It has been a crazy 12 months for SEO. We’ve encountered changes like the rise of voice search and a huge collection of significant updates, and seen the phasing out of older SEO best practices.
With so much changing, it can be difficult to keep track of what actions are still good for SEO and which ones are not as viable.
If this is a struggle you face, then this article is for you.
Now, as we start the next 12-month cycle, it’s more important than ever to understand and leverage innovative techniques like SEO. However, the only way to do this is to keep up with and test out the latest best practices until you find the perfect combination.
This article will highlight the top strategies you should be using as best SEO practices in 2023.
13 SEO Best Practices and Top Strategies for 2023
Before delving any deeper, it’s important to note that search engines are constantly adapting to consumer preferences, which in turn are always changing. This means that the most common search engine optimization observed today may not be the same as in years past.
If you find that keeping up with the latest trends in search engine optimization is too resource-intensive for your brand, you don’t have to take on this challenge by yourself. At Fannit, we can create an SEO strategy designed specifically to achieve your goals using the sources you have available.
Let’s go over 13 SEO best practices and top steps you should include in your strategy for 2023.
1. Change from HTTPS vs. HTTP
Back in 2020, Google made a big change. The search engine began using a site’s use of HTTPS vs HTTP as a ranking factor — with HTTPS sites being ranked better than those with just an HTTP.
While these algorithm updates didn’t affect rankings too much, another part of Google’s services did. Namely, Google Chrome.
Google Chrome has been marking HTTP sites as “not secure” for some time. Now, this is bound to become a bigger influencer as there are more security-conscious users online.
Chrome communicates this through a warning label in the URL, or by bringing the searcher to a full-sized warning screen that urges the user to exit the site and go “back to safety.”
Chrome’s warning labels/windows have forced businesses to move their sites to HTTPS, or else lose basically all their Google Chrome traffic. This is crucial because Google Chrome users made up more than half of all internet users in the US.
So, while HTTP was a viable option in previous years, having HTTPS encryption is a necessary SEO best practice in 2023.
2. Adapt Your Content to Voice Search
Voice search really began to come into its own last year.
This was evidenced by a study that found that 55% of US households used a smart speaker in 2022.
Now, it’s all but certain that voice search will take another step forward in 2023.
The growth of voice search has already begun impacting local SEO, with two major effects being:
- Query Length. Voice queries are significantly longer than text searches. While text searches tend to be 2-3 words long, the majority of voice searches land in the 3-4 word range, with significantly more 5-8 word searches as well.
- Query Keyword Choice. Text searches use brief, unnatural language. For example, “red boots toddler.” Voice searches, on the other hand, tend to use much more colloquial language. For example, “cute red boots for toddlers.”
These two aspects of voice search mean that your SEO strategy is able to take advantage of longer, more natural keyword phrases — more on this in a moment!
3. Only Publish Quality Content
Yes, content has always been king, but what’s changed between 2017 and 2023 is what qualifies as “quality content.”
In 2017, quality = content that answered a question, was well-written, engaged the user, and provided a unique perspective.
In 2023, quality = all of the above, PLUS:
- Featured snippet optimization
- Voice control and search optimization
- Integrated video and audio
- Collaboration with experts and micro-influencers
Simply put, winning at content marketing in 2023 requires the creation of content that is longer, better researched, and is optimized for new technologies.
Algorithms, AI, and internet users are all becoming savvier by the day, which means content in 2023 really needs to go the extra mile if it wants to stand out from the ever-growing competition.
Now let’s take everything we’ve learned and see what all this means for your website here in 2023.
4. Focus More on Mobile SEO
Mobile-friendliness wasn’t considered a major ranking factor when smartphones became the norm. Sure, having a responsive site definitely helped you convert leads into prospects, but Google wasn’t going to penalize your rankings for not optimizing for mobile.
That changed in December 2017 when Google began rolling out a series of algorithm updates that prioritized mobile-friendly sites over non-responsive sites.
