Rank Higher on Google with Search Engine Optimisation
Let’s be honest, keeping track of SEO trends can feel like trying to win big at a fairground game with impossible odds. But although wading through new trends and innovations can feel as though all we’re doing is trying to stay competitive in a losing game, giving up and admitting defeat is a guaranteed way to see your rankings tank and all your previous hard work go to waste.
So, on that happy note, shall we really get into some of the challenges that marketers are going to come up against throughout 2023?
Because while we are going to take a deep dive into some of the looming issues that are making themselves known, we’re also going to explore some of the latest trends and tactics that will help us all to navigate those aforementioned potential problems with confidence.
I promise it’s not all doom and gloom. I have been doing SEO since 2008 and the challenges only excite me.
2023 SEO Challenges
There are three primary challenges facing SEO professionals in 2023. And yes, this does mean that there are more, but your focus should stay on these three or you’ll drive yourself into a pit of despair that you can’t get out of.
- The Algorithm
To give you an idea of the sheer number of changes that are made to algorithms every year, Google ran 700,000 experiments in 2021 that directly resulted in more than 4,000 alterations to its search functionality.
Don’t panic because I’m certainly not suggesting that you need to understand every single one of these experiments, but you do need to recognise when and how to respond strategically.
Google no longer takes keywords at face value. Instead, it takes an entire website into consideration when determining relevancy. So, don’t even entertain the idea of keyword stuffing because it won’t work. Instead, a clear focus on user intent is crucial to all keyword research strategies, which will have a positive knock-on effect when it comes to creating the right types of content for an audience.
SEO is not a one-and-done exercise. It requires plenty of TLC over the long term and meaningful results are never seen instantly. Yes, there are tactics that can be deployed to address low ranking issues, however, it is more important to focus on developing a full strategy that effectively targets up to four main initiatives.
So, those are the problems. Now for the solutions.
Get comfortable because I’m about to hit you with 16 strategies that you can leverage right now.
- Voice Search and Mobile Optimisation
Forecasts indicate that there will be 8.4 billion digital voice assistants in operation globally by 2024. And yes, that figure is higher than the global population. With so many people using voice assistants every day, optimising for that segment of an audience is vital.
One of the simplest ways to do this is to ensure that sites are fully optimised for mobile, as the majority of voice searches are conducted via mobile and smart devices. Another tactic is to refresh on-site content to include commonly asked questions and marking them with the appropriate H2 or H3 header tags.
Passages was rolled out by Google in 2021 and is a feature that allows the search giant to rank a passage of content from a webpage separately from the rest of that page. Web pages that already have a clearly labelled structure are all good to leave as they are. However, if pages are lacking in header tags, then that’s something you’ll want to address.
ChatGPT has truly taken the internet by storm in recent months, which can create content that almost reads as well as if it had been written by a real person. Note the use of ‘almost’ there.
It’s not good enough to replace the human touch, however, it can be used in various ways for idea generation and non-SEO content, such as emails and LinkedIn messages that you can enhance with your own data, stats, and knowledge. Note that Google has explicitly stated that generating on-page content or blogs using AI is against webmaster guidelines. Ref: Google Says AI Generated Content Is Against Guidelines (searchenginejournal.com)
- The Clickability Factor
It’s official, content with a neutral title doesn’t secure as many clicks as content with either a positive or a negative headline. A study that looked at 4 million Google search results found that positively titled content had a 7.4% higher click-through rate (CTR) than neutrally titled content.
But this doesn’t mean that you can go all in and jump headfirst into clickbait territory. The same study also discovered that words used as a way to grab attention, such as ‘crazy’ or ‘unbelievable’, can negatively impact CTRs. So, it’s advisable to steer clear of those altogether.
- People Also Ask
More than 40% of all SERPs include a “People Also Ask” box, which occupies a prominent position. Clearly, being included as the answer to one of these questions will be hugely beneficial, but how exactly do you secure one of these covetable positions? Again, keyword research and the use of appropriate header tags is vital, however, you could also incorporate a ‘frequently asked questions’ section within a webpage to easily tick these boxes and benefit from an SEO boost relatively quickly.
- Zero-Click Results
More than 12% of SERPs contain featured snippets, which are designed to give searchers instant access to the information they’re looking for without needing to click through to a website.
Grabbing a spot in the featured snippet section of a SERP can work wonders for boosting your authority, so you’ll want to incorporate a primary keyword, utilise header tags, and keep it brief.
With more of us wanting to engage with content that has clearly been written by someone who knows what they’re talking about, Google has updated its E-A-T algorithm with another E. So, In addition to expertise, authority and trust, experience is also taken into account when content quality is being evaluated.
