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My trip to BrightonSEO this year was my first (and long overdue) time attending the conference and I can say with 100% confidence that it was worth the time and expense. Not only was there an awful lot of great lessons and insight from the conference but I was lucky enough to be in Brighton during the warmest weekend of the year so far!
One of the main motivations for attending BrightonSEO was my determination to stay up to date with the latest trends and developments. Although I am no longer primarily responsible for SEO in my current role at PepsiCo, being aware of how search is evolving and where it’s likely to go is still an important consideration, as I believe it will be for all types of business and brands in the coming years as I’ll highlight in the sections that follow.1. The future of search is multi-faceted
The conference kicked off with a section of the future of search, which for me was one of the highlights of the entire event. It was fascinating to learn that by 2023 50% of all searches will be made by voice and that consumers are 80% more likely to interact with image-based content, reinforcing the need for marketers to be forward-thinking in their approach to search and to consider content beyond just words.
The two stand-out speakers from this session were Raj Nijjer from Yext and Purna Virji from Microsoft. Raj focused more on the futuristic aspects of search, particularly in respect to AI and structured data, whilst Purna provided some great insights around keywordless searches. Here are some of the top takeaways:Conversational, question-based searches using Alexa are now being made throughout households.
In fact it’s interesting to watch children using these intelligent devices because the questions they ask are vastly different to what we’re used to. For example, small children will ask real, conversational questions rather than keyword-based questions because they have no concept of how traditional search engines operate.Google Home was launched in the UK on 6th April, the day before for conference started.
This is significant for two reasons: a) the device is currently cheaper than Amazon’s Echo, and b) it will have access to Google’s Knowledge Graph and immense search power. This will put an increased emphasis and importance on brands optimising for the Knowledge Graph because this is what will power voice searches and if you’re not here then you simply won’t show up.Organic search = structured data
Unless you’re utilising reviews, ratings, business type, times and location then you’re likely to miss out. This is evident for searches made on mobile using terms such as ‘cheapest’, ‘best’ or ‘closest’. On the Saturday after the conference I fancied a cream tea in the afternoon for lunch and my decision wasn’t guided just by the top results but by the ratings, reviews and ability to call ahead and enquire about availability. 87% of consumers won’t consider a business with a low number of reviews so brand reviews should be paired with ‘best…’/ ‘most popular…’ search entries2. Content relevance is more important than ever
The importance of ensuring content is as relevant as possible has been a theme now for a good number of years, however it felt particularly pertinent in light of the future of search session covered above when we consider the increasingly high standards consumers expect from search. This section had a mix technical (Google Tag Manager top tips) and planning (content distribution) but Marcus Tober from Searchmetrics offered some interesting philosophical points in respect to content strategy and the use of data.Content needs to be data-driven and explore user intent in order to be successful. Content relevance is now the #1 ranking factor and there’s nothing technical SEO can do to help.
Because keyword intent correlates with the conversion funnel, content needs to be optimised accordingly, i.e. from awareness and consideration, through to transaction. An example of a brand missing out is Tesco, who produce very transactional pages for iPhones and Galaxy S5s yet haven’t produced an effective comparison page (consideration stage content) despite the huge search volume (aka consumer appetite) behind this queryA recommended content strategy for the new age of relevance follows three stages:
Clean-up – German site chúng tôi removed 95% of the content that wasn’t driving traffic and focused on improving the remaining 5%, leading to an overall increase in SEO visibility
Update – update and enrich existing content, and develop a more effective user experience to ensure content is user-friendly3. Behavioural science
The final session was the conference’s keynote speech and it was delivered by the wonderfully eloquent Rory Sutherland, vice chairman of Ogilvy & Mather and currently leading Ogilvy’s ‘behavourial interventions agency’ Ogilvy Change. Rory Sutherland is certainly no SEO expert and yet his keynote was designed not to provide the audience with the latest search trends but to inspire new thinking and perspectives that could help us all as digital marketers.
The world of behavioural science and economics has been covered before on this blog but Rory Sutherland highlighted a few additional areas of interest that is certainly worth summarising:Over-optimisation is not necessarily the best course of action
When we optimise one particular variable there is a cost elsewhere. Nature never purely optimises along one direction, for example bees! When a honey bee locates a food source they perform a carefully choreographed “waggle” dance to instruct the rest of the hive where to find it.