Mobile has surpassed desktop as the dominant method of searching online at a global level, making mobile the official king of search. This tendency may not catch up fully in the US, but it does highlight the need to cater to mobile users.
Search engines are placing a greater emphasis on mobile performance when deciding rankings. And as of July 2019, all new websites are being indexed using Google’s mobile-first indexing, which means that rankings for new sites are based primarily on their mobile performance.
What all this means for SEO best practices is that your website MUST be mobile-friendly. If it’s not, you may end up falling out of relevant search results altogether.
Optimizing your website for mobile includes:
- Elimination of pop-ups
- Redesign your site for mobile
- Removal of all Flash elements
Sites that are not optimized for mobile pose a disadvantage. If you want to learn more about creating a responsive design for your website, contact our mobile SEO specialists to get started.
And, if you haven’t read our SEO cheat sheet yet, definitely check that out as well.
5. Target the Right Main Keywords
Keywords have been a major part of good search engine rankings since the early days of SEO. While this statement is also true today, much of how keyword research is performed has changed.
Today, the most important thing about choosing a keyword is the user intent. In other words, how relevant your content is to the goal that the searcher wants to achieve.
Simply put, users use search engines when they need to find something. The keyword you choose is the link between your content and the users looking for the information you’re sharing. So, if your content and keyword aren’t aligned properly, it will be difficult to achieve every page’s potential.
Besides the user intent, you also need to pay attention to the volume of the keywords you choose.
Keep in mind that the volume of your keywords can vary based on your industry. Generally speaking, if you specialize in a niche product or service it’s normal to have a relatively low volume on your top keywords.
6. Identify Long-Term Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords are search terms that consist of three or more words. In addition to their length and snazzy name, these are different from regular keywords for a few reasons.
For starters, long-tail search terms usually feature commercial URLs in a large portion of their organic search results. This occurs because most users have conducted a significant amount of research before looking for this type of term. Thus, the search engine results pages tend to be loaded with specific service and product pages.
Not only this, but longer keywords also have even lower traffic than conventional terms. In some cases, the search volume is so small that it’s not picked up by advanced keyword research tools. In these cases, we use tools like Google’s Related Searches variations and a few similar tricks to find long-tail keywords.
7. Structure URLs Properly
Every Google search result has a unique URL or web address. Have you ever conducted a search and noticed how the keyword you used usually appears in the URLs of the results close to the top?
This isn’t a coincidence. These websites follow SEO URL best practices.
In addition to locating web pages, search engines use URLs to find out what each particular page on a website is about.
From an SEO perspective, this means that you have to include your keywords in URL slugs. The URL slug is the unique part of a page’s web address. It’s almost always located at the end of the URL, and it can be fully personalized.
Take the time to build SEO-friendly URLs and make sure that the keyword is as close to the front of the slug as possible. This will ensure that each page tells search engines what to expect from the high-quality content on your page.
8. Include Key Terms in the Image Name and Alt Text
Images have a strong impact on SEO. For starters, they help you illustrate points and highlight important information in an eye-catching manner. Some images, like infographics, actually help answer search queries without the need for additional written text.
In short, images help improve the readability and overall user experience of your pages, which is good for your ranking on search engine results.
But images also come with a few different fields that influence search engine rankings. The two most important are the name of the image and the alt text field.
Make sure that the main keyword of every page is in image file names and alt text. If there are more than three images, don’t use the main keyword as the alt text for everyone, but use other variants you also included in the content.
9. Distribute Keywords Naturally
In your content, include the target keyword in your first heading and the first paragraph, preferably in the opening sentence.
From there on, you need to distribute the main keyword as well as its variants naturally throughout the text. You should carefully place the different terms in headings and avoid using your main keywords as anchor text for links, even if they are internal.
If you use the main term too many times, your content will be flagged for keyword stuffing. If you don’t include it enough, search engine crawlers may find it difficult to connect your pages to the user intent.
As far as best practices go, distributing keywords naturally is among the most difficult. But, it’s essential to nail this in order to climb in relevant search engine rankings. So, make sure to optimize your on-page SEO with this best practice in mind and see how it affects your search rankings.
