For most sites, SEO in 2023 will probably be similar to the past couple of years: you still need to improve your work but set the bar higher and higher. Competition is getting fiercer, and Google — and your potential customers — are getting better at recognizing true quality. Also, you should keep an eye out for technological advancements like ChatGPT, as they might make for an exciting year. Here, you’ll get a quick overview of SEO in 2023.
Table of contents
- 2022 is over; now what?
- It’s all about quality
- SEO in 2023
- Mobile still needs your focus
- Improve site quality
- Content quality
- Search is on the move
- A system for getting traffic with SEO in 2023
- SEO in 2023: What’s next?
2022 is over; now what?
2022 was a weird year. It might have been a somewhat positive year for most of us — although we’re in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, with a recession looming. The pandemic is still around but has taken a back seat in most places. If we look at our industry, SEO, we see that the online world has made a big jump. A lot of businesses moved online. Many people have shopped online for the first time, and many of them will keep doing that. There’s never been a better time to build an online business.
With a recession looming, SEO will likely become even more important. It’s one of the most cost-effective ways of reaching an audience — plus, it’s relatively easy to do. You can rely less on external platforms and more on the one that you fully control: your website.
So, with all these people waiting for your content — how would you use SEO in 2023?
It’s all about quality and E-A-T
2023 is all about quality and authority. Improving quality across the board should start with determining what you do. Please look at your products and services and the way you describe these. Have you had any trouble telling what you do? You may need to go back to the drawing board. Your product must be excellent, as there is no use in trying to rank a sub-par product. No one would fall for that. A killer product needs a killer site and a killer plan to get that site noticed.
Increasingly, Google looks at other signals to determine the value of your offer and yourself. These signals, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (or E-A-T) help it to discern the real from the fake, so to speak. The web is already rife with sub-par content, and the advent of new artificial intelligence content writers might flood it with even more. Quality, originality, authority, trustworthiness, and expertise will be where you will be judged on. And the recent addition of Experience to the E-A-T acronym shows Google is not done with its focus on this ranking factor.
Google will build out the Helpful Content system that it launched earlier in 2022 to help uncover truly good and original stuff.
SEO in 2023
For years, we heard talk about AI taking over the world, and 2023 might be the year that could happen. The launch of ChatGPT at the end of 2022 was a bombshell for many, and it was followed by a ton of new tools and developments. Plus, all the news surrounding the chat AI helped it reach a vast audience, which will surely help it get into the mainstream. ChatGPT could dramatically reshape how we search for answers, write our content, and much more. Now, it’s still early days, but keep a close eye on it and related technologies.
There’s a ton of other stuff happening as well. 2023 will also see much more visual and intelligent ways of searching and finding, like the multisearch stuff that Google introduced. Images will play a big part in how people will find you, so be sure to make these as good as possible.
There will also be a renewed interest in SEO as marketers will get trouble tracking their success on other platforms due to various legal changes, like a possible ban on Google Analytics in Europe. Cookies are also about to die. Even though tracking will continue in different forms, it’s time to invest in SEO before others flock to SEO.
Take note of these developments to see where search is heading, but for this moment, for most sites, it’s all about improving what you have right now. Site quality is critical. Content quality is vital. So, these SEO trends for 2023 are not hyped-up stuff but subjects we’ve been hammering home for a while. Remember Holistic SEO?
Improve site quality
If you’ve been playing this SEO game for a while, you’ve been working on your site for a long time. Over the years, there’s been a lot of talk about all the things you should focus on because that’s what the search engines would be looking at. Experts claim to know many factors that search engines consider to rank a piece of content for a specific term. That’s not possible. While nobody knows precisely what happens behind the scenes of a search engine, you can look back over a more significant period to determine trends. One thing that always keeps popping up?
To win in SEO in 2023, your site needs to be technically flawless, offer a spectacular user experience and high-quality content, and target the right audience at the right time in their user journey. And, of course, your site’s speed and user experience need to improve. It also means incorporating and improving Schema.org structured data, as structured data remains one of the critical developments for some time.
Let’s review some of the things you need to focus on in 2023.
A better Page Experience with good Core Web Vitals
As part of an effort to get sites to speed up and to provide a great user experience, Google announced the Page Experience algorithm update that rolled out in 2021. This update gives you another reason to put site speed front and center. While the Page Experience update didn’t shake up the SERPs, we expect it to continue to become a stronger signal.
Site speed has always been critical. If you can’t keep up with your competition now, you’ll soon find yourself having a more challenging time keeping up if you’re not speeding up your site. If one of your competitors becomes a lot faster, you become slower by comparison, even when you’re not becoming slower. Improving loading time is a lot of work, but as it might make you much faster than the competition, it’s an excellent tradeoff.
Start by finding a better hosting plan — one of the quickest ways to speed up your site! — and optimizing your images with image SEO.
Enhance the user experience
Page experience ties in with user experience. Is your site a joy to use? Can you find what you need in an instant? Is the branding recognizable? How do you use images? Improving the user experience is a surefire way to make your — potential — customers happy. Happy customers make happy search engines!
