SEO expert share insights and predictions for 2023

The traditional customer journey is evolving rapidly, and Google is reacting to this with regular updates; with the continuous reliance on engines such as Google for answers as well as AI and voice assistants such as Siri and Alexa, businesses will be focusing more emphasis on ensuring their websites is optimised for voice search in order to achieve a high ROI. 

Social media experiences are also playing a key role in customer journeys, with many beginning from that point. With user habits changing regularly, businesses will be wondering what they can do to stay ahead of the curve and ensure their website ranks highly when being searched for. 

Search Engine Journal and Econsultancy spoke to a number of digital growth and SEO experts to gain insight into what they have learned over the past year and their predictions for 2023. 

Steve Walker
Technology Director at Journey Further

“Measuring ROI has always been important, but it’s no longer a nice-to-have. Measuring ROI is essential. This is why performance monitoring tools like SEOmonitor are critical to your agency. The amount of in-house teams has also increased dramatically over the past few months. This is a great thing for the SEO industry and a testament to SEO’s importance in digital marketing – but it fundamentally changes how agencies need to operate. We’re no longer just additional resources doing basic SEO activity. We need to act in a similar way to a business consultancy and provide strategic-level support.” 

James Finlayson
Head of SEO at the7stars

“Google’s search volumes aren’t just stagnating – in many cases, they’re reducing. Despite this, consumers are conducting more research prior to purchases than ever – on Amazon and other ‘super-retailers’, on TikTok, large publishers with loyal audiences, Pinterest, YouTube, and Reddit. We recently looked at one market where, we estimated, less than 10% of search activity was actually happening on Google.” 

Alex Moran
SEO Lead, Space & Time

“I foresee Google’s Helpful Content Update and Product Reviews Update having the most impact as we head into 2023. Google is not in the business of releasing updates and never touching them again; it is constantly making tweaks. Released in August 2022, the helpful content update is still relatively new and therefore I expect more tweaks and a deeper understanding from SEOs on how to shape content. Understanding the guidelines of an update is one thing, but getting to grips with how that fits into the larger search spectrum is much more complex”. 

What should be SEO’s be focusing on in 2023?

High-quality and relevant content plays an important part in maintaining a high ranking and being on the right side of Google’s Helpful Content Update. In relation to content, it must not only be relevant and of high quality, but it also must be well structured. Relationship building with web developers will be central to ensure technical changes if and when.  

Economic changes could prove to be a major factor when it comes to budgeting for SEO’s – and AI looks set to be a constant theme in 2023 and beyond. 

Jodie Brookton
Digital Account Director, The Kite Factory

The activation that will see the largest impact on your organic rankings is regular publication of high-quality content that follows Google’s E-A-T* guidelines, such as:

•    Showcasing your contents authors and ad bios for them
•    Include clear sources and credit
•    Create unique content
•    Getting good reviews

*Standing for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. Google uses algorithms to determine the quality of website content using the E-A-T model.”

Alex Moran
Space & Time

“Deep research into their niche and the creation of relevant, well-structured content will be imperative for SEOs looking to get the most out of their organic search next year. What are the long-tail queries that appear in People Also Ask boxes that aren’t accurately being answered? How do the SERPs differ for similar terms, e.g. difference between ‘trainers’, ‘vintage trainers’ and ‘used trainers’?
“SEOs will know their headline commercial keywords already and have goals towards working on these, but it’s important they don’t forget the top of the funnel or long tail searches. Often these can be the most valuable customers as they are at the stage of building brand trust which will pay off when they are ready to buy.”

Beth Nunnington
Journey Further

“SEOs need to focus on building strong relationships with web developers to help them commercially prioritise any technical changes that need to be made. We always provide our clients with a ‘difficulty’ and ‘impact’ score using their preferred prioritisation method, which is often in the form of a traffic light system, to help them understand which changes need to be made and when. This also ensures we aren’t bombarding the web dev team unnecessarily with requests that make little impact.

“SEO experts should also consider testing their recommendations on a small number of pages, to prove incremental gain and get business buy-in before rolling out any changes that involve a lot of work and effort, in order to deliver the best ROI possible.

“Finally, SEOs tend to sit in performance teams but it’s really important they work closely with brand teams as well, to help identify wider opportunities. This is particularly important in content creation to ensure that all channel activity is working as hard as possible and is also relevant.”

Benoit Gourdon, President
EMEA at Botify

“During a recession, businesses often look to reduce spending–and marketing budgets are often the first to get cut. However, companies that invest in marketing are the ones that bounce back faster and, in many cases, stronger.

“Investing in the long term instead of simply focusing on the ‘now’ provides sustainability for future branding and business success.

“Digital marketing, in particular organic search marketing, is one of the most cost-effective ways to ensure profitability during an economic downturn. For example, a popular ticket search site saw a 20% increase in site visits when they invested in organic search marketing over the course of the pandemic.

“Investing in organic search marketing now will future-proof revenue during a recession and beyond, by helping businesses build further brand awareness through their online presence. Optimising web pages so that your company repeatedly appears in organic searches keeps working long after the initial investment, continuously driving customers to your website for many weeks and months.”

Jodie Brookton
The Kite Factory

“The Dall-E 2 powered image generator is an incredibly special tool. Not only is it fun to use, but it can also help to create unique images to add to website content, which can improve search rankings. For example, a blog on the history of paid search automation in Google is a very dry topic, but it can be brought to life with the imagery created using Bing’s tool.

“There is already an increase in people creating written content with AI tools for SEO purposes, and now we can do the same with the imagery on these pieces of content. I expect to see this trend continue to grow, with rumours of AI video creation in the works for 2023.”

If you're looking for more predictions from digital leaders, checkout our 40-page Digital Trends document!