Since AI tools like ChatGPT emerged early this year, digital marketing has seen increasingly rapid innovation. The dizzying pace can make it challenging for even SEO veterans to stay on top of the latest news.
Whether you’re in the midst of launching your new eCommerce site or pivoting your content strategy to better align with Google’s latest guidance, your plate is always full, making it difficult to keep up with the most recent SEO updates.
We’ve got you covered.
If you’re not up to date on last month’s industry news, take a look at our review of April 2023 SEO updates.
After you’ve caught up, it’s time to dive into this month’s latest digital marketing and SEO updates. Whether you’re interested in core web vitals, the big takeaways from Google I/O 2023, how AI is poised to alter the future of search, or anything else, this roundup hits all of the important stories.
As the rate of technological advancement continues to increase, we’re seeing new and potentially life-changing tools released more frequently. Because these tools are so powerful, it’s widely agreed that there’s a need for some form of regulation and oversight.
Let’s face it: Across much of the world, and especially in the United States, legislative bodies and regulatory agencies have historically missed the boat.
This was true when the internet became publicly accessible over three decades ago and when users first flocked to social media, so there’s considerable apprehension that governments and leaders may be too slow to act.
Among those urging lawmakers to establish parameters for AI developers is none other than Sam Altman, the head of OpenAI, who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 16. Unlike the recent testy exchanges between members of Congress and CEOs of social platforms, Altman’s hearing was fairly straightforward.
Overall, Altman was open about the dangers of AI, including what he termed “one-on-one interactive disinformation,” and said Congress would be prudent to get out front with rules and guidelines, especially ahead of the 2024 general election.
What does all this mean for digital marketers? We’re still firmly in the “wait-and-see” phase regarding AI regulations. What might they look like? Lawmakers could use AI-focused elements of the EU’s GDPR as a jumping-off point, but it’s unlikely they’d stop there. As for when we might see them, don’t hold your breath.
In the meantime, expect AI to change the way we search, shop, and discover before any oversight takes effect.
It’s a foregone conclusion that AI will shake the foundations of the internet. The biggest question is: Which company will be first across the finish line?
A year ago, had someone told you that Bing Search would be the first search engine to realize the full potential of AI, you’d have been well within your rights to chuckle at the idea. But if we’ve learned anything about the AI race in 2023, it’s that Microsoft—thanks to its partnership with OpenAI—is leading the pack.
Google, meanwhile, evidently has considerable catching up to do, despite controlling roughly 90% of the global search engine market. Just when we thought the search giant had enough problems, a leaked memo outlines an even more dire situation for Google.
“Plainly put, they are lapping us,” the memo’s unnamed author wrote, referring to open-source AI development that is reportedly leaps and bounds ahead of Google’s work.
“Things we consider ‘major open problems’ are solved and in people’s hands today,” the author wrote. “[Open-source developers] are doing things with $100 and 13B params that we struggle with at $10M and 540B. And they are doing so in weeks, not months.”
Based on the memo’s characterization of the current state of play, open-source developers are waging guerilla warfare, using their nimbleness to iterate overnight while Google’s teams are bogged down by processes.
Ultimately, the memo’s author proposes that Google “establish itself as a leader in the open-source community, taking the lead by cooperating with, rather than ignoring, the broader conversation.”
The course Google chooses to chart remains to be seen. But digital marketers should keep in mind one question posed by the memo’s author: “Who would pay for a Google product with usage restrictions if there is a free, high-quality alternative without them?”
If you’re doubtful of AI’s prospects, consider digging a little deeper. Generative AI is going to transform search everywhere, including your favorite shopping sites.
In fact, Amazon is working to build a team dedicated to adding conversational, AI-powered tools to the online store’s search experience.
The company is undertaking an “AI-first initiative to re-architect and reinvent the way we do search through the use of extremely large scale next-generation deep learning techniques,” according to reporting from Bloomberg.
Additionally, Amazon advertisers could soon be able to incorporate AI-generated visuals in their campaigns.
When (not if) AI comes to Amazon’s search tool, it’ll be a game-changer on pace with the new Bing and Google’s upcoming Search Generative Experience (SGE).
That means advertisers will need to pay close attention to how AI alters the product discovery process for Amazon shoppers. Stay tuned, and we’ll keep you updated as Amazon evolves.
