SEO Trends In 2023: What To Expect For SEO in 202312 minute read
SEO has come a long way since 1995, and while a lot has changed, the core principle remains the same – how to organically drive more traffic to your website and to get your website to the top of the search results.
When it comes to SEO, search habits change and Search Engines are consistently evolving to provide the best possible result for a user. It’s important to keep up to date with upcoming trends, our abiding message is don’t get left behind, and with that in mind, we’re going to take you on a journey of what to expect of SEO for the remainder of 2023.
Why is it important to keep your SEO knowledge up to date?
In its simplest form, the Google algorithm is built to provide the best result and experience for the user. Since the birth of the internet, Google has been consistently evolving, countless trends and tactics have come and gone.
Many things that worked well in the early days of the internet simply just don’t work anymore, it’s crucial to stay up to date with modern tactics so that your website doesn’t get left behind in the dust and you can prioritise things that will have the biggest impact in 2023.
There is a range of different signals that Google’s algorithm uses to index and rank a page but content has been, and will continue to be, an extremely significant ranking factor.
Without quality content, Google doesn’t have nearly enough information about a page to be able to index it and rank it.
Sure, there are certain keywords/queries that are outliers and don’t necessarily rely purely on content. And sure, there are still other signals that can help a page rank such as the anchor text of a link (backlinks & internal links), title tags, image alt text etc… but the bottom line is, quality content is crux of these signals.
Search engines will crawl the content of a page, and then will process this information for how viable it is for search. Google’s algorithm has developed over the years to record a large range of key signals to help understand the intent of the content. It’s this information that helps to rank a page for a certain keyword.
This process has been the same since the beginning of Google; the only difference is that as time has moved on, Google’s algorithm has advanced; meaning the way it ranks content is much more sophisticated.
As Google continues to push core updates, to improve their search engine, there’s one thing that will continue to stay afloat and that’s quality content. Search engines have the difficult task of understanding what a ‘quality’ result means. Luckily, they don’t leave it up to us to guess…
Google provides a lot of guidance as to what they are looking for with the ‘Search Quality Rater Guidelines’ which is a document that can be used as a reference for conditions and elements that should be considered for creating valuable, high-quality content.
Google also pushes a simple acronym that can be used for creating quality content – E-E-A-T (Expertise, Experience, Authoritativeness & Trustworthiness), learn more about E-E-A-T later in this article.
Backlinks are often referred to as the currency of the internet and we think that they’ll continue to be for years to come. But why?
Backlinks are one of the biggest ranking factors for a page especially from high quality and relevant websites. Links are a signal to Google that the page is trustworthy, credible and authorative; the more links that a page gets, it further strengthens these signals. High quality links have historically been a major ranking factor.
But don’t just take it from us. Take it from Google themselves:
“one of several factors we use to help determine this is understanding if other prominent websites link or refer to the content. This has often proven to be a good sign that the information is well-trusted”
This is just one mentions of links, but Google often references links alongside it being an indication of trust and reputation. You can see these references across their site and official documentation when detailing how they measure the ‘quality’ of a page.
Over the years, Google has rolled out a range of different algorithm updates that tackle backlinks. One of these important updates was Penguin. The Penguin update tackled spammy links, it’s now an essential part of the Google algorithm; it helps Google to better evaluate the quality of links. So, much like content, with links it’s quality over quantity.
High quality backlinks don’t just rely on DR. High quality backlinks need to be highly relevant, reputable/authoritive, and they need to appear natural. Build backlinks with these metrics because they’re are going nowhere!
Google made significant changes to its Quality Rater Guidelines (QRG) for searching in late 2022. Arguably, the most important was the addition of an extra E to the start of the popular acronym E-A-T – Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness.
E-A-T has become E-E-A-T, the extra E introducing Experience to the concept, which indicates that quality content can be evaluated through the lens of understanding the extent to which the content creator has first-hand experience of the topic.
Google also provides other examples of important concepts, such as:
- Evaluating the reputation of websites and content contributors.
- The extent to which E-E-A-T matters and how it should be evaluated.
- What it means for content to be harmful.
All of this appears to show Google is evolving its language to be more inclusive to keep abreast of the times, recognising social media platforms, influencers and how content can take different forms such as video, UGC and social media posts.
2. AI content generation
The number of marketing applications that now integrate SEO and artificial intelligence (AI) has been increasing in recent years and we expect that to continue in 2023.
Many content marketers have utilised some types of AI content generators over the past year and they can certainly leverage these tools to help speed up their content workflows and still create original, quality content in the process.
Here are some of the more helpful applications of these tools that do not sacrifice originality:
Content briefs: Content tools that generate content briefs can help writers understand the important keywords, topics, and subtopics that should be included in their original content.
Content outlines: Outlines are a great way to give writers a roadmap for how to create helpful content without relying on AI to do the work for them.
Content ideas: Tools like blog topic generators can speed up the brainstorming process. Moving from a keyword to a helpful content idea can be half the battle, and an idea generator can help prevent writer’s block.
As good as they are, they’ll never better Cornerstone’s expert copywriters!
3. Optimising for entities instead of keywords
An entity in SEO is usually a search, query or set of keywords that can be uniquely identified. Entities utilise context and the relationship/link between elements to discover the intent of a search. An entity is much more than a keyword, it’s typically a topic or a concept.
Optimising for entities in SEO is a tactic that goes beyond simple keyword optimisation as it shifts the focus to more of context optimisation approach. Entity-based optimisation is becoming an effective SEO strategy, a development that goes hand-in-hand with the development of the knowledge panel that now accompanies many Google searches.
Google can understand content with their natural language processing algorithm, it analyses the content of a webpage and associates certain bits of information with an entity.
