Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a constantly evolving field, and it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in order to remain competitive. And while ranking factors don’t necessarily change all that much from year to year, there have been some significant shifts over the past few years you should know about.
Keeping up with SEO updates is a must. Image from Envato Elements
In this article, we’ll look at some of the most important updates to SEO for 2023, including changes to how SERPs work, the increased emphasis on user intent, as well as the roles voice search, AI, and passage indexing have to play in all of this. While these changes have rolled out slowly, many might not be aware of these shifts, so we’re providing this resources to get you up to speed.
A Quick Word About the Google Algorithm
The Google algorithm is constantly updated, but not all updates have a dramatic effect on SEO. Some are relatively minor tweaks that don’t change ranking factors or how SERPs are presented. Other changes, however, can drastically alter how websites rank for certain keywords and phrases.
And often, those who work in the search engine optimization space have to keep their finger on the pulse of what’s happening in order to ensure their tactics are still effective. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the major changes to SEO for 2023 that you should be aware of.
Updates to How SERPs Work
One of the major changes to SEO over the past few years has been to how SERPs are presented. Google is increasingly emphasizing user intent (or search intent), meaning that it will display different results based on what a search engine user is looking for.
There are been several changes to how search engine results pages work in recent years. Image from Envato Elements
For example, if someone searches for “best running shoes,” they might get different results than someone who searches for “running shoe store near me.” This means that SEO marketers have to pay closer attention to user intent when optimizing content for search engines, or risk being pushed out of the top spots on the SERP. But more on that in just a bit.
One of the most significant changes as of late is the introduction of (and updates to) Google’s Helpful Content System. This system rewards websites that provide helpful content by giving them a boost in rankings. To be eligible for this boost, websites must have content that is accurate, comprehensive, and up-to-date. Additionally, websites should also focus on providing content that is useful and relevant to their target audience.
Another recent major update is to the Google Discover feature. This feature allows users to discover new content based on their interests and browsing history. And though it’s not new for this year, it’s increasingly important. As such, website owners need to ensure they are optimizing their content for this feature by including keywords related to their topic and making sure their titles are engaging and descriptive, of course. But it extends beyond this as well. What Discover presents to each user is unique and highly dependent on what they’ve:
- searched for in the past, and
- what the algorithm believes to be of most interest to the user.
Finally, Google has also released an update specifically targeting product reviews in February 2023. This update will affect how product reviews are displayed in SERPs, so it’s important for website owners who publish product reviews to make sure they are following best practices when writing them. This includes ensuring the reviews are accurate and unbiased as well as including relevant keywords throughout the review text.
Overall, understanding these updates is essential if you want your website to rank well in SERPs in 2023. By focusing on providing helpful content that is accurate and up-to-date as well as optimizing your content for Discover Traffic you can ensure your website stands out from the competition and ranks higher in the SERPs this year.
Emphasis on User Intent
As mentioned above, search engines have become increasingly focused on understanding user intent when returning results. As such, it’s important for marketers to understand what their target audience is looking for and create content that meets those needs. SEO is all about user intent in the 2020s.
SEMRush and other SEO tools assess the user intent for different search terms
This means that your optimization strategies must be tailored to meet the needs of users and their searches. Companies need to understand what their target audience is looking for and create content that meets those needs.
One way to do this is by utilizing first-hand experience on a topic, also known as the new “E” in E-A-T. The acronym typically stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness but Google has proposed an addition: Experience.
Relying on E-E-A-T will help ensure that your content is accurate, authoritative, and trustworthy. User experience is critical when it comes to SEO in 2023.
Attending to other site factors is important as well. After all, you can’t satisfy someone’s user intent if your site has poor performance and is difficult to browse. That’s why companies need to make sure their websites are easy to navigate and provide a great user experience overall. This includes having fast loading times, an intuitive design, and providing helpful information that answers users’ questions quickly and efficiently.
Emphasizing audience-targeted content rather than traffic-targeted content will help you better reach your target audience and provide them with the information they are looking for.
As technology improves, voice searches are on the rise and becoming increasingly commonplace. There’s been a huge surge in their popularity over the past few years with more businesses dedicating time to making sure their websites are optimized for this form of search.