Google’s SGE was just one of the many reveals, announcements, and product launches from Google I/O 2023.
The biggest takeaway is something that was already all but confirmed: Generative AI will soon enhance Google Search and Workspace surfaces.
While we can all appreciate the utility of AI generator tools from a user perspective, as marketers, we need to know how AI results will change SERP layouts, impact rankings, and affect brand visibility.
Concerns about the arrival of AI don’t end with organic search, either. Many expect repercussions on the PPC side as well. But at Google I/O 2023, we learned that the new SGE will preserve dedicated Search ad space at the top of the page and elsewhere on SERPs.
While ad space may largely remain the same in search results, we won’t see ads in the new Perspectives filter, which will show up at the top of some results pages based on the query.
This new filter will give searchers “long- and short-form videos, images, and written posts that people have shared on discussion boards, Q&A sites, and social media platforms,” according to Google’s announcement.
What does that mean? It’s another way Google is trying to supply direct answers and solutions based on search intent while minimizing or even eliminating user navigation.
A shorter path to answers delivers more value to searchers but could hurt CTRs and conversions for sites that aren’t publishing the type of content Google wants to rank.
For this reason, creating high-quality content in accordance with Google’s Helpful Content Update is critical to driving digital growth in 2023 and beyond.
In fact, Google is investing even further in its helpful content system, teasing a new update set to roll out within the next several months.
As it stands, the helpful content system is designed to elevate content written by people, for people, to the top of SERPS. That means pieces like home improvement how-to guides or hiking safety tips that follow Google’s E-E-A-T and provide real value to readers should rank highly, while clickbait and thin content will ideally fall to the very bottom of the barrel.
If black-hat SEOs had any hope of longevity back at the end of 2022, the December Helpful Content Update was, for many, the final nail in the coffin. Google wants to expand on this effort with the impending update.
In announcing the update, the company said it will increase the “focus on content with unique expertise and experience” with the new update, which “more deeply understands content created from a personal or expert point of view, allowing us to rank more of this useful information in Search.”
Bottom line: Create and publish helpful, people-first content that demonstrates experience, leverages first-person expertise, and delivers a satisfying read. There’s no simpler way to enjoy organic search success.
At the beginning of May, there was considerable chatter regarding an unconfirmed Google Search ranking algorithm update.
Webmasters reported dips in traffic and pronounced volatility in the first few days of the month, spurring speculation of a potential algorithm update. Whether these fluctuations were the result of an update remains unclear.
However, there was also talk of reduced cross-site tracking potentially contributing to declining metrics in GA4. While we may be headed toward a cookie-less future, thus far, the transition away from 3P tracking has been gradual, making it unlikely this was the cause of the acute dip many site owners reported in early May.
Without any official announcement, the cause of the turbulence is open to interpretation. However, in the long run, the best way to avoid traffic upheavals is to strategically and consistently increase your site’s focus on publishing helpful content.
There’s no mystery here.
Google has published explicit guidelines for creating content the search engine wants to rank highly. Ignore these rules at your own peril.
Google will soon add a new term to its lexicon of core web vitals: Interaction to Next Paint (INP).
It isn’t set to replace First Input Delay (FID) until March 2024, but the company announced INP has been elevated from experimental to pending status. Over the next 10 months, Google will “give the ecosystem time to adjust” before officially making INP a stable metric.
While FID was a prime factor in evaluating page UX and responsiveness by measuring the time it took an interactive site element to become responsive, FID was an incomplete metric since it didn’t measure the time it took for the website to react to user interactions.
INP, on the other hand, “observes the latency of all interactions a user has made with the page, and reports a single value which all (or nearly all) interactions were below,” Google says.
“A low INP means the page was consistently able to respond quickly to all—or the vast majority—of user interactions,” Google explains. “The goal of INP is to ensure the time from when a user initiates an interaction until the next frame is painted is as short as possible, for all or most interactions the user makes.”
Remember, your PPC campaigns and organic search optimization work are part of a larger puzzle, which includes technical SEO. Publish all the quality content you want, but if your site offers a poor UX as measured by core web vitals, Google is less likely to push you to the top of the SERPs.
This goes to show that technical SEO is crucial to your company’s digital growth, so instead of muddling through on your own and hoping for the best, you’ll get the best results by partnering with an ROI-focused digital marketing agency that excels in technical SEO and development.
