Roasting Popular “SEO Trends” for 2023
It’s that time of year! Every SEO marketer and agency is scrambling to post a future-of-SEO prediction article for 2023.
Recently, a few members of our SEO team combed through the 2023 crop of trend articles and put their heads together to discuss trends we're excited about and the predictions we think are … less-inspiring. The conversation was lively, but ultimately we wondered if SEOs are just out of things to say. Seems like year after year, these trends articles have been churning out the exact same predictions, and the resulting content reads like it was written by someone with a Magic 8 Ball rather than a crystal ball.
So maybe that’s the rub – SEO wasn’t completely revolutionized last year. The trends impacting the industry aren’t new, the volume is just getting turned up on the stalwart best practices (looking at you, Helpful Content Update). And that makes a fresh, unique prediction of what’s to come next to impossible.
Here's some shit people are peddling as trends for 2023 (we promise we won’t name names).
Over-emphasis on Voice Search
How many times have you screamed at Alexa or Google Home asking them a question and they get it wrong? Yeah, me too.
Even though voice search is popular, there is a certain amount of frustration that comes with it and truth be told the technology is still a little behind. That frustration aside, we know that answers from digital assistants are pulled from featured snippets (among other things like Skills and Actions). So that means optimizing for voice search is already a part of a comprehensive SEO strategy (or at least a strategy that prioritizes well-written, helpful content and doesn't totally ignore Bing).
Old Link Building Strategies
Marketing old link-building strategies as new, innovative ways to boost your SEO game seems to be a great way to keep writing the same old content.
Do people actually still spend countless hours combing through broken links to find that perfect high-authority site that is willing to link to your “awesome content”? I’m sure your new blog post “The Complete Guide to Investing in Crypto 2023” will get FTX to link to you. Too soon?
There are hundreds of better ways to spend your time as an SEO than chasing links from sites that want nothing to do with you.
Making sure content is indexed as a part of SEO certainly isn’t new, but this new tool popping up on many 2023 SEO trend lists definitely is. IndexNow is an open-source protocol that allows you to ping search engines and let them know about content changes. Ideally, this encourages search engines to quickly crawl the new or updated content, index it, and serve it in SERPs.
So far, the list of participating search engines includes Microsoft Bing, Yandex and Seznam. Google is notably missing from that list and, while Google isn’t the only search engine worth optimizing for, it is the biggest.
Google did confirm that they’re testing the IndexNow protocol, but have announced no plans to participate. So why hasn’t Google hopped on the IndexNow bandwagon? Basically, according to Google, it simply doesn’t need to. Google has stated the crawling mechanism in place is plenty efficient and continues to improve all the time.
Frankly, there’s just not enough info out there to convince me that virtually tapping search engines on the shoulder and asking them to crawl your content is going to be a better use of your time than just creating good content and making sure it can be indexed and rendered properly.
AI-based Content Marketing
Do you ever see those ads on Instagram or Twitter that say, “can you tell that a robot wrote this?”
Why, yes — yes we can. Some ‘SEO experts’ out there however, seem to think that AI-based content marketing is the way of the future: a necessary adaptation to survive in today and tomorrow’s digital age. “Why waste time writing short-term copy when you can be focused on long-term strategy?”
Because there’s something pretty important that seems to get lost in translation along the way: (say it with me) a human-centered approach. At the end of the day, there’s another living, breathing human being on the other side of the screen who’s looking for value in the content you’re putting out there. Why would you want to leave that up to AI?
More Simple YouTube Carousels in SERPs
This one is pretty spicy. Let me backup a moment.
Google is the world’s largest search engine. YouTube is the world’s largest video search engine. These two properties are enmeshed. With the recent monetization of YouTube Shorts, if I was a head dog at Google, I would want to find new ways to use these Shorts so my new endeavor gets more advertising eyeballs, but I would want to avoid creating a poor user experience on Google desktop and mobile. Adding more videos into results makes sense, and seems logical.
However, what I don’t see happening is a “YouTubegeddon” with more classic, three-results carousels showing up in search providing longform explainer YouTube videos, especially in desktop search. What I do see happening is a diversification of video results. They’re going to be sampling new forms of video packs to best answer their users’ questions based on very specific intent.
Did I say going to? They already are. We’re seeing more branded video carousels, review videos, and obviously more Shorts.
I tend to think of this as perhaps the early death bell to the traditional video pack. RIP horrible old video pack.
When building out your YouTube strategy next year, don’t plan on only targeting Google results that currently use the video carousel pack. If things do change, they’ll change fast. Google will be creating new solutions for providing more videos to users when their answer is best answered with a video. Focus on your brand’s video library in case a branded video carousel does appear.
But most importantly, focus on performing well within YouTube, YouTube Shorts, and TikTok, because in a volatile environment such as this, the cream truly rises.
– Steph N.
Yes, really. The same articles that tell you “SEO changes fast” will say that mobile friendliness is a trend to know for this year. It’s frankly embarrassing. Mobile friendliness is table stakes, no one needs to point it out.
Why These Predictions Suck
The problem with annual prediction posts is ultimately that they are reductive. The practice of SEO is a big umbrella - like an obnoxiously large business-man-slash-golfer sized umbrella. A LOT fits under it. The year SEO is truly revolutionized is the year that everyone stops scrambling to do the exact same thing as everyone else. Will the industry figure that out in 2023? Reply hazy, try again.
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