Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a constantly changing field, as Google and other search engines are always looking for ways to improve their algorithms and make sure that users are getting the best possible results. As we move into 2023, there are a number of top SEO trends that marketers should be aware of in order to capitalize on opportunities for increased organic traffic and to stay ahead of the competition.
In this post, I’ll discuss 15 trends and how they will impact your SEO strategy moving forward.
1. Google E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness)
Google recently updated its search quality rater guidelines to place additional emphasis on the importance of E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness). This means that content creators need to demonstrate their experience and expertise in a field to be considered an authority on it. Additionally, websites must be trustworthy and have a good reputation for being reliable sources of information. This is especially important for YMYL (Your Money, Your Life) websites which can significantly impact the decisions a person makes.
The “Experience” element is a new addition to the E-E-A-T guidelines. Google is aware that a person with significant amounts of experience in a particular field should be trusted far more than those with little or no experience. In its search evaluator guidelines, Google writes:
“Consider the extent to which the content creator has the necessary first-hand or life experience for the topic. Many types of pages are trustworthy and achieve their purpose well when created by people with a wealth of personal experience. For example, which would you trust: a product review from someone who has personally used the product or a ‘review’ by someone who has not?”
Google wants to serve up web pages that users can trust, above all else. If a page is not trustworthy, it doesn’t matter how experience, expertise, or authority is demonstrated. Trust trumps all. Experience, expertise, and authority all contribute to a page being considered trustworthy.
As Google notes in their search quality evaluator guidelines:
“Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trust (E-E-A-T) are all important considerations in PQ rating. The most important member at the center of the E-E-A-T family is Trust…Trust is the most important member of the E-E-A-T family because untrustworthy pages have low E-E-A-T no matter how Experienced, Expert, or Authoritative they may seem. For example, a financial scam is untrustworthy, even if the content creator is a highly experienced and expert scammer who is considered the go-to on running scams!”
So how can you demonstrate experience, expertise, authority, and trust? Several ways:
- Cover topics at an expert level, using deep dives, case studies, and other forms of data-driven content
- Create a team page that showcases the experience and expertise of your staff
- Create author pages that highlight the authority and expertise of each author
- Start a blog where you produce high-quality content and demonstrate your expertise in specific subjects
- Be active on social media platforms such as Twitter or LinkedIn to provide thought leadership on relevant topics
- Display any relevant certifications on your site
- Feature any relevant industry awards your brand has won
- Use security signals, like SSL certificates and VeriSign badges
2. Increased Focus on Helpful Content & Unique Value
In Google’s recent helpful content update, Google doubled down on the need for content to be truly helpful to those seeking information.
As they noted in the developer notes for the update:
“The helpful content update aims to better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t perform as well…How can you ensure you’re creating content that will be successful with our new update? By following our long-standing advice and guidelines to create content for people, not for search engines. People-first content creators focus first on creating satisfying content, while also utilizing SEO best practices to bring searchers additional value.
In Google’s recently updated search rater guidelines, the search engine stresses the importance that content be “original”. In other words, how does your content provide something new and unique and better than what’s available online today?
Providing content that is helpful, delivers a great UX, and offers new, unique, differentiated value will be paramount in 2023.
3. AI and Machine Learning
In the last few years, AI has catapulted forward and changed the way we do business in many areas. As a key SEO trend in 2023, AI and machine learning will continue to play a major role.
Google is increasingly using AI to help improve their search engine and search rankings. They’ve developed LaMDA (Language Model For Dialogue Application) to help the Google algorithm understand dialogue. It’s a machine learning application built on “Transformer“, a neural network created by Google.
AI can help with tasks such as keyword research, content optimization, website analysis, and more. There are now tools that use natural language processing (NLP) and artificial intelligence (AI) to provide more accurate and detailed insights than ever before. AI can also help improve website speed, optimize images, detect broken links, and much more.
With the public release of GTP-3, AI is now even capable of assisting with content creation. This can dramatically speed up the entire process, from ideation to content creation to publishing.