Yet 20% of the bees ignore the dance, which at first glance seems odd – why not go where the food is? The reason is that if all the bees leave the hive they’ll be open to attack and there’s a risk they will starve. The remaining 20% are the ‘R&D’ bees who focus on new areas and food sourcesAlways budget for test & learn
The honey bee example above demonstrates the value in always having a balance between the short and long-term. The implication is that marketers should take a balanced approach to planning and have two budgets:
Harvesting budget (80%) – focus on doing the everyday things right and profit at a reasonable rate in the short run
Speculative budget (20%) – test and learn new ideas and build for the future. There will be failures but if the big era pay off they will generate value in the long runPerception is everything
Instead of looking to optimisation to make an improvement, consider changing the metric instead. Look for things which are objectively similar but subjectively different – or vice versa.
For example, instead of making the trains arrive more frequently (optimisation) London Underground started to include projected arrival times on the platform. No optimisation occurred yet customers were happier because the psychology changed – London Underground had simply reduced uncertainty (who’d happened to be the real issue, rather than a desire for more frequent trains)Summary
Like most conferences BrightonSEO offered a mix of brand new, innovative insights and best practice updates. As digital marketers it’s always important to get a balance of the two, similar to the short/ long-term test & learn recommendation Rory Sutherland made in his keynote.
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Nearly 20,000 educators, administrators and industry representatives from more than 70 countries convened in Denver, Colorado from June 26–29 for ISTE 2023, the world’s premier ed-tech conference, hosted by the International Society for Technology in Education.
Here are three key takeaways from the event.
1. Schools must release more control to their students.
A recurring theme at ISTE 2023 was how technology can empower students — but only if educators let them take ownership of their own learning.
“I spent all of my time making anchor charts, because I didn’t want my students to fail,” she said. “I had all of these different scaffolds, and every moment in my classroom was scripted.” But she soon realized she was over-supporting her students, rather than letting them learn and explore for themselves.
To emphasize her point, Magiera showed a video of a two-year-old having trouble blowing out his birthday candle. Rather than blowing the candle out for his son, the father comes up with a creative solution — and the child’s reaction is priceless when he finally succeeds.
“Would that child have had that ‘wow’ moment if the dad had blown out the candle for him?” she asked. “Probably not.”
2. Traditional literacy is still critical — but it’s not the only literacy that matters.
Award-winning actor LeVar Burton, host of the children’s TV show Reading Rainbow, described how his own love for reading stemmed from his mother, who was an English teacher. “In our house, you either read a book or you got hit in the head with one,” he joked.
But these days, “we need to give our children literacy in more than just reading and writing,” Burton said, noting that it’s essential for students to become literate in using technology, media and information as well.
To support the need for these new literacies, ISTE has updated its Standards for Students. These define the 21st-century skills that students should learn, with examples of how the standards can be implemented at various grade levels.
With regard to traditional literacy, a number of companies discussed new ed-tech solutions designed to help children learn to read. For instance, Burton discussed how the new Reading Rainbow app reimagines the show for the digital age, exposing students to a carefully curated library of digital books and field trips — combining both literary and real-world experiences. And Samsung announced a new comprehensive solution called the Samsung Literacy Lab, which pairs Samsung Chromebooks or Galaxy tablets with an innovative literacy curriculum from Pearson.
3. Virtual reality is poised to make a big impact in education.
While only 2 percent of teachers say they’ve used virtual reality in the classroom, three out of five educators are interested in making it part of their students’ learning experience, according to a survey of more than 1,000 educators that Samsung released during the ISTE conference. Although virtual reality is still a relatively new technology, teachers nationwide recognize its potential to enhance instruction — and their enthusiasm was reflected in the number of ed-tech companies demonstrating VR-related solutions at ISTE 2023.
Samsung’s Gear VR drew heavy interest among conference attendees. A head-mounted display that’s compatible with Galaxy phones, the Gear VR allows students to experience virtual field trips and other content with immersive, 360-degree panoramic views.
