When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), Google never seems to stop rolling out new updates—each one bringing unique challenges to the SEO industry. In fact, in 2020 alone, Google made 4,500 changes!
At Big Leap, our approach to new trends in SEO is to view all things from the end user’s perspective: from the written word to site navigation.
Fortunately, Google agrees. They spend a lot of their time, money, and resources estimating how your website aligns with searches. On that note, we created this resource to share our thinking on seven of the latest SEO trends heading into 2023.
1. Google’s Helpful Content Update
Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr wrote, “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” back in 1849 (except he wrote it in French). He could have been thinking about Google’s Helpful Content Update from August 2022.
This could be described as Google’s latest reminder to put the reader first, discouraging the trend of automated topic generation, chasing fads, and the all-dreaded clickbait.
With their Helpful Content Update, Google factors in the quality of your old content. You could be publishing great new articles, but if your previous work suffers from quality issues, it could impact your ranking.
So, yes—Google looks at the value and accuracy of an entire domain, sifting through every page to evaluate the quality and substance of your content. Read our article on the Helpful Content Update if you’d like to delve a little deeper.
2. Search Intent Matters
Search intent is a humbling reminder to Google that language is complicated. And they’re still improving the engine’s ability to understand our quirky way with words.
Sometimes, words take on different meanings, and Google’s not entirely sure of a user’s intention. The meaning behind words and phrases goes to the heart of what’s new in SEO.
A great example is a search for notebook. Does the searcher want a good deal on a MacBook or perhaps a spiral notebook with actual pages? Someone could just be looking up where they can watch the movie.
So context matters—and search results might deviate wildly from intent. All the more reason to use clear, relevant information to help Google understand what your content is about. Make sure key elements and topics your site focuses on are consistently defined. Use examples to specify a potentially ambiguous word (like notebook).
3. It’s Time to EEAT (Especially with YMYL Sites)
EEAT is an acronym for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. It was first introduced in 2014 as an important addition to Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Series and more deeply integrated into regular search algorithms in 2018.
If quality content and contextual intent are the appetizers of Google trends in SEO, then EEAT is the main course.
EEAT is a continuous advancement stemming from Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, which means you should be even more vigilant about EEAT as an SEO trend in 2023.
Understanding EEAT also means unpacking the importance of sites classified as “your money or your life” (YMYL). No, Google isn’t focusing on sites looking to corner you in a dark alley.
YMYL websites are the top target for EEAT, as they deal with anything that can impact a person’s health, safety, financial stability, or overall well-being.
YMYL sites could offer advice on health symptoms and medication or how to properly invest in your retirement. If it’s about a YMYL topic, a website must prove trustworthy. 2023 is a good time to audit your website—which we specialize in at Big Leap.
It’s important to be clear about a site’s author, along with their credentials. If a business operates out of a physical address, the site should make it easy to find them on a map or by phone.
Google EEAT also cares about whether others regard a site as a valid source of information. Social media, reviews, and positive connections in your industry help Google make accurate assumptions about a site’s trust and credibility.
4. Meet RankBrain and BERT
EEAT is a big deal, but it isn’t the only trend in SEO utilized by AI and machine learning. While digesting what’s involved in EEAT and YMYL, look at BERT and RankBrain as your complementary side dishes that complete the meal.
RankBrain is a complex Google algorithm that’s been evolving since 2015. With ever-advancing AI and machine learning, RankBrain is Google’s way of understanding clear communication.
Assuming your website isn’t just a repository of highly technical scientific manuals, for example, writing accessible, conversational content is a vital trend in SEO for 2023 and beyond.
We’re not necessarily saying to abandon your current writing style. Instead, consider ways to present your information with clarity and approachability that’s relevant to your industry and audience.
BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, and we’re all thankful for the acronym. BERT was created in 2018, and Google started implementing it in 2019.
You can think of BERT as your friend in IT who really gets you—or at least they’re trying hard to do so. Seriously, that’s what BERT does!
BERT continuously adds to Google’s deep learning, utilizing natural language processing (NLP) and natural language understanding (NLU) for insights into language.
BERT interprets information from right to left in addition to left to right, discovering meaning and context in all directions.
BERT’s influence on ranking also means you’ll want to focus on a deeper level of context in your articles moving forward. Gone are the days of making each piece of content about a single keyword with the hope of ranking higher. “Thanks a lot, BERT!”
Instead of writing articles with a single point of focus, widen the use of important keywords in articles representing the whole picture. For example, if your site is about interesting car facts, you might be tempted to write a dozen short blog posts that spotlight different tire brands. Google is more likely to reward you for one in-depth article about tires for various weather conditions, preferred brands, and things that make them unique. Google will recognize your authority and accuracy from a broader context of your subject matter.
5. Don’t Skip the YouTube Videos
This isn’t the first time you’re hearing how great video is for your content strategy, and going into 2023, it certainly won’t be the last.
Placing your YouTube videos in relevant places across your website may not be an exciting new SEO trend, but it’s certainly going to help your ranking.
Here are a few ways to boost your video’s impact on your site ranking that apply to YouTube’s engine as well:
- Create relevant, clear titles and descriptions for your videos.
- Use captions so people can enjoy your content with the sound muted.
- Create thumbnails that reflect YouTube’s preference for bold colors and images of people.
6. Improve the User Experience
You’ll find that user experience is the common thread woven through every trend in SEO. In this case, users care an awful lot about speed and safety—and so does Google.
Core Web Vitals
Google usually emphasizes writing for human readers, not trying to appeal to their ranking engine. But every rule has an exception.
Core web vitals are signals Google uses in ranking, and they expect you to pay attention. This means using SSL encryption and an up-to-date SSL certificate for validation. Google also checks to make sure your site doesn’t come with viruses.
In the last quarter of 2021, 63% of Google searches came from mobile devices. This means mobile loading time and the speed of site navigation are SEO trends you need to pay close attention to.
Small improvements can make a big difference in speeding up your website. Consider reducing the file size of your website images, so they don’t slow your site down when users have spotty wifi.
You may get a big boost in loading speed by upgrading to a faster server host. In some cases, budget hosting plans make your site share a server. A dedicated server can speed up your site. Every microsecond counts when determining whether your visitors will stick around.
7. Prioritize Accessibility
You might be thinking accessibility sounds eerily similar to user experience. We can see that! But accessibility is about accommodating as many scenarios as possible. The following 6 features are particularly important for user accessibility from 2023 forward:
- Format every website with a responsive design, sizing visuals, and features to load on any device.
- Make sure every site feature is easy to use with a keyboard or a smartphone. Is it easy for any user to scroll, click on videos, or fill out a form?
- Use colors other than green and red for buttons on your site. Did you know 8% of men and 0.5% of women have color vision deficiency (CVD)? That’s a lot of users, so make sure you use colors they can distinguish.
- Be mindful to write quality alt text for your images. If an image doesn’t load on the user’s end, they should still know what it represents. Don’t just state the obvious: briefly explain the intent when necessary.
- Use the proper heading formatting for each section of your site. H1 is your article’s title, for instance, with H2 and smaller headers for sections and subsections.
- If there’s a form users can fill out, make sure fields are clearly marked, offering as few steps as possible.
Get Ready for 2023’s Trends in SEO
These SEO best practices will continue to matter in 2023. If it benefits the user’s experience, Google will be pleased. With all of their fancy AI, the bottom line is to make it easy for every visitor to enjoy your website.
If you need help analyzing, optimizing, and creating content for your site, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with our friendly experts at Big Leap today!