The SEO trends in 2023

General SEO 5 minutes reading time

Google’s algorithm is becoming increasingly sophisticated, and dozens of Google algorithm updates are rolled out every year. With these updates, Google aims to achieve a single goal: to create a better experience for its users. For 2023, we expect various SEO trends based on customer data and statements that Google regularly makes via the Search Central Twitter account, among others.

SEO is becoming increasingly important

Even in 2023, SEO is underestimated by many companies. It may be hard to imagine, but there are still countless companies that do not engage in search engine optimization or for which SEO is still completely unknown. This while advertising costs continue to rise [1].

Many companies take risk spreading into account, for example by not being dependent on one customer, product or region. This is precisely why it is crazy that there are still many companies that are largely dependent on Google Ads.

By relying on SEO, you are not dependent on ads, and you get continuous visitors through relevant search terms on your website. SEO contributes to a lower cost per conversion and also provides more valuable conversions.

Within most online marketing strategies, SEO is therefore indispensable, ensuring a good and sustainable mix of different marketing channels, and is an important addition to all PPC (Pay-Per-Click) channels.

The advantage of modern-day SEO

The advantage of contemporary SEO is that search engine algorithms are becoming smarter and more sophisticated. For example, Google is getting better at evaluating content and the search terms on which content should be found. Also, Google understands the UX of websites better and better, so the algorithm today can well assess whether a page is well-designed.

So, you no longer have to employ black-hat SEO strategies to become findable with your website. Moreover, you can do much of the SEO work yourself.

Do you really want to go next-level with your SEO strategy? Then it makes sense to hire an SEO expert (freelancer or SEO agency). Technical SEO has become complex and consists of dozens of factors.

The SEO trends for 2023

All SEO trends boil down to Google’s goal of generating a better experience for its users. Google wants to show everyone doing a search the best and most relevant websites. In doing so, the website must be well-designed based on users’ needs and contain the right content.

It is important that you have a good (and fast) website with valuable content on it. Moreover, Google is constantly working to make SEO less easily influenced; link building is an example of a way that attempts to manipulate positions in Google.

The SEO trends we expect to see in 2023 are the following:

  1. A good UX becomes crucial.
  2. Link building has less impact, especially irrelevant backlinks.
  3. It becomes more important to exude your expertise.
  4. AI is going to play a bigger role.
  5. The importance of local SEO continues to grow.
  6. Major platforms are gaining ground.
  7. Content will become even more important.
  8. Structured data is being used more and more.
  9. Load speed weighs more heavily in your ranking.
  10. Image packs are shown more often and generate traffic.
  11. Author authority is becoming more important.
  12. Pillar pages help you to be better findable.
  13. With Google Shopping SEO, your shop gets more traffic.
  14. The SERP is supplemented more with ‘other’ search results.
  15. More and different search queries are used.
  16. Voice search is not breaking through.

SEO trend 1: good UX

A well-designed website that matches what you expect as a user is nice. Google also understands this better and better, and in 2023 this will become even clearer. For example, Google more often shows category pages of web shops with good filter options when a user is looking for a product, but does not yet know exactly what product.

A good UX includes a design where content is clearly readable and scannable, the page’s layout matches the search intent, and everything works well on a mobile device. Our expectation is that UX, in addition to good content, is going to become crucial in the coming years.

SEO trend 2: link building is becoming less important

Every year, Google says that “content is king” and that most link-building methods are no longer useful. Until December 2022, this was not evident until Google rolled out the link spam update. In our client data, we see a clear trend that websites with poor quality link profiles are losing market share.

This is not unexpected either because link building is the way positions in search results were affected without adding anything for Google users. Google rolled out a major update in December 2022 that will neutralize the value of unnatural backlinks.

Although you may not realize it, this trend is already visible. Just use any SEO tool to look at the authority of our Dutch landing page on search engine optimization and the authority of our Dutch competitors. On paper, the authority of competitors with worse findability is much better, but the actual quality of backlinks is lower. Google’s algorithm is not only getting better at recognizing good content, it is also getting better at recognizing qualitative and less qualitative backlinks. If you obtain bad, irrelevant or illogical backlinks with link building, Google will catch on, and the backlinks will no longer have any effect.

Our expectation is that link building will become considerably less important by 2023, but it will still be widely offered by online marketing agencies. Still, most links add little to your findability, and you are better off investing the budget in work like UX optimizations.