Samsung’s survey, conducted by market research firm GfK, revealed that 86 percent of teachers think it’s a challenge to keep students engaged in the curriculum, even with existing classroom technology. Ninety-three percent of teachers feel their students would be excited to use virtual reality, and 83 percent believe it can help improve learning outcomes — from better understanding of academic concepts to increased engagement and collaboration. According to the survey, science (82 percent), social studies (81 percent) and history (81 percent) are the top three subjects that teachers think can benefit from virtual reality.
Seventy-two percent of teachers want to simulate experiences that are relevant to their course content, such as “flying as the Wright Brothers did in 1903 or trading stocks on the floor of a stock exchange.” Sixty-nine percent say they’d use virtual reality to travel to distant world landmarks, such as Stonehenge or Machu Picchu, and 68 percent want to use the technology to explore otherwise inaccessible locations, like outer space or the interior of a volcano.
You can see more of the exciting innovation showcased at ISTE by viewing the event’s Storify page.
Find out about the strong impact VR can have in the classroom, particularly in STEM learning, here.
With no need to invest in inventory, the popularity of digital products is growing enormously
Creating and selling digital products is one of the best ways to monetize a website. Over two billion people are expected to buy digital products in 2023, which indicates huge opportunities for businesses.
With more and more people buying online, many entrepreneurs have started businesses selling digital products. This tough competition has made revenue generation difficult, unless and until you follow powerful strategies.
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In this article, we will talk about the top three ways to increase your revenue by selling digital products in 2023.1. Add a subscription model
A subscription model ensures recurring revenue from month-to-month. This will help you plan and make major business decisions. It’s been estimated that 53% of all software revenue will be generated via subscriptions by 2023. What’s more, some 70% of business leaders believe subscription models will be the key to future growth and expansion.
E-commerce business leaders such as Amazon have started offering subscription services on physical products such as food and beauty. You can make a subscription model work for your digital products as well. News publications such as The Economist and The Wall Street Journal have been doing it for years.
One of the key factors that influence the success of your subscription model is the price, as it is directly related to acquiring new customers, increasing the revenue generation from existing customers, and reducing your churn rate.
One great example is Naturally Sassy. Saskia “Sassy” Gregson-Williams provides free content about fitness and ballet movements through Instagram, YouTube, and her blog, which has helped her build a large following. She then created an online studio where her subscribers can get video-based lessons.
New videos are added every month, so her subscribers get value for their money. The recurring income from the subscription model allows Sassy to create more free content and attract new people.
Depending on what your goals are, you can choose a subscription model. However, it is also important to measure the success of your recurring revenue strategy. It will help you understand what’s working and what’s not in your subscription model so you can make the necessary changes.
Using a solution like Kajabi, a platform for selling your own online courses can give you a better idea of how your subscriptions are performing over time. You can track monthly recurring revenue to judge the success of new offers and project future growth. Additionally, you can track average revenue per user and churn rate.
These metrics will help you understand if your subscribers are happy with the product they’re getting and if you’re headed in the right direction or not.2. Discover what types of engagement lead to the most sales
Sales conversions don’t materialize spontaneously – they happen only after an audience member interacts with your various touchpoints over time.
You want your website visitors to read content, submit contact forms, play videos, subscribe to your email newsletter, etc. In the world of analytics, these are tracked as “events,” and keeping an eye on these events can help you understand user behavior on your website.
No matter what your objective is, all the pages on your website must be optimized for conversion. Knowing how each event impacts your conversion rate can help you optimize your website accordingly.
For example, let’s say your goal is to get people to subscribe to your digital products and your visitors can get to the subscription checkout form from three different web pages. Knowing how many people visit those web pages is a good start, but to truly optimize your funnel, you need to work backward, so you can know what events are taking place that lead up to the sale.
Of course, you can’t optimize things you aren’t tracking. However, setting up event tracking in Google Analytics is not simple, and it requires repeating the process for each and every event that you want to track. That’s where Oribi comes into the picture. It tracks all referrals to your website, and all onsite events, automatically. You just need to define your conversion goals, using the easy interface.
Oribi also allows you to find out why some days convert better than others. You can use this insight to perform more of those tasks and reach your business goals quicker than you otherwise might.
