Businesses worldwide are investing in their content marketing strategy, and it’s increasingly clear this is a pivotal medium for global economic growth. Even so, SEO is a rapidly growing and evolving industry, often as unpredictable as Google’s algorithm updates. 

(On that note, read how Big Leap salvaged Power Finance Texas’ rankings after said updates.) 

Think of digital marketing as a sea and your company’s content marketing strategy as your raft. Keeping up with the latest digital marketing trends is critical to patching holes, upgrading your vessel, and ultimately staying above water. 

Let’s dive into 2023’s top digital marketing trends so you can ride the wave instead of getting pulled underneath. 

SEO & Digital Marketing Trends for 2023

While many 2022 trends are still relevant, such as niche marketing and non-linear customer journeys, new ones are emerging. These include passage indexing, the relationship between email marketing and PPC, and more.

Here are 18 digital marketing trends to be aware of this upcoming year:

#1 Featured Snippets Are Where It’s At

Consumers want quick answers to their search queries and would rather not click through the top few results to find what they’re looking for.

Featured snippets are those bits of information that Google provides directly in the search results in the form of an answer box. Google’s algorithm chooses the most relevant content based on the search query and features it at the top of the page. Google also tries to show content that is the most useful for readers, meaning the page it ranks has high traffic and a low bounce rate.

The most obvious benefit of capturing a featured snippet is increased web traffic. If your content is selected for the snippet, it will be front and center on the search results page, and being at the top of organic search results is nothing to scoff at. But beyond higher organic traffic, a featured snippet will also give your organization higher prestige. After all, Google is essentially saying your content is the most credible source of information, and the searchers will believe it.

In August 2022, Google rolled out an update that improved the quality of featured snippets. Google’s systems can now understand consensus using their latest AI innovation, Multitask Unified Model (MUM). This means Google comprehends when multiple high-quality sources agree on the same fact. 

The best way to gun for the featured snippet is to have your content answer the search query immediately. If you’re hoping to get a featured snippet for the key phrase “how do refrigerators work?” then you better title your article “How Do Refrigerators Work?” and dive directly into a simple summary of the answer in the first sentence. Then you can use the rest of the article to hash out the details.

Discover how Big Leap used featured snippets to raise rankings for McCoy’s

#2 Writing Based on Search Intent

In Google’s early days, content writers had to include very specific keywords or phrases to rank high on results pages. They were so specific that these phrases often didn’t make much sense in the context of the article. Fortunately, Google’s algorithms continue to improve, and rankability is much more focused on search intent.

Search intent is the motive behind a user’s search query. Do they want to buy something? Do they want to read an informative article? Do they want to compare products before making a purchase? Are they looking for food near their geographic vicinity?

So when writing with keywords and phrases, you have to start thinking about the intent behind them. Why would someone be asking this? And how would they be asking it? Are they typing a common phrase into the search bar or asking a conversational question via voice assistant? These will inform you of what to write about.

#3 Speedy Load Times

People don’t like to wait for a website to load. In fact, 25% of visitors would abandon a website if it takes more than four seconds to load.

Load time isn’t just crucial for consumers; speed is a ranking factor. If it takes web crawlers a long time to reach your webpage, they won’t stick around for long. Plus, an increased load time of one to five seconds makes the likelihood of a bounce go up by 90%. 

To improve your load times, reduce your image sizes, remove unnecessary redirects, and enable compression to start. Optimizing for mobile users is just as important. In 2021, over 54% of all web traffic came from mobile users. Ensure your web host has a mobile optimization option to appease all that web traffic. 

#4 Think EAT

You’ve likely heard how important “high-quality content” is for improving your online relationship with readers, but what does that content look like? A popular and effective acronym that floats around the marketing bubble is “EAT,” meaning expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

Expertise means explaining your higher knowledge and skill on a particular topic to engage your readers. To do that, find out what your audience wants through searcher intent and then over-deliver.

Authority comes when people start associating a topic or product with your brand. Getting mentioned or linked to in other blogs indicates to Google that you know what you’re talking about, making you much more likely to rank higher. Even a Wikipedia page for your brand can work wonders for developing authority.

Trustworthiness means you are what you say you are. That means you are truly an authoritative expert to whom readers come for accurate information. Positive online reviews, a secure website domain, terms and conditions pages, and refund and return policies can instill this trust in your customers.

#5 Frequent, Long Content Ranks Higher

This is a two-parter: you need to write content more frequently, and you also need to write longer content to optimize your ranking chances.

The more content you write, the more keywords and questions you can answer. Since you only want to focus on one primary keyword and a handful of secondaries per article or webpage, you need to write multiple pages for a broad keyword portfolio.

