The pandemic aside, Google has taken us through a pretty wild ride since 2020 to today and there are tons of predictions of what could happen in 2023 and beyond. Some people talk about AI writing and other ways to make SEO more efficient but here’s what I really think would happen next year and beyond.
1. A.I.milar Content will run Amok and Get De-valued
AI or artificial intelligence may be the darling acronym of silicon valley but it’s not something that Google is happy for us mortal SEO people to be using for rankings.
I literally used the word Aimilar rather than similar because AI written content will generally look similar to Google for the most part. AI is still quite limited in its out-of-the-box thinking. After all, it’s supposed to think within parameters and is not a sentient being.
So the results of AI written content will generally be sounding quite similar with each other – which means that if your content writing team will not do their due diligence and really put some humanity, art and creativity to the AI written content by doing the final edits – you’re screwed.
I’ve seen some reports of AI generated content not ranking well at all.
And yet this is what a lot of SEO companies out there are using now and they are selling this to their clients without the clients realizing that the content other SEO companies out there are producing are just AI generated content!
It’s brilliant but at the same time, sly and outrageous!
We already have too much content being produced at the fastest amount of time since known history – and this is going to accelerate it even further – and make a lot of content on the web trashier at the same time.
Which means that there would be a lot of companies out there who are oblivious to their SEO agencies doing this to them that would suddenly rank lower. Remember, Google’s AI is not sentient but it’s not dumb either. Since it’s a big-data learning algorithm, it would surely pick up on what is AI generated content and what is not.
This is why I make sure that our team at SEO Hacker always has brilliant, creative writers AND editors for all the work we put out there.
2. Top 3 Ranking Websites will Fluctuate in and out
Google exists to make lots of making money. That’s a fact. It does exist for other aspirational things but as of now, it is a money behemoth and it needs to keep being a money behemoth or it will get into trouble.
So what I believe would happen next year is the top 3 spots for a lot of industries would be unstably fluctuating.
We can argue that Google’s AI might just be trying to test whether the lower ranking websites would get better click-through rates and website engagement time from the users. But it would also largely push these top ranking websites to bid on Google ads just for the stability of their first-page visibility on Google.
This means that the moat against competition in Google’s organic search listings would be even thinner for those who are ranking at the top. Unless you are the undeniable champion without a near 2nd challenger against your brand, you will probably have to get out of ‘cruise mode‘ and work on your SEO with an all-hands-on-deck attitude to keep your sweet rankings.
3. Less Organic Results, More Sponsored Ads
We have already seen Google shrink the organic search results time and again. It used to be 10 across the board but not we are seeing less and less of the organic results for some search terms. Some keywords would even only produce as few as 5 organic search results.
Then these keywords that are waylaid in their organic search results will see more sponsored ad listings in their page. I could almost imagine 5 to 6 sponsored ads would pepper the page in the organic listing’s stead.
The reason behind this is a very probable change is that Google is getting better and better in understanding what the user’s intention it. It’s almost scary – they can triangulate data outside of the search box.
So they know who you are (at least as an IP address or your mobile’s serial – or some qualified identifier), and they could see what you’re doing if you’re using Chrome browser (which is almost always the case), and they could see what you’re searching for, and they could hear from your Google home devices what your interests are.
In short, it would be way easier for Google to serve you what you are really looking for in a better way and a faster amount of time.
So there would come a time that we don’t even need 10 results to choose from in the first page (heck most of us don’t even look at the 5th to 10th result anymore!) And Google will be free to serve only 5 organic search results and the rest would be sponsored ads or other extensions or advanced listings.
4. Link Entropy will be More Felt
Yes link rot is also real but it’s also a damn shame if your website is suffering from link rot. This means that you didn’t get your 301 redirects right or your new website wasn’t able to retain or rebuild certain key pages that had links pointing to them.
But link rot has been covered before – it’s not a new thing.
What’s new now is link entropy.
I have noticed that over-time, older links that were published for 5 to 10 years ago loses their authority even if the website where the link is coming from is gaining better domain authority – which means the site is still healthy and is still getting a good number of new links coming in.
It’s not really talked about and there are no decisive studies made on this yet but hey, this is a prediction post, not a scientific paper.
If you are not making an effort to build new, better links every week or every month, you will not be helping your rankings get better. This also connects to my 2nd point where the moat will get thinner. Competitors who are continuously building on their backlinks will be able to overtake companies who have left their SEO in the dust faster.
This makes the organic search listings even more volatile, competitive and it would consequently drive the price to do great SEO higher. Which would largely make companies think if they would rather stick to SEM instead of venture to doing SEO. This would obviously favor Google’s revenues long-term.
5. Voice Search Will Still not be a Thing
Yes I have seen my share of SEO predictions that say that voice search would be a thing. I might have even believed it once.
But now years into this prediction and it’s still not a thing.
So no, I think voice search will still not be a thing for 2023 and beyond. SEO specialists will still focus on written-word SEO.
There are many more SEO predictions in my head as I write this down but it would take some rummaging and polishing for me to be able to share them with you clearly.
I hope you enjoyed at least some of my predictions here. If something resonates with you, I’d love to know and hear from you in the comments section below!
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