This way you can make sure that the events are aligned with people’s intentions. This, in turn, will help you create experiences that help people build trust in your brand and increase the likelihood of conversion.3. Optimize paths to conversion by tracking individual users
Tracking visitors can help you understand what most people look for as soon as they land on your website. It will also help you track the bounce rate, exit pages, top ten pages, and conversion rate. The benefits of tracking your website traffic cannot be ignored.
Advantages of tracking visitors include:
It allows you to see who is on your website in real-time.
It helps you figure out the channels that send you the majority of your traffic so you can increase your visibility in those areas.
It helps you determine which part of your website people like and which they don’t.
It helps you uncover where you lose most of your prospects.
It helps you find out how to optimize your website.
Google Analytics is the most popular analytics tool used by businesses to track visitors, however, it does not allow you to track individual users or flagging of particular IP addresses.
Individual visitor tracking can help you understand how each user uses your website and what each individual is looking for in your website, allowing you to offer personalized products. Tools like Albacross can help a great deal in this context, allowing you to gather intelligence on your visitors and push information on their site visits to your CRM.
Benefits of individual visitor tracking include:
It helps you figure out why they are on your site (based on their browsing behavior).
It helps you understand their interests, and/or pain points.
It allows you to see where they are in your sales funnel, allowing you to send them personalized offers/recommendations.
Therefore, it is important to use an analytics tool that allows you to track both individual and overall visitors.Final thoughts
Increasing revenue need not have to be difficult; instead, it should be one of the easy tasks of every digital business. Adding a subscription model where users pay every month to get access to the premium content can provide you with recurring money every month. Also, you need to track and optimize the right web pages/events to convert more people.
Listen up. SEO is still as important as ever. Don’t get dissuaded by influencer marketing or programmatic ad buying — search engine optimization is still a juggernaut within the marketing space. However, SEO best practices are changing year to year, and even month to month. As search engines tinker with their algorithms, what gets valued changes.
This leaves SEO specialists and content creation specialists in a place of constant limbo. They need to stay updated on the latest trends and updates put out by Google and Bing. Then they must implement these guidelines into the technical and content sides of their SEO practices.
“There will no doubt be a lot of new and exciting SEO trends in 2023 and beyond, but it’s important to note that many of the new SEO algorithms (such as Google’s BERT) are mainly focused on user intent and providing said user a great experience. Therefore, no matter how the SEO landscape changes, you can’t go wrong if you focus on creating relevant, useful content that is written with the end-user in mind – not search engines.”
– Chris Winters, Venta Marketing Senior Campaign Manager
At the most basic level, the best SEO practices remain the same: exceptional content creation and sound technical maintenance. However, we have identified five critical SEO trends for 2023 that you need to start using in your strategy. We all love the power of Google, but when SEO guidelines shift, it’s time to pay the piper.
Landing in Position Zero
These selected snippets by Google — directly, accurately, and clearly answer the stated query. Aiming to land in position zero requires content that focuses on understandable, expert information that solves the question of the user.
Content and Voice Search: A Loving Relationship
Mobile searches surpassed desktop searches a few years ago. With smart technology, voice searches are carving out a large chunk of everyday internet queries. Voice search is here, and here to stay. As more people ask questions to their speaker or smartphone, content needs to keep that in mind. This translates to blogs, services pages, videos, etc. needing to be crafted in a way that centers around questions that focus on “what” or “how” — as those are the two biggest trigger words in current voice searches.
Video, Video, Video
Video content receives the best engagement rates of any form of content. At its heart, SEO is seeking to connect users with the right information — and information that the user finds useful or entertaining. Incorporating video content in your SEO strategy is no longer a good suggestion, but instead a requirement. In order to climb the SERP rankings, producing dynamic content is essential. Users engage at a higher rate, spend more time on the page, and are more likely to navigate through a website.
Prioritize Mobile UX
As mentioned, mobile searches garner the majority of search engine queries. This requires that your pages, and website as a whole, prioritize the mobile user experience. Therefore, technical SEO needs to be perfected. From fast loading times to ensuring no-redirects occur, these backend aspects need to be in order to provide a good experience for page visitors.
ABO: Always Be Optimizing
Content quickly becomes outdated. The information you produce has a lifespan in relevancy, whether that is determined by new information or competitors that produce it in a better way. In an effort to maintain the value your content has to users, you should refresh, edit, and add to your old content in a six-month cycle. In doing so, you can protect and improve the rankings of your already existing content.
