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Google: What’s new for 2023?

January 10, 2023

Google enhances its tools and algorithms on an on-going basis so it’s important to stay in the know and adapt with it. Whilst many of the changes are already in play, we’ve put together this helpful guide so you can factor in any adjustments around Google’s update.

We’ll explore the key changes at Google that marketers should be aware of as we head in to the New Year as well as Google Analytics 4 and Google’s helpful content update.

GA4 – what’s all the hype?

GA4, or Google Analytics 4, is Google’s new reporting tool and is set to replace Universal Analytics. It has been developed to address issues around privacy and third-party cookies. Moving forward, GA4 will not use third-party cookies.

Much hyped, and particularly ramped up in conversation since the New Year, the deadline to move from Universal Analytics to GA4 is currently set to 1st July 2023. So, it’s no longer a ‘we’ll think about it next year’ item!

This deadline is very important if you are looking to maintain as much of your existing analytics data as possible. If you haven’t made the change by the deadline, you’ll no longer have access to historical analytics data.

Along with all the hype, it’s fair to say that the introduction of GA4 has caused quite a stir in the marketing world. It is a fairly big departure from analytics as we know it – and this has made it pretty controversial.

The core difference in GA4 is how it models data and it focuses on events rather than sessions such as page views for example.

Bounce rate will no longer be a metric as Google Analytics 4 removes this metric and looks instead at engagement. An ‘Engagement Rate’ is a percentage of engaged sessions which is defined as:

  • Lasting more than 10 seconds
  • Having at least two screen views
  • Having a conversion event

Google is focusing more on positive metrics as it moves forward. Looking at metrics around engagement, rather than bounce rate, ties in with the latest Google algorithm updates on intent and engagement.

In addition, GA4 doesn’t discriminate on device which means it is easier to track cross device journeys. You may also want to consider setting up Google Signals as this will support data collection for GA4.

GA4 will automatically record some events for you, but for others you will need to set up a custom event to ensure that the specific metric or goal is still captured. We would recommend mapping your Universal Analytics metrics over to GA4.

If upgrading from Universal Analytics to GA4 is not on your roadmap for the early part of the year, it certainly should be and we’d encourage you to start a conversation around this as soon as possible. You can find more information on Google Analytics 4 here.

How can you make the most of Google’s helpful content update? 

In August 2022 Google launched its helpful content update which requires you to, as Google recommends: “Focus on people first content”.

The idea is that content generators, marketers and website owners no longer look to serve the needs of search engines and instead focus on the human. Which you could also translate as “when trying to get to the top of the search engine, focus on the human”!

Google has always focused on good quality content in its algorithm and in its best practice guides puts “creating helpful, reliable, people-first content” at the very top. The content update takes this a step further and will penalise those websites which don’t do this.

In order for you to understand whether your content is good, Google provides some handy questions to help you consider whether your content serves the needs of the person reading it and encourages content writers to consider how satisfied the user would be with the response.

Something to really bear in mind is that previously a badly performing page would operate in isolation as far as the SERPS are concerned. But with the new update, if you have badly performing pages on your website, they will impact the rest of the website and how well it ranks.

Google is really trying to encourage websites to tighten up what they’re doing and to make the most of their crawl budget.

The main practical recommendations from the update are as follows:

  • Audit existing page content to identify the good and the bad
  • Deliver a roadmap for addressing content issues
  • Remove unhelpful content
  • Always work on a mobile first approach for design
  • Consider design features to reduce the scroll depth of your pages and encourage engagement with the pages (e.g. carousels, pagination, tabs)

If you are unsure as to how your current website pages are being viewed by Google and if they have been penalised we can help by auditing the performance of these pages.

By utilising analytics and our expert tools we can analyse the whole of a website and understand how each piece of content is impacting the overall website’s health. From here we can make recommendations to improve the existing content on your website.

Round up

As we enter the New Year, it’s clear that Google is pushing forward an agenda around privacy and engagement.

The updates outlined here around analytics and content highlight the need to evolve our online assets to ensure we’re prepared for the changes.

If you would like any support or further advice around the topics we’ve discussed, please feel free to get in touch with us and we’ll talk you through this in line with your own digital products.




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