Content & Link Building Updates From Google – December 2022
As the new year approaches, you would think that things start to ‘wrap’ up but Google continues to bring the festive cheer with several more algorithm updates across December! Much like a poorly wrapped present from me, it can take some time to get to the centre of what’s on offer but we are here to break down what these changes could mean for you.
Pull up a chair, grab a mince pie and pour a glass of your favourite, festive tipple as we take you through a summary of what the Elves over at Google have been hard at work on over the last few months!
A Helpful Content Update… Update
Since August, Google has been working on its helpful content system, however, it is clear that they have been tinkering and tweaking as a new update rolled out at the start of December (starting on the 5th to be precise). These things take about two weeks to fully roll out so if you are seeing changes in your traffic over this month, this may well be the reason why.
Although it is always difficult to quantify the change, there are a few things we can learn from this update. You can read Google’s update about the August 2022 update but essentially the aim is to make the search engine smarter at identifying content that works for humans and not for search engines. Often, when SEO is mentioned, it’s easy to fall into the mindset of ‘well Google would like this’ or ‘Google prioritises that’ when in fact, the priority should be ‘a user would like this’ or ‘a user prioritises that’. The focus of these updates is to make sure that there is helpful content that is human friendly. By making Google understand what is helpful to a human, it can prioritise content that is human friendly and therefore present the most helpful content. Get it?
It is important to think of your content as human-first and not ‘search engine first’ content. Ultimately, the aim is to provide a purpose or an answer to a question or problem posed by a human so it makes sense to make sure that the best, most helpful content is equally relevant to a human being. Google wants to ensure that we are writing content for the humans that use the site and not just with SERP rankings in mind. Make sure that when you are writing content in 2023 you keep this in mind; write for the human not the search engine!
A second, very important, point to take from this is that this is no longer limited to the English language. This update is rolling out across multiple languages meaning that the quality and usefulness of content is no longer limited to just English. This is a great step in raising the quality of content online as Google is looking to make sure that content is useful to everyone, not just those who can read English.
E.E.A.T – A New Holiday Experience
For those of you who attended my Digital Skills Workshop, you’ll know that I harped on a lot about E.A.T (which stands for Expertise, Authority and Trust) and how important it is in optimising your content. Exactly two weeks later, Google made my slides redundant by adding an extra E, making the overall acronym E.E.A.T, with the new E standing for Experience. And for those of you wondering, the current consensus is that they added the first E not the second E.
So now, on top of proving you have the expertise in the way you deliver the content, the authority to explain the subject and the trustworthiness to be believed in what you say, you also need to demonstrate your experience in this topic. Although adding more aspects to consider can feel frustrating, the addition to the acronym actually makes complete sense. In a step to show that you, as an author or business, have the experience to talk about your chosen topic is a crucial one because, as human beings, we often seek this clarification ourselves. We are more likely to binge a series if someone who has seen it has recommended it for example so Google is taking this vote of confidence and applying it to its algorithm. Building on what was mentioned in the Helpful Content Update, the idea is to emulate that human vote of confidence that the content is relevant to them and written by someone who has experience in this field.
What does this mean, I hear you ask. This means that authorship of the content is paramount because it will associate that person with the quality and trustworthiness of the copy. For example, Google will look at this article and potentially understand that I work for an agency that deals with SEO so I tackle these challenges on a daily basis therefore I have some experience within the topic of Google algorithms. It can glean this from my association with Sleeping Giant Media and potentially even from associating me with my LinkedIn profile. Adding structured data to your articles to reinforce this will help prove this experience further – by telling Google who you are as an author and demonstrating your credentials, you further improve the E.E.A.T of the content you write.
SpamBrain – He’s Making A List And Checking It Twice
Last up, and moving away from content quality, we get to the December Link Spam update. Although sounding like some C list villain or someone who eats far too much tinned meat, SpamBrain is actually the AI powered spam prevention system that Google utilises to understand the value of inbound links as well as highlighting any naughty backlinking tactics like buying links.
Although its overall impact is largely unclear, as you can see in their update, it does go to show that Google are doubling down on neutralising any artificial or unnatural buying tactics and are emphasising healthy, proactive link building exercises. Much like the Helpful Content update, it is also rolling out across languages other than English meaning that the impact of this could well be felt globally.
What Do These Mean For Me?
This is a hard question to answer and for some of you, it may mean nothing at all whereas others may be impacted significantly by these changes. As these roll out over December, you can expect to see some ranking changes as both the SpamBrain and the E.E.A.T begin to settle so it will be worth taking the time to dig in to understand what has been impacted and which update could have had a hand in it. If you need some New Year’s Resolutions for your SEO in 2023, remember these:
- Write content that is human first, not search engine first.
- Avoid any black hat tactics like buying links as Google is cracking down on these.
- E stands for Experience. Prove your experience as an author and by doing so, you will add value to your content.
If you do see any significant changes in your traffic we recommend reviewing your data analysis tools (GSC and Google Analytics could be the first port of call) to dig into what has happened and then make sure your SEO New Year’s Resolutions seek to remedy some of these. And of course, if you are struggling or need any help, feel free to reach out to us where our experts will be happy to lend a hand!