Marketing on Facebook is difficult. On average, social conversion rates are 0.71 percent, while email conversions are around 3.19 percent. It’s not uncommon for marketers, both new and old school, to claim that you just can’t use Facebook to make money, or at least that it isn’t worth the effort.
Here’s the problem. People are getting fussy about their email addresses. A growing percentage of the population won’t even use email to communicate with family, let alone you, yet they’ll be fine with liking you on Facebook. It’s a looser commitment, yes, but it’s better than nothing, and if you leverage it properly, it’s a powerful way to grow.
Needless to say, most Facebook marketing strategies are lacking, and it’s never entirely obvious why. That’s why I’ve decided to share three insights your Facebook strategy is most likely missing (and feel free to give yourself a pat on the back if they aren’t).1. Got Anything to Look At?
The number one biggest mistake marketers make when they turn to social networks for an audience is selling too much and not offering enough value to stay subscribed. I sincerely hope nobody on this site is surprised by this bit of knowledge. Hopefully, you are sick of hearing it by now.
So the obvious next step is to offer value in the form of a blog post, and link to that instead. And yes, that works quite a bit better than just trying to sell things all day and night. I mean, Search Engine Journal’s Facebook Page has about 3.5% of its audience currently engaged, while Coca Cola only has 1.2% of their audience talking about them, in large part because SEJ actively links to their blog.
First of all, yes, even though Shopify just released a new Point of Sale system, you don’t see them spamming their audience with it. Instead, you see them linking to their own content. But you also see things like this:
No blog link. Just a link to their Pinterest page, which is filled with inspirational quotes like this, portrayed as images with attractive design, sized perfectly for Facebook. It’s Facebook posts like these that keep 8 percent of Shopify’s Facebook audience active, despite only posting once or twice a day, and sometimes even less.
It seems to me that Shopify truly gets Facebook.
There’s a certain kind of content that does well on Facebook, and I’m not entirely sure I can describe it in words. Examples will probably do better. Want to see a page that completely and utterly kills it on Facebook? Take a look at Just Girly Things. They’re engaging about 300 percent of their audience. Wait, wait, wait, what did I just say?
And what exactly are they posting that’s getting that kind of attention?
That image got almost 3,000 shares on Facebook. Shares, not likes. (They got 93,000 of those.)
If you want to use Facebook to retain and grow your audience, it’s all about the images. If you’re posting blog links without attaching an image, you’re just not going to get the kind of engagement you need in order to reach a large portion of your audience. SEJ, Moz, Hubspot, and most content marketers and SEOs who’ve adopted Facebook are now privy to this fact.
But it’s also very clear that only certain kinds of images do the trick. When Coca-Cola reaches 1 percent of their audience and Just Girly Things reaches 300 percent of their audience, you know there’s something to it. To put this in perspective, Coca-Cola has 38 times as many Likes as Just Girly Things, but Just Girly Things actually has an engaged audience that’s seven times bigger than Coke’s.
So, why does this kind of content do so well? Its not design. Many of these images are just plain text on an ugly, bright, single color background. Its because they are:
If you’re not getting that novelty vibe, try taking a look at Interesting Things. They’re engaging about 230 percent of their audience. They’ve got an engaged audience of about 15 million people. Here’s an example of one of their images:
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen anything quite like that before.
Oh, another thing. These pages post a lot, on the order of five posts an hour or so. Clearly, their audience isn’t complaining about that. They love it, and they love it because the content is so utterly interesting, relatable, funny, inspiring, cute, and fresh.
Actually, I can’t believe I just said fresh. About that…2. This is a Repost, and I Don’t Care
The lightning storm image? It’s been on the internet since at least July 10, 2011. That quip about the 2 year old kid? It dates back to at least August of 2011.
This is the power of curated content. You don’t have to produce everything you post to Facebook. Social networks are for sharing, after all. Odd as it may sound, social networks actually abhor Pages that only share their own content. In most circumstances, it feels more like taking than giving, when the only purpose for your content is to offer value to your audience.
As for images, you’re in somewhat less clear legal territory. Whether or not the use of an image qualifies as “fair use” is fuzzy, even if you give credit to the original photographer or designer. If nothing else, use TinEye to find the earliest variation of the image possible, and link to it. To play it safer, either contact the original image creator, stick to creative commons images, or use a stock image service.
