This month in search marketing [April 2023]

May 2nd, 2023

It is hard to believe that we are already looking back on the month of April to summarise all the digital trends and changes we’ve seen over the last 30 days. Some of April’s highlights include:

  • There has been a lot of discussion around the changes seen following Google’s core update in March, and the impact this is having on digital marketing. 
  • Though not discussed as frequently this month, AI and its impact on marketing continues to pop up in discussions. 
  • There has been speculation around the future of advertising in certain industries…
  • …& more!!

Google’s core update and its impact on search

In March’s ‘Month in Search’ we discussed Google’s core update which had been launched that month. Due to the nature of the update, it is likely to have had an impact on search algorithms – and subsequently any SEO rankings (this change could both be positive or negative). There are several articles online discussing this impact, and the ways in which brands can ‘survive’ the update and maintain their organic search rankings (or improve them).

AI-driven marketing personalisation

When it comes to personalising content, AI can be useful for understanding purchase behaviour – such as what people buy, when or where they might buy it, how they prefer to be reached (i.e. Email, text, direct mail), and at what time of day. Essentially, AI provides the context that marketers can use to personalise their content – however it is not a replacement for human intuition, insightfulness or empathy.

ChatGPT banned in Italy

So far in the 2023 Month in Search series we have been keeping up to date on all things AI. With all new technologies, there is always bound to be some element of uncertainty in regard to data protection and ethics – so it is no surprise that we have seen the first ChatGPT ban in Italy. There are several reasons the Italian Guarantor for the Protection of Personal Data gave for the ChatGPT ban such as not properly informing users about collecting personal data, not having a legal reason for the storing of this data (though it is used for training the algorithm), and not asking users their age despite requiring users to be over 13 (with parental consent). There is further concern that content produced by ChatGPT violates the GDPR rules set in the EU, such as:

  • Storing user input (which may contain personal information about EU members)
  • Allowing trainers to view ChatGPT conversations
  • Allowing for the deletion of accounts, but not prompts; although the tool suggests that users not share personal information, the way in which users interact with the service and the information they choose to provide cannot be controlled

The Twitter algorithm and how it affects advertisers

After the release of Twitter’s algorithm source code on GitHub, there has been an abundance of discussion around how the Twitter algorithm might impact digital advertising. To summarise the highly technical discussions on the topic, advertisers on the social platform might be impacted by the way the visibility filtering works – with the potential for ads to appear beside what could be considered ‘offensive’ content (to certain groups of people).Twitter needs to be able to guarantee to advertisers that this will not be the case, if they want to maintain their current stream of advertisers, as well as attract new ones. 

Google creates AI to help you write Ads

Google has a new AI feature, currently in its testing phase, that helps marketers write copy for their ads. This new AI tech is unrelated to Google’s AI bot, Bard. It is designed to give you suggested headlines and descriptions. 

Microsoft adds Bing AI chat to popular swiftkey keyboard

Microsoft have added the Bing AI chat to their popular swiftkey keyboard, giving users the ability to access the feature with the simple tap of a button while in any app. 

Google’s product review update evolves

What used to be known as Google’s Product Review update, has evolved into simply the “Reviews Update” – and now incorporates products, services and things. It will be interesting to see how this update will impact websites beyond just product reviews – and will be something to keep an eye on as 2023 continues. 

Google discuss the fluctuation of SEO ranks

According to Google, SEO marketers cannot simply relax once their website content starts to rank highly on their search engine. On Twitter, Google’s John Mueller said that just because a website is doing well today – does not mean that it will continue to do well in the future. The reasons he gives vary, from trending topics losing their relevance, or the quality of content not improving alongside competitor content. SEO is a continuous practice, and particularly important to keep an eye on this month following Google’s core update, it needs to be an integral focus in any digital marketing strategy in order to keep ranking highly.

Content writing trends (so far) in 2023

April saw the start of the second quarter of the year (already!!), which means that we are starting to reflect on the marketing trends seen so far in 2023 – and predicting what we are likely to see more of in the future. Search engine journal wrote a nice summary of the content writing trends we have seen so far in 2023 including:

  • An increase in AI driven content
  • Short videos continue to rise in popularity – particularly in countries where social media features (such as Instagram reels) have been recently introduced.
  • How influencer marketing is evolving
  • Podcasting continues to be a strong and popular way to digest content
  • The increased demand for individually targeted, or personalised, marketing collateral 
  • The importance of using data for content writing
  • & user experience, and value remaining an integral part of the content experience

Google fights to keep up with competitor AI expansion

Just a few months ago, it was almost impossible for another search engine to rival Google; however, with the expansion of AI powered search tools, other search engines are quickly gaining popularity – and Google is starting to panic. As a result of this it is rumoured that Google might lose their contract with Samsung – a potential $3million (USD) annual loss. 

