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SEO Ranking Factors & Trends to Consider in 2023

2023 SEO Trends and Ranking Factors

As we move into another year, the inbound marketing team at Intuitive Websites continues to strive for success in getting our client’s websites found by the right audience. We know that the more your website is seen in Google and other search engines, the more opportunities you have to attract your target client or customer and build your sales funnel.

With our aim to improve search rankings comes a commitment to staying on top of what’s going on with Google and the SEO world. We took some time to gather SEO ranking factors and trends to consider for continued success in 2023 and we’re here to share them with you. Check them out below.

Table of Contents:
Helpful Content for Your Niche Audience
Meet the New “E” in E-E-A-T
AI-Generated Content
Visual Search
Technical SEO

Helpful Content for Your Niche Audience

There’s the saying in the SEO world that “content is king” and that factor remains in 2023.

However, the world wide web is saturated with content. The estimated number of webpages in the Google index is around 30 to 50 billion, and the Internet as a whole is said to have trillions of different pages!

How does your site rise above that digital noise?

It starts by defining your ideal customer and who you want to serve. If you try to be everything to everyone, you’ll get lost in the stack. Your business stands out by focusing on what you do well and who you serve best. What do you specialize in?

Niching Down

Picking a niche or focused specialization makes it easier to stand out in Google with targeted and helpful content. Google’s goal is to provide the user with a great search experience and the content on your website influences their choice to show your page in the search results.

When you provide helpful content for your target client or customer, the more likely they will visit your site, and in turn that searcher will find Google helpful in their search for the information they were looking for.

Some business owners are afraid of picking a niche since they’re afraid of losing opportunities, but in fact, niching down opens you up to more opportunities. When you focus on what you do best, people are more likely to remember you and recommend you.

Niching down also helps you to stand out in the crowded digital marketing space:

  • What is your unique selling proposition (USP)?
  • What do you do best?
  • Focus on the benefits you provide to your customers
  • How are you different from the competition?

We help our clients develop customer personas that define the type of people they want to attract to their business. This exercise is done best with people who are the most connected to the customer on a daily basis, generally someone from the sales team.

The development of customer personas gives the inbound marketing team at IW direction to collect keywords and topics that your target audience is searching for on the web and ultimately it helps drive the content and messaging we create for the website.

The more targeted the content to the right persona, the more you attract those ideal people to your website with potential to turn them into new customers.

Helpful Content is King

King Dog Wearing a CrownThe new SEO trend for 2023 takes a slight twist to the original saying with “helpful content is king.” This comes into play with Google Search’s helpful content system and your website.

Google has signals in their search algorithm that ensures people find and see “original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.”

Google’s helpful content system rewards content that meets a visitor’s search expectations and leaves them with a satisfying experience.

Google’s machine learning system automatically identifies content that seems to lack value and otherwise is not helpful to their searchers. If your site has a high amount of unhelpful content then it’s less likely to rank well in Google Search.

Google put together the following questions to help gauge if your website content is helpful and reliable.

The main takeaway is to focus on people-first content, not content that’s designed to manipulate search engine rankings. Keep your niche and target personas in mind:

  • Would your target customer find the content on your site useful?
  • Does it clearly demonstrate your expertise?
  • Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?

Backlinks Still Matter

An additional benefit to writing high quality, helpful content for your audience is that people will share it on social media and better yet link to it from their website. In the SEO world, this is called a backlink.

Backlinks were the original foundation of Google’s search algorithm and they are a ranking factor that continues to matter in 2023. The quality of the backlink also continues to matter. When other authoritative and trustworthy sites link to your site this builds trust with Google and influences where your site ranks in the search results.

To sum up, writing quality, helpful content should be a primary focus for 2023 and that will naturally attract backlinks.

Meet the New “E” in E-E-A-T

The concept of Google’s E-A-T dates back to 2018 and the core update known as “medic”. This part of the algorithm determines what content is high-quality and prioritizes that which seems most helpful.

Man EEATs pizzaAt the end of 2022 Google added onto the traditional E-A-T acronym with the concept of E-E-A-T, which stands for:

  • Experience
  • Expertise
  • Authoritativeness
  • Trustworthiness

The new “E” was the addition of experience. Google is now evaluating content and the content creator’s first-hand experience with the topic. This means it’s important to communicate your business value proposition in the overarching messaging of your website.

