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January 3, 2024

5 SEO and Digital Marketing Updates From December 2023

Overall, 2023 was a transformative year for SEO, digital marketing, and technology, and that trend continued all the way through December. 

Keeping up with the latest industry news can feel time-consuming, but it’s a vital element of informing quality work. 

That’s why, to help you hit targets and conserve your valuable bandwidth, we collect the most essential updates and present them to you in a concise package every month. 

So, here it is: Our final monthly roundup of SEO and digital marketing updates for the calendar year. Here’s what you need to know from December 2023.

Google Introduces Its Gemini AI Model

Early 2023 saw ChatGPT explode in popularity and capability, heralding changes in workflows and capturing the attention of governments and regulatory agencies worldwide. Perhaps most significantly, GPT-4 put OpenAI and its partner, Microsoft, at the forefront of the AI revolution. 

As for Google, the question was not if but when the search giant would respond with its own release. In the wake of Bard’s public stumbling, there were mixed forecasts. 

But in December 2023, Google released Gemini: a state-of-the-art model that promises to be the company’s most capable AI model to date. 

The first version, Gemini 1.0, is available in three versions: 

  • Ultra: The most robust model designed for the most complex tasks
  • Pro: Suited for scaling across a wide variety of tasks
  • Nano: The most efficient model of Gemini aimed at on-device tasks.

Google says Gemini Ultra is the first model to outperform human experts on massive multitask language understanding, with a score of 90%. 

Gemini is natively multimodal, employing reasoning to help make sense of complex written and visual information. It’s also particularly adept at explaining reasoning in fields like mathematics and physics, the company said in its official announcement

When will we start using Gemini? A fine-tuned version of Gemini Pro has already joined Bard to advance reasoning, planning, and understanding. 

Gemini Nano will run on Pixel 8 Pro, and Gemini will be coming to Search, Ads, Chrome, and Duet AI within the next several months. In particular, Google is already experimenting with Gemini in Search, where the new model has significantly reduced latency and improved quality. 

It’s easy to get lost in all of the AI news over the past year, but the introduction of Gemini and its integration into Google’s primary products is worth following for digital marketers. Stay tuned. 

Microsoft Copilot Becomes Generally Available

Similarly, Microsoft kicked off the month of December by making Copilot—formerly known as Bing Chat and Bing Chat Enterprise—generally available. 

Copilot aims to be an everyday AI companion for everyone online. Microsoft says Copilot has already generated billions of prompts and responses, “helping people be more creative and productive in their lives.”

The company touts Copilot as offering access to powerful AI models, including OpenAI’s GPT-4, as well as current information with cited sources. This last detail could prove crucial, as we’ll discuss in the next section. 

“Copilot helps users tackle everyday tasks such as drafting an email, summarizing PDFs and articles, generating images with DALL-E 3, learning new skills, and getting answers to complex questions,” Microsoft said in its announcement. 

Microsoft is also encouraging organizations to adopt Copilot. But some may be reluctant to do so, and this next story from December 2023 is among the issues driving reticence surrounding AI. 

The New York Times Sues OpenAI

AI must be trained with enormous amounts of data and content. As with any emerging technology, the legal framework for development and implementation has yet to be finalized, resulting in a gray area. 

The New York Times is the first major media organization in the U.S. to sue OpenAI and Microsoft, alleging that they have not adequately navigated this gray area. 

Specifically, the publication claims the companies used millions of Times articles to train automated chatbots, and now those same chatbots are competing with the news outlet as a reliable source. 

The newspaper has been in talks with OpenAI and Microsoft since early 2023 to find what an OpenAI spokesperson called “a mutually beneficial way to work together,” but those talks have evidently stalled. The New York Times filed its lawsuit in the final week of 2023. 

The case isn’t the first of its kind and certainly won’t be the last. 

There’s been widespread concern this year over allegations that developers used IP to train their AI systems without compensation. 

Ultimately, copyright law will impact the pace of AI innovation and adoption in the U.S. 

Infringement isn’t the only issue at hand, either. There could be consequences if the U.S. falls behind in AI development, which has been characterized as the space race of the 21st century. 

November 2023 Reviews Update Completes Rollout

The final reviews update from Google finished rolling out in December, but that doesn’t mean the reviews system will remain unchanged from here on out. 

Instead, Google will simply make “regular and ongoing” updates to the reviews system, which has seen a total of eight updates since April 2021. 

The rollout took 29 days and impacted sites in English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Russian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Polish. 

To avoid traffic decreases, it’s essential that you ensure the published review content on your site aligns with Google’s best practices for writing high-quality reviews

Because the November reviews update rollout overlapped with a core update, evaluating site impacts proved challenging. 

Google Prepares to Test New Tracking Protection Feature

Google will be blocking third-party cookies in Chrome very soon. As a digital marketer, hopefully, you’ve had this monumental shift on your radar for some time now, and you’ve been working to prepare for it. 

Third-party cookies have long presented privacy concerns, and Google is years behind other companies in taking action to remove them. While it’s a positive step toward a safer, more private web, digital marketers will sorely miss the data these cookies yielded. 

Beginning January 4, 2024, Google will start testing Tracking Protection. This feature will restrict website access to third-party cookies in order to limit cross-site tracking, with the initial rollout impacting 1% of Chrome users worldwide. 

That 1% of users will be selected at random, and Google will notify them when they open Chrome. By the beginning of Q3, Google’s Privacy Sandbox Initiative aims to have phased out third-party cookies entirely. 

RELATED: What the Cookie-Less Future Looks Like for Advertisers

Achieve Sustained Search Engine Dominance with VELOX Media

The SEO and digital marketing landscape saw considerable volatility in 2023, and 2024 promises more of the same. Whether you’re intent on leveraging AI to edge out the competition or you need to chart a new course without third-party cookies, VELOX is the perfect partner.

As an ROI-focused digital marketing agency, VELOX fuses cutting-edge research, proven techniques, and the latest technology to help enterprises scale. Our PPC and SEO specialists put their expertise to work to maximize organic search visibility, market share, and new revenue to drive exponential growth. Don’t wait for the competition to write your industry’s next chapter. Contact VELOX today to see how we can take your marketing efforts to the next level in 2024.

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