Google also prefers content that is rich with information. The first ten results typically reach over 2,000 words each, but it’s not because Google checks the word count. Long-form content offers more opportunities for backlinks and keyword variations and keeps readers on your page—meaning longer user sessions.

But even though Google likes brands that produce a lot of long content, you can’t sacrifice quality for quantity. Be sure all of your articles follow the EAT principles.

#6 Local SEO Is in the Front Seat

Local SEO took a back seat in 2020, mainly because COVID-19 kept everyone indoors. But this change wasn’t permanent! Even in 2020, 46% of all Google searches had local intent. 

If you prioritize local SEO, you can gain a competitive edge over your local competition. Besides, if you really want to stick around, you need to use local SEO to show consumers that you exist.

Read how Big Leap used location-focused tactics to improve rankings for a client in the rehab and recovery space. You can also learn how Big Leap optimized and created localized content for Visionworks.

#7 To Win Social Media, Use Niche Marketing 

Social media marketing is oversaturated. Every brand tries to reach its audience(s) with the “right” message. But, not every company can make its desired impact.

The key to social media marketing in 2021 is to identify where your customers are, create niche content that they are most likely to engage with, and get them to convert. This strategy has the potential to be highly profitable, but only after performing some extensive experimentation on these channels.

Figure out which social media channel is the most popular with your audience. Experiment with different types of content to find out what garners the most engagement. And above all else, try to instill trust and authenticity in your brand image through your social media content.

#8 Marketing Automation Is Very Effective

Marketing automation is nothing new. For years, automation tools have helped marketers to target the right customers, simplify time-consuming tasks, and maximize overall efficiency for marketing campaigns.

So why is it so important to start on marketing automation? HubSpot has found that email automation campaigns are 71% effective

#9 Voice Search Has to be Personalized

Voice devices like Alexa and Siri made it so people can ask a question and get a handful of useful answers. It’s changed how marketers approach keywords, opting for full questions and phrases rather than a few choice words. But voice search is changing the way we market our products, too.

Voice search now works to improve the overall customer experience. This can include personalized messaging, which creates a more natural interaction between customers and brands. So when a customer asks about getting new shoes, their device can show them deals and styles related to their past purchase information, geographic location, and intent.

#10 Take Your Customers on a Non-Linear Customer Journey

In the early days of marketing, customers would see an ad and either go to the store to buy the featured product or order it from a catalog. Those days are long gone. Now customers are researching, comparing one brand’s offer to another, and reading online reviews. It’s a long, thorough process.

Brands have to constantly re-grab a customer’s attention. That’s why strategies like remarketing and cross-device targeting have become so popular. These strategies are what make people think Google or Facebook is reading their minds.

#11 Customers Want a Memorable Experience

If you see two ice cream shops next to each other, one with flashy and colorful decor and the other with a simple design, chances are more customers will go for the flashy shop. It’s not because their ice cream is better, it’s because they’re offering something more: an experience.

Consumers don’t just want products anymore—they want a memorable experience to associate with their purchase. Whether they get that experience from the brick-and-mortar store, the unboxing process or the product itself is up to you.

#12 Strong, Resilient Brands

All of these previous tips help your brand to get noticed, but what if your brand sucks? You’d be drawing attention to something that most may not want to associate with at all.

Start with reputation management and new social media marketing strategies if you need to fix a bad brand. These can give your brand its strength back, help leads understand your values, and shows how your product can help them.

#13 Video Marketing Is No Longer Optional

Perhaps a top marketing trend today (and likely one for the next decade) is video marketing—and we don’t just mean recording a video and throwing it up on YouTube. Video marketing includes:

  • Live broadcasting on Instagram or Facebook (newly renamed as Meta)
  • Embedding video in a published article
  • Ripping the audio for use in a podcast episode
  • Inserting videos in your email marketing campaigns (inserting the word “video” in the subject line)

Video marketing is no longer an option but a necessity because, as discussed in Biteable’s 2021 report, 74% of marketers say video has a better ROI than static imagery. And 68% say it has a better ROI than Google Ads. 

Where does this high ROI come from? Of those polled, 53% say it’s from the fact that videos raise awareness, 49% say video engages their audiences, and 52% say video builds trust with potential customers.

TikTok is the new kid on the block when it comes to video marketing. Since it was founded in 2016, this platform has grown to more than one billion active users. People’s engagement with TikTok continues to grow and thrive with no signs of slowing down. Brands can extend their reach and target a new demographic through video marketing on this innovative platform.

In 2023, companies should expand beyond Facebook and YouTube by including TikTok and Instagram in their social media channels.

#14 Core Web Vitals Will Beat the Competition

Page experience, also called UX, is a new member of Google’s ranking factor family. The announcement said, “the experience of interacting with a web page beyond its pure information value” will now be considered in rankings. Google completed the global rollout of this factor in August 2021, meaning that 2022 was when this new trend really got off the ground.

