To all my readers, close colleagues, team, vendors and clients I have put together this article covering my SEO predictions for 2023 and potentially beyond, I purposely didn’t publish this in December 2022 as I wanted to gather considerations and research before making a list of predictions. These SEO predictions are what I have picked up, analyzed, observed and researched and no way should be taken out of context. These SEO predictions are simply based on my learnings. They are not high-level and fluffy, but very granular and nuanced. 

(Skim readers beware)

Daily I coach and work with business professionals and marketing leaders on the precepts of SEO, I also own and run a boutique Paid Media business called Yugo Media that focuses on video marketing creation and paid media. The combination of these 2 similar but wildly different operations has allowed me to have an open perspective as to the topics ranging from Paid Media, Content, and SEO. 

It’s also helped me in some way to look into the eyes of the future and analyze some potential scenarios and play-outs. These 10 SEO predictions may help your analysis and enable you to draw some conclusions for your marketing strategy for this year and beyond. 

Read on and enjoy. 

SEO Predictions and the Problem with SEO Forecasting 

SEO has a few things in common with economics. Nobody actually knows. 

Forecasting SEO and creating a prediction list is highly complex. Anyone that says they do know it all is either in on it, or downright lying. In performance marketing when you forecast or measure something you factor in a particular % of the variation, and that % can range say 5-10 or even 15%. 

But what happens when the % of the unknown is astronomically larger than the known? This is the case for some marketing predictions, and largely encompasses SEO as there are so many things that we do know, but also a huge % of what we don’t. 

If we break down the algorithms, analyze the search engine updates, observe domain authority trends, track content progress, document search terms and identify keyword gaps we are on the path to grasping the SEO landscape and understanding the context of this complex dynamic field. 

But forecasting SEO or numerically predicting SEO without having siloed data and allotted parameters is practically impossible. 

When we make SEO forecasts that are relevant, they are and always should be grounded on two ingredients: data and specific context. 

With that being said, in this article, I have focused on tangible situations and conclusions that I can back up with data and can be applied to markets that your business can relate to. 

2023 Will Change SEO Forever 

A potential darker turn in the economy? The rise of OpenAI and its “magic”? The ever-increasing bot traffic? Fake profiles? Spammy websites? All leads me to think that SEO is on the verge of dying and digital marketing is over. 

But, it's not. 

It’s not just alive and kicking, but it's rapidly changing. 

Less than 20 years ago, we were using personal computers that could barely fit on a desk. Today there are more than 900 grams of carbon fibre and lithium batteries than we ever imagined, in some countries with more than 3 devices per person and over 5 billion searches per day on Google products alone. 

SEO predictions

SEO and digital marketing are taking an interesting and exciting turn, one that will 

  1. Separate the wannabes from the authentic businesses that have invested in their foundations
  2. Increase the level of committal to creating digital assets that drive intrinsic value, that can (and will) stand the test of time 

I believe during 2023, the climax of the current economic positions in relation to technology businesses, pressure on the financial markets, increase interest rates and postponed relief from the federals will reduce the % of imposters and take us to a point of no return. 

This is great for flushing the non-valuable and driving attention to the real creators. 

Here is my collection of predictions for 2023.

My Top 10 SEO Predictions For 2023 

Prediction #1: Chat GPT Will Be Consumed By Mainstream Search Engines and Won’t Be As Disruptive As Expected

A no-brainer here but I believe by the time this article is indexed and picked up by major search engines (no pun intended), ChatGPT will be acquired by a big player search engine: Google, Microsoft, etc. 

It doesn’t make sense for them not to do it. 

ChatGPT has caused a lot of excitement in the market and released a huge amount of eyeballs from mainstream search engines. This for the big search engines is a huge problem. 

People think the threat is the search engine, but the threat is not the engine or algorithm in such. The threat is the “attention”. 

ChatGPT has not proven its intrinsic value yet, and similar to other query assistants such as Siri, Alexa and others, it will take time for ChatGPT to understand where it wants to assert value. 

The big problem with ChatGPT that most of you already know is that it doesn’t account for searcher intent and definitely does not self-learn in real time. (Which Google and other search engines do)

This is where larger engines see an opportunity to couple their knowledge with short-form Q&A-type content generators such as ChatGPT. 

Not to mention the years and years of historical search data that Google treasures, amongst other search engines.

Therefore my conclusion is if someone like Google doesn’t purchase ChatGPT it will serve a purpose for short-form content and low-intent queries, but not for the deeply nuanced searches that need extensive research and human perspective-driven results. 