In the future, AI will play an even larger role in SEO. We are likely to see AI-powered personalization and localization that translates into unique, customized search results for each user. It’s also possible that AI could be used directly by Google in their indexing process, allowing them to scan websites faster and more accurately than ever before.
4. Google MUM
Speaking of AI, Google Multitask Unified Model (MUM) represents a leap forward in how Google understands information. It is 1,000 times more powerful than the BERT model of language understanding and is designed to help users perform complex tasks involving more than one step.
The Google MUM model is another powerful SEO trend, allowing search engines to better understand natural language and better understand the world as a whole. Eventually, it will be able to take a single, information-dense query and extract data from multiple inputs (text, image, video, audio, etc.) to answer that query.
The example query provided by Google is, “I’ve hiked Mt. Adams and want to hike Mt. Fuji next. What should I do differently to prepare?” This query includes multiple questions and requires bringing together multiple pieces of disparate information into a single, cohesive answer. For example, the answer would need to take into account the elevation difference between the two mountains, what is needed to enter Japan, weather differences, and much more.
What does this mean for SEO? First and foremost, it speaks to the need to create content that addresses a subject from multiple relevant angles. The goal is to solve every problem, answer every question, and address every issue that users might have. To do this will likely involve multiple content formats in a single location, all oriented around a single topic.
For example, if someone searched for “what cloud-based CRM should I use?”, you may need to include a text review, comparison matrix, video overviews, screenshots, and more. This ensures that users don’t have to go back to the search results to find more information. Rather, they can get it all in a single location.
5. Structured Data
Featured snippets are nothing new, but they continue to shape how content is presented in the Google search results. Structured data makes it easier for Google to identify and fully understand the context of a piece of content. As such, properly optimizing structured data is going to become increasingly important for SEO success in 2023 as Google increasingly values the structured approach to content signals.
If you want your content to show up as a featured snippet, add structured data and markup. You’ll also need to create content that is written in such a way that it can easily be extracted and displayed in the search results.
For example, a how-to post should include a clear step-by-step structure that can be easily followed. A list post should include clear descriptions of the items on the list. A FAQ should have questions and answers that can be easily extracted for display in the SERP.
6. Entity SEO
Traditional SEO was largely based on keywords, topics, and search intent.
As Google evolves, entity SEO is coming more to the forefront. Google defines an entity as something that’s “singular, unique, well-defined, and distinguishable”. With entity SEO, Google is focusing on relational context to assess the most relevant content.
An entity may be, but is not limited to, the following:
It’s believed that Google uses a model that converts language into a mathematical equation. The model is called Word2Vec (short for word to vector) to identify entities, map them to a graph, and assign an ID to each entity. See the related patent for ranking search results based on entity metrics.
Word2Vec is a technique invented by Google for embedding words. According to Google, “It takes as input a word and spits out an n-dimensional coordinate (or “vector”) so that when you plot these word vectors in space, synonyms cluster.”
With entity SEO, Google uses context to create an entity that can be found through different searches. Why is Google moving towards entity SEO? A core reason is that entity SEO provides searchers with more relevant search results.
How can you capitalize on entity SEO in your marketing efforts? Use related keywords in your content pieces, expand to multiple content formats, build multiple digital assets, create an ecosystem of related content, and go deep with internal linking, etc.
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7. Answer Complex and Conversational Queries
Search queries are becoming increasingly complex and conversational. This means that to rank for more queries in Google, create content that can handle multiple questions and address them in a cohesive manner.
This requires understanding the types of queries users are entering, breaking down those queries into their individual components, and then addressing each component in your content. You may also need to use natural language processing (NLP) to more accurately understand the intent of the query. This can help you create content that more closely matches what the user is looking for, thus increasing your chances of appearing in the search results.
For example, if a user searches for “what are the best cloud-based CRM solutions for financial service companies,” you should create content that not only reviews the best cloud-based CRMs for financial services, but also covers what to look for in a cloud-based CRM, what the unique requirements of financial service firms are, and how to use the software. This ensures that users get all the information they need in one place, rather than having to go back to the search results for more information.
