Many elements of online marketing remain relatively stable as time proceeds, and there are others where changes happen almost daily, and one that most certainly fits in that latter category is search engine optimisation, aka SEO. SEO is the umbrella name for numerous tactics and strategies that aim to boost the search engine rankings of websites and the pages therein.
Google is the undoubted leader in search engines, with over 85% of online searches taking place there. It follows that when it comes to which search engine almost all SEO strategies are aimed towards, it is almost always Google.
Google’s dominance of the search engines means that when it makes changes to its algorithms, changes the rules for rankings, and introduces an update then everyone associated with SEO sits up and pays attention. This is a constant process because Google tries 24/7, 365 days a year, to improve the quality of its search engine results for its users.
The practical impact that has on SEO is that many tactics and strategies that might be effective one day, can about turn overnight if a Google update decides that rather than being a positive ranking factor it is now either neutral or even worse, a negative.
As a result, SEO is in continual flux with optimisation trends coming and going based on what Google’s algorithm currently seeks within websites to deem them worthy of ranking highly. Every year new trends appear or grow more significant, and others diminish or even disappear. As for SEO trends that you should be looking for in 2023, here are nine of the most important.
Conversational Search Terms
Google relentlessly strives to make a user’s search experience such that they find the most relevant result quickly when they enter a search term, including voice searches. To improve its results, Google, therefore, places much emphasis on understanding human dialogue.
To this end, it uses ‘LaMDA’ (Language Model for Dialogue Applications), which is a protocol that seeks to learn and understand human conversational language and from this Google uses it to better understand the true intent of searches inputted, especially voice searches. To take advantage of this, your keyword research should include conversational search terms.
Followers of SEO will already know of Google’s keenness for fast-loading websites, so it is fair to say that website speed is not a new trend. However, such is the massive difference in rankings that can occur from having a fast-loading website versus a sluggish one, this remains one of the most important ranking factors. In 2023, any SEO campaign that seeks to be successful MUST have website speed as a priority for optimisation.
E-A-T + E
No, we have not started an algebra lesson, but instead are here to tell you of an addition to the all-important E-A-T acronym. E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, which are 3 crucial and positive factors that Google looks for in a website’s content when calculating its rankings.
However, there is now a fourth letter to be added in 2023 which is ‘E’ for Experience. To optimise for ‘Experience’ your content should show that the author has personal, first-hand experience of the subject, such as showing they have used a product or demonstrating a skill.
Increased Focus On Quality, User-Friendly Content
No one can have escaped the increased hype around AI such as ChatGPT, and whilst it may have many positive attributes, as with many new technologies, it is being misused by many. This is especially so for those churning out content with AI and hoping it will improve their website’s rankings.
The problem here is, whilst Google will not penalise AI content per se, they can detect and penalise AI content that provides poor, incomplete, out-of-date, difficult-to-read, and grammatically poor content, which is often what is created by AI software. Quality content matters enormously to Google, regardless of how the content was written.
Greater Emphasis On Author Authority
Another way in which Google is not so much discouraging AI-written content in 2023 but rather promoting content written by humans is an increased emphasis on author authority. Rather than wanting to see content without reference to who wrote it, Google rewards websites that have optimised the page by showing author authority.
Examples of this include author bios next to the content, links to the website or social pages of the author, and author pages that link out to other websites which have published content they have written.
Mobile Search Dominance
We will state right away that mobile search is not a new trend. However, we include it for 2023 as its importance is not diminishing; more importantly, it continues to rise. As with the past few years, mobile use is increasing, which means more searches are being entered into Google’s mobile search engine versus its desktop one. Only those websites that are fully optimised for mobile device usage and display can expect enhanced rankings in 2023 and beyond.
Greater Optimisation Of Product Pages
Product pages have often been ignored when SEO has been carried out on-site, but that has to change in 2023. Google actively rewards product pages with informative and comprehensive content rather than merely bullet points with no more than 5 words for each. Again, it is the user that Google is focussed on, which is why this change is happening, so the inclusion of FAQs, proper product descriptions, and customers reviews can manifest higher rankings
This will be especially important to those with long-form content on their websites. Instead of crawling an entire article and trying to establish its meaning and relevance, Google now crawls individual passages to try to understand the meaning of each one.
This can mean that where before, an entire content page might have had average rankings, a specific passage within it is now deemed to be extremely relevant for a search term and thus the entire page gains higher rankings.
We return to the theme of technology once more and the fact that in 2023 there are far more SEO tasks and optimisations that can be automated than ever before. The benefits of using SEO automation for optimisations are that more can be achieved, done quicker and more efficiently, and as the software monitors your website, it can further update your onsite SEO or alert you that something needs changing.