Bear in mind that the text on the image is often the main reason it’s so shareable. It’s not so crucial to get amazing images, unless you’re aiming for something cute or novel. If that’s the case, it’s probably going to be in your best interests to hire a photographer.
And, of course, there’s an easier way if none of this appeals to you. It’s a convenient link that says “share” beneath every post on Facebook. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? Personally, I’d be surprised if any audience complained about you filling your Timeline with images shared from other Facebook Pages, as long as they were good. Granted, the engagement won’t be quite the same, but the results will almost certainly be better than those of the average business Facebook Page, and you’ll know for sure that you’re doing it the ethical way.
In a more general sense, I consider content curation a worthwhile exercise, even if it’s just for rote practice. The more content you curate, the more you’ll develop an intuitive sense for the kind of content that performs well on Facebook. You will get better at producing your own content with similar results.
As useful as curation is, it’s not a good idea to build an entire marketing strategy around something that you don’t produce yourself. We all know what happened to the SEOs who approached marketing in that fashion.3. Is This Stuff Turning into Sales?
Can you actually use Facebook to make money? Undoubtedly, the answer is yes. Even a recent peer-reviewed study reached that conclusion. They analyzed data from the Facebook API, the Facebook Data Science Team, and the sales data of a fashion retailer on 14,000 customers, and found that:
Joining the Facebook page boosted sales by an average of $22, and this was explained by the subsequent Facebook activity, not by the fact that they would have spent this money anyway.
Both positive and negative, direct and indirect interactions with other consumers boosted sales
As for interactions with the marketer, only direct interactions boosted sales
Direct interactions with other users transformed the products from elastic to inelastic commodities
Indirect, positive interactions with other users had the strongest impact on sales
Information rich content, especially when shared by other users, had a strong positive influence on sales, regardless of whether the content was positive or negative
Keep in mind that, in this study, Facebook wasn’t being used to refer people directly to sales pages. It was only being used as a location to spur conversation.
What do these results mean? If you want to use Facebook to generate sales, you only have two ways:
Use it to drive referrals to sales pages, an email list, or other retention program
Use it to get people talking, and the more the better
In other words, getting that Page Like is essentially meaningless. You’ve got to either keep those people engaged, or refer them somewhere else where sales can start to happen.
This is where it becomes important to start riding that line. It’s the simple, visual, entertaining, surprising content that gets the most reach on Facebook, but that’s not necessarily going to be relevant, and it’s not necessarily going to start an information rich conversation.
In short, these visual, entertaining, inspiring, bite-size pieces of content serve as a gateway drug. They expand your reach via mainstream appeal, but they link over to the hardcore content that you can use to build a solid base, full of information rich discussion.Conclusion
Successful Facebook marketing is driven by understanding how Facebook works and why people use it. People don’t share sales pitches, and frankly most of them won’t even share a blog post, no matter how helpful they thought it was. Facebook users are looking for bite-size visual content that rapidly delivers an inspiring, funny, relatable, cute, surprising, or novel message. They’re looking for curated content. And if they’re looking for something more, it’s on your platform that they can find it. All it takes is a simple link from a shareable piece of content on Facebook.
How has 2023’s Google search algorithm updates affected your business this year?
Did you know there’s been nine confirmed Google updates (so far) this year? Three of these were ‘core’ updates and two specifically affected how mobile sites are indexed and presented to users through usability and design.
However, there has also been some interesting developments with Google paid search platforms, announced earlier this year at Google Live.2023 Google algorithm updates (so far) include:
“Brackets” core update – March 2023 – According to Danny Sullivan’s Twitter page, @searchliaison, some sites may have seen drops or gains, stating: “There’s nothing wrong with pages that may now perform less well. Instead, it’s that changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded….”
Zero-result SERP test – March 2023 - This was a mediocre update, which was quickly terminated after a week of testing. For date, time, and conversion calculations that only require one concrete answer, Google started displaying zero search results with a “see all results” and displayed the answer on a short knowledge card.
Mobile-first index – March 2023 – Finally rolling out after months of build up and announcements on the importance of an optimal mobile experience, Google started migrating sites after a year and a half of testing.