On May 11, Meta introduced its new AI Sandbox: a “testing playground” for emerging tools, including generative AI-powered ad features.
The first AI contributions are text variation to give advertisers different options for ad copy, background generation for more diverse creative assets based on text inputs, and image outcropping to fit varying aspect ratios across Meta surfaces while saving advertisers time.
A small group of advertisers will provide feedback on these features, and Meta intends to expand access in July.
Meta Advantage—the company’s collection of AI- and ML-powered products designed to enhance campaigns—is also set for augmentation. The company says Meta Advantage has seen the number of advertisers using Advantage+ shopping campaigns on a weekly basis triple in the past 6 months.
New features will let advertisers use video creatives in catalog ads, compare manual sales campaigns to Advantage+ campaigns, boost performance with Advantage+ audiences, and switch manual campaigns to Advantage+ with a single click.
Meta is also incorporating bigger, more complex AI modeling in its ads systems, with more of its annual infrastructure investment dedicated to expanding its AI capacity.
Since Microsoft’s Q1 launch of the new AI-powered Bing search engine and Edge browser, the latest version of Bing has seen daily downloads increase eightfold.
The company, seeing this spike in adoption as validation of its efforts to reinvent Bing as a portable AI assistant, doubled down, announcing new mobile-first experiences for its search engine and browser in May.
A chat widget is coming to the Bing app, allowing users to go from their home screens directly to the new Bing Chat experience. Users will also be able to ask questions verbally. Bing’s AI has also expanded to Skype, letting users take advantage of the new Bing in all group chats.
In addition, cross-platform conversationality allows users to start a chat on mobile and continue it on their desktop and vice-versa.
You’ll also be able to query Edge about page content thanks to the browser’s new context-aware chat.
It’s clear that Microsoft wants to increase its lead over Google in the AI race, fully aware that Google is downshifting and hitting the gas in an effort to catch up.
Thanks to OpenAI and ChatGPT, Microsoft finds itself at the forefront of the AI revolution. Digital marketers will want to familiarize themselves with the new Bing to get an idea of how AI is changing the way users ask, search, and discover.
We’ll likely see significant SEO updates as a result of this paradigm shift, and it’s only prudent to closely monitor this evolution as it progresses.
WordStream, from LocaliQ, released a new 2023 search advertising benchmark report in May, showing a year-over-year decline in conversions from paid search ads across virtually every industry.
Despite this decline, CPLs have increased across the board. In fact, WordStream reports that some 91% of industries saw a higher CPL in tandem with a lower conversion rate.
However, CTRs increased year-over-year for 22 out of 24 industries included in the report. So is this report largely reflective of changes brought about by Google’s December 2022 Helpful Content Update? LocaliQ’s director of content and SEO seems to think so.
“We’ve continued to see ads served for less commercial, more informational queries. This could lead to advertisers getting higher CTRs but lower conversion rates because some of those searchers don’t have conversion intent,” Elisa Gabbert said.
“For example, you’ll see multiple ads for a low-intent query like ‘marketing ideas,’” Gabbert continued. “Especially on a SERP where the paid and organic results look almost exactly the same, you’re going to see high ad CTRs due to placement but low conversion rates because most of this audience just wants fast and free information.”
One could argue that this is exactly the audience Google is targeting with its helpful content system, new Perspectives filter, and AI-generated answers.
On the other hand, there’s something to be said for properly managed paid search campaigns. Google Ads is so popular in part due to its accessibility, but setting up an account doesn’t immediately bestow the tactical expertise and insights key to efficient, successful PPC work.
If you’re serious about capturing more traffic through paid search—or, for that matter, through all-important organic SEO—you’re going to get the most out of your digital marketing spend by partnering with a trusted team of experts.
From Meta’s latest AI tools to new core web vitals and fluctuations in paid search campaign results, navigating the ever-expanding world of digital marketing isn’t easy. That’s why we’re here to help.
VELOX is an award-winning digital marketing agency specializing in organic and paid search marketing campaigns. We closely track every new digital marketing and SEO update to ensure we’re ahead of the curve and continue delivering results for our clients.
Contact VELOX today and see how our potent blend of research, cutting-edge techniques, and tailored strategies can take your brand to the next level.