Keeping track of SEO trends is like hitting a moving target.
From algorithm updates to evolving innovation — it can feel like the goal post is always moving. And while the goal of SEO remains the same — to boost your presence in relevant search results — the tactics for getting there look different from year to year.
Here, we'll cover the top SEO challenges facing marketers in 2022 and the five biggest trends to watch this year.
SEO Challenges in 2023
A HubSpot Blogs survey identified the top three challenges of SEO marketing:
1. Algorithm changes.
The number one challenge for marketers is keeping up with algorithm changes. This doesn't surprise me — in 2020 alone, Google ran more than 500,00 experiments that led to 4,000+ changes to search.
If you're like most marketers, this stat can feel pretty overwhelming. After all, how can you succeed when Google keeps rerouting the path to success?
The key is to respond to these changes strategically. For one, this means staying on top of industry news. If there's a significant algorithm change, the SEO industry will likely comment on it.
The second strategy may sound counterintuitive — which is to wait until the dust has settled after an update. Why? In some cases, Google discovers a change has not panned out as expected and they revert back.
2. Not ranking.
SEO is a long-term game. Unlike paid search, organic results take time to show results — and it's usually a culmination of smaller efforts.
To use a metaphor — SEO is like a mutual fund slowly building over time. It's not the stock market, where you see gains and losses in real time. This can be helpful to mention when clients expect quick results.
There are some "solutions" to fix a low ranking, such as technical SEO and content marketing. However, even more important is developing a long-term strategy that focuses on three to four initiatives at a time.
3. Keyword research.
Keywords are the foundation of SEO. But today, rather than scanning for just a keyword, Google takes a high-level look at your website to get an overall sense of its tone, scope, and relevancy.
This means that keyword stuffing is out. Instead, the goal is to understand user intent, or the deeper problem your users hope to solve. With this understanding, you can perform better keyword research and write content based on this insight.
Check out this helpful article on how to add user intent to your keyword strategy.
5 SEO Trends to Leverage in 2023
1. Voice and Mobile Search.
"Hey Google, what's a good substitute for heavy cream?"
This was a question I asked my Google Assistant last week while baking a cake, hands covered in flour. It looks like I'm not the only one using voice search — around half (44%) of all internet users in the US use a voice assistant.
There's no denying that voice search is becoming a part of our daily lives. But how can we optimize our content for people searching with their ears — not their eyes?
The answer is clear — optimize your site for mobile. Since most voice searches occur on mobile and smart devices, it makes sense that Google prefers mobile-friendly sites with fast speeds.
Another strategy is reworking your content to include common questions users may ask. For example, identify long-tail question keywords and include them in your h2 or h3 headers.
2. Tightened page headers.
In 2021, Google rolled out a new search ranking feature called Passages. This feature lets Google rank specific sections of a page (or "a passage") semi-independently from the page itself.
In other words, instead of ranking an entire page on relevancy, Google will now score for relevance in specific sections of a page.
For marketers, this change is no cause for concern – assuming your pages are organized. If not, it's a good idea to tighten your page headers to provide more context for different sections, enabling Google to understand your content regardless of the markup.
Keep in mind that other page-ranking factors still apply — so don't skip on backlinks, SEO-optimized copywriting, and other ranking strategies.
3. Emotionally-Charged headlines.
Have you ever clicked on a headline that was too compelling to resist? Turns out, a lot of research has gone into identifying a formula for clickable titles.
According to one recent study that analyzed 5 million headlines, emotional titles — either positive or negative — had a higher click-through rate than neutral titles. In fact, titles with a positive sentiment had a 7.4% higher CTR, while those with a negative sentiment had a 7.2% higher CTR.
That said, emotionally-charged titles can drive clicks — to a point. Go any further, and you quickly enter clickbait-land. For instance, the same study found that "power words" — or words specifically designed to grab attention — can negatively affect CTR.
Power words include terms like unbelievable, insane, and crazy. While these may work on social media, they can hurt your organic CTR — so use them sparingly, if at all.
4. Video in search results.
You've likely come across a YouTube video in a Featured Snippet. These tend to appear for “how-to” searches where the reader is looking for step-by-step instructions.
For instance, imagine you're stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire. One Google search for "How to fix a flat tire" will lead you to the following video:
Video Snippets are just the beginning — we predict Google will continue to incorporate video into search results. With that in mind, it's essential to optimize your own videos for Search.
Here are a few ways to get there:
- Add Chapters to your YouTube videos. Chapters break up your video into sections, usually by topic. This layer of context allows viewers (and Google!) to understand the contents of a video. It also makes it easy for Google to use different clips from your video for Featured Snippets.
- Include Closed Captions (CC). Closed captions help YouTube and Google understand every word in your video. While YouTube can automatically generate captions, these aren't always accurate so it's better to add your own manually.
- Optimize your title, tags, and description. Videos are like webpages — they have titles, descriptions (like meta descriptions), and tags (like meta tags). Optimize these using SEO best practices.
Lastly, it doesn't hurt to embed videos into your website and blog posts — which can improve bounce rates.
5. Tweaking content for "People Also Ask."
While browsing Google, you may have noticed something new: People Also Ask (PAA). In fact, 43% of search queries now include a PAA box.
With a prominent position at the top of the SERP, everyone wants to rank in this highly-coveted feature. Luckily, you can increase your chances by making some minor tweaks to your content.
Since the majority of PAA boxes start with question words, like “what,” “why,” and “when," it's a good idea to incorporate questions and answers into your content. You can use a keyword research tool to identify long-tail question keywords, then include these questions in your page headers.
Or, consider adding a FAQ section at the bottom of your web pages. Not only does this summarize key points for the reader, but it also has useful SEO benefits.
Back to You
The only constant in the SEO world is change. While it may feel like these changes are out of our control, so much is in our control — namely in how we react. Start by keeping an eye on trends and following the best practices in this article to help you navigate the changing landscape.