Hello, and welcome back to The Overit SEO Brief! This Brief is for Q4 2022, and since we’re nearing the end of the year, we thought we’d cover some notes and updates since Q3, give you a few tips for end-of-the-year SEO reporting, and leave you with some predictions for 2023. As always, if you like what you see, be sure to subscribe using the form to the right, and follow us on social. Let’s get started!
Google announced they won’t sunset Universal Analytics until 2024, pushing back their timeline by at least 6 months. If you tuned into our last episode for Q3, we discussed Google’s big move away from today’s familiar Universal Analytics to its next evolution in digital analytics, GA4.
The good news is that organizations have more time and a longer runway in transitioning over to GA4. But don’t wait too long! The transition process will take some time and effort and the new sunset date will be here before you know it. If you want to learn a bit more about GA4, you can watch that segment from our last SEO Brief.
Google’s Helpful Content Update
Google released another algorithm update since Q3, this one called the Helpful Content update. This one shook up search results for mostly informational content that was deemed to be targeting search engine algorithms maybe a bit more than actual users. If you haven’t reviewed them recently, be sure to check out your most recent keyword ranking and organic traffic reports and see if the Helpful Content update had any impact on your site. For tips on how to handle any kind of major Google Update, you can watch that segment from our last Brief as well.
Endless Scroll Results
Google is rolling out Endless Scroll for search results on Desktop. Instead of distinct pages, with 10 results per page, Google will now show up to 6 pages worth of results for users that scroll down the page, before they reach a More Results prompt. This is similar to the experience that mobile searchers have had for a while now, where they can view up to 4 pages of results by scrolling.
Could this mean the end of pagination in Google search forever? Maybe. That might finally make long-standing distinctions between Page 1 and Page 2 visibility a little less meaningful and could have some unexpected long-term impacts on Click Through Rates. We’ll have to wait and see, but Google is bringing more consistency between its mobile and desktop experience and it seems like Endless Scroll is here to stay.
Year-End Website Review
We’re reaching the end of the year, which means it’s a great time to start gathering SEO data for annual website reviews. These types of reviews can help you assess your organization’s search performance for the last year, and they also provide you a strong benchmark to gauge against for the coming year. The specific KPIs you should be tracking are going to vary based on your organization’s goals, your specific industry or vertical, and your visitor profiles and demographics. But having said that, there are a few different types of KPIs you should be looking at, ones that cover the full user journey for your website visitors.
KPI #1 – Visibility & Awareness
The first KPI you should analyze at the end of the year is a Visibility or Awareness based metric. This includes keyword ranking reports and maybe Impressions data for your various keywords. We recommend you really review and profile the keywords your site ranks for. Are they more transactional or commercial in nature, or are they more information-based searches? How many terms are Branded or non-Branded? Do you see a lot of short-tail terms, or are they mostly mid to long-tail terms? Understand what types of keywords your website appears in the search results the most for, and just how many times they’re appearing in those searches.
KPI #2 – Traffic & Engagement
The second kind of KPI you should look at are Traffic and Engagement based metrics. Based on the visibility you had in the search results, how did that translate to Clicks, Users, and Sessions? How many search engine visitors came to your website and which pages did they arrive on? Are most of your visits going to the homepage? Category pages? Your blog? And where do they go after that? Does it seem like they can find the content or answer they were looking for, or are they clicking around lost on your website? Or even worse, are they abandoning it before they can complete an important goal? Try to understand where users go on your website once they’ve clicked over from a search result.
KPI #3 – Actions & Outcomes
And finally, the third kind of KPI you should look at are Action or Outcome-based metrics. These depend on what the objectives of your website and organization are, but the most common ones include eCommerce transactions, form completions, event registrations, content signups, and more. Your website should be guiding all users, not just search engine users, toward a small set of primary actions or outcomes, the ones that are the most meaningful and impactful to your organization’s bottom line. Once you understand where your search engine traffic comes from, and where those visitors go on your website, it’s now time to understand what they DO. Compare how search engine users complete primary tasks and actions compared to visitors from other channels.
By looking at Visibility, Traffic, and Outcome-based KPIs for search visitors, you should get a more thorough understanding of how search contributes to your organizational goals and which parts of the User Journey are in need of improvement more than others. So, grab that data as the year wraps up, see how you did in 2022, and set your benchmarks for these KPIs in 2023.
SEO Predictions for 2023
And speaking of 2023, we’ll leave you with a prediction or two for the world of search. Our first prediction is that we can expect to see even more Featured Snippets in the search results as Google continues to shift from a search engine to an answer engine. The trend for several years now has been to provide key information and facts directly in the search results through various Snippets, without needing to send users to actual websites anymore. We predict this trend continues to accelerate in 2023 and the percentage of so-called “Zero Click” searches continues to rise. This could mean improved experiences for users but perhaps a more mixed bag for website owners.
And finally, you heard it here first folks: 2023 is the year that AI will go mainstream. It was only a week ago or so when the marketing community went bananas playing with Chat GTP, a super sophisticated Chat Bot released by the Open AI group. Chat GTP is based on what are called Large Language Models and can do things that seemed impossible just a few years ago, from writing poetry to de-bugging code and even generating full essays or articles of content.
The most immediate reactions in the SEO community were expectedly about how marketing teams might leverage this kind of technology to automate or expedite a lot of routine tasks. But for some, the bigger takeaway became just how antiquated Search Engines all of a sudden felt, when ChatBots can now output stunningly detailed replies, answers, and texts from very basic prompts.
We’re still a long way from Google being replaced, if ever, but one thing is definitely clear: Google’s been put on notice, they’ll need to respond to AI-based alternatives and adapt to a future where AI underlies more and more of the user experience across the web.