How can the human perspective be replaced with machine learning?

Prediction #2: The AI Lie Will Break, True SEO Will Prevail  

This prediction is closely linked to the first prediction, and the fact that SEO and “AI” are talking points, makes sense to talk about the sustainability of human input vs “AI”.

First, let's define AI. This is essential to tackle this prediction. 

Too many applications and software use the term AI to elevate the user's perceived value. This is a problem as it a) sets false expectations b) decreases the authentic value of real AI

AI is defined as when data is leveraged to the point that the employed technology can self-improve and adapt enhancing the outcome and user experience. 

We have seen many of these applications pop up, claiming to be “AI copywriting” “AI Click fraud prevention” or “AI Targeting”. These applications are not using AI, and here is why. 

If they were there would have to be a clear paper trail of self-improvement that is translated to the user experience. And there isn’t. 

There are queries and commands. “Do this”, “do that”, “correct this”, “correct that”. But that's a script, database and command with a series of possibilities and outcomes. Not AI. 

I am led to believe businesses that have promoted AI will realize this is a failure, and change, breaking the chain of false expectations and false marketing. 

My response to people who have challenged me on this one is: unless your experience notably self improves it's not AI. 

True SEO-led business models will continue to show value without using buzzwords to create sexy taglines that do nothing other than spend marketing dollars on Ads. 

Prediction #3: Speed, UX and Security Will Win The Race Against Design 

One of the core components of my SEO Coaching and training is understanding the foundational principles of the digital asset you are investing in. 

When it comes to websites and applications, design has been at the top of the priority list for too long. Google has repeatedly reminded the SEO community that design is important, yes, but speed and security are valued more than aesthetics.

In 2019 Google rolled out the E-A-T algorithm updates which stand for:

  • Expertise 
  • Authority 
  • Trust

You potentially can fit the design part into authority, considering people visiting your website are so taken in by your design that they perceive you as authoritative. But the reality if you read into Google’s update, it focused on security, relevancy, topical authority and speed. 

When it comes to priorities, it has become abundantly clear that Google and other search engines will focus on the quality of their client's experience. 

Before design comes speed and security. This will rise to the mainstream during 2023. 

As we enter 2023, websites committed to the on-page user experience that focuses on speed and security will be handsomely rewarded.

When it comes to speed and security some quick wins can be:

  1. Analyze your loading speed, 
  2. Check the visibility of your content on all devices, 
  3. Check that your website security is dialled in 
  4. Implement a website security checklist
  5. Are any functions disrupting your user experience
  6. Is your menu function smooth and can be navigated easily 

Prediction #4: Genuine Content Creators Will Become More Influential Than NFT and Crypto “Gurus”

During 2020 and 2022 I saw more ads and promotions related to crypto, NFT’s and Trading than any other industry. Learn how to trade here, learn how to do this. Etc etc. 

Many leading business gurus promoted the NFT and Crypto projects, with reason. The more interest, attention and eyeballs the more likely the value of their so-called “investments” would increase in valuation. Obvious. 

Meanwhile, these so-called experts were talking about their ambitions for taking over Mars with Dogecoin and Shiba, the genuine content creators in their traditional businesses kept plugging away at communicating value to the audience. 

As we enter 2023, and after the harsh reality check to the crypto and NFT space I believe that the future for content creators is brighter than ever. Consistency in creating value is the gold. 

Content creation in the SEO game is a huge portion of the cake, and I praise all businesses and individuals committed to communicating their stories genuinely. Creating intrinsic value, sharing value and scaling that process has been done for too long and undervalued. 

Content creators will become more valued than ever, as social media and search engines turn the user's attention to the creators that are committed to playing the long game. 

Prediction #5: Digital Real Estate Will Be At Its Lowest Valuation Point (Don’t sell)

As we potentially enter a health check for the financial markets, during 2023, businesses that have invested in SEO, search marketing and content creation will reap the benefits richly, but may not be tangibly recognized as we see a potential downturn in the economy. 

So as the economy supposedly takes a dip, and your SEO investment grows compound, you will most likely see a drop in the perceived value of organic visibility. I believe people will be harder to convert on your page, and additional attention and effort will be needed to drive conversion rates to stay consistent through the year. 

If conversion rates do drop, and your SEO assets are growing (blog traffic, service pages, etc) it makes sense to hold tight and weather the storm. 

Why? Well, businesses will look at digital assets by short-term user base, conversion rates, attention and community size. 