Unnamed core update – April 2023 - Confirmed by Google but not named, this improved certain site ranking or had little or no negative impact. They stated this type of core update happens several times a year.
Snippet length drop – May 2023 - Earlier in the year, meta descriptions in SERPs had been increased to 300+ characters, allowing for a more descriptive sentence or two about the nature of the content. However, this has been reverted back to approximately 150-160 characters. Although it gave copywriters and SEOers more space to place with and potentially increase real-estate on SERPs, I fear it gave less experienced marketers a chance to “keyword stuff” instead of providing concise descriptions.
Video carousels – June 2023 - Video in SERPs is taking an interesting direction. Video carousels have been rolled out on desktop after having been tested and featured on mobile SERPs and in knowledge panels over a year ago.
Mobile speed update – July 2023 - Officially confirmed, Google now uses page speed as a ranking signal in mobile search ranking. This comes with the understanding mobile users are on the move, in a hurry and need answers quickly. This initially is set to just affect pages that deliver the slowest experiences to users and only affect a small percentage of queries.
Chrome security warnings (full site) – July 2023 – This was no shock to marketers since Google has repeatedly stressed the importance of secure sites, with many warnings throughout the year that non-HTTPS sites would be penalized and warning messages would appear to users.
“Medic” core update – August 2023 - Widely reported by Moz and confirmed by Google, their broad core algorithm update in August caused numerous fluctuations in ranking and traffic across many verticals. However, it seems those that were hit hardest by the update were in health and fitness.
Google’s updates show that they’re continually getting smarter with indexing and what they believe is quality content. However, looking over this year’s confirmed updates shows a key pattern – speed and security are important. But before SEOers start looking for the newest innovations, optimizing their site to reflect the latest update the basic’s need to be right as David Sayce, digital marketing consultant and director of Paper Gecko explains:
“Google (and the other search engines) can only get smarter, the way they crawl, index, and display information. Gathering more information on search intent (or at least having a better understanding of the intent).
Quality will continue to be a factor with speed and security continuing to be key. Older websites that may not have been updated in some time will continue to suffer.
Personalization will continue to increase, as will the information delivered directly from search through featured snippets
Voice search will continue to be the next big thing. Whether 2023 is the year, only time will tell.
Mobile (non-desktop) and AMP will continue to increase, as users gather information on the go.
Predictions are difficult, and each year we see a couple of key points like voice or AI mentioned, as 2023 is the year these hit some form of critical mass.How important is mobile SEO?
There is a clear direction for brands to really start and take seriously mobile experiences, and how these are delivered to users that need quick and easy answers to their questions.
SEO expert, Dawn Anderson MSc DigM, Pg Dip DigM (IDM), Fellow IDM, Managing director, Move it Marketing, also agrees:
“2023 will be a year where tying in your SEO strategy harmoniously with other channels and strategies for both retention and acquisition will be crucial as we move further into the era of ‘assistive search’. We are moving into a stage of ubiquitous computing so joining up the cross-device journey in SEO and tying this in with both blazing fast speed and seamless and frictionless UX as users seek to solve problems and complete intent-driven tasks will be our challenge into the future. Voice Search will continue to evolve and emerge as new formats such as ‘speakable’ and Google’ Dialogflow bank of Google Actions question and answer knowledge grows, feeding into the possible responses for both Actions and Conversational Search. Finding ways to make this work for SEO will be the challenge commercially. Furthermore, meeting the back and forth app and mobile web consumer experience harmoniously with SEO will also present challenges possibly met through PWAs (or further enhancements on this which emerge). It’s no surprise that Google’s mobile search UI is becoming increasingly app-like. Our challenge is to make that step between our sites and apps seamless too.”
What SEO and PPC techniques can we expect businesses to start adopting in 2023?
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Access the Successful SEO guideWhere does SEM fit into the B2B customer lifecycle?
Organic search and paid search techniques are used in the REACH stage of a customer lifecycle – content created should be answering initial search queries and whetting user’s appetite for products or services.Is voice search important?