When it comes to SEO, consider the specific keywords and topics that clearly communicate your experience and expertise. At IW we call this thought leadership. (Do you know your pillars of thought leadership?)

Even though there are now two E’s in the equation, Google claims that “trust” is still the most important factor of E-E-A-T. Trust is how accurate, honest, safe and reliable the content is.

This comes into play with all the content that you and others create about your brand on your website and across the web. Consider social media posts, influencer mentions and videos. Consider the reputation of your business or products online, including customer reviews.

Consider the Author of Your Content

Google recently updated their guidelines around the identification of who operates your website and have started to refer to the reputation of your website and/or content creators contributing to your website.

This is important when it comes to blog content. With WordPress websites and other website platforms, you can set an author of your blog posts. If you have someone else helping you to write blog content, make sure to set up an author profile for that content. Often content creators are individuals, but your business or organization is also considered to be the primary content contributor.

Consider the content on your website’s about and team pages. Who are the people behind your business and brand? These key pages are where trust is built with the user and thus with Google.

More and more Google is connecting content across the web as it evaluates your company’s website. Consider your company’s social media posts and the reputation of your business online. Make sure to respond to blog comments and monitor product or business reviews.

Page Quality Rating

Google continues to focus on overall page quality rating and analyzing reputation information. When they evaluate the pages on your website they assess the true purpose of the page and how harmful or deceptive the content may be.

Google’s systems give more weight to “content that aligns with strong E-E-A-T for topics that could significantly impact the health, financial stability, or safety of people, or the welfare of well-being of society.” They call those “Your Money or Your Life” topics or YMYL.

Pages they find harmful to people or society, untrustworthy or spammy are rated low. If you’re in a YMYL category, they put stronger standards towards your page quality score.

As Google evaluates your websites page quality it now looks at:

  • Effort: consider the extent to which a human being actively worked to create satisfying content. For social media posts and forum discussions, participation and depth of conversation are important.
  • Originality: consider the extent to which the content offers unique, original content that is not available on other websites. Google considers who the original creator of the content is.
  • Talent or Skill: consider the extent to which the content is created with enough talent and skill to provide a satisfying experience for page visitors
  • Accuracy: for informational pages, consider the extent to which the content is factually accurate. This is especially important for those in the YMYL topics.

Google continues to update their extensive Quality Rater Guidelines. Following these guidelines will help ensure your site and company achieves visibility in Google search.

What is the Purpose of This Page?

When gathering targeted keywords you want to rank for and content that showcases these words, consider the intent behind that and what the searcher would expect to find when they land on that page of your website.

Consider the page’s purpose and make it easy for the user to find what they need. Do people have intent to buy or are they still in need of more information?

When Google evaluates your website’s quality it’s looking at the overall intention of the page:

  • Is it to sell a product or service?
  • Is it to provide information?
  • Is it to generate leads?

Google not only looks at the content, but at the design, functionality and user experience on that page:

  • How well does it meet its purpose?
  • Is it easy to use?
  • Is your content relevant and accurate?

Meta Tags Still Matter

Your title tags are a key element for E-E-A-T factors and for SEO. While generally a great place to add your targeted keywords, title tags should still clearly summarize what the page content is about.

Additionally, consider the meta description for each of your web pages. The meta description should give the user a quick summary of what the content is about with a clear call to action on next steps.

Consistent, Up-to-Date Content

Part of the E-E-A-T equation is providing accurate, up-to-date information on your website. Make sure to update old blog posts that are out of date or have stale information. Some examples could be posts about old laws or regulations, or old events or happenings that are no longer relevant.

Google loves fresh content. While you could keep writing and producing new content, that’s a bigger investment of time vs. updating old content on your site. Consistently updating content on your site helps your site be seen as a better resource and helps you to rank higher.

If you update an old blog post make sure to update the date of the post, so it shows as new content when Google crawls your site again.

AI-Generated Content

AI-generated content and new GPT-3 writing tools are a hot topic as we move into 2023.

AI Generated RobotFor context, the new GPT-3 writing tools have become more advanced and can easily whip up new SEO optimized AI-generated content for your website or blog. Since content creation can be time intensive, it’s easy to see why these tools are enticing, especially as they advance with more quality output.

Is AI-Generated Content Bad for SEO?