Unless you can show the impression value of your content, and historically show improved attribution, it will be difficult to translate your SEO investment to the tangible value for potential acquisition. 

This makes it a bad time to sell, as the buyer will be looking at a period of time and not account for the fluctuation of one bad year vs 3 good years. SEO and visibility are not straight lines heading up, they fluctuate too. Taking a snapshot of 12 months in 2023 and building a valuation around your visibility will potentially be the lowest valuation point. 

That being said I validated my conclusions when I listed my Tea Website: Sin Columna a few weeks back and received very low offers/bids. I would be cautious about selling during this time. 

Use the downtime to grow your SEO with processes, culture and strategy. 

Prediction #6: LinkedIn Is Losing?

Is LinkedIn losing its marbles? I don’t know for sure, but what I do know it's becoming a ground for annoying outreach methods by people you don’t know and terrible metrics related to engagement.

I have seen a turndown in metrics in all my network during the last 4 years, with people choosing to post less and less after frustrating metrics and low ROI. 

During 2023, I believe we will see people move to more select platforms such as Polywork, and private community channels such as Circle amongst others. This way the community can be built, and monitored and avoid users being frustrated with the engagement rates. 

The LinkedIn user base grew nicely during the pandemic, as expected with the rise in remote work, connections, digital presences and digital collaboration. It fitted like a glove and made a lot of sense. But was this a rise in “valuable users” or in dead profiles? Or Ghost profiles? Or in profiles used for filling space and not actually engaging? 

I am not saying LinkedIn will fizzle out, but I am encouraging my readers to consider private communities, SEO-Led communities will drive better retention and engagement because the users actually have a reason to be there. If you supply value and the users' privacy is integrally upheld the community will grow. 

Prediction #7: Transparency Will Attract More Traffic and Engagement Than Ever

As we move into 2023 and see new applications, SaaS products and technology services appear on the scene, the majority of the front end of all these offerings have one thing in common: they all attract users using a digital asset such as a website (duh).

This for many will be the first touch point for the users, and creating the right expectations is key. Adopting transparent messaging, value propositions and product offerings will allow us to retain, grow compound and grow sustainably through a potentially stormy year.

That being said, investing in having the right copy, the right CTA’s and the right experience on your website will help drive your engagement and conversion rates proportionally.

I see many businesses forget the part that “SEO done right” drives traffic to your website, and retains traffic on your website. If your promises are false, and your product just doesn’t fit, we will have a problem and your SEO game will fall too. 

SEO goes wrong, when you send a volume of potentially qualified traffic to a page, and because of your loose commitment to the on-page experience your engagement plummets wreaking havoc in your CTR signals, time on page and potentially contributing to a high churn rate. 

Ways to avoid compromising your transparency:

  1. Avoid fake reviews: don’t pay for people to review on third-party review sites. This in the long run will not benefit your SEO-led strategy.
  2. Don’t offer free trials promising no tie-in, but when it comes to actually trying the product (which is the whole purpose of the trial) you limit 90% of the features to drive conversions. This creates a huge sense of frustration for the user and a genuine inquisitive lead that wants to try your product out before committing.
  3. Don’t use fluffy headlines and catchy titles that don’t communicate: what you do, how you can help and why choosing you makes sense. It’s simple, but if your engagement on the page is low, because of setting bad expectations and not actually communicating a value-first experience, you will reap bad CTR and engagement signals and this will directly affect your search positions, and rankings. 

Prediction #8: Google Search Console Will Roll Out Content Ideas and Content Planning

This is a short but sweet prediction. The real deal is I actually know Google is already testing this - watch the space! 

As we see “ai tools” which can help you “write content” or “come up with ideas” which is absolutely crazy, because if you understand your buyer profile, the problems they have and how you can help them, you should not be lacking ideas of conversations you want to have with them, right? 

Google is aware of this. Do people care less about what their website says, and just care about the vanity metrics and fulfilling some lame KPI? Maybe, but the reality is the more we care about the conversation (aka - creating content for people to engage with) the better our content will be, and the less we need these magic wands to create content on our behalf. 

I believe Google Search Console will try to bridge this, considering they have 1st part data as they are analyzing search terms and impressions of your content, it would make sense they leveraged suggestions based on the actual search engine data. 

They will potentially roll out a “recommendation engine” that could fire your content creation up with potential content gaps and ways to further optimize your content clusters. 

Let’s see what they bring out next!

Prediction #9: Build Value-First Communities For Your SEO Strategy 

As I write this I am remembering all the long list of slack groups and Facebook groups I have been part of which I felt, communicated very little value and just took up space and contributed to the noise. 

