The Latest SEO Developments – October 2023

The Latest SEO Developments October 2023

There are some exciting new trends shaping search marketing right now that I wanted to share. 

1. The Rise of Generative AI Tools for SEO

One massive shift I’ve noticed recently is the emergence of new artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT for SEO and content creation. As someone who has hand-crafted blog posts for years, I have mixed feelings about these AI content generators. There’s no doubt they can be helpful for drafting initial content, especially for repetitive site areas. But I worry too many will use AI as a crutch rather than a tool.

From my experience optimising content, I know high-value content requires human insight and research. ChatGPT can’t replace that. My advice is to approach AI tools strategically – use them to scale but not replace thoughtful optimisation. The key is balancing quality and efficiency. But I do think AI will significantly impact content marketing and SEO workflows looking ahead.

Benefits and Limitations I See in Using AI for SEO

Based on my early experiments with ChatGPT for clients’ sites, some benefits I see AI offering include:

  • Increased efficiency – Being able to create draft content far faster is incredibly useful, especially for sites with lots of pages.
  • Data analysis – AI tools can process piles of data to identify patterns and opportunities impossible for a human to spot.
  • 24/7 availability – Having an SEO assistant working while I sleep has appeal I can’t deny!

However, from my experience, the limitations to keep in mind are:

  • Potential for low-quality content – If used sloppily, AI can churn out duplicate, unoriginal content.
  • Lack of strategic thinking – AI tools can’t replace the human guidance needed for bespoke strategies.
  • Bias potential – I worry training data could lead to recommendations that are biased.

For now, I still believe SEO requires a blend of human creativity and AI’s scale. But generative AI promises to transform how we work in exciting ways. I can’t wait to see where this technology goes next.

2. Google’s 2023 Core Algorithm Update

As someone quite familiar with Google’s past algorithm updates, their 2023 broad core update stood out to me. Unlike previous updates tackling spam, this one aims to fundamentally improve search quality. Based on the rollout, I believe Google wants to better satisfy searcher intent with helpful, authoritative content.

From monitoring my regional SEO clients’ site traffic, I observed some changes that reinforce Google is rewarding in-depth expertise. For example, a law firm client benefited while a plumber relying on thin service pages dropped. This matches Google’s stated goals around “E-E-A-T” quality signals.

My key takeaways for adapting to this update include:

  • Expand author bios and credentials to highlight expertise. Google wants to see qualifications.
  • Add more multimedia content to demonstrate depth and improve engagement.
  • Interview subject matter experts to incorporate authentic perspectives.
  • Optimise pages for maximum skimmability and scannability.

Producing higher quality, satisfying content for searchers aligns with my values anyway as an SEO. So I view Google’s core update as a step in the right direction overall, even if it requires some adjustments.

3. The Shift to Matching Searcher Intent Through Precise Queries

I’ve witnessed an accelerating shift from generic keywords to precisely matching searcher intent. My analytics reveal visitors arriving on my site from long-tail questions like:

  • “what are the best SEO techniques”
  • “how to learn SEO from home”
  • “difference between SEO and PPC”

Rather than targeting broad topics, I now optimise pages to answer specific questions. This approach helps visitors find solutions faster, which benefits my SEO clients.

Accommodating voice search queries has been another part of matching intent. I advise my clients on tactics like using conversational question-led titles. With voice usage growing, I know voice SEO optimization will only increase in importance going forward.

Overall, the days of optimising pages for generic “SEO” keywords feel antiquated. Matching the details of search intent through precise terms offers big wins – and it’s a shift I wholeheartedly embrace.

This won’t completely sway my team and I from writing longer more in depth pieces as these really can drive a lot of traffic, but in terms of Q&A, a simple and effective response often is all that is needed.

4. Voice Search Requires SEO Adaptation

As an SEO expert with over 15 years experience, I’ve seen search engine results pages transform dramatically with the rise of voice assistants like Alexa. Voice search has forced me to rethink aspects of on-site and off-site optimisation.

Based on my experiments optimising for voice, some of the key differences I’ve noticed from standard text search include:

  • Longer queries – Voice searches are often spoken questions rather than just a few keywords.
  • Local intent – People frequently use voice search to find local businesses and services near them.
  • Conversational format – Spoken queries have a more natural flow using question words like “who” and “where.”

Adapting SEO for voice has led me to focus on tactics like:

  • Creating questions-led page titles and headers.
  • Optimising for featured snippets to answer common queries.
  • Targeting local voice phrases by location.
  • Building FAQ and how-to schema markup.

Monitoring voice search results has also become part of my standard SEO audits. With voice usage growing exponentially year after year, I know voice search optimization is now mandatory for visibility.

5. The Evolution of Google’s E-A-T Framework

As an SEO professional, I’ve followed Google’s E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness) framework for years as a guide to quality. But with their latest guidelines, Google has raised the bar by evolving the framework to E-E-A-T.

That additional “E” stands for real-world experience. Google now wants to see evidence of firsthand experience and knowledge.

For my own site and clients I manage SEO for, some ways I’m accounting for this include:

  • Detailing my experience doing SEO for over a decade in my bio and about page.
  • Highlighting client case studies that demonstrate hands-on experience.
  • Incorporating more personal examples based on my time in this industry.
  • Getting client testimonials to showcase others’ positive experiences.

Optimising for expertise through demonstrated experience seems fully aligned with wanting the best results for searchers. So for me, these principles simply reinforce the value of thoughtful, trustworthy content from seasoned practitioners. And that’s what I aim to deliver to visitors of my site.

