July 2023 Search News, let’s relive the latest news from Google
There’s a lot on the menu for the new installment of Google Search News, the video series Google intends to use to help developers, webmasters, and SEOs stay abreast of the latest news and updates related to the Search system: as usual, John Mueller takes us on a tour of useful information about new features, algorithm changes, best practices, and more that may be of interest to those working on site management and optimization. The July 2023 episode then brings us up to speed on Core Web Vitals, Search Console, Search Labs, but also the debut of Google Analytics 4 and the ways in which Search will use generative AI to provide more information and context to user searches.
An overview of developments in Google Search
So it is Search Advocate John Mueller, for the occasion back in the studio after years of home recording due to the global situation related to the pandemic, who leads us through this walk-through that recaps the latest updates in Google Search and the general ecosystem of the American company, providing detailed and in-depth explanations on various topics and thus making Google Search News a valuable resource for anyone working in the field of web and SEO.
The first topic of this month’s episode is Core Web Vitals, which have been the focus of a number of talks and clarifications.
First, Mueller reminds us that Google has recently defined more precisely how it uses these Core Web Vitals and the more general concept of Page Experience within helpful content system, the ranking system dedicated to evaluating the usefulness of content-which can be summarized with the phrase “useful content generally provides a good experience on the page,” because these aspects go hand in hand and ensuring a good experience on the page is one of the aspects Google takes into account when evaluating content and the page for ranking purposes.
In addition, Google announced that by the end of this 2023 it will retire the Search Console “Mobile Usability” report, the Mobile Optimization Test tool, and the Mobile-Friendly Test API-and also that by now mobile-friendliness (or mobile compatibility) is essentially an outdated factor, because most sites achieve a sufficient level of optimization on mobile devices.
Far more revealing is the announcement involving INP, or Interaction to Next Paint, which will become part of the Core Web Vitals and replace First Input Delay in March 2024; in recent weeks, Search Console has already begun providing guidance on the new metric, to give professionals a way to prepare and begin to identify in advance any issues to work on.
Basically, Muller is keen to emphasize one point: a great on-page experience means more than just Core Web Vitals, and it is this great experience that Google’s major ranking systems seek to reward. So the advice is to take a holistic approach, trying to consider all the angles and components that make the experience provided by our pages precisely excellent.
Google and AI: the latest news
“How could we do a news story without mentioning artificial intelligence these days?” we and John Mueller wondered, and indeed AI still remains the hottest topic for so many professional fields, and Google has invested heavily in this area.
It recently officially debuted Search Labs, a space (initially available to users in the United States) where you can sign up and try out new products and ideas that are being explored. Search Labs includes the Search Generative Experience, or SGE for short, the new version of the search engine that uses generative Artificial Intelligence to give more information and context to searches.
Suggestions for news sites
The Search Advocate then provides an interesting indication that Google’s focus this year is more directly on creating guidelines and best practices for news websites-after the focus in 2022 had instead been on e-commerce sites (e.g., with the Ecommerce Essentials series).
The first acts of this effort are videos on SEO best practices for managing news sites and how to best use Search Console for these types of content, referring specifically to GSC reports, which allow a website to be crawled, indexed, and displayed in both the Search system and Discover, a very relevant source of traffic for news site owners.
Updates for Search Console, Analytics and other interventions
This episode of the Google News also tells us about the latest developments for some of the company’s platforms. For example, in Google Search Console came an update to the media results test that allows code editing, to try markup fixes much more easily and quickly.
And then, now Search Console Insights also supports users without Google Analytics, making it easier for professionals and clients to log in and check their site’s performance in Google Search.
On the practical side, the video indexing report has been updated to include more detailed information about problems with this process and ways to solve them. And by the end of the year, the so-called Sitemap ping endpoint will instead be retired, which effectively hasn’t been providing particularly useful data for some time: no user-side changes need to be made, and we can still continue to submit sitemap files via Search Console and robots.txt.
Finally, Mueller recaps the other news related to the Big G ecosystem, such as the changes to Google’s crawler documentation (with addition of the IP addresses used), the restyling of the spam report, the update of the antispam policies within the Search Essentials guidelines or the change on the treatment of the top level domain .ai, which is now a so-called top level domain with generic country code.