One example is that a “person” entity is often associated with things such as a name, age, address, birthday… and so on. With enough signals, Google can take this information and associate each of the different details with the person.
Optimising for entities helps to provide Google with enough information to be able to rank web pages without the explicit need for keywords within the content. We obviously wouldn’t recommend not using keywords, this is just an example of the sheer power of optimising for entities!
You can optimise for entities by:
- Building links. Links help to connect entities together and help to declare a relationship between pages. This works with both internal links and backlinks from other websites with anchor text being used to help provide even more context.
- Creating content for a range of different related entities. By covering multiple pieces of content related to a single entity or topic, this strengthens the signals of association for the main topic. For example, here at Cornerstone we have populated our website with content related to our core expertise – like this you’re reading now!
- Building reviews for your business, products or services. Simply put, reviews are a great social signal and they also showcase your authority.
4. More dynamic ways to search
People are not just typing into Google to search anymore. They are using features like Google Lens (to take a picture of a product to find it online) and are using the power of speech recognition to search instead of typing.
This means optimising for long tail keywords is more important as with voice search people are more inclined to search for sentences instead of just single keywords as its takes less time/effort.
The old cliché about a picture being worth a thousand words has taken on new meaning thanks to Google Lens.
It means optimising a website’s imagery is becoming increasingly important as Google needs to clearly ‘see’ images – and quite possible videos soon – to understand what’s on them and find similar objects across the web. So, to make Google see the object in detail, the visuals on your site should be of highest quality possible without impacting page speed metrics (good luck on that one!).
The overall message here is make images a part of your SEO strategy, and designing your own, properly sized imagery over stock photographs will help your cause too.
5. Endless scrolling to change the dynamic of CTR
Over the years, the relationship between SERP ranking position and click through rate has remained fairly consistent, with the majority of clicks going to the first three results.
But that is about to change with endless scrolling becoming available on both mobile and desktop. Google is hoping to make it easier for users to scroll through multiple pages of SERP results to find the content they seek.
Previously, if a user got to the bottom of the first page of results and didn’t find what they needed, they’d simply click off and search for something else instead of going to page two, which led to the old joke about the best place to hide something criminally damaging was on page 2 of a Google search!
This is Google’s answer to criticism that its results were degrading in quality and means we could see an increase in CTR and traffic for search results that were previously on page 2.
Although getting to the first page is still ideal, being on pages 2 or 3 will have more benefits than it once did thanks to endless scrolling.
6. AI generated imagery
Artificial intelligence can now generate absolute original images, thanks to the AI that makes this possible maturing significantly in recent years.
SEOs are always on the lookout for innovative technology that can help them amplify content creation effectively and that could be DALLE-2 – but what is it?
It was originally called GPT-2, AI technology that could answer questions, complete text, analyse content, and make conclusions. It was improved to GPT-3 and its capabilities expanded beyond textual information that enabled it to work with images. Scaled up DALLE-2 in 2022, the improved version creates an image just from a text prompt.
Nowadays, website and content promotion are not possible without attractive visuals. Images add more value to your SEO efforts – your site wins more user engagement and accessibility.
But sourcing enough appropriate images has always been a headache. AI can solve this with ease. You just need to print a descriptive prompt of your future image, and AI will come up with a result.
You will need to do some training, such as studying Prompt Book, to master the basics to avoid weird results. But you’ll learn the most valuable tips on how to get the most out of this image generator. It will add to your creativity and speed up the content creation process.
7. Passage indexing
Google passage indexing is an automated feature that pulls sections from pages into search engine results, even if the page covers a slightly different topic from the main one.
Passage indexing is a small tweak to help the search engine understand content better and deliver the best results to searchers, not to be confused with featured snippets.
For example, if you search “what time is it in Paris,” Google provides the answer at the top of the search engine results without requiring you to click on a result.
Passage indexing is an entirely different system that looks at the content of a page, determines if parts of the page answer a search query, and delivers those results in the SERPs. The passage can be viewed in the SERPs in a range of different ways.
Passage indexing naturally favours long-form content, as it will have a better shot at ranking for more keywords. That could mean sites with shorter content take a small hit in ranking as longer-form content gets a boost.
It is also more important than ever for sites to ensure SEO strategies are in place, like using the right heading and optimising anchor text. Pages with less optimisation but better content could outrank you.
If you’ve been avoiding long-form content, now might be the time to give it a go.
Videos are the fastest way to relay important information and get your message across. Google is also developing a means of using videos to help searchers find the information they require.
TikTok, Vimeo and YouTube are all popular video marketing platforms, and if you’re not sure about whether or not video marketing should form part of your overall strategy, here are some statistics* that prove it can be an invaluable tool for many businesses:
- You are 53 times more likely to appear on the first page of Google results if your website contains videos.
- It’s possible to increase your conversion rate by 80% by simply displaying a video on your landing page.
- For ecommerce sites, 90% of people state that videos help them make their purchase decisions.
Getting your videos ranked in Google searches is simple. There are two steps you need to take. Step 1 is uploading your videos to YouTube and step 2 is setting the visibility to public. And… that’s it!
What can Cornerstone do for you?
You name it, our digital team can do it. And as a full-service agency, we have all the tools – expertise and creativity within marketing strategy, design, digital, PR and even print production – to meet all your SEO needs.
If you’d like to discuss SEO, or wider marketing activities, get in touch and one of our dedicated account managers will get back to you.
Harrison began his marketing journey five years ago at the tender age of 17 and since then has built up years of combined agency and freelance experience in all sectors of digital marketing. Harrison has worked for companies across Leeds and Greater Manchester and during this time, he has toiled tirelessly to become proficient in […]Find out more about us