generative experience in labs

as a testbed for bold new ideas.

And Ross Hudgens did spot this on X.

And he made the very good point that Google don’t just

write something quickly.

They choose their words and they choose them wisely.

You have to dissect everything they say.

Yeah, and this is one thing.

I mean, even the next sentence, which is,

our goal is to make AI helpful for everyone,

not just early adopters.

That’s interesting, because then that goes back to the circle

for search, highlight for search, multi-searches.

That’s mass adoption stuff, not SGE, in my opinion,

and clearly yours at the moment in its current state.

So maybe it won’t happen.

And if it does, they’ll take one element out

and then they’ll put it into the other core products.

There’s going to be a lot more–

there’s going to be a lot of changes.

I don’t think what we’re seeing now

is what we’re going to be seeing at the end of the year.

So I think there’s going to be a lot of fluctuation

and volatility in all of the result types

and the algorithms this year.

This year, I think, is going to be pivotal.

Yeah, I mean, everyone thought last year was fun.

We did the 2023 stuff a month ago.

That was a busy year.

You thought last year was fun.

Buckle up.


I can’t wait to do it already and see what happens.

But the last piece of AI news is Google using AI,

but not in the search results.

So you can breathe for a second.

They’ve actually put them in the Chrome browser.

Some people will be able to get it now.

I don’t know if it’s available for everyone.

I know I use Brave browser, so I’ve

got to wait a little bit for this.

But they’ve introduced three things.

The first is reorganizing and organizing your tab groups,

which may be good for me and the bump team amount of tabs

I’ve got open at the moment.

The second one, probably good for someone more creative,

but I don’t know.

I don’t think it’s groundbreaking personally.

But you can select a theme inside the browser

based on the search term and a color scheme, which

is cool if you’re into that.

The last one I really like, it helps

you write something, which is great for contact forums

and speaker submissions, things like that.

So any form that requires input and thought,

this is where it can help.

Or even if you just need help writing internal emails

or Slack messages, like I would sometimes

go over to ChatGP–

OK, wait.

Not me, a friend.

A friend would do this and say, ChatGPT,

how do I in HR compliant corporate speak say,

oh my god, are you dumb?

What are you doing?

And then it would spit back something that was much more

appropriate to say.

And I would say, oh good, OK, here, copy and paste.

But it’s great.

It’s helping us.

It is helping us.

And of course, it will collect your tone of voice.

And over a bit of time, it will be

able to master what you’re going to say anyway,

which is great.

So yeah, that’s all the AI news.

Lastly, WordPress news.

There wasn’t on that.

That’s how much it is at the tip of my tongue.

Yoast news, two very quick updates.

So the first one is last month, we

talked about how organization schema has been updated.

Whilst everything in the plugin is all correct and valid,

we’ve been doing a lot of testing.

We can tell you that in the next update of Yoast SEO Premium

and Local SEO, everything else in the organization

schema that was updated in late November

is going to be in this plugin.

And lastly, if your French or your audience is French,

you are in luck because we have improved

the accuracy of word complexity assessments

for the French language.

So instead of saying exclusive azeal,

give some other French thing that I’m not

qualified to tell you about or a human.

So I’m sure what it is is great.

It’s very bon, very, very bon.

And that is everything from Yoast.

Lastly, if you’re around in Taiwan, by any chance,

on the 7th of March, both you and I will be at WorkCamp Asia

along with more than a handful of Yoasters.

So if you are there, come check us out and say hi.

But as well as that, if anyone’s in Munich,

I’ll be attending SMX Munich.

And neither of us will be attending CloudFest,

but I know that there will be Yoasters there definitely.

I know Carol, with her very big purple hat,

will be there helping to organize stuff.

One thing that’s not on there, I will

be at PubCon March 4th–

PubCon is March 4th through 6th in Las Vegas.

So I will be there and then immediately jetting off

to Taipei for WordCamp Asia.


I’m annoyed I’m not going to PubCon myself,

but we can’t make them all.

You’re doing PubCon, I’m doing SMX.

It’s fine.

That’s what the world’s for and our location is, right?


And lastly, we’re on again in a few weeks,

on the 27th of February.

So you can join us then.

And I hope you have been informed well

in the last 53 minutes.

So Nynke, we’ve got questions.

I’m sure I’ve seen loads.

We got a lot of questions and a lot of upvotes as well.

So we have two really big upvoted questions,

but I think we should quickly explain one more thing,

because we got a few questions about the Google site update,

and it’s not quite sure which sites are affected.

So let me pop up.

I think we can be really short on that one,

but we had two questions on that one.

And you already answered this in chat,

but I’m not sure if everybody saw this.

So this is the question, Holly sent,

are these Google business sites?

We’re not talking about Google sites, right?

So maybe just a quick answer to which sites are affected.

I believe it is Google site–

websites made with Google business profile is what I see.

So the Google business profile websites

will be shut down is the way the news that I’m reading

describes it.

So a site address ending with or–

I’m not sure how to pronounce that–

those will be removed from the website field

on your business profile.

So the recommendation is that you

look for a reliable web hosting company that also allows

you to create a custom domain name for your new site

and then redirect to that new domain name.



We have an article on Bluehost, actually,

that talks about that and provides instructions.

Is it OK if I drop the link in here?


