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Search Updates – March ’23 Changes

Spring has sprung and with it a whole host of search updates. March saw Google’s first core algorithm update of 2023 (and the first for 6 months), updates from Google’s much-anticipated ChatGPT rival, Bard, and more. Read on to discover all the changes you need to know from the last four weeks.

Search Updates – March ’23 Changes

Google’s First Core Algorithm Update of the Year Rolls Out

Starting off the list is a big one; Google’s first core algorithm update of the year has landed. Starting its rollout on the 15th of March and finishing on the 28th of March, 2023’s first core update took 13 days (and 7 hours to be exact) to complete.

This core update was designed to look at all types of content, impacting all regions and all languages. All core updates make SEOs slightly nervous, so, what’s the damage so far?

Only time will tell who and what this has impacted, but the community has begun to assess its impact. Semrush found March’s update to be more volatile than the September 2022 algorithm update, whereas, on the other hand, RankRanger found it to be about the same as September’s update. That said, Darrell Mordecai from RankRanger also stated that this was “one of the biggest updated topped only by the June 2021 update”.

Well, while the jury may still be out, here’s what you can do in the meantime…

Keep an eye on your search visibility and if you suspect you’ve been impacted, investigate. Sitewide or only one section of your site? How is this impacting your visibility? Once you have this information, you can begin to review your site and assess where any pages or content could be improved. Google suggest “focusing on ensuring you’re offering the best content you can” post-update, making sure you’re creating helpful, reliable and people-first content.

And finally, be sure to stay tuned for those all-important updates from us next month!

Google’s ChatGPT Rival, Bard, is Finally Released

The fight between AI chatbots continues. Following Google’s announcement last month, March saw the release of Google’s rival to ChatGPT, Bard, which became available to US and UK audiences from the 21st of March.

Google announced the availability of Bard on the 21st of March, stating:

“Today we’re starting to open access to Bard, an early experiment that lets you collaborate with generative AI. You can use Bard to boost your productivity, accelerate your ideas and fuel your curiosity. We’ve learned a lot so far by testing Bard, and the next critical step in improving it is to get feedback from more people.”

Since its release, comparisons between ChatGPT and Bard have dominated conversations amongst the search community, AI enthusiasts and everyday users alike. So, how is Bard going to impact the world of search for the better? Well, who better to ask than Bard itself…

Bard told us:

“I am going to change the world of search for the better by making it more accessible, more informative, and more helpful. I will do this by using my knowledge of the world and my ability to understand and respond to natural language to provide users with the information they need, when they need it, in the way that they need it. I will also work to make search more inclusive, by providing access to information in multiple languages and formats, and by making it easier for people with disabilities to use search.

I believe that I have the potential to make a real difference in the world, and I am excited to see what the future holds.”

Instagram Introduces New Ad Features to Search

Meta, home of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, is planning to introduce ads, including reminder ads, to the search results of Instagram.

Announced on the 21st of March 2023, Instagram is planning to launch two new ad products: reminder ads and ads to the search results. These additions are designed to “give businesses more ways to get discovered and form meaningful connections”.

Rolling out to all advertisers, these additions pose an interesting opportunity to many businesses. So, while we eagerly await their arrival, here’s what to expect:

Reminder Ads

Designed to “build awareness, anticipation and consideration for upcoming moments”, reminder ads will provide users with the option to opt into reminders and notifications from Instagram for events they may be interested in.

Ads in Search Results

Planned to launch globally over the coming months, Instagram is currently testing ads in search results to help broaden advertisers’ reach and search visibility.

Google Local Service Ads Now Support 70 Service Types

On the 7th of March, Google announced support for 70 (yes, 70) service types across five different categories from Google Local Service Ads.

Local ads provide an invaluable opportunity for local businesses to improve search visibility and reach those around them, and with even more business types able to use this feature, the advertising opportunity continues to grow.

Here’s what’s been added:

Education People care 
  • Beauty school
  • Dance instructor
  • Driving instructor
  • First aid training
  • Massage school
  • Language instructor Preschool
  • Tutoring
  • Child care
  • Funeral home
Pet care Wellness 
  • Animal shelter
  • Pet adoption
  • Pet boarding
  • Pet grooming
  • Pet training
  • Veterinarian
  • Acupuncturist
  • Personal trainer
  • Yoga studio
  • Weight loss center
Health care  
  • Dental

Microsoft Ads Moves from Phrase Match to Broad Match

As it stands, Microsoft’s broad match modifier (BMM) keywords serve as phrase match – but not for long. From the 15th of March, Microsoft Advertising announced they will be changing how broad match modifier (BMM) keywords are served for ads.

As defined by Microsoft, broad match modifier keywords “make your ads eligible to be displayed when someone searches words related to your keyword”, capturing searches that don’t contain your exact keyword.

BMM keywords currently serve as ‘phrase match’ but will serve as ‘broad match’ going forward. But why? what’s the benefit? Phrase match will show your ad where they may be additional keywords either side of your keyword, whereas broad match will show your ad no matter the word order.

According to Microsoft, broad match can help you “spend less time building keyword lists” and “spend money on keywords that work”.

This change won’t impact bidding strategies or third-party bidding and isn’t an imperative change either. If you so desire, you can update the match types in the user interface (though this is not recommended by Microsoft).

Oh, and this will be a gradual change, so there’s no need to panic. In fact, Microsoft even suggests advertisers monitor performance for two weeks before making any changes, so you can relax for now.

Don’t Get Left Behind

Have you been impacted by March’s Core Algorithm Update? From SEO to PPC and everything in between, we’ve got you covered. Reach out to the team today to discover how.

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