Voice search only stands to become more prominent. Image from Envato Elements
For the uninitiated, voice search works by using automatic speech recognition (ASR) systems to convert spoken words into text. This allows users to quickly and easily find the information they need without having to type out a query. Voice searches are conducted on different platforms such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Cortana by Microsoft, and Google Assistant.
Optimizing your website for voice search can help you reach more customers and increase your visibility in the SERPs. To do this, you should:
- Create Content That Answers Common Questions. Focus on creating content that answers common questions related to your business or industry. This content should be written in a natural conversational tone to ensure it is easily understood by voice search technology.
- Use Natural Language. Related to the above, you should also use natural language when writing content so that it is easier for voice assistants to understand what you are saying. This includes including conversational phrases and sentences as opposed to more technical terms. Basically, write how people actually speak.
- Use Structured Data Markup. You should also include structured data markup on your website so that it can be easily indexed by voice assistants. Structured data is a standardized format for providing information about the content on your website. It helps voice assistants better understand and interpret what you are saying so that they can return more relevant results.
By following the above steps, you will be better able to optimize for voice searches and reach a larger audience.
AI & Machine Learning
AI and machine learning are playing an increasingly important role in SEO as search engines strive to provide more accurate results based on user intent. Marketers should take advantage of these technologies by leveraging AI-driven tools to optimize their content for better rankings.
With the help of AI-powered tools, businesses will be able to optimize their websites more efficiently and effectively than ever before. AI can analyze data from competitors and industry trends, allowing businesses to make informed decisions about their SEO strategies.
AI can also automate tedious tasks, freeing up time for other important items on your to-do list. And since AI is capable of deep learning, natural language processing, and analyzing large amounts of data, those who optimize for these factors will improve their search rankings and drive more traffic to websites.
It’s also believed that machine learning algorithms will be better able to predict SEO rankings, so those who leverage these tools will have a much better shot at higher SERP placement. As of this writing, a few SEO tools that leverage AI that are worth checking out include:
SurferSEO is an AI-driven SEO tool that provides keyword research, competitor analysis, and content optimization features. It also uses natural language processing to help marketers create content that is more optimized for voice search.
RankIQ is another SEO tool that helps you optimize your content for better search engine rankings. It provides keyword research, competitor analysis, and content optimization features, as well as a “smart assistant” that can help you craft better-optimized pieces of content.
Frase is an AI-driven content optimization platform that offers numerous content suggestions and optimization instructions. It uses natural language processing to analyze content and provide recommendations on how to improve it. It also provides insights into competitor content so you can stay ahead of the game.
Link Whisper is the perfect tool for marketers looking to effortlessly build high-quality backlinks. Featuring artificial intelligence technology, this innovative software can evaluate webpages and deliver invaluable advice that makes link-building a breeze.
By utilizing AI-driven SEO tools, marketers can gain a more in-depth comprehension of their SEO strategies and make the crucial changes needed to enhance them.
Lastly, there’s passage indexing, which is still another important tool for SEO in 2023. Google’s passage ranking algorithm allows it to rank individual passages within a page on search results, rather than the entire page.
This means that pages with long-form content can be more easily found by users, as the algorithm can understand which passages are most relevant to their query. Passage indexing also helps Google better understand the context of a page, allowing it to provide more accurate and relevant results. As such, it’s essential for businesses to ensure that their content is optimized for passage indexing in order to maximize their visibility in SERPs.
To optimize for passage indexing, it’s important to include keywords relevant to the topic at hand in headings, subheadings, and body copy. Including a table of contents can be helpful.
To fine-tune the content and boost its SEO, utilize related search terms throughout. And if you really want to get specific, structured data markup can help Google better understand your page’s context by providing information about authorship, publication date, or even images.
Learn More About SEO
Expand your search engine optimization knowledge further with some of these other fantastic guides and tutorials we’ve written in the past:
Update Your SEO Strategy for 2023 and Get Ahead of the Competition
As SEO continues to evolve, it’s important for businesses to stay ahead of the curve and update their SEO strategies accordingly. By utilizing the strategies discussed here, you can ensure that your content is well-optimized and easily found by users. Taking the time to familiarize yourself with the latest SEO trends and tools can help your business build its online presence, increase website traffic, and improve search rankings.