The complexity and conversational nature of queries also reinforces the need for content to align with search intent. Writing content that is fully tailored to the intent of the query will go a long way towards helping you rank.
8. Expanded SERP Features
Google is regularly introducing new organic SERP features. In addition to featured snippets, the Google SERPs also often include:
- People Also Ask (PAA)
- “Questions and Answers” (pulled from sites such as Quora)
- Local map pack
- Knowledge panel
- Top stories (News)
- Popular products
- Rich snippets
- Related searches
Given their goal of making the search results as helpful as possible, we should expect Google in 2023 to continue rolling out additional SERP features that provide users what they’re looking for directly in the search results as yet another SEO trend.
Capturing these SERP features will require creating content that is tailored to them. For example, if you want your content to show up in the video carousel, create a video and post it to your YouTube channel. If you want to appear in the local map pack, then make sure you properly optimize your local business listing. If you see PAA boxes in the SERP for your most valuable target SEO keywords, then structure some of the headings in your content in the form of questions.
By leveraging these SERP features, you give your brand a better shot at making it into the top Google rankings.
Content atomization is one way of creating more content without expending significantly more effort. It is the process of taking a larger piece of content and breaking it down into smaller, standalone pieces. For example, you may be able to take sections of a blog post and turn them into a series of YouTube videos.
By atomizing your content you are able to capture more of the Google SERP real estate.
9. Core Web Vitals (CWV)
The breakdown of Core Web Vitals is:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): measures loading time performance of the largest element on the page. LCP should be within 2.5 seconds.
- First Input Delay (FID): measures interactivity. Aim for an FID of 100 milliseconds or less.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): measures visual stability. Your goal should be a CLS of 0.1. or less.
Improving the core web vitals performance of your web pages and posts will help you to stay competitive in the SERPs in 2023.
10. Increased Focus On Semantic Search
It’s no longer enough to focus on primary and secondary keywords, as important as they are. In 2023, SEOs should be focusing on semantic and NLP (natural language processing) search to stay ahead of the competition.
In most cases, there are dozens of keywords that are related to a topic that don’t fall into the primary keyword category. For example, if you are writing an article about SEO trends for 2023, some related keywords could include “search engine algorithms,” “machine learning,” and “long-form content.” All of these words provide Google with additional context regarding the contents of a page.
By targeting related keywords in addition to the primary keyword as part of your SEO copywriting process, you can increase your chances of appearing in more search results. This, in turn, will help you get more traffic from related searches.
You can also use NLP to make sure that your content is written for humans and not just for search engines. Since Google looks at the context of words in a sentence, it’s important to write copy that is easy to understand and flows naturally. This helps increase engagement metrics such as time on page, which can then improve rankings.
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11. The Rise of AI Content Creation
AI content creation platforms have exploded in the last two years. Tools like Jasper, Copy.ai, and ChatGPT are able to produce content that sounds like it was written by a human. By 2028, the AI-based marketing software market is expected to exceed $107 billion in revenue.
In 2023, expect to see an explosion of AI-created content hit the internet.
But, and this is critically important, to rank well in the SERPs content still needs to be driven by experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. AI content can’t replicate these things yet. It still must be guided/augmented by people who truly are experts in the field and can attest to the quality of content created by AI.
Additionally, AI content is produced based on what has already been created. It is not totally original or unique, so it will require human intervention to ensure that the content produced is new, relevant, up-to-date, and valuable. Fluff content is still fluff content, regardless of whether it’s written by a person or an algorithm. And fluff content won’t attract organic backlinks and social shares like expertly written content will.
For better SEO results, create your content with an eye toward adding new value to what’s currently in the Google SERP. Whether partially written with AI technology or not, producing unique, valuable content is still the goal. With AI-assisted content, though, you have an opportunity to increase your efficiency and therefore your SEO ROI.
