At the start of each new year, it’s helpful to look at upcoming trends and expert predictions to align your strategy and find focus in your SEO work. While there are no guarantees, many expectations around search are informed by economic situations, the direction Google is moving with updates, and developments within the industry.
In this round-up, I’ll be highlighting some of the key possibilities, and providing suggestions of where you should spend your time in SEO over the coming year.
Goodbye to Universal Analytics
Don’t forget: Universal Analytics (UA) will stop processing traffic to your website as of the 1st of July 2023. It will instead be replaced by Google Analytics 4 (GA4), a move that aims to provide more relevant and data-secure information about your website visitors.
This isn’t new information – we’ve known it’s going to happen for a while – but some companies are still delaying setting up a GA4 account. If this is you, then take action now. Analytics provides vital information from your SEO, from visitor volume to demographics and behaviour.
Read Google Analytics 4 (GA4): What it is and How To Set up the Basics.
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
The last few months have heard a lot of buzz around machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), both positive and negative. Regardless of your opinion, it looks as though it’s here to stay, so it’s worth embracing it within SEO while also being aware of the shifts it will bring.
This topic is a huge one that can cover ethics, the future of SEO, technological advancements and more. For now, it’s worth remembering that Google’s guidelines ban the use of content written by AI, and you may be heavily penalised if your site contains lots of generated text. AI is still in the early stages too, and the results, even from advanced systems like ChatGPT, are far from perfect.
AI brings both pros and cons to the world of SEO: it creates many opportunities, while potentially making some areas redundant. However, the verdict is still out, and in 2023 I recommend keeping an eye on developments and seeing where the technology is going. It will also be interesting to track Google’s response to combat AI content.
Google’s Helpful Content Update
Content is still king, as it has been for years. And with Google’s Helpful Content Update – rolled out in 2022 – the old adage is as true as it’s ever been.
The Helpful Content Update aims to improve search results, focusing on human-written, expert and detailed content that is useful and informative to the intended users. Critically, it focuses on rewarding content that is made to serve users, rather than to obtain higher search rankings.
It’s predicted that Google will continue to make helpful content updates throughout 2023, so it’s worth starting – or continuing – to create more guides and advice pages. Consider what information will be most useful to your users and relevant to your business, and build comprehensive, insightful guides.
Read more about the Helpful Content Update and how you can use it to improve your website content.
Focus on the Basics
Despite all the new and exciting updates and changes you can make for SEO in 2023, nothing will have more impact that sorting out the basics. Before you do anything else, give your website a health check and make sure you have solid SEO foundations.
Read: How to Start Optimising Your Website for Search.
Last year saw a number of updates from Google around online shopping, including augmented reality and the elimination of commission fees when selling via the search engine.
The number of online shoppers continues to grow, and if you have an e-commerce store, then you can expect to see more changes in 2023. Google has been making online shopping more visible and interactive, especially in the USA, and we’re likely to see these changes filtering over to the UK in the coming year.
You can improve your current e-commerce store now to take advantage of current search functionality, and also prepare for upcoming changes. By being ready for future possibilities and likelihoods, you’ll gain a headstart on your competitors.
Take a look at my guides on SEO for E-Commerce to get started.
Voice Search and Natural Language
Google’s understanding of natural language is constantly improving as search queries become more complex and more searchers turn to voice. The way someone speaks a search query is often very different to how they might write it, so Google has to be more aware of the complexities of language.
As voice search becomes more popular, you should start optimising your site for longer keywords that utilise natural language (for example: “where can I buy flower seeds near me” rather than “flower seeds near me”). It’s also worth keeping answers short – or including a summary to longer answers – and being aware of regional words and phrases if your business serves a local area.
Learn more ways you can optimise for voice search.
Visuals Matter More
Every year we see an increase in the importance of visual elements: graphics, photos, videos, and so on. This year will be no exception and you’re likely to see more and more visuals in search results.
As a business, you want to optimise for this and ensure you provide Google with information that will help your listing stand out. Basic image optimisation on your site is absolutely vital, but you can take it a step further by incorporating more video.
Video has been on the lips of SEOs for years, and the statistics around it are astounding. For example, conversion rates go up by 80% when you use a video on your landing page, and 50% of consumers use video to help them make purchasing decisions.
You can create videos that talk about your business and its story, provide information on a topic relevant to your business, or demonstrate the use of your products. Get on camera yourself or create an animated video. Repurpose existing blog content, or ask for video testimonials.
There is plenty you can do to create video content for your website, and the results can often be repurposed for other areas of your marketing, such as in paid ads or on social.
In 2023, it’s still worth starting with the basics and ensuring your website meets minimum SEO standards. Trends that have been around for years, including a focus on content, are still important in the new year. However, we’re also likely to see more from artificial intelligence and machine learning, and this is where the biggest impact could come in 2023.
The world of SEO and technology develops quickly, and keeping on top of the changes is the key to success. Why not receive updates and guides directly to your inbox by signing up to my newsletter.