Understanding the ranking factors that affect webpage rankings is crucial for a successful digital strategy in the ever-changing world of search engine optimization (SEO). Recent updates to Google’s algorithms, however, have made it harder than ever to accurately attribute causality to specific factors. In this article, we’ll delve into the major shifts that have occurred in 2023 and investigate the revised criteria for rankings.
Changes in the Weights Used in Rankings
Significant changes to Google’s ranking systems over the past year have made it even more difficult to ascertain which factors have an actual impact on page rankings. Google has consolidated a number of technical signals into a single “page experience” evaluation, expanding the concept of ranking factors. In addition to the previously mentioned factors of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T), Google has added “experience” as a new standard for content quality.
As a result of these shifts, digital marketers and SEO specialists are perplexed about how to adapt their strategies to the new environment. Search Engine Journal has released its 2023 Ranking Factors guide to shed light on the rumors and misconceptions surrounding Google’s ranking signals and the latest innovations in the search industry.
Changes to the Evaluation Criteria
Several revisions and updates have been implemented for the Ranking Factors guide for 2023. What are some of the most significant changes that have been made?
Enhancements to the Page Experience
Google has updated the documentation for its ranking systems, with the removal of “page experience” being a particularly noteworthy change. Page experience is still evaluated using many ranking signals, but it is no longer considered a separate ranking system in and of itself. The systems documentation has been updated to exclude mobile-friendliness, page speed, and HTTPS. Google’s algorithms still reward good page experience, so this isn’t just a ranking in and of itself.
Explanation in the Alt Text
The definition of “alt text,” which describes images on a website, has been refined. Google image search has long been known to benefit more from alt text than regular search. Algorithms do not give alt text any special treatment in general search; it is treated the same as any other text on the page.
Transforming into E-E-A-T
Expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T) is a concept that has been significantly updated to include “experience.” The importance of providing users with high-quality content that demonstrates expertise and trustworthiness has not changed, but the addition of experience as a ranking factor does.
Author and Context Links Have Been Removed
The concept of authorship, which was previously treated as distinct, has been incorporated into E-E-A-T. Anchor text, NLP, and content have expanded to encompass contextual links, so they are no longer treated separately.
Verification of Domain’s Past
There has been a shift in the consensus on the importance of a domain’s age as a ranking factor, from “probably” to “confirmed.” It is now common knowledge that a change in ownership of a domain does not affect its ranking signals. Any algorithmic penalties imposed on a domain will remain in place even if the domain is sold.
After initially being considered a “probably” ranking factor, language detection is now seen as “definitely.” Use of language-specific domains or HTML tags, however, does not affect rankings directly because Google identifies language automatically.
Potential Influence of Syndicated Material
The once-“unlikely” opinion of syndicated content’s impact has shifted to “possibly.” Despite the fact that syndicated content does not incur any penalties, automated scraping and reposting without noindexing can have a negative impact on search engine rankings. Google gives preference to original reporting and works to stop syndicated versions from ranking higher than originals.
Taking Out the IDF-TF
Since Google’s current algorithms and natural language processing have largely rendered TF-IDF (which stands for term frequency-inverse document frequency) obsolete, it has been removed from the ranking factors guide. Focus on reviewing fundamental SEO practices if you’re worried about TF-IDF in 2023.
The Minimal Role of URLs
URLs continue to be a confirmed ranking factor, though their impact is typically quite small. Only in extremely rare circumstances where Google has never indexed the content before do they play a significant role. URLs have much less of an impact after content has been indexed.
Documentation on Learning Google’s Ranking Algorithms
Google’s terminology change from “ranking factors” to “ranking systems and signals” reflects the company’s developing methodology for determining search engine results. Google is shifting its attention away from traditional ranking factors in favor of amassing collections of qualitative signals that, when combined, approximate more complex human questions and choices. Traditionally known as a collection of signals, ranking systems are evolving into sets of values or ideals.
The E-E-A-T idea is one manifestation of this shift. Expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (abbreviated as “E-E-A-T”) are not just a ranking factor; they represent a set of ideals by which Google evaluates content. Google uses a number of signals to determine the credibility of content, since trust is an intangible quality.
Another recent update is the removal of support for “page experience” in scholarly writing about ranking systems. However, it is still confirmed that page experience signals like speed, security, and Core Web Vitals play a role in rankings, even after this update. Multiple ranking systems use these signals to determine the quality of a website’s user experience and to reward those sites that provide a positive one.
In conclusion, if you want your SEO strategy to be successful, you need to keep up with the latest changes in ranking factors. Keeping up with Google’s ever-changing algorithms can be difficult, but the 2023 Ranking Factors guide can help you do just that. To help your SEO strategy thrive in today’s digital world, download the guide right now.
See first source: Search Engine Journal
Q1: What major shifts have occurred in Google’s ranking factors in 2023?
Google has made significant changes to its ranking systems, consolidating technical signals into a single “page experience” evaluation and introducing “experience” as a new criterion alongside expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T). These shifts have made it more challenging to attribute causality to specific ranking factors.
Q2: What are the most significant changes in the 2023 Ranking Factors guide?
- Google has refined the definition of “alt text” for images.
- E-E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness) has been updated to include “experience” as a ranking factor.
- Authorship and context links are no longer treated as distinct factors.
- The importance of a domain’s age as a ranking factor has shifted from “probably” to “confirmed.”
- Language detection is now considered a “definitely” ranking factor.
- The impact of syndicated content has shifted from “unlikely” to “possibly.”
- TF-IDF (term frequency-inverse document frequency) has been removed from the guide.
- URLs continue to be a confirmed ranking factor but have a small impact.
- Google is shifting its focus from traditional ranking factors to collections of qualitative signals that approximate human questions and choices.
Q3: What is the significance of E-E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness) in Google’s ranking criteria?
E-E-A-T represents a set of ideals by which Google evaluates content. It encompasses expertise, authority, trustworthiness, and now, experience. Google uses various signals to assess the credibility of content, making E-E-A-T an important concept for content quality and rankings.
Q4: How has Google’s approach to ranking systems evolved in 2023?
Google has shifted its attention from traditional ranking factors to collections of qualitative signals that approximate complex human questions and choices. Ranking systems are evolving into sets of values or ideals. Google evaluates content based on trust, credibility, and user experience, using multiple signals to determine content quality.
Q5: How can digital marketers and SEO specialists adapt to these changes in ranking factors?
To adapt to these changes, digital marketers and SEO specialists should stay updated with the latest guidelines and updates from Google. They should focus on creating high-quality, credible, and user-friendly content, optimize for page experience signals, and continue to monitor and adjust their strategies based on the evolving ranking systems and signals.
Featured Image Credit: Joshua Golde; Unsplash – Thank you!