12. An Explosion of Video Content
Among the SEO trends for 2023, video optimization is going to play a bigger role in the SERPs. And within the video world, YouTube is a tour de force. With more than 14 billion monthly site visits among 2 billion unique monthly users. YouTube Shorts achieve 15 billion views daily. A whopping 694,000 hours of video are streamed every minute on YouTube. On top of this, 85% of SMBs with a YouTube channel confirm that YouTube helped them to grow by reaching new audiences.
TikTok is also contributing to the explosion in online video. TikTok had 1.2 billion monthly active users in Q4 2021 and roughly 1.8 billion at the end of 2022, an increase of 50%.
Expect to compete against video content in search more than ever in 2023. Video itself appears in the Google SERPs for a growing number of queries. In addition, text-based content (blog posts, articles, etc.) that includes video often performs well in search. In 2023, aim to not only increase the volume of video content you produce, but also use video to atomize and distribute your video content more widely.
13. The Importance Of People Also Ask (PAA)
A recent study found that the “People Also Ask” feature appears in almost 50% of search queries. This means that optimizing for related questions can help you appear in more search results and get more clicks.
When writing content, make sure to include related questions that people may be asking about your topic. These should naturally flow into the overall content and not just be tacked on as an afterthought. Make sure to fully answer each question so that readers can easily find what they’re looking for.
Additionally, make sure to target longer questions that people may be typing into a search engine. Long-tail queries are more specific, and Google likes them because it shows that the user is serious about finding an answer to their query.
By targeting both primary keywords and related “People Also Ask” queries, you can increase your chances of appearing in more search results and getting more clicks.
14. Continuous Scrolling SERPs
In December 2022, Google introduced “Continuous Scrolling” of Google search results in the desktop SERPs. (This feature has been available for mobile users for a while.) As a result, desktop searchers no longer need to navigate across multiple pages to find the search results they seek.
With continuous scrolling on desktop, Google displays up to six pages of search results via scrolling (and up to four pages on mobile). At a certain point, a “More” button will appear as an option to reveal additional SERP results.
The continuous scrolling functionality is in contrast to the traditional “page” approach to the SERPs, in which a searcher needed to click to a new page in order to see the next set of search results. Given that most searches would rarely click to the second page of search results, this is an attempt by Google to encourage a broader review of results by searchers as they look for the most relevant information related to each query. The aim is a better user experience.
What does this mean for SEO?
Even though reaching the Google top 10 is still the goal, the value of achieving a ranking in the top 20 has increased drastically. Monitor your rankings closely, and pay specific attention to those rankings between 21 and 30. By focusing extra attention on the content ranking in these positions, you’re better able to move them into the top 20, capitalizing on the new, increased value of positions 11-20.
15. Increased Demand for SEO
Many of the SEO trends above speak to specific technologies or areas of search. There’s one, trend, though that acts as an umbrella for the overarching demand for SEO in the coming year.
With talk of a recession and predictions of a down economy in 2023, expect many firms to cut their advertising budgets, agencies, and staff. Instead, you’re likely to see a surge in demand for SEO agencies, services, and talent.
Advertising is typically the first thing to go as companies look to cut costs during a downturn.
In contrast, organic search is a powerful option during tough economic periods, as the visibility strengthens brand perception and lower acquisition cost means that it’s more economical than paid media. This is especially true for B2B SEO. Get ready for a war for SEO talent.
Beyond this compilation of SEO trends, keep in mind that Google maintains a list of its new algorithm updates online. It’s a good idea to stay on top of this list so that you can be fully up-to-date with your SEO strategies, tactics, and approaches. Find the list here.
Summary of SEO Trends in 2023
- Google E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness)
- Increased Focus on New and Unique Value
- AI and Machine Learning
- Google MUM
- Structured Data
- Entity SEO
- Answer Complex and Conversational Queries
- Expanded SERP Features
- Core Web Vitals (CWV)
- Increased Focus on Semantic Search
- The Rise of AI Content Creation
- An Explosion of Video Content
- The Importance of People Also Ask (PAA)
- Continuous Scrolling SERPs
- Increased Demand for SEO (amid the backdrop of an economic downturn and reduced advertising budgets)