The type of queries users ask is a great reflection of their stage of awareness of the problem they have. Content creators need to think about what type of content they are providing to users. Top of funnel content should educate and entertain users if they are still in the initial awareness stage, whereas the bottom of the funnel content should inspire and convince users of the quality of the product. Different types of queries include:
Answer to a question/problem based
The question itself/explicit and direct
Description of the problem/symptom based or detailed
Description of cause/symptom based
Brand name or product parts/direct and educated
Informational queries/awareness stage, or uninformed
“The biggest trend in search and on the web in 2023 is likely to be voice search. Anyone with a smartphone is now only seconds away from performing a voice search, and then refining that search with another – increasing their user-intent and propensity to take action. With comScore predicting that by 2023 50% of all searches will be voice-led it’s clear this is a hugely growing market.
The most prolific users of voice in search are new parents (those who often struggle to have a spare hand) and baby boomers (who use the device as a ‘valet for daily life’ according to Google). In essence, those who use voice-assistant device, which these two categories of users mainly fall into, aren’t your typical early adopters – they aren’t your millennials who we may expect to see at the forefront of the charge, instead its your everyday user able to see the benefit and practical promise of voice” – Andy Kinsey, Head of Search at Smithfield AgencyWhat are the E-A-T Google quality signals?
Following the August 1st update, it’s important more than ever to start creating content that follows E-A-T signals – shows expertise, is authoritative, and is trustworthy. Gaining commercial ‘spammy’ backlinks to increase DA and improve ‘authority’ is not the way.
However, over the last year, I’ve seen too many sites producing content “for the sake of producing content”, outreaching for backlinks to that content and believing that a 600-word article that is 400 words of fluff is good enough to engage readers, give them detailed answers to their questions, and believe Google will rank it high in SERPs. Over the year, I would say some sites have become lazy in their content.Search is no longer just Google, Bing and Yahoo
“Google it”. A key phrase from people who don’t know the answer to a question. Our go-to place for getting an answer is Google (and other search engines) as they’ll always have the answer is a site has provided the content. What people tend to forget is that Google does not know the answer, Google shows the answer it thinks is the most relevant to what the user has asked, based on content from other sites. It directs you to where you need to be, but what about other sites that offer a search functionality?
Head of Marketing at Ahrefs, Tim Soulo, sums this up perfectly:
“The year 2023 is the perfect time to realize that ‘search presence’ doesn’t imply Google alone. You should start expanding your efforts towards every big platform that have search functionality.
Can people find you on YouTube?
Can they find you on SlideShare?
What about Apple App Store or Google Play Store?
What about eBay and Amazon?
What will they hear when they ask questions to Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri?
What about Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? Those platforms have search functionality too.
For a very long time, Google used to be the only gateway to whatever you wanted to do online, so people used to start browsing the web exclusively from Google homepage.
However, that’s not to say Google is a dying engine – far from it. It’s still the most used search engine on desktop and mobile, holding the largest market share.
Amongst their latest developments included:
Cross-device reporting and remarketing in Google Analytics - combines data from users that use your site across different devices.
With these new developments, local businesses are sure to benefit in 2023. As I reported earlier in the year:
Local ad campaigns will, inevitably, become smarter.
Matt Janaway, CEO of Marketing Labs, explains how this will affect 2023 paid search strategy:
One of the trends I see year after year across a few marketing channels is the use of machine learning and how this will improve the customer experience. To help visualize how AI and machine learning can be applied across the customer lifecycle, Smart Insights has created its RACE machine learning diagram.
Byron Tassoni-Resch, SEM Manager at Deliveroo and Founder at the comparison website for digital marketing tools and platforms GrowthSupermarket, states including machine learning into your PPC bidding strategy is the next trend in paid search.
That said, with any kind of change to your campaigns, I recommend you test it first before rolling it out to your entire account. Then, once you have implemented an automated bidding strategy, make sure that you give it enough time to gather data before you start making changes to your input variables! If you do however want to make some changes, don’t increase your variables by more than 10%-15% (either up or down) because if you do, the algorithm will have to start from the beginning again and it’s likely your performance will suffer in the short term.”
We’re interested to see what is going to be included in your SEM strategy for 2023 – give us a tweet to discuss new innovations you want to share.
If you want a full overview of all channel trends, Dr. Dave Chaffey’s post, 8 business-critical digital marketing trends for 2023, is a great place to start!
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