Untangle your site structure
Loads of sites were started on a whim and have grown tremendously over time. Sometimes, all those categories, tags, posts, and pages can feel like the roots of trees breaking up a sidewalk. It’s easy to lose control. You might know that keeping your site structure in check is beneficial for your visitors and search engines. Everything should have its proper place, and if something is old, outdated, or deprecated, maybe you should delete it and point it to something relevant.
This year, you should pay special attention to your site structure. Re-assess your site structure and ask yourself if everything is still where it should be or if improvements need to be made. How’s your cornerstone content strategy? Is your internal linking up to scratch? Are redirects screwing up the flow of your site? The SEO workouts in Yoast SEO Premium can help you get started on this.
Implement Schema.org structured data
Structured data with Schema.org makes your content instantly understandable for search engines. Search engines use structured data to connect parts of your page and the world around it. It helps to provide context to your data. Besides making your site easier to understand, adding structured data makes your site eligible for rich results. There are many rich results, from star ratings to image highlights, and search engines continue to expand this. Structured data forms the basis of many developments, like voice search and Google’s ecommerce push.
Implementing structured data has never been easy, but we’re solving that problem. Yoast SEO automatically outputs a complete graph of structured data, describing your site and content in detail for search engines — and connecting everything. For specific pages, you can describe the content in the Schema tab of Yoast SEO. Also, our structured data content blocks for the WordPress block editor let you automatically add valid structured data by simply picking a block and filling in the content. We now offer blocks for FAQ pages and How-to articles, with more on the way. In addition, we also have an online training course on structured data to help you improve your SEO in 2023.
Mobile still needs your focus
We’ve talked about mobile for years, but we must remind people to take it seriously. Since Google switched to mobile-first indexing, it judges your site by how it works on mobile, even when most of your traffic is from the desktop. Give your mobile site special care and work on its mobile SEO. You should test whether your site works as well on mobile and desktop. Is the structured data functioning and complete? Do images have relevant alt-texts? Is the content complete and easy to read? Could you make it lightning-fast, easy to use, and valuable?
In 2022, many people experienced mobile shopping for the first time, and they will come back for more in 2023. If you sell stuff online, be sure to optimize the checkout process of your ecommerce site — make it as short and focused as possible!
There is a ton of content out there — and a lot of new content is published daily. Why should your content be in the top ten for your chosen focus keyphrases? Is it perfect enough to beat the competition? Are you publishing original, all-encompassing content that answers the questions your audience has?
Keep search intent front and center
Search intent is the why behind a search. What does this person mean to do with this search? Is it to find information or to buy something? Or maybe they’re just trying to find a specific website. Or is it something else entirely? Search engines are better at understanding this intent and the accompanying user behavior. Thanks to breakthroughs in natural language processing with BERT and MUM, Google is starting to know the language inside out. In 2023, we’ll see Google use these new skills to bring better and more accurate search results — and present them in innovative ways.
Of course, we can still help search engines pick the correct version of our content. By determining the intent behind a search, you can map your keyword strategy to a searcher’s specific goals. Map these intents to your content, and you’re good to go.
Re-do your keyword research
The last two years were impactful for many of us, and a lot has changed. Keeping this in mind, it’s high time to re-do your keyword research. There is bound to have been an enormous amount of change in your market. Not only that, your company itself is bound to have changed. Not updating your keyword research means missing out on significant opportunities. Read up on the research about consumer trends for 2023 and beyond. After that, ask yourself these questions:
- What changed in my company?
- What changed in and around my audience?
- Has something changed in people’s language?
- What has changed in where people search?
Content is context
Context is one of the essential words in the SEO field. Context is what helps search engines make sense of the world. As search engines become more innovative and intelligent, providing them with as much related information as possible is becoming more critical. By offering the necessary context about your subject and entities, you can help search engines make the connection between your content and where that content fits in the grand scheme of things. It’s not just content; the links you add and how you add these links also provide context that helps search engines. Also, Schema structured data provides another way to show search engines how entities are connected.
By mapping the context of your subject, you might find a hole in your story. It could be that you haven’t fully explored your topic. Or maybe you found new ways of looking at it, or perhaps the recent developments threw you a curveball. Who knows! Stay on top of your topic and incorporate everything you find. Sometimes, it also means going back through your old content to update, improve or fix things — or delete stuff entirely.
Re-assess the content and quality of your most important pages
If you are anything like us, you have been at this game for a while and produced loads of content. That’s not a bad thing, of course, unless you are starting to compete with yourself. Keyword cannibalization can become a big issue, so content maintenance is a thing. Keep an eye on the search results of your chosen focus keyphrase. Do you have multiple articles in the top ten for a specific keyphrase? Is that what you want to happen?
You need to re-assess your content to find out how you are doing. Is everything in tip-top shape? Do you need to write more? Or less? Maybe combine several weaker articles into one strong one? Content pruning is going through your posts to see what you can take to improve the rest. Sometimes, the best SEO strategy can be to hold the writing for a while and improve what you have!