That being said for the last few years I have encouraged businesses to build private communities that would have a multiplier effect on their organic visibility goals, therefore I needed to identify what makes a community successful and what does not. 

I made a list of some of the reasons why I left the groups or just didn’t engage and here goes my short list of reasons why I felt communities fail:

  1. An overarching monetary or power move which was too in my face.
  2. Loose monitoring and management, low user experience. 
  3. No thought leadership: are the leaders of the communities actually thought leaders in their space? 
  4.  Low engagement from members, are the members even real? Little user-generated content or unique genuine content. 
  5.  Bad onboarding, and how this affects your expectation setting for joining the community in the first place. 

So you are probably saying, “So are communities dead, Jason?”

Well, not so fast Señor Speedy Gonzalez, communities that are well-managed and part of an SEO-Led strategy can be a huge player in your long-term SEO playout and the “x factor” to your visibility.

Therefore my prediction for 2023 is that SEO-Led strategies that employ well-managed communities will prosper richly from this asset. This is closely linked to the empowering of content creators, and the downfall of imposters. (See prediction #4.) 

Building a community is similar to building a product or a strategy. There has to be a clear problem, identity, vision, and roadmap. Your SEO community approach could look something like this:

  1. Define the problem or opportunity your SEO community can solve: Clearly identify the objective of the strategy and the specific problem or opportunity it will address.
  2. Conduct a situational analysis of who you will attract to the community: Gather and analyze information on the internal and external factors that will affect why they may or may not want to engage.
  3. Develop your communities value proposition: Generate your value proposition based on the information gathered in the situational analysis.
  4. Evaluate your SEO communities fulfilment: Assess the feasibility, effectiveness, and potential impact of the SEO community on the members. What am I going to serve them with?
  5. Implement the SEO community: Develop a plan for implementing the SEO community, including assigning responsibilities and setting timelines. Get buy-in from leadership and make the SEO community part of your marketing channels.
  6. Monitor and adjust: Regularly track progress and make adjustments as needed to ensure the SEO Community stays on track and achieves its objectives of engagement and most importantly retention.

Prediction #10: SEO Products Will Overtake Funnels

Funnels and SEO used to go hand in hand. The typical equation looked like this:

  1. You optimize a page for a search term that aligned with the intent of your offering
  2. You drove the traffic to a landing page 
  3. The landing page promised something in return for the email 
  4. The user gave their email and name in return for the promised value 
  5. 85% of the users never engage with the promised value and the email was added to a database for nurturing 

The only part of this equation that will make sense is:

  • Understanding searcher intent 
  • Nurturing the lead and the user experience  

The rest will slowly die out as users move closer to transactional value drivers such as SEO products and an experience of what your product or service actually is. 

The good news is you don’t need to recreate the wheel but just align the assets better and adjust the user experience accordingly. 

Instead of pushing people into an email sequence they don’t want to be in, doesn’t mean you need to stop communicating with them, it means a) rethink the medium b) invest in the quality of your conversation so it's so closely aligned with your reader's interest, it's irresistible.

SEO Products can be defined as the following (bear in mind this isn’t applicable for all markets/industries):

  • Content people want to talk about and share: the better, the louder and more they will speak about your brand.
  • Free experiences that give the users a sense of your products or services. 
  • A look under the hood of your business with a “lite” version of your products and services without setting false expectations. 
  • Engagement that personalizes the experience to build a sense of loyalty with your brand. 

Conclusion and Valuing Organic Visibility 

2023 will be definitely a year to remember. No one can predict what will happen, other than give probabilities and opinions. If there is an economic downturn, or it isn’t as bad as people make out, the key is not to disrupt your commitment to your business and truly create something of value for your customers. 

Get your SEO efforts aligned with your business direction, get your team and stakeholders' buy-in, and focus on delivering value to your audience, prioritizing the goal of organic visibility. 

You can align your strategy by simply asking, does this contribute to our visibility? Will it support our visibility goals? Who will be most influenced by this? How does this align with my brand?

Your goal is to get in front of the right people as consistently as possible. There is no better time to start than now. As you are consistent, give your digital assets reasonable goals and break down your strategies into executable systems, your SEO will grow, and compound. 

This will lead to traffic, engagement and revenue opportunities that will serve your business today, tomorrow and in the future. 

Cheers to 2023. 

If you are interested in learning more about my SEO Coaching and Training, go ahead and reach out, I would love to hear from you!