From Wordle to the World Cup, looking back on 2022's year in search trends is always eye-opening. What's even more interesting, if you're in the business of SEO and ecommerce, is looking at what's ahead in the new year.
It has been another big year in Search. We've seen many changes to Google's algorithm, as well as new features and updates to the platform. We've even witnessed a shift towards other platforms taking users away from the search goliath. And 2023 shows no signs of being a quiet year.
So, let's look at four prominent trends influencing your SEO strategy in 2023.
#1 - We'll see a rise of more advanced generative AI used in content creation
Artificial Intelligence (AI) in SEO and content creation has been a hot topic for a while now. Recently, however, that discussion has been at the forefront of what the future holds for Search, content, and SEO. Towards the latter half of 2022, we saw the development of tools such as ChatGPT, demonstrating a significant step forward in generative AI capabilities. Creating long-form content typically takes a considerable amount of time on behalf of marketing teams, so AI tools have represented a sort of "shortcut" for a while. Therefore as this technology becomes more advanced, it makes sense that many will be looking to use it as part of the content creation process.
In 2023, we will see a rise in AI as part of that process. At the moment, AI-generated content isn't something that Google encourages. They've actively said it's against their guidelines for Search. So what does this mean for this new technology?
In short, content marketers and SEOs will have to be creative with their use of generative AI. It won't replace human content creation, especially not anytime soon. That being said, it can significantly help with the content creation process. AI can also be used as a starting point for long-form content, to identify unique keywords and phrases, and in some cases, to help ensure content matches user search intent. It can also be used to help generate micro-copy for sites, improve product descriptions, write better FAQs, and help with writing automated responses as part of customer support.
It's also worth noting that Google recently announced changes to its E-A-T guidelines, adding "Experience." Essentially, this cements the need for the "human touch" in content. Search quality raters will be asked to consider the experience of the person behind the content. Google gives the following example:
"For example, if you're looking for information on how to correctly fill out your tax returns, that's probably a situation where you want to see content produced by an expert in the field of accounting. But if you're looking for reviews of a tax preparation software, you might be looking for a different kind of information—maybe it's a forum discussion from people who have experience with different services."
It will be interesting to see how this affects existing content as well as that which has the assistance of generative AI in the new year.
As this technology grows and develops further, we'll see more applications of its use in new and unique ways. By exploring its place within your content creation process, you can stay ahead of the curve and enrich your strategy in 2023.
#2 - Brands will be encouraged to create interactive and varied content across different platforms
How users engage with brands is constantly changing. As new platforms and styles of content gain popularity, it inevitably forms part of the discovery journey for new brands. In mid-2022, we learned that Google was keeping a close watch on the growth of platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels. This was due to the fact that around 40% of young people, particularly Gen Z, were opting to use these platforms instead of Google when it came to specific topics like restaurants and travel.
In the year ahead, we'll see even more people shift focus to these new platforms. Part of why these platforms are gaining popularity in search is the more visually engaging content they host. Video is easier and faster to consume than written content, and users can make a snap judgment within a few seconds regarding the video's relevance to their query. They can read comments from fellow users, use videos to discover others, and find new sources of information. This is more challenging with traditional search results on platforms like Google. These require more time and research and sometimes will yield less up-to-date, relevant results than the user is looking for.
Retailers and ecommerce merchants can adapt to this by utilizing a wider variety of formats and platforms for their content. This doesn't have to be overly complicated either, for example, reusing blog content as the basis for scripting videos. The more variety you have with your content and the more platforms you use, your potential audience and reach will ultimately be wider. As these content styles and platforms inevitably gain more popularity in the coming months, search engines will start to consider how they can compete, and your content will become even more relevant to SEO.
#3 - There will be an increased focus on on-platform shopping
Every year, Google makes changes and tweaks to its algorithm and platform. Most of these focus on improving the user experience and usually encourage businesses and brands to engage more with Google's tools. At their Search On event earlier this year, they announced several updates, including nine new shopping focussed features:
- Search with the word "shop" to bring up a visual feed of products, research tools, and nearby availability.
- Use Google's "Shop the look" when shopping for apparel to show complementary pieces to your Search.
- See what's trending in a specific niche.
- Shop in 3D - this includes more tools for merchants to create 3D visualizations.
- On-platform buying guides to help with research and insights.
- Page insights - when browsing on a page, Google can pull up relevant information related to that page to help with decision-making.
- Personalized results based on previous shopping and search habits.
- New Google Shopping filters.
- Discover new styles and trends in the Google app.
These demonstrate Google's clear focus and commitment to enhancing its online shopping experience and capabilities. These features come with new tools for ecommerce store owners, showing that Google wants more brands to engage with their platform.
These features are likely in response to a growing trend with younger generations using other platforms as part of their search and discovery journeys. As these audiences move to other platforms, brands will follow. Therefore, Google is doing more to make its user experience unique and unmatched by these emerging search platforms. After all, Google is still by far the dominant player in the search market, and this is unlikely to change anytime soon. By bringing more shopping features to its platform, Google will be looking to cement its position as the go-to for Search.
In 2023, merchants can make the most of this trend by engaging with those tools that Google has created and plans to launch in the coming months. It will be essential to keep up with when features are updated and when Google adds more regions and capabilities. Doing this will ensure you're ahead of your competitors and the brand of choice regarding ranking.
#4 - We'll see continued growth in voice search and multi-device Search
As new technologies emerge, the way, we engage with search changes. Many years ago, we only used Search on a desktop computer, and it was just those classic ten blue links. Then as mobile devices became more widespread, we saw Search go mobile too. And we've seen new SERP features that reflect what we use Search for, whether looking for local businesses or online shopping. In recent years, we've seen the rise of voice search as voice-enabled technology has improved and become commonplace in the home.
Last year, we wrote that voice search would be a trend for 2022, and we're expecting this to continue in 2023. Not only that but how it plays its role in multi-device search journeys will grow.
Multi-device isn't a new concept for Search; however, it's definitely on the rise, especially with the recent growth in omnichannel commerce. A single search journey may include smartphones, desktop computers, laptops, tablets, voice-enabled speakers, and more. These devices allow users to engage with Search in different ways and can all be used as part of the same search query. For example, suppose a user searches for "best chocolate chip cookie recipe" on their smartphone. In that case, they may then use voice search through a Google Home device to ask, "how many grams are in one stick of butter?". In another case, they may start a search journey on a laptop, searching for "waterproof sneakers," and then continue that Search on their smartphone later. They may even use Search in their cars if enabled.
How different devices and voice search play into the search journey will be essential for Search in 2023. If merchants want to make the most of this, they need to consider how potential customers may consume their content beyond the standard desktop search. This means optimizing for voice search, mobile experience, and local SEO.
While it's essential to be aware of and adapt to growing trends, taking care of your SEO fundamentals is even more critical. A well-optimized store and carefully crafted content will always be a winning strategy, regardless of which trends spring up. So, in 2023, ensure you're constantly employing sound SEO practices and monitoring your metrics. Doing so will put you in the best position possible to adapt and make the most of the trends we're seeing a rise in relevance.