Work on your expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T)
Now search engines can understand the content; they are increasingly looking at its value. Is it trustworthy? Who is the person claiming these things? Why should we trust the author? Is the author an authority on the subject? Google looks not just at the quality of the content but also at whether that content can be assessed professionally. Trust and expertise will be essential, especially for YMLY (Your Money or Your Life) pages, like medical or financial content. E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness) looks at this and is becoming a more significant part of SEO in 2023. What’s more, at the end of 2022 even added an extra letter to the acronym: Experience!
Hone those writing skills!
Quality content is well-written content. Quality content is original, in-depth, and easy to understand. Search engines are improving at determining an article’s text quality and making decisions based on that. Also, readers value well-written texts more and get a sense of trust from them. If content reads well and is factual and grammatically correct, it will come across as more professional, and people will be more likely to return to read more of your content.
While it is increasingly challenging to write all that high-quality content yourself, artificial intelligence might help make your job easier. AI content generators are getting better by the day and have reached a level that produces pretty good content. So why not make use of these tools, I hear you say?
Having an AI tool write your content doesn’t lead to high-quality, unique, authentic stuff. An AI has been trained on stuff that we already know, so there is no way for it to write something unique. Please take care in using tools like this. Of course, there’s no harm in having an AI speed up your work, getting you inspired, and helping you set stuff up. Be sure to edit the outcome into something you are proud of.
It will be interesting to see Google’s reaction to the flood of AI-generated content that is bound to arrive in 2023. They will probably focus even more on identifying E-A-T signals in content to try and discern AI content from content written by expert humans.
Whatever happens, brush up on those writing and editing skills! We have an excellent SEO copywriting guide and an SEO copywriting course if you need help. If you buy Yoast SEO Premium, you get complimentary access to all our SEO training courses — for one low price.
Search is on the move
As much as we’d like everything to happen on our website, it’s not. Depending on where you are and what you’re doing, your search engine optimization might need to happen elsewhere, not specifically in Google. Search is moving beyond the website or social media platform for investigations and actions. Loads of devices can answer a spoken question with a spoken answer. Machines that can book tickets for you or reserve a table. There are powerful e-commerce platforms that seem to get most of the product searches, not to mention all those app-based services. Visual search is also on the rise. TikTok is huge in certain demographics. Maybe these have value for you?
(Progressive web) apps
Links to apps continue to pop up in search, especially on mobile. Many sites bombard you with links to their apps on the home screen. Some services are app-only, like Uber. Apps are everywhere; even Google is testing structured data for software apps. Moreover, Google has expanded its mobile homepage with the Discover app that suggests new content based on your interests.
Where there’s an app, there’s a customer to reach. Uber might be the ultimate taxi-hailing service, but why can’t a local taxi company replicate that? Apps offer another way — and sometimes a better way — of reaching your audience. Depending on your product and market, looking into apps might be a good idea. If you’re not willing to go down the native route, there are always progressive web apps — which we’ll see a lot of this year!
Video content is incredibly popular! And there’s no end in sight for the video boom. YouTube might be the most crucial search engine for many people besides Google. We’ve seen the arrival of short-form content providers like TikTok and several enhancements in how video gets presented on the search results pages. You can count on it that video content will only become more critical. If you have the means, invest in video. Remember, it doesn’t always have to be flashy and professional — make it heartfelt. In addition to our Video SEO WordPress plugin, we also have a ton of content on how to do video SEO well.
Traditionally, many searches happen not on search engines but social media and other platforms. These past years, we’ve seen a steady decline in traffic and conversion from social media. Different platforms are taking their place. YouTube is a powerful search engine, as is Amazon. Plus, there are all those short-form videos going around. Maybe that’s something to attract a new audience? Also, did you see the meteoric rise of alternative search engines like DuckDuckGo and Neeva? People are getting more privacy-aware, which is a good thing! Depending on the searcher and their goal, platforms like these are becoming increasingly important. Indeed, something to think about!
Don’t just think: “I need to publish a blog post on my website” — there are so many great destinations out there that might fit the goal of your message better.
A system for getting traffic with SEO in 2023
What does it all boil down to if we recap all this? We know it sounds easy when you read it like this, but this is what you should keep in your head at all times:
- A lot has changed in the last two years, so restart your research and read up on consumer trends for 2023.
- You should have a fast, easily usable, technically flawless website with high-quality content that genuinely helps visitors.
- This website must be supported by a brand offering high-quality products and services.
SEO in 2023: What’s next?
It’s easy to say that your site must be better than ever in 2023 because it’s true! Those ten blue links and rich search results are what it’s all about for most sites. The majority of traffic will still come from organic searches. Social media traffic is down, and conversational search is rising, but not enough to put a dent in organic. And then there’s video. Ultimately, you must keep improving your site in all the right places.
Of course, much other stuff is happening simultaneously, and most of it concerns an ever-changing Google. Next year, we might see Google less like a search engine and more as a virtual assistant — a person who lives on your phone and solves your problems. And that’s what they want to get to. It’s been a promise for a long time, but now we’re starting to see it with all these rich results and answer boxes. This will be interesting to watch.
Have a great 2023!
Edwin is a strategic content specialist. Before joining Yoast, he spent years honing his skill at The Netherlands’ leading web design magazine.