10. Build a Great Link Profile (and Include Internal Links)
Google’s algorithms have become adept at detecting keyword stuffing, so use a few strategically placed keywords and then stop. But what about backlinks? These were a major ranking factor before. Do they matter in Google rankings today?
The difference is that Google understands the quality of the backlinks sending search traffic to your site. So, in order to get great website rankings, you need to get backlinks from sites with great domain authority metrics. Not only this, but your links need to be found on relevant content to get an even higher SEO rankings boost.
A great link profile starts with a solid list of backlinks. But, it’s also important to focus on creating an SEO-friendly internal links structure. And, if you’ve done this from the get-go, remember to also include it in your on-site optimization regime.
11. Boost Page Speed
Your site’s current loading speed plays a huge role in Google’s search results. If your pages are slow, your chances of appearing at the top of search rankings will be on the lower end. But, if your pages load almost instantaneously, you’ll have a decent chance of ranking high — granted that the rest of your SEO efforts are aligned.
The main reason why high speeds translate into more website traffic is that page loading times directly impact the user experience.
In addition to compelling title tags, users also want to get their questions answered as quickly as possible. So, as an SEO practice, you should take steps to improve your site speed. This includes web development and technical SEO steps, like eliminating unnecessary code. Or, taking the time to optimize images so that they are as light as possible.
You can use Google Analytics or Google Search Console to track your speed. But, if you’re working on your on-site SEO right now and want to test changes live, you may be better off using Google PageSpeed Insights.
12. Leverage Rich Results on Search Engines Through Schema Structured Data
Have you ever looked for a cooking recipe on Google? If so, you’ve likely noticed that the first thing to appear isn’t always meta descriptions from web pages. Sometimes, what appears are instructions, lists of ingredients, and similar pieces of relevant content. These are called rich SERP results, and they occur thanks to schema structured data.
Schema-structured data is a standard structure created to help search engines easily find, identify, and render data more efficiently. Not only this, but they also make search results more engaging as schema markup data is usually presented in an unusual, eye-catching way.
Rich results are not available on Google Images and other services offered by the search giant for free. That said, you should still take advantage of normal search by including schema markup standards in your HTML code, along with meta tags and other technical elements.
13. Aim to Appear on Search Engine Results Pages Featured Snippets
Though they were introduced long ago, featured snippets (also called “position zero”) have only become more and more important to SEO.
As of 2023, having a strategy in place to secure featured snippets for your content is a standard best practice.
While snippets may seem related to schema markup elements, it’s important to note that both are different. There is no piece of code you can include in your site to help improve your chances of getting a featured snippet ranking.
There are, however, other Google SEO best practices for a featured snippet. For instance, having the main keyword in the page’s meta description and the first sentence may help improve your chances of getting this ranking.
You can also create a summary of the content of your page or article. In other words, have one section of your copy be a well-written summary of the post.
At the same time, you have to write a solid conclusion and include keywords in most headings, at least in all the relevant ones.
Finally, verify that each header is relevant to its content and that your piece answers a searcher’s query accurately.
What Are SEO Best Practices?
In short, Google SEO guidelines or best practices are steps that you can take to help improve your search engine position. From optimizing internal links to writing better meta descriptions, best practices include both off-page and on-page SEO improvements.
With that said, choosing the best target keyword, understanding the metrics in Search Console, and learning how to write compelling title tags takes practice. So, make sure to pay close attention to the changes you make and how they impact your rankings in order to write quality content that performs well.
Implementing SEO Best Practices Through an Expert
Do you feel a little intimidated by how much SEO has changed? I understand — if you’re not intentionally staying updated on the latest developments, then it can be easy to fall behind.
If staying up-to-date on SEO feels exhausting, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Here at Fannit, our team of SEO experts has been tracking the changes in best practices since 2008. We understand how difficult it is to take on the search engines and we’ve developed industry-leading processes and strategies that you can use to jumpstart your website’s SEO.
If you’re ready to take your rankings to the next level, contact our team today!