One of the ways of link building that Google encourages is PR [2]. With PR, you obtain links in a completely natural way because of your expertise or a newsworthy item. Despite link building becoming less important, we expect PR to actually become more important within the link building world.

SEO trend 3: show expertise

Google shows in many places in its documentation that expertise is important. This is mentioned in SEO fundamentals, search rater guidelines and search results information, among others. Google also added a new “E” to Google E-A-T, the E for Experience, in December 2022.

The Experience within Google E-E-A-T is about showing your experience with the content being created. So, it’s important that content is created by someone who really knows what it’s about. As an example, Google gives the search for information about filling out a tax return. When looking for information about that, as a user, you want to read information from someone who has a lot of experience with it. So, in 2023, clearly show users that you know what you’re talking about.

SEO trend 4: AI is going to play a bigger role

In everyday life, whether unconsciously or not, you come into contact with AI many times. As you probably know, Google’s algorithm also runs on AI. However, the increase in the use of AI is, we expect, mainly in the AI of existing and new SEO tools. Through AI, you get a better understanding of how to optimize your landing pages.

In addition, AI models such as ChatGPT (based on GPT 3.5) and GPT 4.0 help to write content, rewrite texts, analyze content and automate tasks. The development of these AI models is rapid and numerous applications will be created on them. Note that Google does not allow AI content to rank, and there are several ways to detect AI content.

SEO trend 5: local SEO continues to grow

More and more Internet users are using a phone to look something up and make purchases [3]. About 20% of search results pages now display a Google Local Pack.

With the continued growth of making purchases via a phone and easily looking up nearby stores, we expect local SEO to become more important in 2023 as well. So think carefully about optimizing Google My Business or claiming your profile if you haven’t already.

SEO trend 6: large platforms are gaining ground

As annoying as it is, we expect big platforms like Amazon, Etsy and Bol.com to gain more and more ground. These big tech companies have hefty budgets to experiment what the best UX is, how content better matches what the user wants to see and what products the user needs.

One bright spot: for niche websites, we expect there will still be room in the market. Especially as a niche website, it is possible to stand out well and help users more broadly because the big platforms will never be able to explain everything around a topic to users. We do think that small broad platforms will find it much more difficult and will eventually lose out.

SEO trend 7: content becomes more important

Quality content is and will continue to be important and is an ongoing SEO trend. Google wants to answer its visitors’ search queries in the best possible way. Therefore, Google is continuously optimizing the algorithm to better understand websites and content. In the coming years, Google will understand content better and better. Therefore, it is crucial that you fully commit to quality content.

Show through your content that you are the expert within your field. Answer the questions of your visitors in your content and look closely at the data from Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Keyword Planners to discover which search queries you are not yet answering. In addition to quality texts, the appearance of your landing pages also counts. Provide your content with call-to-actions, images, videos, illustrations, infographics and other relevant visuals. Break up your content with HTML headings. Your visitors like neat content, so they can scan what’s important.

SEO trend 8: structured data

Structured data will continue to become more important in 2023. With structured data, also called Schema markup, important information on a Web page is formatted (annotated). These annotations help search engines better understand elements on your website and display additional data in search results. Several websites that have implemented structured data have benefited substantially with higher CTRs and more visitors [4].

SEO trend 9: website speed

An important part of a good user experience on your website is loading speed. Last year, our prediction was that load speed would become more important. The Core Web Vitals were launched in May 2021 as a ranking factor on mobile devices [5] and will thus definitively affect your findability, in addition, this will be rolled out to the Desktop as well.

Are you making sure your website loads faster and better than those of your competitors? Then you will benefit from this. It is important that the Largest Contentful Paint of your website is maximum 2.5 seconds, the Cumulative Layout Shift maximum 0.1 and the First Input Delay maximum 100 ms.

Loading speed of your website is definitively an important part of your findability and affects your rankings. Optimize your loading speed by using caching, lazy loading, GZIP compression, image compression and a fast server.

SEO trend 10: image packs and SEO for images

Between 2020 and 2022, there is a clear trend that more and more image packs were shown in search results. For example, between November 2021 and December 2021 alone, the percentage of image packs in the SERP increased from 40% to 45% [6].

We expect this trend to continue, just as we predicted last true. Especially on mobile devices, more and more image packs will be shown. These image packs cost the “normal” search results clicks and thus traffic.

