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Publishing Pulse: November 2023 Core Update: Navigating SEO Shifts, Mobile-First Indexing, & AI Innovations in Digital Publishing

Publishing Pulse: November 2023 Core Update: Navigating SEO Shifts, Mobile-First Indexing, & AI Innovations in Digital Publishing

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Welcome to Publishing Pulse, your weekly source for industry updates in online publishing. Stay informed about the latest trends and breakthroughs in the ad ecosystem, content creation, SEO, AI technology, and monetization. 


If you prefer to listen to industry news, you can tune in to The Publisher Lab Podcast. New episodes are released weekly on Thursday.

Google’s November 2023 Core Update

In the swiftly evolving landscape of SEO, Google has just confirmed the rollout of its latest “November 2023 core update”, marking it as the fourth core and eighth official algorithm update of the year. Notably, this new update follows hot on the heels of the October core update, introducing enhancements to a different core system. Launched on November 2nd, the update’s integration is anticipated to span one to two weeks. While the specifics of the update’s targets remain under wraps, its broad impact, including on Google Discover and feature snippets, is clear. This development signals an active period for Google’s search algorithm changes, as the digital giant had also recently implemented a spam update in October, alongside rectifying a related bug. With a review update expected imminently, SEO professionals and website owners are advised to stay vigilant and revisit Google’s core update guidelines to mitigate potential impacts on their search rankings.

The Slow Adoption of Mobile-First Indexing

After nearly seven years since its inception, Google has successfully completed its transition to mobile-first indexing, a fundamental shift that underscores the predominance of mobile browsing. This milestone reflects a complete pivot in Google’s approach, where the mobile version of a website now takes precedence in both indexing and ranking within search results. Launched in November 2016, the initiative reached a point where, by the end of 2018, mobile-first indexing was applied to half of the pages in Google’s search results. Despite an initial deadline set for September 2020, which was later extended to March 2021, Google has finally switched over the vast majority of sites, sparing only a negligible number that are incompatible with mobile devices. The implications for Search Engine Optimization are significant: Google will diminish the use of its traditional desktop Googlebot for crawling and remove related indexing settings in the Google Search Console, marking the end of an era and fully embracing a mobile-centric indexing system.

The Challenges Publishers Face with Data Tracking

Publishers are gearing up for a significant shift as the era of third-party cookies — a staple of digital advertising and a notorious source of data leakage — comes to a close. This change is largely driven by the industry’s recognition of the profound risks and costs associated with data leakage, which happens when visitors inadvertently leave behind data trails that unauthorized entities can exploit. This exploitation not only robs publishers of potential revenue but also erodes user trust and can lead to serious reputational damage, as well as regulatory consequences. According to a survey involving 65 publishers, there is a palpable concern about this issue, with a staggering 94% acknowledging worry over data leakage and 76% citing loss of ad revenue as the top risk.

The anticipation of eliminating third-party cookies has created an expectation of revenue growth, with over half of the publishers predicting at least a 21% increase in revenue. Despite this optimism, the readiness among publishers varies, with only 9% having a fully fleshed-out strategy for the post-cookie landscape, though most are in the midst of developing one. The reliance on technical solutions and commercial agreements to mitigate data leakage is prevalent, and there’s a prevalent belief that the removal of third-party cookies will boost the value of their audience data. This turning point suggests a transformative period for digital publishing, where the protection and ethical use of data are likely to become paramount.

Elon Musk’s New AI Chatbot, Grok

Elon Musk, in his latest foray into artificial intelligence, has launched a new AI chatbot named “Grok” for users of the social platform X, formerly Twitter. Developed by Musk’s xAI, Grok is not your average chatbot — it’s infused with sarcastic humor and rebelliousness, modeled after the iconic ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.’ This addition to the Premium+ service, which costs $16 a month, positions Grok as a direct competitor to OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Touted to outshine GPT-3.5, especially in solving complex math problems, Grok is an embodiment of Musk’s dual stance on AI: a visionary pushing the envelope of technological innovation while remaining cautious of its societal implications. As Grok evolves with user interaction, it will be interesting to observe how content moderation challenges are handled, especially given Musk’s lenient approach to content curation on X.

OpenAI’s GPT Store

OpenAI has taken a significant leap in democratizing AI with the launch of the GPT Store, a marketplace reminiscent of Apple’s App Store but for AI applications. This new venture allows even those without coding skills to craft their own tailored versions of the ChatGPT AI to serve bespoke purposes. Users can interact with ChatGPT to specify and refine their custom AI, making the process as straightforward as having a conversation. Once created, these personalized GPTs can be showcased on the GPT Store, where verified builders can distribute and potentially reap financial benefits based on how often their creations are used.

This initiative propels OpenAI into a new realm of platform-based service, drawing parallels with and potentially rivaling tech behemoths like Apple and Microsoft. Initially, OpenAI will employ a revenue-sharing model, but plans for allowing creators to directly charge for their GPT models signal an evolving marketplace. While OpenAI’s close ties with Microsoft have been beneficial, the burgeoning scope of OpenAI’s ambitions raises questions about the future contours of this partnership. As the details around the GPT Store’s operations and offerings continue to unfold, it promises to be a pivotal development in the AI sphere, offering novel avenues for innovation and monetization.

Conclusion

In summing up this week’s insights from Publishing Pulse, we see the online publishing arena at a pivotal juncture, with Google’s latest updates sharpening the focus on SEO agility and mobile-first browsing, while the end of third-party cookies heralds a more privacy-centric advertising future. Elon Musk’s Grok introduces a new twist in user interaction, and OpenAI’s GPT Store sets the stage for AI democratization and innovation. These developments signal not only a week of significant change but also a reminder of the industry’s continuous evolution, where adaptability and foresight remain key for publishers navigating the ever-shifting digital landscape.


The insights shared in this article provide a glimpse into the evolving world of publishing, and readers are encouraged to stay tuned for more discussions on “The Publisher Lab” podcast. You can listen to this podcast anywhere you can find podcasts or watch it on YouTube.

Manny Ramos is a talented writer and designer who combines their skills as a Creative Marketing Manager and design enthusiast. Their ability to tell engaging stories and create visually appealing content makes them an invaluable asset in the world of modern marketing.

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