Every year, search engine optimization (SEO) experts release their own brand of do-this-or-die posts in which webmasters are warned about changes that are a-brewin’ in the Googlesphere that might negatively impact their rankings unless they make certain necessary/crucial site updates.
In our experience, most of these prophecies turn out to be…well…exaggerated.
Don’t get us wrong, Google’s Core updates should probably not be ignored. But if you’re a web developer with only a smattering of SEO knowledge, it’s easy to be convinced that all Google updates merit some kind of reactive update on your end.
In our opinion, the most important updates that you should be focusing on in the coming year revolve around data and analytics.
Here are the updates we recommend:
#1: Get Onboard with Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
If you haven’t already made the switch from Universal Analytics (UA) to GA4, then now—right now—is the time. In case you aren’t aware, Google will be saying sayonara to UA in July 2023 and replacing it with its slightly more sophisticated—slightly more woke—sibling, Google Analytics 4. The way UA measures data is reaching peak obsolescence, and the new GA4 is better suited to measure modern user behavior.
Wherefore all this urgency? If you’re sticklers for continuous data tracking, you need to start using GA4 now to pull any historical data from the last year. Waiting until the eleventh hour to track with GA4 will mean you’ll lose X number of months of reporting.
#2: GDPR Compliance
This update applies to both your website and your software product (if that too is collecting user data). As it turns out, Universal Analytics has been in violation of EU data protection laws—something that gets resolved when you switch to GA4 and stick to its default settings (and disable Ad personalization).
Do you need to be GDPR compliant? Well, that depends on your users’ location—not yours. Do your users hail from countries within the EU? Then yes, compliance is a must.
How do you make sure your website and software are compliant? Make sure that your cookie banner gives users the option to consent or decline your analytics scripts (it goes without saying that you also have to respect their wishes).
Compliance also means using plain language when describing the purpose of your data collection and who will have access to it.
#3: CMS Updates
If your site is running on an open-source CMS like WordPress and Drupal, ensuring that your plugins, themes, and PHP (or equivalent) are up to date will benefit your site in various ways.
First of all, updating regularly makes your site as secure as possible since many of these updates involve vulnerability patches. Secondly, updates improve your site speed, which benefits your page rankings and makes your users happy.
CMS updates should be part of your webmaster’s best practices. Running on the latest updates/themes ensures compatibility and functionality and guarantees your website looks and acts as it should.
#4: Listen to Your Audience, Respond with Content
When was the last time you updated your content strategy? If you’re not creating engaging content that satisfies your reader’s appetite and follows SEO content best practices, you’re probably missing out on tons of growth potential.
Giving your blog roll a bit of a revamp isn’t the most technical update you can perform right now, but it might end up being the most lucrative.
Looking for content inspiration? Here’s how you can find it:
- Google top trends in your industry, see what your competitors have to say about it, and write something better.
- Ask for customer feedback. A little survey goes a long way.
- Use your own website’s search tool (if enabled) to see what your users are hungry for.
#5: Audit Your Site
Not all site updates are obvious or necessary, so if you’re looking for ways to boost the quality and quantity of your traffic, it’s time to get proactive. We already mentioned a few ways to look for content improvements, but if your site needs something a little more drastic, it’s time to look at your data and strategize.
There’s nothing more helpful than performing a site audit. Using your analytics tools, you can see what pages are performing well and what pages could use a heavy dose of optimization.
Make sure that any strategy involving major updates starts at the keyword research stage. This involves finding relevant keywords that are easy to rank for and have a steady stream of search volume.
We recommend prioritizing GA4 and GDPR compliance so you can take your time auditing your site and fine-tuning your content to increase your incoming traffic.