Done it already, Carolyn.

Oh, Alex is fast.

Alex is fast.


Thanks so much for that.

Let’s pick the most upvoted questions, the 28th upvote.

So this is something that a lot of people are thinking of.

The question is, what is the most important thing

we can do to optimize our images so we can ensure they are found

by voice and visual searches?

This was a topic that was read at the beginning of the update.


If you’ve got products, my advice is

to get one of those product lightbox things.

I think they only cost about 50 euros or something like that.

And take as many photos as you can.

Overdo it with the photos.

Your photos.

Don’t you stop photos.

Never stop photos.

Do it yourself.

If I had this mug, there’d be–

I like this mug now.

I’m going to use this every month.

You do the rotation.

I want to see every single angle, the underneath.

Open it up.

Look at the inside.

Even if you don’t think it’s helpful,

someone at some point in time will search randomly

for the bottom of that mug.

And they’ll find only you because you’re

the only person who’s done it.

So as many as possible that are, of course,

descriptive, plain background.

So it’s focusing on mainly the product you want to do.

I’m focusing mainly on a product kind of imagery.

But that’s the one thing that I connect to here.

But everything else, just be as descriptive.

Try to answer the question in the picture as much as you can.

I mean, Carolyn was saying a picture’s

worth 1,000 words.

And the task is to find the words inside the picture

and optimize for them.

For certain products, take a picture of the product

with a measuring tape against it with different dimensions

so that people can see how big it is.

You can put it next to a banana for scale.

There’s a lot of different things

you can do to make your pictures better than the stock photos

that are provided by the companies.

So maybe also do a quick search yourself

before you start taking those pictures.

What is available?

What can I add to that?

And what new perspective can I offer?

And then just fill in all of the data

around it that you have available to you to make sure

that you’re mentioning the brand name, the part number,

the color, the size, things like that.


Thanks for that.

So the second most up-for-the-question

is about focus in SEO.

So the question is, what should a mid-size business

focus on for SEO?

Is meta title, h1, et cetera,

still important this year?

Or should we focus more on answering the community


It’s definitely still important.

I mean, that’s table stakes, though.

You should have that done.

That’s not a thing that you have to constantly be tending to

because it’s somewhat set it and forget it.

Once you’ve done that, though, then you

want to go be involved in the communities

and make sure that you’re being helpful and answering questions

and referring people to helpful content

that you’ve got on your website.

And to add to that, maybe if we go back

to what we were talking in the trends earlier,

having good content structure to help with topical authority,

that’s another thing.

And making the chili pot content and not the cookie tray

content be detailed.

Helpful, but not too long at the same time.

As you can see, Google’s starter guide is getting halved.

So being helpful doesn’t mean being too detailed.


Do it both.

That’s probably also the answer, the short version.



I think we can do one more.

There’s one, again, about visualizing your products.

But what if you sell software?

Or what if you don’t have a visual appealing or even

visible product?

Maybe financial technology is one of the examples mentioned.

I don’t think those would spawn results because

of the nature of the product.

But you could still write articles where you’re discussing

top 10 ways to do x with this product,

or how to do alternatives to this particular product.

I think if you look at the questions

that people ask around that type of product

and answer those questions, I think that would

be a good way to do it.

I don’t think the image-based searches are necessarily

going to feature prominently in the results for products

that aren’t physical and aren’t super visual.

Maybe demo content to see when thinking of purchasing maybe

a software platform, like how do I work with it?

I think they’re not maybe allowed to do–

some brands prevent you from doing screenshots.

So I think if you’re prevented from doing screenshots,

everyone’s prevented from doing screenshots.

So I think visual search just won’t

be as big of a feature in the results for those types

of products.

OK, cool.

Let me see if we can do one quick one still.

You’ve got to have an encore question.


I think we had some questions about the cookie update,

the third-party cookie update.

Some people worry what kind of websites

will be affected.

I think we had one, but I wasn’t sure,

about online certification programs, but also one

that refers to leave a review.

Can we say anything about those websites

might be impacted with third-party cookie laws


I don’t think so, because they’re more of embeds.

They’re not tracking you around the internet.

After you make a review, I would like to think.

So it’s not like TripAdvisor is going to follow you around,

because you made a review about some restaurant.

But they will have other retargeting stuff going on

that they’re not going to be allowed to do,

so they’ve got their own challenges.

But from review sites, I mean, that to me

is kind of a perspective site.

So if anything, I wouldn’t worry about reviews or review sites

getting deranked or penalized in any way,

or just not ranking as well, because they’re still

going to be helpful, in part the firsthand experience.

I think it’s less affecting rankings

and more affecting tracking and advertisements.

So it’s not necessarily an SEO issue.

It’s more of a paid–

Yeah, so if that’s your business model getting revenue

from referrals or whatever, you might be impacted, no matter,

maybe the content of your site.

OK, cool.

We’re at two minutes past time, so I

think we should close off here.

Alex, Caroline, thanks for another great update.

I think we were packed with AI updates and really helpful

Google updates.

So thanks for that.

All the people joining today, thanks for joining.

Thanks for being here.

We’re super excited to see you again in February

and see what that month brings in SEO updates.

So see you then, and happy optimizing for now.

Topics & sources

SEO news

AI 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.