As I write this, it is absolutely way too early to be commenting on any actual 2023 Google updates, particularly because there aren’t any yet.
And if we assume that Google is going to keep staying mum on anything upcoming until it’s good and ready to start talking, then we’re not going to know anything for sure just yet.
However–and it’s a big however–there are ways that we can use Google’s past few years of updates as a series of signs for the future.
Which is to say, Google is likely only going to build on what it’s been doing lately.
So, if you want to prepare for Google’s as-yet-unknown 2023 updates, you can look to its major changes in 2022 and earlier for guidance.
And if you don’t want to sift through all of that, we’re going to boil it all down to the essentials here.
Again, keep in mind as you go that every piece of advice offered here is based on something from the last few years of Google updates.
That’s because, while we can’t predict Google’s exact future, we can reasonably guess what will come based on the direction the search engine giant has been going lately.
So here we go, with no fluff: here’s what we could possibly expect to see in the way of SEO-related Google updates in 2023.
Get into Google Analytics 4
This first one is no secret and is mostly already here: it’s the permanent and complete arrival of Google Analytics 4.
We’ve written about this before on our blog, and it should be no secret to any marketers within the industry already.
Google is sunsetting Universal Analytics on July 1, 2023, in place on Google Analytics 4.
You can get the full details on that in our post referenced above, but here’s the general outlook.
As online privacy continues to be a vital issue for people around the world, Google tracking is moving away from third-party cookies and more into event tracking and machine learning.
What does all that mean?
Since users can reject cookies on websites, the real tracking will come in when those users actually do things on the site, like press buttons and fill out forms.
That means that website owners should start to focus on conversion-rate optimization like never before.
Also, you can add a GA4 property to your Analytics account anytime before July of 2023, so it would be wise to get on that sooner rather than later so you’re familiar and prepared.
Focus on User-First Content
You couldn’t ask for a clearer sign from Google on what’s to come then 2022’s helpful content update.
From August to September, the tech giant took two weeks to roll out this update that was meant to prioritize actually useful content that was written for people.
As you might expect, the update also deprioritized more SEO-centric content that was simply designed to rank without being all that useful.
The helpful content update only continues what Google has been driving at for years: getting toward a more perfect user experience on its platform.
In a blog post released at the time, Google provided some ways for website owners to know if their current repository of content was any good.
“Helpful” content was considered anything that comprehensively addressed users’ questions, that fit into the website’s actual niche and could garner an audience, and that made users feel like they came away with real information and value.
SEO-first content, meanwhile, is thin and unoriginal.
It’s just meant to rank.
It does the bare minimum to call itself finished and probably leaves people feeling like they need to go elsewhere to complete their journey.
Who can say what exactly Google has in store in this vein in 2023 and beyond?
What is safe to say, though, is that detailed, authoritative, and truly helpful content is a reliable path to take even when you don’t know what exactly lies ahead.
Clean Up Your Technical User Experience
In the same way that helpful content adds to the overall user experience of a website, so, too, will the technical setup of a site.
If we can draw anything from the 2021 Core Web Vitals update, it’s that user experience has been top of mind for Google for a while now.
People don’t just want helpful content; they also need a competent website on which to consume it.
As a website owner, making that happen involves a lot of technical know-how, and a lot of that is covered in the Core Web Vitals.
Elements such as the largest contentful paint and cumulative layout shift make a big difference to users who want a seamless experience on a website.
So if Google cares so much about Core Web Vitals that it would update itself for them while adding a report for them in Search Console, what can we expect to happen in 2023?
It’s hard to say what Google will come up with.
What if it starts intentionally prioritizing websites with clear architecture and navigation?
What if it’s an update that rewards content that has rich media?
What if it’s something that prioritizes content that’s been optimized for voice search?
Basically, whatever fits into the definition of “user experience” for an SEO-optimized website, you have to assume Google could come out with a specific update for that.
So, put some effort into your UX now to benefit later.
Optimize for Voice Search
Well, voice search was just a side character in the last section, but now it has its own spin-off.
In 2023, we can’t call voice search exactly new, but what if Google sees the writing on the wall and starts prioritizing it in an update?
And there is precedent for such an update, too.
Did you know that 40.2% of people in the United States use voice search?
Or that 51% of voice searchers use the technology to check out products that they’re planning to buy?
Or did you know that 27% of the people on Earth perform voice searches on their mobile devices?
All of that to say: a voice search-first update could go a long way.
Now, this would be mostly a content-centric update, since, to optimize for voice search, you have to know what content to present and how to present it.
Creating the content that a voice assistant reads aloud as the best answer is not that different from optimizing for featured snippets.
That’s especially true when you consider that the answer the assistant reads is often the featured snippet.
But if Google says next year that it will prioritize that content that can show up in voice searches on mobile devices, what would you have to do?
You’d have to answer the main concern of your content succinctly in the first paragraph.
You might also consider using bullet points or numbered lists to rattle off the steps of a process, since featured snippets like that kind of structure, as well.
That form, plus your use of long-tail keywords and article structured data, should go a long way toward optimizing your content for voice queries.
Well, and your content being comprehensive and correct, too.
Continue to Put Effort into Product Review Content
September of 2022 saw another much-talked-about Google update in the form of the product reviews update.
In fact, this is the fifth iteration of that update, with the first one coming in April of 2021.
In the same way that Google has been continuing its push toward more helpful content overall, its ongoing series of product review updates seeks to prioritize review content that is of the highest possible quality.
Google knows that user trust plays a huge role in whether a site does well with its content.
People seek out the Internet for resources when they have nowhere else to turn.
People rely on product reviews to make decisions on often expensive merchandise, from smartphones to televisions to lawnmowers.
What the September of 2022 product review update does is to prioritize high-quality reviews in organic search.
The search engine has said that it isn’t going to penalize roundup-type articles that list the top 10 best air fryers this year,” for example.
It’s just that quality, in-depth reviews or those types of products will tend to rank higher than roundups over time.
The update, then, is meant to encourage experts to review products with all the detail and technical know-how they can muster.
Just like we’ve been saying this whole time: for the user experience, bro.
Get into More Rich Media
The final major direction we want to highlight here is rich media, and really all kinds of visuals that you should be featuring in your content.
When you put a video on a web page, you increase your chances of conversion by 80%.
It just makes sense: many people are visual learners, and imagery and video can convey information in a much faster time than text words can.
So, the more you get into rich media and interactive content on your website, the more engagement you’re likely to have.
In April of 2022, Google introduced multisearch, which allowed people to use images from the world around them, as well as words, to search for information.
The technology would come from Google Lens, its image-recognition tool.
When combined with words, the search can find you more data about the thing you want to see.
It stands to reason, then, that if you take a photo of a computer and then add the words “under $1,000,” Google can find you that computer, maybe refurbished, for under $1,000.
It also stands to reason that if you want to show up in results for those kinds of searches, you’d want lots of visual content on your site, and high-quality visual content at that.
So, get more into high-resolution photography if you can.
Get into video.
Get into graphics and infographics.
Give users what they want to see.
That’s what the game has always been about.
LSEO Can Prepare You for Those 2023 Google Updates
As of this writing, who can say what Google will bring to the SEO world in 2023?
What we do know is what the search engine has done in the recent past, and we can build on that in reasonably reliable ways.
If you want to get ahead of the curve now, why not trust your brand to the digital marketing experts at LSEO?
We have been keeping our eyes on Google updates for decades, using our knowledge to drive enterprise-level growth for client after client.
If you want to see what we’re all about, hit us up today to start the conversation.