6. The Push Toward More Conversion-Focused SEO

As an SEO consultant who depends on delivering tangible ROI to clients, I’ve noticed SEO evolving from a purely traffic-focused practice to a conversion-driven one. Beyond rankings, the ability to guide visitors to take desired actions is now imperative.

Some shifts I’ve made over the years toward conversion-oriented SEO include:

  • Crafting dedicated landing pages to send traffic toward, rather than generic homepages.
  • Obsessing over site speed after seeing the hard correlation between slow load times and high bounce rates.
  • A/B testing different title formulas to maximise click-through-rate from SERPs.
  • Analysing user flows to identify and fix points leading to abandonment.
  • Setting up goals and events tracking so I can monitor conversions achieved.

While juggling technical metrics and conversion numbers brings added complexity, I’ve found this approach allows me to fully optimise for the visitor while benefiting business KPIs too. My ability to deliver ROI for clients depends on this conversion focus.

7. Tighter Integration Between SEO and User Experience

In the past, SEO and UX felt siloed, with limited connection between the two. But enhancing user experience now intrinsically lifts organic search performance.

Some of the tactics I’ve implemented that benefit UX and SEO together include:

  • Optimising page speed and performance to reduce bounce rates. Google definitely values engagement metrics.
  • Making key content visible above the fold so visitors see it immediately.
  • Simplifying navigation with clarifying headers and sitemaps to help visitors easily find what they need.
  • Removing annoying popups and other distractions to allow focus on my content.
  • Responsive design so my site’s easily accessible from any device. Google factors mobile friendliness heavily.

The data has proven to me time and again that optimising for satisfied visitors and search engines go hand-in-hand. I now consider UX improvement integral to successful SEO.

8. Leveraging Google Trends for Keyword Opportunities

As an experienced SEO analyst, I often use Google Trends for researching target keywords and topics. The charts it generates have been invaluable for identifying seasonal spikes and dips to guide content.

Chester Christmas Market trend

For example, by analysing Google Trends, I learned searches around “Chester Christmas market” surge before Christmas each year. Using this insight for a client, we created related content and saw significant organic traffic as a result.

The ability to filter Google Trends data by location and demographics has also been hugely beneficial for tailoring my local SEO content strategies. Overall, I see Google Trends as one of the most useful free tools in my SEO toolkit. The capabilities for unlocking search insights are invaluable.

9. My Predictions for How AI Will Shape Search Algorithms

As an SEO professional who has seen many Google algorithm updates over the years, the rise of AI like ChatGPT promises to have profound effects on search. Based on my knowledge and experience in this industry, here are some potential impacts I foresee:

  • A shift to semantic search – I believe Google will advance its natural language comprehension skills to go beyond surface keywords and better evaluate content quality and depth like a human.
  • Increased emphasis on expertise signals – With AI making author identity murky, credentials and real-world experience will likely grow in importance for establishing E-E-A-T authority.
  • Fighting back against AI-generated content farms – Google will develop capabilities to detect and demote low-value, automatically generated pages churned out solely for SEO.
  • Combating new avenues of AI-enabled spam – As AI systems grow more advanced, new spam tactics will emerge which Google will race to combat.
  • Changes to linking factors – The meaning of backlinks and other endorsement signals may shift as AI allows fast, large-scale automated link building.

These changes will certainly bring new turbulence and uncertainty all SEOs must navigate. But by focusing on thoughtful, optimised content that satisfies searchers, I believe we can stay ahead of the curve.

10. Remembering the Core Principles of Effective SEO

With exciting new trends emerging in SEO all the time, it’s easy to overlook the core best practices that still provide the foundation for search success. Based on my decade-plus of experience doing SEO for small businesses and national brands alike, some evergreen principles I stand by include:

  • Keyword research – Identifying low competition keywords aligned with search intent remains crucial for unlocking traffic potential. No amount of optimization can replace targeting keywords people actually search for.
  • Technical SEO – Creating a fast, mobile-friendly site architecture with effective internal linking facilitates everything else.
  • Crafting compelling titles & meta data – Optimised titles and descriptions that entice searchers to click is essential for visibility. This hasn’t changed for 20 years!
  • Content quality – At the end of the day, insightful, useful content that answers search intents will achieve the best results and user satisfaction over any gimmicks or shortcuts.

While new ranking factors and algorithm updates deserve attention, sticking to the core principles of on-page optimization, content creation, and technical SEO provides the surest path to sustainable SEO success in my experience.

Key Takeaways on the Future of SEO

To wrap up, here are the key conclusions I want to leave readers with based on the latest SEO trends:

  • With its 2023 update, Google has made clear long-term success will require high-quality content and expertise. Easy shortcuts won’t last.
  • Precisely matching searcher intent will only grow in importance, whether through long-tail queries or voice search.
  • Leveraging AI for efficiencies makes sense but human guidance is still crucial for strategy.
  • Mastering core SEO fundamentals while staying agile remains the surest path to search visibility.

If you have any questions about these ongoing SEO developments, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. I’m always happy to offer my insight based on real-world optimization experience.

I am based in Wirral, near Chester but can work with you no matter where you are in the world.

SEO Specialist at Graham SEO
Graham McCormack is a technical SEO and organic website traffic growth specialist based in Wirral, UK with more than 10 years experience in the industry.
Graham McCormack
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