As an expert in your niche, you should work to incorporate unique insights into your content. Remember, everyone can access the latest and greatest AI writing tool, but you have a unique selection of insights, data and opinions that audiences want to learn more about.
- Authorial Authority
Closely related to the extra E for experience in the Google algorithm is the need for real people with real expertise to create authoritative content in your niche. One of the easiest ways to demonstrate that your content is written by real people with tangible experience that they can draw from is to create an author bio.
The best author bios are written in the third person, showcase all relevant credentials, and explain to audiences why those credentials matter.
- Multi-Format Content and a Multi-Channel Experience
While audiences once turned to Google to find new brands, businesses and organisations, Gen Z are showing us that they prefer to use social platforms such as Instagram and TikTok to make those discoveries.
There are now more places than ever before where you can connect with your ideal audience, and it’s your responsibility to meet them exactly where they are. Creating content for multiple different platforms can feel like an overwhelming task but with a bit of clever repurposing, you can transform a single piece of content into many pieces, all of which are ideally suited to the vibe and requirements of each platform.
Did you know that more than 95% of the internet isn’t accessible? Some of the most common accessibility failures come in the form of low contrast text, missing ALT text, empty links, and missing form labels, all of which are easy to fix.
As 2022 saw a marked increase in searches for terms like “SEO accessibility”, it seems to be a pretty safe bet that Google will soon start to use accessibility as a direct ranking factor. So, why not take this opportunity to get ahead of the game? The great news is that you can start small and use ALT text to describe images, ensure all video content has transcripts and closed captions, and use HTML to create structure within your content rather than relying on images.
- Image Optimisation
Optimising images has always been a key component of well-rounded SEO, but it’s something that too many marketers have been neglecting. Take a moment right now to create your own image SEO checklist that you and your team will run through every single time.
To start, every image should have a filename that properly describes its content. Additionally, it should be saved as a file that isn’t so large that it will adversely affect page loading times. Other key steps to include are utilising titles, captions and ALT text with semantic keywords, and creating an image sitemap which will help Google properly crawl and index your content.
- Historical Optimisation
Take a moment to think about how many pieces of content are currently sitting on your website. In addition to freshly published pieces, you likely have a selection of older articles, blog posts and more that may have been sitting online for several years.
But when was the last time you updated them? If your answer to that question is “never” then I’m here to tell you that you’ve got a missed opportunity on your hands.
I recommend starting by identifying which pieces of historical content have the highest bounce rates. Ask yourself if it’s still relevant and if there are changes you can make to transform it into a piece of content your audience will want to read right now. Techniques such as incorporating a new relevant keyword, replacing outdated imagery, addressing broken links, and inserting fresh stats to boost your credibility can all be easy fixes that deliver tangible results.
- Search Intent
The most successful content is created for real people, not search engines.
So, one of the best things you can do is focus on why your audience is searching for particular queries and use that information to determine how you can create content that meets those needs.
By taking this approach to content creation, you won’t find yourself trying to position keywords into existing content which can be tricky at the best of times. Instead, you can focus on creating the highest quality content possible, containing plenty of relevant keywords that never feel forced or out of place.
- Zero Volume Keywords
We’re all familiar with the process of targeting keywords with high search volumes, which helps to attract plenty of traffic to websites. But this process doesn’t account for the value that can come from targeting zero search volume keywords, which can be beneficial for attracting highly qualified leads that will boost conversions at the bottom of the funnel.
Small businesses can also benefit significantly from zero volume keywords, as there will be very little competition when it comes to earning that all-important SERP exposure.
- Reverse Your Outreach Thinking
Building backlinks can be a slow and tedious process. And let’s be honest, most of the people you will reach out to will ignore your emails which is more than a little disheartening.
Instead, you could drive better outcomes by reversing your outreach strategy and focussing on creating content that is specifically designed to be shared and linked to. I’m talking infographics, stat listicles, and how-to guides.
It’ll take a bit of work and the right keyword optimisation strategy but when you’ve got the balance just right, you’ll start to see highly authoritative sites linking to your content which will boost your visibility and increase your organic site traffic.
- Structured Data Markup
I know I’ve mentioned the importance of ensuring your content is properly organised several times already, but it’s a point that far too many marketers overlook.
Structured data markup makes it easier for search engines to understand and evaluate content. And you don’t need me to tell you that’s critical for boosting SERP rankings for relevant keywords. So, if you want to see more traffic and higher click-through rates, add relevant schema markups at every opportunity.
Well, You’ve Made It To The End
And now the hard work really starts. What I hope you’ll take away from this article is the sheer number of SEO related tasks and tactics that are well within your control, which should give you the confidence you need to face the ever-evolving challenges being thrown at us by technological innovations and algorithm updates.