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SEO in 2023: The past, present, and future of search

In the world of Google, the only constant is change, and keeping up with the latest updates to the search behemoth’s algorithm has always been crucial to SEO success. With new technologies being developed seemingly every day and the rise of AI becoming less of a novelty and more of an essential part of SEO trends, the future is racing toward us at a rate that many businesses simply aren’t prepared for.

Not only is the tech aspect of search evolving, but searching behavior itself is also starting to shift more rapidly, which means online businesses must be fleet of foot to adapt and thrive. But fear not because we will explore some vital data from the past and the present to predict the future of search engine trends and how you can navigate the coming changes to be the center of attention in your niche.

The Past: What have we left behind, and what’s still here?

Much like going through your old Instagram posts from 2015, SEO strategies from the past tend to be a little cringe-inducing, and the approach to content optimization has, thankfully, undergone wholesale changes. Shady tactics no longer appease Google to secure higher rankings as one of the goals of SEO, which has made for happier end users and better search experiences.

What we left behind:

  • Keyword stuffing
  • Exact match domains
  • Links: Quantity over quality
  • Spinning articles and duplicating content
  • Hidden text and keyword stuffing
  • Link farms and reciprocal linking
  • Overemphasis on meta tags and descriptions
  • Exact anchor text matching
  • Ignoring mobile optimization

What’s still here:

  • Content quality: Creating valuable, educational, and engaging content is still crucial to SEO.
  • Keyword research: Understanding the search intent behind keywords and incorporating them naturally is still on the list of SEO trends for 2023.
  • On-page optimization: Meta tags, headings, URLs, and internal linking are still important for search engines to understand the structure and context of your content.
  • Backlinks: Building high-quality backlinks from reputable websites is an effective strategy to show that your content is trustworthy and valuable.
  • User experience (UX): Prioritizing user experiences with fast-loading web pages, mobile responsiveness, intuitive navigation, and engaging design remains a big deal.

The present: The status of SEO in 2023

In 2022, the downward trend of ranking domains caused a few ripples, but this was primarily thanks to Google getting better at getting rid of spam and irrelevant or abandoned websites. This year, it’s all about showcasing your expertise and delivering content that makes heads turn. Your high-performing web pages will steal the spotlight and earn higher search engine rankings.

Google’s eagle eye recognizes those who provide value, and you’ll reap the rewards by extending your reach to new audiences. This means it’s never been more important to develop a full-scale digital marketing strategy with significant investment in SEO and quality content creation like ours. Here’s which SEO trends 2023 will feature most prominently.

1- Keep E-A-Ting

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Google’s E-A-T will continue to be a major factor in the search trends 2023 edition. Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness are now applied to all search queries.

2- User Experience (still) Matters

Every second counts when it comes to UX, and even a delay of one second on mobile means you’re 20% less likely to obtain those sweet, sweet conversions. Not only does Google have an aversion to crawling slow-loading pages, but your customers will get frustrated just as quickly.

3- Audience Targeting > Traffic Targeting

Content creation will also be tailored toward getting the right people to your website, not the most people. Brands that chase traffic over providing content that their customers actually enjoy will see their efforts fall flat as the user-centric approach takes the spotlight in SEO best practices 2023.

4- AI Oversaturation

AI-generated content and content writers that rely too heavily on it will be all over the place in 2023 search trends, and even as the content itself becomes better structured, more meaningful, and less robotic, they still aren’t going to replace human writers. Google’s ‘Helpful Content’ update is already primed to seek out and punish lazy, unedited AI-generated content with lower ranking scores.

5- Zero-click and Featured Snippets

The competition for zero-click supremacy has started in earnest already, with almost 65% of searches ending without any trace of a click as the previewed search query is displayed at the top of the page. This means that there is also a far greater likelihood that customers click through because they can see what’s actually there.

The Future: What will SEO become?

Predicting the future of SEO is fraught with intangibles and unforeseen changes that can happen in the blink of an eye and is very much like the proverbial box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. But much like every other facet of our technologically-driven world, there are some aspects that we can see on the horizon, and SEO is no different. Here are some trends that may be gracing SERPs sooner than you think.

1- Putting the AI in SEO

We’ve already seen the impact of AI on content creation, but the future will bring even more complexity to the equation. AI-powered algorithms aren’t new, and Google has already deployed RankBrain for years now, but as AI becomes more sophisticated, it will be able to optimize for a better understanding of queries and, thus, more tailored and more accurate results.

2- Better Keyword Research & Content Optimization

Both these aspects will continue to be a pillar of future SEO, and AI will also forge new paths to automating and improving tasks such as keyword relationships, predicting user behavior, and identifying the latest SEO trends.  It will also be able to provide insights into what kind of content to create and how to improve existing on-page elements.

3- Voice Search

More than 50% of people already use voice search daily, with 27% of those using mobile to get their questions answered, and it’s changing how we approach optimization. Conversational language dominates voice queries, as interactions with smart speakers are much closer to human conversations. This will take a little getting used to; however, and content will have to be optimized for natural language queries before we shift towards voice search.

4- Visual Search

With visual search coming on strong already, products and other image-based information will be far more easily queried with AI-powered image recognition helping search engines understand them in greater detail than ever. This means visual content on websites can be indexed and ranked on Google SEO according to their metadata.

Dominate your SERP niche with SEO services from PROVEN 360

SEO has adapted to potential customers becoming far more discerning and fussy about what content they enjoy. This shift is easy to see from the marketers’ perspective as well as being reflected in the changes made to Google SEO algorithms. And things are changing fast.

Partnering with an agency like ours means you’re always front and center of the action, and we have all the know-how and cutting-edge tools to ensure you stay agile and outrank even the stiffest competition. Ask us about how we can take you to the top and keep you there.

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