You probably already know that Google, the top search engine in the world, uses more than 200 ranking factors in delivering results on its search engine results pages (SERPs). Here are four important website trends 2023 to get your website ahead of the competition.
If you don’t manage your site’s search engine optimization (SEO) – and even if you do – you may not realize how frequently the Google algorithm is updated.
In 2022, Google released eight major updates, in the areas of desktop page experience, product reviews, helpful content, search and spam. Those are just the big buckets, however.
Within each update are thousands of smaller, but not less important, tweaks and updates that Google uses to provide the most relevant results to each query on its platform.
For 2023, most SEO experts are anticipating an equal or larger number of changes within Google algorithms. While it’s next to impossible to predict everything that’s in store for the year ahead, trends suggest a few major areas that are deserving of your attention.
1. Visual Content
Photography, video, infographics, charts and other visual elements are a big asset to your site because people absorb information presented in visual form more readily than in writing. Users are more likely to spend time with a good video and share it, which increases page time on your site.
Use of Google Images also is increasing, both by word searches for images related to a subject and by reverse image searches. Reverse image search involves placing an image or the url for an online image in the Google Images search bar.
Like text, visuals are crawled and indexed for search. Optimizing the visual elements on your site will improve your chances of appearing in Google Image search results. Image SEO also will make sure your images don’t bog down your site with slow load times – a real negative for site users and Google ranking.
Another important point to keep in mind: Google is the largest search engine, but there are video platforms that command a large audience and can play a major role in driving people to your site. In the U.S., 247 million users access YouTube each month. TikTok has more than 100 million monthly users in the U.S., mostly in the GenZ demographic (born in the late 1990s and early 2000s).
2. Local Search
If yours is a local business – or a larger business with multiple local locations – a Google Business Profile is more important than ever. Your Google Business Profile informs Google Map Pack results, which list local businesses and identify their location on a map.
Statistics indicate that searches using the term “near me” increased 136 percent in 2021, so optimizing your site for local search is key to helping customers find you.
Beyond your Google Business Profile, local search performance can benefit from SEO strategies such as keyword and content integration targeted to local search.
3. Voice Search
Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Assistant have become household names, and Americans are turning to them with increasing frequency to make calls, send texts, get directions, play music and set reminders. They’re also using them for search. In fact, 41 percent of U.S. adults and 55 percent of U.S. teens search by voice daily, making voice search second only to browser searches.
While 35 percent of U.S. households have at least one smart speaker, less than half of smart speaker users say they turn to it for search. On the other hand, 90 percent of consumers report having used their smartphones to carry out voice searches.
Beyond information searches, shopping by voice is a trend to watch, especially for local businesses. Some 46 percent of consumers say they use voice search daily for finding local business information, including restaurants, grocery stores, food delivery and clothing stores. An additional 36 percent say they’ve made a purchase using a digital assistant – takeout food, to be exact. More than 50 percent say they expect to make purchases using digital assistants in the next five years.
As it becomes more widely used, websites will have to become more responsive to voice search. One of the most important factors in voice search: page speed. Voice search users expect instant results, and voice search pages load in an average of 4.6 seconds – more than 50 percent faster than a results page from text search.
4. Optimize for Mobile
It’s no surprise that optimizing websites for mobile is once again a major priority for websites. In 2022, mobile search comprised more than 60 percent of the 8.5 billion searches performed on Google each day – and that number is expected to grow. Among mobile site criteria that deserve special attention is page speed, which has been a Google ranking factor since 2018.
The four areas in this article comprise a short list of web tweaks and updates that deserve your attention in the months ahead. There are countless others, given Google’s 200-plus ranking factors and never-ending algorithm updates.
And, if you still question why meeting Google’s standards is important, here’s something to think about: If your site is penalized by Google for a violation against the Google Webmaster Guidelines, you could experience a lower SERP ranking or, worse, no ranking at all. What’s more, it can take months for a Google algorithm penalty to be resolved, costing you lost customers and sales.
If you need help with SEO for your website, Fresh Creative is here to help.