‘Tis the season to peer into our crystal balls and extend what we know about Google and search engine optimization (SEO) in 2022 into 2023. These four trends in SEO are hot today and will only continue to gain importance in the coming year.
1. Meaningful Media
Google’s MUM algorithm update — that’s the Multitask Unified Model to you and me — can already extract meaning from text and images. Google can understand text in images and process the visual content to know what objects are present and relevant. But MUM is multimodal in that it can expand in the future to extract meaning from richer media like video and audio.
That means that video will no longer be just the eye candy that helps increase visitor engagement on a site; it should be part of your SEO strategy. It also means, though, that videos need to have something to say.
For example, a video that’s purely still images transitioning from one to the next adds movement to the page to catch the eye, but it doesn’t say anything relevant for the MUM algorithm to convert to relevance signals. Add a voice overlay or text into the video to send those relevancy signals more clearly, especially as Google is figuring out how to understand video.
The same goes for audio: It’s important to speak the way your audience speaks, including natural keyword use, to weave the contextual relevance needed to send strong signals to Google.
2. Content Helpfulness
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again (and again) — no “SEO content.” The words you use on any page of your site need to be geared to helping the visitor find what they need. This has been important to retaining people on your site once they visit, but now it’s even more important thanks to Google’s Helpful Content Updates in August and December 2022.
This is not a subtle hint. When Google targets a confirmed algorithm update like this, they’re sending a clear signal that it’s important. Pay attention!
Content has always been king, and this is truer today than ever. Great content targeted toward helping your visitor achieve their goals is paramount. That content can be impartial reviews, buyer’s guides, how-to guides, frequently asked questions, and any manner of informational content relevant to your site’s offerings.
3. Content E-A-T
Helpful content is only part of the equation, though. Google’s concept of E-A-T — expertise, authority, and trustworthiness — has been around for over 12 years and has steadily increased in importance.
Today, E-A-T is involved in every single search query that Google processes. Its core purpose is to ensure that the content Google surfaces in its search results will not be harmful — the flipside of the helpful content coin.
When a query involves “your money or your life,” also known as YMYL queries, E-A-T is particularly important. These queries focus on financial and health information, among other things. Content that needs to rank in YMYL instances needs to demonstrate E-A-T through working with subject matter experts to create content, making authorship clear, providing bios, citing resources, surfacing editorial or medical review processes, and more.
In the future, I predict that similar rigor will need to be applied to content created for other industries as well. People want to know that the content they’re consuming will be accurate and beneficial. Google’s E-A-T system aims to reward sites that surface that information, making it easier for searchers to determine whether they’ve landed on a page that holds the answers they seek.
4. Link Authority
I’m happy to say that the role of external link authority in SEO is slowly waning, according to Google. The search engine was built on the foundation of the importance of links from other sites in determining whether content is worthy of being ranked highly. However, it’s also a signal that’s easily spammed — as demonstrated by the many companies who promise to shoot your rankings to the moon by building links for you.
To be clear, links are not “not important,” they’re just becoming less important algorithmically over time. You’ll still want to acquire links naturally by focusing on creating great, helpful, authoritative content.
These four trends all focus on one thing, really: creating great content. Whether your content is in text form or in a richer format like images, audio, or video, great content will keep your SEO ship pointed in the right direction in the next year.