With 2023 behind us, businesses must evaluate the impacts of Google's major updates this past year and overhaul their digital marketing strategies to maintain visibility and drive conversions in an increasingly competitive landscape. With organic reach facing volatility, companies that don't audit their web presence may be at risk of vanishing into obscurity.
This article analyzes the critical Google updates in 2023 that impacted website visibility. It provides recommendations across critical areas—from improving website content to leveraging analytics to allocating budgets for paid advertising.
Review Key Google Algorithm Updates for 2023
2023 saw several major algorithm updates from Google that could significantly impact business search rankings and website traffic. Below, you’ll find an overview of some of the most notable updates.
March Core Update: This relatively broad core update was rolled out over several weeks in March. As with previous core updates, Google adjusted its search results algorithms to surface more relevant, helpful, and authoritative content. If you saw declines in organic traffic or rankings around this time, it likely means that Google determined your content was not meeting these standards—or, at least, not meeting these standards as well as your competitor's content.
To recover, focus on improving the quality, depth, and expertise demonstrated in your content.
August Core Update: Similar to the March update, this core update was aimed at promoting better overall search quality and relevance in results. Ranking and traffic declines indicate content issues to address, like low E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness), thin content that is lacking in depth and usefulness, or issues with site architecture and internal linking.
Boosting your expertise and authority across your content may help improve your rankings.
September Helpful Content Update: This update specifically focused on enhancing "helpful content" parameters across searcher intents from informational to commercial. Ranking declines suggest your content may need more actionability, addressing intent, expertise, and user value.
October Core Update: Occurring over several weeks in October, this update also targeted content relevancy and expertise. Ranking drop-offs during this period are a good signal to audit your content for proper expertise, uniqueness, value added for users, and real-world authoritative sourcing.
Adding more robust attribution, depth, and insight can improve how Google views your content quality.
October Spam Update: In October, Google also rolled out a spam update designed to lower overly promotional, low-quality, manipulative, or misleading content in results. Ranking hits likely signal issues with over-optimization, thin content created specifically for ranking potential, shady link-building tactics, or unfair attempts to manipulate search algorithms.
Avoid spammy strategies and focus on developing genuinely helpful, expert resources instead.
November 2023 Core Update: The final core update of 2023 landed in November, aiming to elevate results with expert content from authoritative sources. As with previous updates, sites that dropped likely have opportunities to develop topical authority, showcase real-world expertise better, provide more value through original research and analysis, and structure sites for discoverability.
Monitoring these major updates and evaluating your content gaps can help inform SEO and content strategies to win back lost visibility.