Another festive season down and a new year full of potential ahead! But before we get swept away with the SEO possibilities of a new year, let’s take a look at some of the key updates and trends that December brought in. 

The Link Spam Update Roll Out Began

Refining the process of identifying spam by seeking out buyers of spam links and sites used for passing low-quality outgoing links at scale, Google’s Link Spam is the first instance of Google using AI-based spam detection for link spam purposes. The December update will see spam links “neutralised”, sending a very clear message that there is no value for UK brands in purchasing spammy links. 

Helpful Content Update 

Cracking down on low-quality competitive content published to rank well in search engines with no real informational merit, the helpful content update builds on the initial version of the system launched back in August 2022. The new update is expanded to include all languages globally, rather than focusing solely on English content. 

For those websites that have put in the work to maximise the quality of content since the August launch, this December update could result in a climb in rankings, which may be spurred on as sites improve content to recover from any residual impact of the November core algorithm update

From Personal Experience 

Google’s E-A-T guidelines welcomed a newcomer this month, becoming E-E-A-T: Experience, Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness. So what does the addition of ‘experience’ to this guideline mean for content creators? 

Google’s updated search quality rater guidelines say:

“Consider the extent to which the content creator has the necessary first-hand or life experience for the topic. Many types of pages are trustworthy and achieve their purpose well when created by people with a wealth of personal experience. For example, which would you trust: a product review from someone who has personally used the product or a “review” by someone who has not?”

This update to the quality rating guidelines also sought to more clearly establish what is meant by all standards of E-E-A-T; explaining how the reputation of both website and content creators is evaluated, and what it means for content to be harmful. 

What Does 2023 Have In Store? 

The one to watch as we head into the new year is certainly the growing presence of AI in the content creation scene. From AI art generators that are indistinguishable from man-made art to the AI text generators writing Christmas card messages that were sure to have mum welling up, the AI scene is bursting with new potential and potential problems.

Chat GPT was introduced at the end of November and made waves as it creates high-quality copy, meta data, and even has a go at writing poetry. Chat GPT could offer a huge opportunity to refine SEO processes like keyword research, grammar, and spelling checks, and may even be able to support the creation of valuable content. 

Important to remember, however, that there obvious drawbacks to handing the whole workload to AI bots. With the Helpful Content Update, Google is cracking down on AI-generated content, so those thinking of kicking back and leaving all the work to the bots may quickly find their performance take a beating. 

With so many AI advancements coming to public availability in the last six months alone, it will be interesting to see what 2023 has in store for AI tools and how Google mitigates the potential problems it creates.