Is Google Updating Its Search Engine Ranking Algorithms?

Gary Green
Gary Green
March 15, 2023

There have been rumours recently that Google would be updating its search engine ranking algorithms in the very near future. In recent weeks, more volatility has been observed in the SERPs, and this has pointed many people towards the idea that something might be going on behind the scenes at Google that is more than just the tail-end of December 22’s ongong helpful content and link spam updates. 

The helpful content update was first launched on 5th December 2022. Although Google reported that it should have been completed within a couple of weeks, several weeks after its purported end, it was still in progress. 

As for the link spam update, that was first launched on 14th December 2022, and again was meant to be completed within a couple of weeks but eventually overran due to the holiday period. The volatility in the SERPs could be something to do with these two updates as they come to their end, but they could also potentially indicate something more. 

An Unconfirmed Update

There was an unconfirmed Google search ranking algorithm update on 4th February 2023, and it has also been suggested that another update, again unconfirmed by Google, took place on the 8th and 9th February 2023. 

The reasoning behind the suspicions is that a number of ranking tools captured fluctuations in the SERPs, and several SEO experts reported major traffic movements in various industries. As if those fluctuations weren’t enough, on the 13th and 14th February, further volatility was noted, suggesting that Google is performing some kind of updates, even though they remain unconfirmed. 

How Should The Update Be Dealt With? 

Although Google hasn’t announced that an update was being rolled out to its search ranking algorithms, there’s no denying that there has been a lot of volatility in the SERPs. With no official Google guidelines to follow, it’s essential for individuals to take their own actions to deal with the situation. 

If you’ve noticed traffic fluctuations to your website, you should look closely at which pages are affected and the improve the quality to their content by taking care to ensure it’s helpful, well-written, and relevant. You should also check for any technical problems like slow load speeds and broken links that could be damaging your SEO. 

Google Update Predictions For 2023

It has been predicted by experts that Google will be trying to introduce updates in 2023 to cater for new consumer patterns and trends. These predictions include: 

Greater Volatility 

As we’ve already seen this year, volatility is set to be a trend, with Google continuously testing new algorithmic improvements and features. Updates appear to be rolling out in quick succession, and that is causing some significant volatility in the SERPs. 

Visual Search 

With younger users connecting more effectively with visual content, it’s not surprising that it has been predicted that Google will make improvements that emphasise visual search over its next few core updates. In 2021, Google already confirmed it would be working on some deals to allow indexing of TikTok and Instagram videos in its own search engine results, so this is sure to be an upcoming change in the near future. 

Zero Click Results And Featured Snippets

Experts believe that Google will be pulling out all the stops to improve its zero-click results and featured snippets features. These search results appear at the head of the SERPs, featuring information from webpages that Google believes is the best fit with the user’s search intent. 

At the moment, both are already dominating the search engine results, and both receive more clicks that anything else, so if you want to boost your chance of your content being featured like this, you need to use scheme markup in relevant locations across your website.

Entity Association 

Another likely update will be in the field of entity association. It seems that Google is already favouring pages that are optimised for entities and some experts in the field of SEO believe that very soon, entities are going to surpass all other ranking factors. While links remain important, they’re slowly becoming just another signal used by the algorithms to assess entities. That means entity-based optimisation will soon be far more effective than simply using traditional keywords.

Entity optimisation means using the ML algorithms that Google has in place to understand a web page’s content. Google defines an entity as a concept or thing that is unique, distinguishable, well-defined, and singular. 

Google uses machine learning to understand any given pieces of content on a web page by identifying its most relevant entities then linking them to the other data that is already held by Google on that subject. Keywords are classified as entities which are linked together, and entities have allowed Google to gain a better understanding of accurate user intent.

For this reason, a main keyword will no longer be the primary focus on any piece of content. Rather, marketers must understand all of the entities on their website and identify their relationships with each other in order to boost their chances of receiving the highest ranking in the search engine results. 

Staying On Top Of Google Updates

When it comes to SEO, the only thing that remains constant is change. Google algorithm updates take place on a regular basis, with some people saying that it occurs every single day. With that in mind, it isn’t too surprising that we’re observing such volatility at the moment. Rest assured, though, that only major updates have a significant impact on businesses and their SEO, and as long as you stay on top of your content and website, you should be able to weather the storms effectively. 

As long as you dedicate the time and effort to ensuring your content is relevant, helpful, well-written, and engaging, and that your site is mobile-friendly, quick to load, and easy to navigate, you shouldn’t see too many changes in your search engine ranking, at least until the next major update that Google rolls out.

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