In SEO, it’s hard to predict future trends.
Environments change quickly, Google releases updates all the time, and SEOs never quite know what to expect.
Well, while some are happy with the “it depends” mantra, others prefer deep research and experiments to see the future of SEO clearly. Here are the top 8 SEO trends based on facts, Google’s news, and expert opinion.
1. Google Ads will give in to organic search
Recent revenue reports from Google and Bing Ads clearly indicate a declining trend. In October 2022, Google Ads revenue increased by just 4.25%. The previous report showed an increase of 13.5%, and the one before that, 22%. This is nothing but a signal that companies are reducing the cost of paid advertising. Additionally, many marketing agencies say average listing costs have also fallen.
Global finance experts say that 2023 will likely become the year of the great recession, making increasing ad costs doubtful.
The economic crisis is only half the problem. The second half is the human factor. People prefer to click on organic search results over ads since paid promotions have traditionally been associated with something that isn't good enough to gain popularity without advertising. This is probably why Google is planning to change the Ad label to Sponsored (and has already changed for mobile search); sponsored sounds milder.
Nevertheless, companies need to continue attracting customers. There's a strong possibility that companies will invest more resources in expanding their organic positions, which can only mean that SEO remains a trend.
How to act
You can take advantage of this situation in two simple ways.
First, revise your advertising campaigns. Maybe some overpriced bids became affordable for your business, so you can try them if your budget allows.
Second, if your business has to cut costs on paid promotion, you have no other choice but to better optimize for organic search to beat your competitors and get more visitors. If you don’t know how to start your site optimization, try basic Google tools like Search Console and keep an eye on your site’s technical soundness.
2. Featured and zero-click snippets will become a go
This trend comes from the previous one. Featured snippets and zero-click results get the most attention (i.e., clicks and views) in organic SERPs, so website owners will struggle to optimize their pages to get the most out of them, especially considering the decreasing popularity of paid promotion.
The SEO community is still in two minds about how to treat featured snippets. While they do attract users’ attention and lure a lot of clicks, they also prevent users from clicking on the other SERP snippets as people get the info right from the SERP. Anyway, the popularity of featured snippets cannot be underestimated, just like how Google keeps pushing them to the top of SERPs.
How to act
As featured snippets and zero-click results keep getting more clicks, your goal is to make your pages win this type of search results. In many cases, Google fetches the information for zero-click results from structured data. That’s why you can apply schema markup that suits the type of content on the page considered.
3. E-A-T carries on
E-A-T, which stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, has been an evergreen trend for many years, and 2023 is not going to be an exception, especially after Google has confirmed that E-A-T is now applied to every single query.
What is E-A-T made up from? Many aspects contribute to that expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness mentioned above. For example, backlinks from authoritative sources can help – these could be general ones like Wikipedia or trusted sites in your niche.
Linkless mentions from niche experts also benefit your site’s E-A-T. At the same time, you and your authors should also care about personal brands; being well-known in the niche adds credibility and trust to what you say.
The growing hype around E-A-T will lead to an SEO services price increase, as:
- Blog posts written by experienced and famous authors will cost more (demand grows = prices grow, too)
- Outreach and link-building will cost more
- Product placement on authoritative sources will cost more
- SEO agencies will charge more
- All kinds of E-A-T increasing services will cost more, as companies will struggle to outperform each other
How to act
Don't sit idle and wait until prices become high; start investing in your brand now. Take care of your content's quality and partner with credible sources to get mentions. Be active in public (niche events, conferences, podcasts, etc.) to make people and search engines recognize your name.
Additionally, promote your company’s image positively and encourage your partners and employees to do the same. Investing in reputation isn’t cheap even today, but it’s worth every cent you pay.
4. AI content will be overused
AI content writers become better every day – their texts become more meaningful, well-built, and logical. What’s more, they are cheap (some tools are even free), so more and more SEOs consider them as a way to get tons of content for less time and money.
The truth is that AI content generators are still not good enough to replace humans. This will likely become a trap for lazy SEOs who overuse AI content and sacrifice quality over quantity. Moreover, remember that the Google Helpful Content update was introduced to penalize low-quality content, and AI content without any edits is just what this update is hunting for.
How to act
AI content generators are unable to replace real writers, but they can help you in content creation. So it’s not the best idea to discard AI tools completely, especially if you’re on a budget; just use them carefully.
First, these tools can help you generate raw outlines to cope with writer’s block. Second, AI can help create short pieces of text, such as outlines or headlines (which still need manual edits).
Finally, AI can help you with localization; machine translation is cheaper than any freelance specialist. But remember that AI translations, like any AI-generated content, require manual editing. So stuffing your pages with tons of raw AI translations is not a good idea.
5. Google will pay more attention to entities
It seems that Google has trained its BERT and MUM algorithms well enough to make them understand entities behind keywords. So, the entity-based optimization approach will likely take over traditional keyword optimization.
One of the reasons behind this is the Knowledge Panel's development. Google uses its natural language processing (NLP) algorithms to analyze some content, understand the most meaningful words (or entities), and “decide” what the content is about.
The collected data is then added to the rest of Google's knowledge of the entity in focus. When Google has collected enough data, it then fetches all the pieces of knowledge into a knowledge panel:
As you know, Tesla is also the last name of the legendary inventor. Still, it’s hard to imagine anyone searching for Nikola Tesla these days. Besides, Elon Musk’s vehicle company has received a lot of hype over the last few years. So no wonder Google considers Musk’s Tesla more popular and gives it a Knowledge Panel.