Therefore, make sure you provide your website with high-quality images and deploy SEO for images. Optimize the images on your website as well, by considering:

  1. A good image name.
  2. A descriptive image alt tag.
  3. Unique images created by you.

SEO trend 11: author authority

Google not only looks at your content, but also at the person who wrote the content. Google’s algorithm looks at what areas you are an authority in and ranks the content on your website accordingly. Make sure you become active as a guest blogger on other websites and share good content through your social media channels.

In addition, provide your blogs with an author profile, make sure you have a good about us page and link to your social media channels. Through these social media profiles, show that you are an authority, for example by clearly displaying your knowledge and education on your LinkedIn profile.

SEO trend 12: pillar pages

An important part of your SEO strategy in 2023 are pillar pages. With a pillar page, you answer all the questions and needs of your visitors and send your visitors to pages with further information on topics related to your pillar page (so-called topic clusters).

A pillar page shows authority, contains a lot of good content, is user-friendly and is a good way to get organic backlinks. Not using pillar pages yet? Then you know what to do in the coming weeks.

SEO trend 13: Google Shopping SEO

In October 2020, the free variant Google Shopping was also rolled out [7]. It is now possible to get traffic from Google Shopping also in an organic way. Google, of course, does this for a reason, the company is competing with marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy. A smart move by Google to involve even more web shops and users in Google Shopping.

Since Google is putting more effort into Google Shopping and has rolled out the free variant, we expect the use of Google Shopping (and the Google Shopping tab) to increase more. We wouldn’t be surprised if Google starts running marketing campaigns for this as well, to gain even more market dominance. Are you not yet using free Google Shopping listings, but you do have an online store? Then you are missing out on traffic and sales. The conversion rate of traffic from Google Shopping is high. Visitors see the product and price before they click through to your website.

SEO trend 14: the SERP is complemented by other results

Google’s SERP hasn’t been what it used to be for ages. Whereas the search results page used to consist of simple search results with a meta title and meta description, today you increasingly see additional results. These include videos, images, local packs, relevant search queries and questions with answers.

We expect this trend to continue and for SEO to increasingly become a “winner takes all game.” Do you really want to go all-in on SEO? Then also start creating and publishing videos on YouTube and make sure you have YouTube SEO.

SEO trend 15: more and more ways of searching

Another clear trend that was also visible last year is the use of more and more and different search queries. Where previously users only searched on, for example, “clothing labels” there is now an increasingly broader search, for example:

  1. white clothing labels for on a shirt
  2. having a clothing label printed for a store
  3. sewing a clothing label into a garment
  4. clothing label design for a garment

And on and on. Users know and notice that Google’s algorithm is greatly improving and Google understands more searches correctly. The result? Users are searching more broadly to find the answer to their question faster and easier.

Capitalize on this through your content. Keep a close eye on Google Search Console and other keyword tools. Do you see search terms that are not in your keyword research and for which you do not yet have content on your landing page? Then supplement your landing page with relevant content about the search query.

SEO trend 16: voice search is not breaking through

For some time now, there have been calls that voice search is going to make its breakthrough. In practice, it is disappointing, depending on your target audience. We don’t expect voice search to really break through. For turning on a lamp via Google Home, voice search is very useful, but we do not expect a further breakthrough in 2023.

However, voice search is a trend not to be overlooked. Particularly among the younger generation(s), voice search is used so that one does not have to type anymore. It may take a few more years before voice search makes its final breakthrough.

Conclusion

By now it is clear that user experience, exuding expertise and good content, is paramount to Google and is a trend that is becoming increasingly important. Therefore, think about the user in everything you do with your website and put him or her first. These 16 trends are the most important trends for 2023 that will help you further improve your findability.

Sources

[1] https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2015/05/21/how-much-does-adwords-cost 

[2] https://developers.google.com/search/docs/fundamentals/seo-starter-guide#promote

[3] https://www.shopify.com/enterprise/mobile-commerce-future-trends

[4] https://developers.google.com/search/docs/appearance/structured-data/intro-structured-data

[5] https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2020/11/timing-for-page-experience

[6] https://www.semrush.com/sensor/?compare=serp%216

[7] https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/9826670?hl=en

Jarik Oosting - eigenaar SEO bureau SmartRanking

This article is written by Jarik Oosting

Jarik is an SEO consultant at and founder of SmartRanking. With over 12 years of SEO experience, he and the team of SEO specialists at SmartRanking help companies from small to large become more findable. He specializes in strategies, analysis, technical SEO and migrations.