In an attempt to keep up with the AI revolution, alongside the rollout of Bard (which has been less popular than other similar AI tools), Google is working on developing an AI powered search engine called Magi. The plan for Magi is to deliver a far more personalised service than the search engine is currently able to offer. 

Google can evaluate EEAT of content through authors

In the same way Google uses EEAT requirements to evaluate content in order to decide rankings for search engines – it can use EEAT to evaluate authors against the same criteria. These author rankings can also have an impact on SEO; the more the content produced by your authors that meets the EEAT criteria, the more of a positive impact it will have. This helpful article by Search Engine Land goes into further detail about how this process works, and how Google evaluates authors against these requirements.

More Google updates

An update to the developers documentation for the product structured data on Google’s merchant listing experiences, adds requirements that will make a site eligible to display product return policies. 

Google Ad disapproval glitches

Following a wave of Google Ad disapprovals in February, there have been further disapprovals in April across the Google Ads and Merchant Centre. Following an investigation, Google seemed to fix the problem and had the Ad system up and running the following day.

New stats on how content creators have been using AI

Hubspot recently collected some interesting data on how marketers have been using AI for creating content. With AI rapidly becoming a more frequently used tool for marketing, it is interesting to see how it is being used in the industry. Some of their more interesting findings are as follows:

  • 33% of marketers use AI to generate content ideas
  • 28% of marketers were using AI to generate copy (for a variety of content such as blog posts, and Emails)
  • 77% agreed that AI could help generate content more efficiently

Co-owner of Yoast [SEO] steps down

Marieke van de Rakt, now former co-owner of Yoast SEO, has stepped down from her duties at the company. The team at the popular SEO plugin in, though sad to see her depart, are keen to uphold brand values and remain the company the world is familiar with. As they transition into a new leadership, it will be interesting to keep tabs on the development of the company, and whether this new era will see many major changes, or will have an impact on user experience in the future.

Potential ban on advertising for gambling companies…?

Some new and interesting statistics by the Guardian state that more than half of the British population (52%) would like to see a ban on gambling advertisements. Gambling can be a controversial topic, more findings in the survey confirm this:

  • 68% of respondents thought under-18s should not be exposed to gambling advertising, 
  • 64% supported affordability checks for those wanting to bet more than £100 month
  • 60% saw gambling as a danger to family life

If a ban were to be put in place – or if heavier restrictions would be applied – then what would that mean for gambling companies? While this is all just speculation currently, with no hard plans to change advertising regulations for gambling companies, it will be interesting to see what gambling brands make of these findings, and whether they start putting a greater focus on other forms of marketing such as organic search, or social media, over advertising.

Digital marketing to ‘Zennials’

New research has found that the generation of adults that fall in the 10 years between the end of the ‘millenial’ generation, and the middle of ‘generation Z’ are actually dissimilar to both of these generational bubbles – and might be a generation of their own. The microgeneration, known as ‘Zennials’, display a unique set of consumer habits and are likely to interact with marketing collateral differently to those in the generation on either side of this subset. Digital marketers need to take this into consideration when this subset falls into their target audience, and should read up on the different preferences this subset has before starting any campaigns targeted at this group.

Nissan driving users to skip the ‘skip’

We have all had our favourite videos, or music, disrupted by an ad at some time or another – and have all been thankful for the skip button. While certain ads might be tolerable for a couple of seconds, maybe minutes, it is probably unheard of for a user to watch an ad spanning a playtime of 4 hours…until now. 

Nissan launched a new ad on YouTube, that features an animated character driving their car (a Nissan ARIYA) with a playlist on the radio, and the odd Nissan billboard making an appearance in the passenger window. Despite being 4 hours long, this ad has had thousands of positive comments and over 17 million views.

The Google core update has certainly had an impact on digital marketing this month, with users noticing several changes having an impact on their daily marketing activities. It is likely that we will continue to notice these alterations as we move into May – especially as Google continues to work on improving their site and make developments into AI technology. In the following months, we are also probably going to see further developments in AI technology across the search engines – and undoubtedly there will be new and surprising trends emerging across the digital marketing field.

Help your brand stay ahead of emerging trends to remain present and relevant in the competitive market, and speak to our experts at Click Consult today!

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