SEO Trends Heading into 2023

Google’s shift to Helpful Content is symbolic of a sea change in SEO. Gone are the days of optimization that involves crawlers, bots, and shabby links. As we head into the teeth of 2023, the user is in charge.

This means that SEO marketers must fundamentally change their understanding of the discipline and master some of the emerging themes that will drive real business for their organizations.

In short, SEO isn’t just about the Google SERPs anymore. In this post, I’ll break down the initiatives and philosophies SEOs must be prepared to tackle in the year ahead.

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SEO strategy must reflect user preferences

If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that user trust in old institutions – especially politics and media – has eroded. This extends to major marketing platforms.

With people generally more skeptical and discerning, SEOs must recognize the need for consensus; users will no longer simply trust the algorithm and accept the first page of answers as correct just because they’re first. The shift away from keyword ranking and volume comes from the rising need for intent match and ability to cut through the noise. 

This means a focus of quality engagement over quantity of clicks and impressions, especially those associated with AI. We’re seeing more zero-click and zero-volume searches translate to query rewriting and microtargeting for individual users for higher-quality traffic. And while “first-hand” and user-generated content may not rank above sites with high domain authority, for users it appears more trustworthy and authentic.

It’s also notable that user journeys are becoming more complex; people are accessing content on multiple platforms on multiple devices, often at the same time. With mobile, time between immediate needs and knee-jerk searches is getting shorter, but decision-making is getting more complex. People want to find a solution to their problem, but they also want to see that their solution is coming from a reputable source with real-time, authentic user feedback.

In short, brands have to meet customers where they are and adapt strategies to reflect these changes. This means exploring TikTok search – if that’s where some of your most valuable users engage – even if you can’t stand the platform.

 

SEO must extend to more channels and initiatives

Speaking of TikTok, recent reports that show it (and Instagram) eating into Google’s share of the SEO market underscore the fact that organic search has moved far beyond the limits of Google and Bing. SEO is expanding beyond its own definition, to the point where organic visibility is the best way to describe all of the channels and strategies that fall under the SEO umbrella. 

Focusing less on the “search engine algorithms” and more on UX means optimizing more offsite properties, optimizing different verticals, and integrating multi-search behavior into your campaigns.

 

Effective SEO must move the needle for your business

Even if you wanted to stick to the old way of measuring SEO, with links and ranking and clicks and impressions, the rise of rich and zero-click results will continue to cause performance disruptions and reporting shifts

The better way forward – and a more fundamentally sound way to prove your team’s value to the organization – is to align on your major business goals and derive your organic KPIs from there.

Develop a strategy where best practices are ingrained into the framework, not serving as a starting point. Understanding the audience, the existing landscape, and the user behavior is key for prioritizing strategies and exploring opportunities. Alignment on business goals will also tell you whether initiatives like interactive content, AI or AR, and other platforms like connected TV or TikTok should be prioritized.

 


 

In the weeks and months to come, the JDM team will dig into each of these trends in more detail. Stay tuned - and/or reach out to us if you want to get in touch with an expert!

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