The surge in GPT-3 writing tools has stirred debate in the SEO community about the use of AI content, and this was intensified in April 2022 when Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller said that automatically generated content is considered spam, according to the Search Engine Webmaster Guidelines.

Within the past couple of weeks, Google has clarified that they are not against AI-generated content, if it’s created with people in mind.

The Google Search Liaison team replied in a thread of Tweets about the auto-generated content debate and they said, “content created primarily for search engine rankings, however it is done, is against our guidance. If content is helpful & created for people first, that’s not an issue.”

Google also updated their spam policies to clarify that spammy automatically-generated content is content that’s been generated programmatically without producing anything original or adding sufficient value; instead it’s been generated for the primary purpose of manipulating search rankings and not helping users.”

Google lists examples of spammy automatically-generated content here.

If Google’s webspam team finds your site to have spammy auto generated content, they’re authorized to take action on it. As a reminder, Google wants… “original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results”.

Human Intervention is Needed

The issue now is that AI content is mainly used for fast turnaround or to fill websites with a bunch of words. Sites that use AI content in this way are spammy sites or used for quick, short term SEO wins.

If you use AI-generated content, the key is to make sure a human reviews it and edits it before publishing it to your site. Make sure the content is quality, accurate, original and helpful to your end user.

It’s up for debate as to whether or not Google’s systems can detect AI-generated content. Many reputable organizations have used these tools without issue… yet. This includes media, universities and other organizations for research automation.

With Google being the king of machine learning, there’s potential they will eventually find a way to filter out AI-generated content that’s not touched by a human. At the end of 2022 Google rolled out new spam updates and helpful content updates and some sites with straight AI-generated content were hit.

At IW we will be following Google’s lead when it comes to auto-generated content and proceed with caution until the full extent of this is realized. We could be in for a big Google algorithm shift in 2023 that addresses this growing trend.

Senior Vice President of Google, Prabhakar Raghavan, who is responsible for Google Search, Assistant, Geo, Ads, Commerce, and Payments products said in an interview at Brainstorm Tech 2022: Organizing The World’s Information:

“In our studies, something like almost 40 percent of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search. They go to TikTok or Instagram.”

Man creating video for Visual SearchRaghavan continued by describing how young people use search in different ways that are “unique and challenging” to their algorithms, forcing them to adapt with more visual search features, like Google maps, “Neighborhood Vibe”, which calls on images from other Google Maps users in the area to help “tell the map what matters” from people in that community.

These new challenges to Google’s search algorithm still rely on content from its users, just as closed search platforms like TikTok and Instagram do. But Google also gets its content and images from your website.

Google is on the lookout for images and videos. A webpage that uses a lot of video with good quality unique images, could be winning a lot of brownie points with Google’s search algorithm.

As Prabhakar Raghavan continued to say, Google will “absolutely continue for users bringing in more rich content and images” so that Google’s “analysis and understanding of video” is “at the same level” they had with documents.

Google will also be continuing its trend with its natural language learning algorithms to better help understand the nuances of language from how people use Google Search. So the text-based search will still be very important to Google, however, Raghavan says that they will be pushing for people to be more “expressive” about their intent. On-going keyword research for search intent changes should be reflected and fresh in your webpage content.

Increased Search Algorithm Volatility & The Importance of Technical SEO

The time between Google’s algorithm updates is getting shorter and they’re starting to roll out on top of one another. With the talk of Google adapting to a younger audience and search language, you can bet that this volatility will only increase.

This is why it’s even more important now to make sure that your site is as easy to navigate and crawl and that both users and search engines get the information they want, in the fastest and most efficient way possible.

Need More Help with SEO?

The world of SEO is ever evolving, but the key components remain the same. Keep your end user in mind, create helpful content, be consistent, and quality matters.

Need more help with SEO? To get started, set up an initial meeting or phone call with our team to evaluate your needs and determine if there is a good fit. We are happy to sign a non-disclosure agreement and review your current marketing efforts for free. Following our initial discussion, we can prepare a customized proposal for your team

Aubree Deimler

Aubree Deimler

Aubree Deimler is the Inbound Marketing Manager at Intuitive Websites. She is a digital marketing strategist with over 15 years of experience in the digital marketing space with specialities in SEO, SEM and developing an engaging online brand.