It’s way too early for 2026 World Cup predictions, but it’s not too soon for a few SEO speculations.
The world of search closed out 2022 with a total of 10 major Google algorithm updates (matching 2021’s total). So, let’s crack open our crystal ball, see what we learned, and make a few predictions for SEO in 2023.
1. A Major Accessibility Algorithm Update is Coming
The emphasis on website accessibility has undoubtedly become a huge topic of speculation among industry experts. You’ve surely at least heard the term “Accessibility” thrown around a lot more often recently. If not, website accessibility refers to ensuring all visitors to your site have equal access to the information provided, including those with disabilities. Essentially, for your website to be more inclusive for people with disabled visitors, you’ll want to present content that incorporates things like:
- Alt text for images – descriptive, audible text so sight-impaired visitors can understand images
- Descriptive link names – allowing easier site navigation
- In-sync captioning – video captions for the deaf or hard of hearing
And while user focus is not a new concept, the emphasis on developing fully accessible sites is becoming increasingly important to SERPS.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a look at the search traffic over the past year.
Figure 1: Proof That “Website Accessibility” is on the Rise.
Figure 2: We’re not broad matching. Here’s the interest in ‘Web Accessibility’ over the past few years.
All jokes aside, accessibility and SEO are tied together through websites’ technical and on-page aspects. At a high level, we already know that certain website elements are being read as “accessibility elements.” While these are often looked at as technical or on-page SEO elements, they are indirectly related to accessibility.
Google has at least alluded that these elements are important for ranking and will be expanded upon in the future.
Website aspects that fall into the accessibility category are
- Page Speed
- Mobile Experience
- Structured Data
- Alt Text
Most websites focus on these elements to some degree but often fail to take the necessary steps to maintain, plan, and optimize them.
As we peek into 2023, I expect Google to double down on accessibility. While they have not explicitly said this, they have been dropping hints that this will be a priority.
So, What’s Google Going to Look For?
How can Google’s current algorithm expand upon accessibility?
The signs point to aspects such as:
- Voice / VR searchability
- ADA compliance/screenreader friendliness
- Reading level
- Language friendly
- Site architecture
- Keyword hierarchy
Sites that emphasize these will start gaining ground in the rankings.
2. Locally Active Companies Will Dominate Maps
It’s going to take some effort.
Forget about the SEO implications of this for a second. Being part of your community is something your business should be doing anyway. But even if you are active locally, are you doing it correctly?
We all know the current strategies for this. It’s not a secret; almost everyone spending money on SEO is doing this to some degree.
The status quo for getting local SEO signals currently goes something like this:
- Find a local online directory/chamber of commerce
- Sign up and pay the fee to get your profile listed
- Update the profile to backlink to the site
- Renew next year (if you remember)
This probably sounds familiar if you have invested in SEO to some degree. Is this a bad strategy? Not at all. It still should be part of a general local business SEO campaign for multiple reasons. But will this push you over the fence to dominate the rankings? Probably not, especially in competitive markets.
Everyone else is already doing this, most SEOs know about it, and more importantly, Google knows it’s happening.
What Does it Take to Win at Maps?
There are many ways to combine local involvement with an SEO strategy.
Do you do charitable work? If yes, have you been picked up by a local news station? Did they mention you in a story but not give you a link? There is your “in.”
If you’re not interested in capitalizing on your charity work, don’t worry. There are many other ways to gain an edge in the Map Pack. Have you considered a sponsorship? Partnerships with other local businesses? How about events?
This may sound easy or hard depending on the situation, but the fact is, there cannot be any benefit if no attempt is made.
3. The Search Results Pages Will Get Crowded
How we look at rankings needs to change.
Have you been ranking #1 for a term for a long time and noticed that traffic to the associated page is…dropping? Rank trackers, analytics, and search console are telling you that you are ranking near the top, and while they technically are correct, they aren’t necessarily ~accurate~.
If you have searched google for local services recently, you have probably noticed something. There isn’t always a website above the fold.
This is a SERP screenshot taken on a standard desktop search. The mobile experience is even more crowded.
Ads, map pack, rich results, knowledge graphs, etc., etc. Depending on what the user searches, it may be far below the fold that a user encounters “organic #1”; even then, that could be a directory.
And it’s only going to get more cramped.
Google makes a big deal about giving users the best experience possible. And for them, that usually means keeping users on their SERP. It is still best practice to optimize to be eligible for rich results and even encouraged for the local pack results. But it does create a catch-22 for businesses.
Here’s a Rich Snippet Example.
If you’re looking to buy a car from a dealer this year, you may search for a “car dealer near me.” The below image is part of the SERP.
“Is buying a new car worth it in 2022” is a pretty relevant FAQ pertaining to my search, so you click it. The snippet is pulled from a dealer website. However, you don’t visit the website, and the site doesn’t appear anywhere else in the SERP.
So as a user, what are your options? You can click on another dealer site (a competitor), scroll back up to ads or maps (competitors), click on the website with the snippet, or close out and do nothing.
In this time, you could have read the snippet but not viewed the inventory on that dealer’s website. You don’t know their story, sales, reputation, or anything because you only read a brief piece of copy from the SERP page.
In short, it ranks above most of the page, but did it benefit the dealer? Not really; The only real benefit was purely to the end user.
4. Backlinks Aren’t Going Away
But the way we get them will change.
The backlink market has gotten…pinched, per se. Many will claim to create perfect linkbait articles that attract millions of domains. Some claim they still have black hat sources that work, and others say they don’t even matter.
But let’s be honest. The backlink market is becoming more scarce, expensive, and frustrating. Business owners and agencies are going to extremes to gather links. So far as buying domains to build sites specifically for linking, using their clients’ sites to link to others, and buying cut-and-paste template directories for backlinking.
What is the real best way to get links?
SEO Outreach and Partnerships
To get sticky backlinks reliability, partnerships must be established. This doesn’t happen by accident and often requires several months of effort to build these relationships. But the return on investment is immense.
Need SEO Help in 2023? Postali Sees What’s Coming.
Algorithms are improving at assessing content and weighing factors essential to an end user. Businesses and law firms, in particular, need to adapt to these changes.
And while we’re not really fortune tellers, the SEO team at Postali sees the writing on the wall and is ready to prepare you for what’s to come in the world of search – in 2023 and beyond.
Contact us today to learn how Postali can help your law firm.
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