AI search is arguably the hottest topic in digital marketing right now. I worry that SEO newbies might think all they need is an AI chatbot to “get rich quick”. When everyone and their aunt is pushing the next big thing, I try to be cautious and resist the initial hype.
Because focusing on the essentials – optimizing your website, creating content and gaining links – still leads to SEO results today.
But if you want to evolve and stay ahead of the competition, I’ll share with you SEO opportunities worth investing in this year.
SEO Opportunities to Seize in 2023
Instead of joining the AI bandwagon, I decided to take the “road less traveled” and rely on Google’s own resources.
What is Google increasingly emphasizing in late 2022 and early 2023? What shows up clearly in Google results and boosts analytics without too many people praising it?
Below are the things I noticed.
1. Google’s new focus: helpful content
The aftermath of the introduction of the Helpful Content Update (HCU) has been disappointing. But soon after, Google declared it a permanent search ranking system and not a single event. Since then, other related updates have been made that have had a significant impact across all sites.
The HCU initially had no significant impact on automated websites.
Emphasizing helpful content instead of just “quality content” is a paradigm shift. Since Google has been focusing on quality for years, this represents a massive change in its philosophy.
Google’s guidance has always been, “Just create great content and the rest will follow.” Over time, they rely less on links and can now determine content quality and usefulness algorithmically.
If you’ve followed Google’s advice, chances are your site is filled with quality content. Nice for you! But nowadays it’s not enough.
We’re used to seeing quality content that provides context, cites sources, or provides additional links. Helpful content is more than that.
To be truly helpful, your content must have the following characteristics:
Helpful content is written by subject matter experts who know first-hand how things work.
In contrast, fully automated AI content or other cheap, mass-produced content simply aggregates other sources found on the web. It is second hand and not based on experience – equivalent to hearsay or gossip.
Solves certain problems
Quality content is more journalistic. You must review sources, verify the information, and follow other links for additional context and insight.
Helpful content, on the other hand, solves certain problems right from the start and:
- Doesn’t distract, but gives people what they need, when they need it.
- Is not satisfied for the sake of content.
- Is not designed for virality.
- Has a specific use case.
- Explains how to troubleshoot a common problem or troubleshoot a known problem.
- Provides a standalone solution that doesn’t require a click back to Google.
- Provides additional links and resources if the user wants to read more on the same topic.
Offers actionable advice
Helpful content explains a solution in general And provides step-by-step instructions for implementation.
For example, many guides on how to start a blog only explain how to set up WordPress, although many hosting providers usually have it out of the box, and how to buy hosting (from the company that pays the highest affiliate commissions).
However, such “blogging guides” don’t tell you anything about how to write for a blog, how to get ideas (beyond keyword research), or how to get people to link to you (it’s not just about reach ).
Also, such guides aimed at generating as much affiliate income as possible will never tell you how difficult it is to maintain a blog and update it regularly, let alone attract attention.
This is where actionable advice is needed – not what the site owner wants (make more money), but what the visitor wants to achieve (learn to blog).
Helps by itself
Helpful content does not You’ll need a form fill, signup, payment, or click back to Google search results to get help. Ideally, the site has all the information the user needs and not a transit point or “blog spam” that links to other places.
Helpful content is not meant to distract, grab attention, and sell a product or service. To enhance your content and make it helpful, you can:
- Answer specific questions.
- Make the body text readable/scannable.
- Provide and/or list solutions.
- Optimize for specific user intent.
Recognize your existing content as an opportunity. Invest resources to turn them into helpful pieces by solving problems people are asking about (see last section).
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2. Google’s human-based ranking criterion: EEAT
EEAT is another notable change to Google’s search quality guidelines. Experience is an essential complement to the popular concepts of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.
At first I thought Google was referring to user experience, but I was wrong.
While they prefer a clean UX, especially webpages not overloaded with ads above the fold and optimized for site speed, UX is not part of EEAT.
The new “E” in EEAT refers to the actual experience of the people who created the content. Google wants to reward first-hand experiences. Again, it’s clear they want to rate content from people who are familiar with a topic, not just auto-generated content.
AI tools don’t have first-hand experience of handling many manual processes. Put simply, AI can’t cook, do yoga, or play basketball. It can only study the theory and the existing content and paraphrase it.
Even though AI can drive a car, steer missiles, and chat, it’s not usually the same AI that generates content. Unless your Tesla AI bot starts blogging about your daily commute, there’s no first-hand experience you could benefit from.
Gain a competitive edge by finding the right people and getting them to write for you. It is about experience Regarding Experts | who also exhibit authority on the Internet and have increased significantly Trust from the audience.
Either you invest in yourself, your team and the skills required in your particular field, or you reach out to people who already have them.
This is an excellent opportunity to differentiate and stand out from the crowd of mass-produced and often automated, mediocre content.
In an age of overrated AI content, Google wants to empower people who care and care about the topic they are covering. EEAT is clear proof of this.
3. Google’s most popular SERP feature: “People Ask Too” questions
To ensure you provide helpful content, respond to actual demand. There is no better way to do this than to look People ask too (PAA) Questions. Google already shows them below most of the results for important search queries.
I found PAA questions beneficial for my SEO when I started getting thousands of visitors for one of the web’s most popular navigation queries. No, it wasn’t (Google) or (Facebook), but close: (Twitter).
I was skeptical because I’ve experienced bugs and worthless spikes in traffic. Not this time. After further research, I became a fan of PAAs.
PAAs are not new. They’ve been widespread for a few years, exploding in 2019. The PAA feature appeared half as often in July 2022, but has since bounced back.
According to data from RankRanger and SEMrush in January, 64-70% of search results contained PAAs. This makes PAAs the second most important SERP feature after site links.
Enjoy their transportation advantages while they are nearby. In the past we had to mine third party resources such as:
- Forums (Facebook and LinkedIn groups).
- Question and answer sites (Quora, StackExchange, even Reddit AMAs).
- Keyword research tools.
You can still do this. But it’s better to go straight to the source. Just go to Google, search for the most one-word queries, even broad ones, in your industry, and then look up which questions are answered.
Before PAAs, featured snippets were the next big thing. But by 2022, there were 10 times more PAAs than snippets on Google, and featured snippets often resulted in zero-click searches. Ranking snippets often requires schema markup, which means extra work.
PAAs are different. They can increase traffic to previously lesser-known websites (including my almost dormant SEO blog). I received a PAA for my post on Twitter Resources, which neatly lists the pros and cons of Twitter in a side-by-side table.
You can do the same. All you have to do is provide a useful resource with meaningful text formatting (tables, lists) and you’re good to go.
Check out Jason Barnard’s article “Google Branded SERPs: Why You Need to Dominate People Also Ask” for an in-depth look at PAAs.
Take Google’s advice with caution, but don’t ignore it
We don’t want to follow Google and believe everything blindly. You may be leaving out things you are not supposed to focus on or using language that is difficult to decipher. Read between the lines when it comes to official announcements and documentation.
Implement sustainable SEO tactics that work in the long run. They might not be as shiny as the latest AI-powered tool, but they will help you stay in business for years to come.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily those of Search Engine Land. The authors of our employees are listed here.