Google Updates Image SEO Best Practices and Google Discover Docs

10 Feb, 2023 Technical

Google has updated two of its SEO-related help documents: image SEO best practices and Google Discover documents. These changes, like all Google updates, aim to improve user experiences and reward content that offers value to users.

Image SEO Best Practices Update

Regarding the image SEO best practices document, Google’s update clarified that Google parses <image> elements even if they are enclosed in other elements (such as <picture> elements) when indexing an image. Originally, the document stated that Google parses a page’s HTML to index images but doesn’t index CSS images.

After the update, the document states that using semantic HTML markups helps Google crawlers locate and process images. The document also states that Google parses HTML <IMG> elements in a page to index images (even when enclosed in other elements such as <picture> elements), but it doesn’t index CSS images.

While text-based content remains key, many users look to image-based content when searching for information on the web. Understanding how Google handles images can help you stay on top of your SEO strategy and achieve higher-quality traffic to your site. Google suggests various ways to improve your content’s visibility on Google Images in its image best practices document. According to Google, your content must be focused on providing quality user experiences rather than ranking in search results.

Google Discover Document Update

The search engine also updated the Google Discover document by adding a line under the feed guideline for its Follow feature. After the update, the document states that the most important content for the Follow feature is the feed <title> element and per-item <link> elements. The document also advises website owners to ensure that their feeds include these elements.

If you care about performing well on Chrome’s Follow feature, include these elements in your RSS feed. Any updates on Google will affect your site’s performance positively or negatively, and the best approach is always to align your strategy with the updates.

Other Important Updates

These updates follow a series of other updates geared toward improving user experiences, such as the helpful content update. Google introduced the helpful content system in August 2022 to flag content created for ranking rather than offering helpful information to users. At first, the system focused on English-based websites, with the December update expanding the system to all languages.

AI-Generated Content

When rolling out the update, Google indicated that it had also updated its algorithms to catch content created for search engines. This may be bad news for AI content creators, which often are engineered to create content that focuses on SEO optimization rather than user experience. While Google does not expressly prohibit AI-generated content, there is a high chance of the content being flagged as not helpful.

Link Spam Update

Another SEO-related update affected by Google this year is the link spam update. The update rolled out from December 14, 2022 to January 12, 2023 focuses on eliminating spammy links used by marketers to rank in the SERPs. Since link building is a critical part of SEO, this update may have an effect on many websites. However, change has always been integral to Google, and marketers have always devised new ways of nailing their SEO strategies to align with new guidelines.