Here’s what you need to know now:

  • Google’s page experience signal measures how users perceive page interaction. 
  • User experience must be delightful across all web browsers and devices.
  • Business ranking success will evolve as users grow more engaged and have less transactional friction.

Getting back to core web vitals, these are a set of metrics that quantify the above key aspects of page experience, along with: 

  • Load time
  • Stability of content
  • Interactivity
  • Security of user data

Without these metrics, there will be no way for a business to know what can be improved to achieve a higher search rank. That’s why this trend is a big one to get ahead of before your competition takes the cake.

#15 Passage Indexing Changes the Game

An announcement from Google altered the way content is indexed and understood. Before, the focus of indexing a page would be on understanding the primary topic the content covered. With passage indexing, Google uses a new algorithm and its natural language processing feature to understand the meaning of each passage on a page.

So, what does this mean for your company? 

It’s time to buckle down on the structure of your content. Highly structured content performs much better due to this new approach since the algorithm attempts to find answers to more specific questions throughout the page, even if they’re buried beneath lots of information about the primary topic.

Structured content performs better because it’s easier to index a page and identify content relevant to question-based keywords if there’s a clear structure. 

When this feature initially rolled out, Google said that passage indexing would improve 7% of search queries. Now, in 2023, it’s more relevant than ever to focus on the quality of your content and take a good look at how well it answers question-based keywords to leverage passage indexing.

Regarding overall content strategy, incorporate more question-based and long-tail keywords (especially in long-form content) to benefit from this trend that continues to climb in relevance. Making good use of heading tags and a table of contents for longer pieces will give Google a heads-up on the depth of your content. 

#16 Thought Leadership & Value-Driven Content Are Essential

While technical and traditional SEO practices are still crucial to a successful digital marketing strategy, 2023 shifts focus to Google’s algorithm. In August 2022, Google announced the “helpful content update,” which is part of a broader effort to bring content written for people by people to the front page of search results. 

This update means Google will continue to push forward in rewarding people-first content. If readers are satisfied when they leave an article, it will perform better than an article that doesn’t meet their expectations. 

Thought leadership content will be extremely valuable over the next year. Not sure what that means? You’re not alone. Many business leaders are missing a massive opportunity to improve their SEO strategy because they’re simply emulating content that echoes the top search results.

Instead, thought leadership content approaches a topic with different intentions. An excellent thought leadership article will inspire, inform, and entertain the reader. These are unique pieces that industry experts write. Prioritizing unique, authoritative content goes a long way toward positioning your brand as an industry leader with valuable niche expertise. 

Read how Big Leap used competitor analysis and extensive topic research to create unique content for GED Testing Service. You can also learn how we used pillar pages to create high-value content for SwimJim.

#17 Email Marketing and PPC Must Work Together

In the past, email marketing and PPC have stood as two separate channels in your marketing mix. All of that is changing with a growing awareness of how effective PPC can be when integrated into a robust email marketing campaign and vice versa. If your marketing team is split between email and PPC experts, it’s time to start collaborating internally. 

Integrating PPC into your email marketing strategy can include:

  • Using paid search to fuel your email list
  • Testing CTAs and offers with paid search before adding them to emails
  • Reusing segmented email lists for PPC campaigns
  • Testing visuals on PPC landing pages before using them in emails

These are just a few ideas for collaboration between email and paid advertising. Personalization is all the rage for digital marketing in 2022 and 2023. Since most users view promotional emails as spam, a great email marketing campaign focuses on delivering personalized, valuable content to customers. 

Repurposing this content for PPC campaigns and vice versa can save time and resources while increasing the efficacy of both.

#18 Site-Wide SEO Audits Are Almost Required

Brands are getting smarter, and by smarter, we mean more thorough. Knowledge is power in the digital marketing world, and there’s no better way to gather information about your current positioning than by conducting a site audit. 

A core function of a site audit is to provide insight into what’s working and what’s not, leading to better SEO marketing strategies and making it easier to develop valuable content. A site audit goes a long way toward landing your brand on the front page of search results. 

Learn how Big Leap conducted an extensive site-wide SEO audit for Avis (and the incredible results it produced)

Prepare for Next Year’s Digital Marketing Landscape

We’re just scratching the surface here, but these 18 trends will help your company gain traction and maintain a competitive edge. 

Are you thinking about getting some extra hands involved with your content marketing strategy? Big Leap is here to help. We specialize in a holistic approach to digital marketing and SEO, offering an efficient process for any marketing campaign. Contact Big Leap today to learn how we can help you reach your company goals.

Julie Snow