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These SEO trends will shape 2023

The fast-paced SEO industry is in for a whirlwind year. These 4 trends will shape the year.
Thomas Zeithaml | 03.04.2023
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SEO trends often represent an evolution or reaction to changes in search engine rating systems. When it comes to SEO trends, a look at the past reveals that they leaned heavily on Google. This year, SEO trends could see some movement. Therefore, I would like to list my top influences on SEO work or the SEO industry this year.

Yandex leak provides insight

In early February 2023, the search engine Yandex became the victim of a leak. An employee of the Russian search engine published almost 44 gigabytes of source code, which can currently be publicly viewed and analysed. Since Yandex is one of the largest and most modern search engines in the world, and the ranking factors of a search engine are a well-kept secret, Yandex finds itself in a particularly precarious situation.

According to Yandex, there are many old sources and discarded factors among them that are hardly used in practice any more. In fact, it can be seen in the source code that some factors have been marked as "deprecated".

From an SEO perspective, we call this leak a stroke of luck. Several SEO experts have since been able to take a closer look at the leak and derive SEO factors from it. These investigations lead to conclusions about how Yandex evaluates classic user signals, links, content relevance and technology. The quality and trust rating can also be inferred from the source code and which factors are decisive. Rating models such as "YMYL" (Your Money your Life), which were introduced by Google, are also included in the competitor's source code.

The Yandex leak has thus revealed many things that have long been suspected as factors in SEO circles. It is particularly interesting that the Google results were systematically monitored.

One can assume that many factors are contained in both systems. So now it is a matter of deriving obvious learnings from collected insights and implementing them in Google. An SEO trend in 2023 will therefore emerge in the implementation of many such analysed factors, as some factors are now not based exclusively on speculation, so to speak. Likewise, in the future, tools can take into account the evaluability of such factors and derive measures from them.

ChatGpt puts Bing on the map

When talking about SEO trends, the topics of artificial intelligence and machine learning are unavoidable at the moment. Personally, I even see this as a game changer in SEO and the search engine market. Google was unrivalled in the search engine market for years. However, due to the current hype around Bing with its ChatGpt integration, the search engine giant could well lose market share.

The presentation of the Google AI, which was released under the label "Bard", was also not as successful as hoped. An embarrassing mistake in the fact check was the trigger for criticism and ridicule. Google itself sees itself threatened as the market leader and has issued a code "Red" internally. At this point, however, I would like to put the brakes on the euphoria surrounding ChatGpt. You have to delve deeper into the matter of AI/ML to also understand the side effects that a search triggers. DALL-E, ChatGpt, Jasper etc. are useful tools that provide users with information. At this point, we can derive two patterns of how AI can influence search results. First, AI systems are very good at responding to queries. Information-driven queries in particular are served by AI. However, those who ask transactional search queries, such as "buy shoes", will still want to find the usual shops via Google. Accordingly, a visit to websites will still have to take place at this point, while questions can already be answered directly by the AI. However, because Google generates its main revenue with ad placements, especially for transactional queries, I don't think that Google will have to reckon with a major loss of profit here, even if it possibly gives up market share.

A second aspect is that AI tools get their information from the internet. Many SEOs would like to automatically generate content by using an AI engine. However, the creation of such texts by the tools must be understood. Each AI is first provided with corresponding information, which it then processes. As soon as webmasters only create AI texts, no new information is created. In addition, created content is always similar to a certain degree, since it comes from the same sources. So you can already see that there is still little experience and also problems that still need to be solved. Nevertheless, this is probably by far the biggest development of the last 5-10 years in the search engine market.

Personally, however, 2023 is still too early for me to see a breakthrough in AI engines. Not that the technology is not mature, but because there are too few experts, capacities and empirical values, for example. Of course, this also plays a decisive role alongside the availability of such tools. Some projects may be launched in 2023, but since sufficient experience with AI engines is lacking, they can hardly solve all the problems.

Formerly EAT now EEAT

Google has made some interesting changes and updates in recent months. Of course, these also have some impact on the SEO trends of the year. For example, Google updated its Search Quality Rater Guidelines again in December 2022. The most important change: "EAT" becomes "EEAT". The previous rating model EAT stands for expert knowledge, authority and trustworthiness. Many of the Google factors pay off in the respective areas. If one has good, qualified content in a corresponding abundance on a topic, the quality in the expert knowledge factor increases. Recommendations from other websites are of course important for the authority of a website. A well-functioning web design in turn contributes to trustworthiness. The "experience" factor has now been added. Roughly speaking, Google tries to include experiences in the quality rating. Google cites experience reports for tax return software as an example. At this point, it is of course particularly interesting what experiences users have already had with this software and under which criteria it was evaluated. This new category in the rating can also be seen in the latest updates. As a first example, I would like to take the Product Reviews Update of 2021, which has now also been rolled out in Germany. So, for example, structured data and also the uniqueness of the review could be important in the reviews. Of course, length and wording will also be taken into account. Strengthening ratings through certain quality guidelines is emerging as an SEO trend. Likewise, a rating by e.g. influencers who promote and test a product will gain importance. This approach leads us to the second major update in the Google algorithm - the Helpful Content Update.

The purpose of the update is to more strongly reward content that visitors are satisfied with, so to speak. The "helpful" therefore refers strongly to user intent. Content that cannot fulfil the visitor's expectations should therefore be rated lower. But how can Google evaluate this statistically and take it into account mathematically on the basis of a factor? Of course, we can only speculate about that at the moment. First of all, however, Google is probably interested in allowing the increasing user-centricity and the reaction to the search intention to flow more strongly into the content of the website. Thus, Google also gives direct hints that one should, for example, also describe who created the content. In a blog post in Google Search Central from 2011, Google announced the rel="author" tag at that time, for example, to identify the author via a so-called "authorship markup". Even though this has no longer been supported since 2014, Google has not lost sight of the approach. Google "strongly recommends adding accurate authorship information". With the SEO trend of giving significantly more thought to whether the content you want to generate is helpful or contains high-quality information, content creators will have to deal with this even more.

Data-driven SEO as a link in inbound marketing

The ongoing Ukraine war, fluctuating energy costs and the uncertain economic situation sometimes have a huge impact on businesses and therefore also on the SEO industry. For many companies, search engines are the most important source of visitors. For this reason, companies will try to continue to rank well. Here, the trend is probably developing more in the direction of strategic SEO. So SEO not as a channel, but as a link between many areas in inbound marketing. After all, SEO is also increasingly about user-centricity, creating helpful and informative content and high-quality, qualitative technical implementation of the website as a point of contact. 

For many outsiders, SEO is still a black box with unknown rules. To break down this problem, it is necessary to interpret data correctly, to report and to monitor measures. SEOs are often confronted with the questions of whether a measure is efficient or whether set goals are achieved. In order to evaluate this, one must of course collect and evaluate the corresponding data.

At this point, a change is announced that many webmasters will face this year. There will be a new version of the popular web analysis tool "Google Analytics", which provides many KPIs and measuring points. A new version also means that one has to deal with it intensively in order to evaluate the data correctly. Likewise, connections or integrations into e.g. a business warehouse tool will receive more attention. In addition to web analysis data, technical data, position data and much more can also flow in here. SEO in particular will change in this area, e.g. reporting and dashboards and the switch to a data-driven SEO will prevail here. Due to the aforementioned crises, SEO will increasingly be put to the test and become more transparent.

It is already becoming apparent in SEO that this year will see a lot of movement in the already fast-moving market. The four factors mentioned above will have a lasting influence on the work and also the thinking in the field of search engine optimisation. It will certainly not be boring in SEO this year.