As the year draws to a close, it is time to reflect and consider the progress we’ve made in the last twelve months – and look forward, to what is to come, and how it might change things up.
In the field of search engine optimization (SEO), 2023 may shape up to become an exciting year – and it may be your chance to not just match the competition, but pull ahead, and declare your business as the definitive leader of the pack. Let’s dive right in.
The Core Web Vitals
Google’s Core Web Vitals played a big role in 2022, and will continue to remain relevant in the coming years as one part of the greater lesson in the 2020s – user experience is crucial for ranking. A website is not just judged on the quality and relevance of its content, but on its presentation and technical quality. Some key metrics Google looks at for good user experiences include:
- Fast loading times.
- Lack of disruptive loading changes (which may affect clicking outcomes, e.g., shifting buttons).
- Font and design consistency.
- Good color contrast and readability.
- Onsite accessibility options (such as text readers and easy keyboard navigation).
- Sensible navigation menu with competent search function.
- A mobile-first design philosophy.
- And more.
Google Wants Relevancy and Authority
Google and other search engines are moving away from a keyword-centric content approach, and more towards context and relevance. Content will be ranked based on “helpfulness”, as well as “experience” or authority.
Backlinks will continue to be an important factor for determining both, but so will the quality and nature of the content, and especially its relevance for any given query or search term. Experiential content – content that places the brand in the narrative center of the story, and tells a tale through text, sound, images, or video – will also play a greater role.
Users Want Privacy
Privacy demands have led to the death of the cookie – well, eventually, at least. Google has announced that it will cease to use third-party cookies in Chrome by 2024, as part of a growing list of web browsers that are abandoning the technology to help appease customer concerns.
Privacy is a real concern, after all. Consumer behavior data is key to personalized ads, and it is a hot commodity, with certain ethical concerns. Many consumers still remember when Cambridge Analytica used user data to push political ads towards targeted groups, to great effect.
The end of the third-party cookie will massively impact the way marketers and search engines are able to target certain demographics and specific end users – instead, advertisers will need to shift towards semi-anonymous systems that vaguely aim at tagged groups rather than individual users, hopefully eliminating some of the concerns held as a result of the third-party cookie. While this will massively affect targeted paid advertising, organic search will continue to rely on certain information such as search history and location info to provide better results.
Younger Audiences Want Meaning
Younger audiences are interested in spending their money, but may be paying more attention to who they give their money to than older generations.
With more information at their disposal, many younger consumers are more conscious of the kind of footprint a business leaves behind, whether it’s a large carbon footprint or in the shape of a sweatshop.
Businesses that not only commit to ethical labor but make an additional commitment towards a greater cause – such as a more sustainable business model, uplifting disenfranchised youth, or providing greater opportunities to poor communities – may see more traction than their typical competition.
Makeup brands that avoid animal cruelty and are verifiably eco-friendly are more likely to be shared online. A majority of millennials want companies to “pay it forward”, whether through charity or through public commitments to a cause.
Your business can leverage this by picking a cause that is relevant to you as a business owner, or to the nature of your industry. Just don’t try to greenwash your product – that will backfire catastrophically.
Introducing Google Multisearch
One of the bigger surprises of the year was Google’s introduction of Multisearch, a new feature that utilizes Google Lens to analyze online pictures or user photos and provide detailed information or similar products based on a modifying query.
In an example provided, a brown dress of a certain style was highlighted and searched for through Multisearch with the query “green”, producing results for dresses with similar or the same styles, but green color palettes.
Another example allowed a user to hypothetically take a picture of an entire aisle of products and use Multisearch to single out items that fit certain criteria without going through each item and reading dozens of labels.
While Multisearch is still in its infancy, and its earliest features have only been rolled out in English in 2022, it will become more relevant in the years to come, making it more important to properly tag your digital assets and provide greater entity data to leverage this new type of search tool, and its ability to recommend your product via Google Shopping or Image Search.
Track Your Metrics, Make the Right Calls
Getting ahead and staying ahead will continue to be a matter of analyzing the data available and making the right calls in response.
It’s about selecting the better of two ad campaigns aimed at a budding audience on Instagram. It’s about picking the right accounts to send samples to on TikTok. It’s about managing and growing your communities on Twitter and Reddit, and producing content that Google finds both informative and authoritative, on websites that are pleasant to navigate and contain all crucial information in easy and accessible spaces across all devices and screens.
And, for the near-to-far future, it will be about leveraging growing AI and machine learning tools to generate content, review data for predictive analysis, and submit your entries into a growing global database of digital assets and entity data to be indexed and utilized in future Multisearch features, as companies like Google continue to digitize the world around us and bring greater convenience into shopping and product discovery.
2023 will be yet another year where SEO and marketing in general continues to pivot towards a “less is more” approach, while further emphasizing the importance of tailored content, local results, and catering to your niche. Beat the competition by identifying the most lucrative niche and investing heavily in quality over quantity. Work with us this year to make the most out of your 2023.