An entity-based optimization approach is also crucial in local SEO. In this case, Google uses its collection of knowledge to determine how relevant an entity (query) is to the searcher’s location and then forms the SERP based on this information.
How to act
Google needs to have as much information about your entity as possible to understand it properly, so your goal is to grant Google access to all the necessary data.
The first thing you can do is to see what Google already knows about your business as an entity. Find your search snippet and click on the three dots on the right:
Then, click "More about this page":
If the info is obviously insufficient, consider the following tips:
- Surround your target entity with other entities related to it to give Google more context to fetch from your content. For example, you have a page about pizza. As pizza is an Italian dish, and the key ingredients of pizza are tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, you can add some info about Italy, tomatoes, and cheese. This is a general example, of course. By the way, this approach fits any business, not necessarily local ones.
- If you have a local business, create a Google Business Profile and fill it with as much info as possible. GBP gives data directly to Google, so the more details you provide, the better.
- Keep up link-building. Links work as ties between entities (i.e., sites) within a niche or/and location.
- Let your customers review your business (the more positive the reviews are, the better).
- Organize offline marketing activities if your niche allows you to do so. Google also appreciates the offline buzz, and people tend to discuss their experiences on social media, which brings you popularity.
6. Google Shopping will rule e-commerce
We can now see that Google is becoming a shopping aggregator, which shows goods from many platforms and offers where-to-buy links. Well, probably direct selling is the only thing that Google doesn’t do yet.
Anyway, Google is actively promoting its shopping services now and will likely continue this trend in 2023. And if you’re a happy owner of an e-commerce business, you should get ready for changes.
This feature of Google is pretty nice as it lets you easily check your competitors' pricing strategies and adapt to the market situation.
Sounds too good? Well, here’s a downside: e-commerce sites will receive fewer clicks, marketing funnels will be harder to execute, and users will only visit the page if they decide to buy from that website.
How to act
If you’re running an e-commerce site, you have no other choice but set up Google Shopping features. Sometimes these snippets work like featured ones, i.e., Google pulls them to the top of SERPs. Consequently, they can grab attention and clicks. And if these snippets are not yours, they will likely belong to your competitors.
7. Visual search will become more popular
AI and Google Lens seem to retake the stage in 2023. Google seems to have trained its image API better to incorporate it into its algorithm successfully and finally release the multimodal search.
If you used Google Lens some time ago, you would definitely see that it has become much better nowadays. And there’s still room for improvement. Probably, 2023 will become the year when we’ll finally see the MUM functionality the way it was actually promised.
The issue here is that Google has to clearly “see” the details on the images (and maybe videos soon) to properly understand what objects an image features and look for similar images on the web. For this very reason, website visuals have to be high quality. But high quality also means bigger sizes.
So here comes the problem. Heavy visuals slow pages down and may cost you rankings. This may happen because heavy visual aids negatively affect Core Web Vitals (CWVs) and PageSpeed metrics, eventually spoiling the user experience.
Can we expect that Google will somehow become less demanding for CWV and shift benchmarks? This is the question that doesn’t have an answer yet.
How to act
While it’s still uncertain that Google may become less strict with PageSpeed, take care of your image SEO strategy. Do not save on image quality, but set up lazy loading and a CDN to lower the server load and let your pages load faster.
Design a brand style to stand out from the crowd, use unique images instead of stock ones, and optimize page layouts for any device.
One more way to let Google better understand and categorize your images is to write proper alt texts and enrich your pages with relevant schema markup. For example, if your page tells how to cook pasta bolognese, add the Recipe schema markup, so Google will clearly get that the image on your page is that exact pasta.
8. AI-generated images will be used more often
AI image generators like Midjourney and DALL-E have become really popular. Folks on the internet generate tons of images and widely use them across social media just for fun, while some people, like musicians, may use AI tools to create album covers.
AI generators do manage to “draw” nice images if you provide them with enough context (prompt). There’s a saying, “the devil is in details.” Well, that’s definitely the case. The more details you give, the better the image will be.
Another interesting thing is that Google successfully recognizes these artificial images. Maybe well enough to pull them to SERPs if the query is relevant.
Here’s an example. Midjourney AI bot has generated an image with the prompt winter forest realistic. The image was then uploaded to Google’s Cloud Vision API to see what objects the API would recognize. Here’s the result:
Then, a real photo of the winter forest found in Google Images was tested with the same Cloud Vision API:
Source: Google Cloud
As you can see, Google managed to identify similar objects in both images. This gives us a clue that the first pic could easily get into the image SERP for the relevant query.
So the trend is clear: AI image generators are likely to become an overwhelming trend.
How to act
The truth is that there’s not much you can do here but watch how the situation around AI-generated images develops. And while Google is in two minds about how to treat AI images, it's better not to overuse them on your website. Still, there’s some room for experiments.
Tip: If your website is one of those Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) sites, then AI-generated images won’t appear on your site at all. First, YMYL requires credibility, and AI is not about this. Second, this is one of the key concerns Google has. I mean checking if the image is real if it’s featured in, say, a news article. It’s better to be on the safe side and not to risk your reputation.
Searching for your next step
It’s hard to be certain about anything when it comes to SEO trends and Google. But judging by what is happening in SEO now, it’s quite clear that quality will win over quantity, and AI algorithms are here to stay.
Keep this in mind when developing your SEO strategy for the next year, and may your rankings be high.
Your search doesn't end here. Check out these 86 SEO Statistics to identify more SEO trends and plan ahead.