It’s another of those ‘Digital marketing trends in 2023’ pieces. If you regularly go on LinkedIn, they currently make up about 30% of posts.
I guess people writing trends about 2023 could be the first trend of 2023?
Well, this here isn’t your typical ‘top 10 trends for 2023’.
Those types of lists don’t paint a true picture of the year ahead.
2023 isn’t going to be a year of separate events – there’s a single catalyst causing a knock-on effect.
A few years back, COVID and many other events pushed a big consumer behaviour-shaped rock down a hill.
That rock has been picking up speed and is now flying towards a lake. If this rock was a physical thing, it would likely cause a tsunami so large we saw entire continents washed away. For some of us, we’ll feel the full force of these waves. For others, only a ripple.
This is why we can’t list out ‘top 10 trends for 2023’. It’s not that simple.
The rock is an overarching catalyst that’s going to impact everything. Both inspired by and inspiring a range of different ‘mini-trends’ (or ‘mi-nds’ if, like me, you want to try to be clever and merge the words mini and trends together before deciding it sounds horrible), this rock is so big it’s even got giants like Google scared.
As mentioned earlier, this rock is a change in consumer behaviour, but what exactly is the change?
Well, let’s just say it bluntly…
Our big scary rock: People are hungrier and lazier than ever
There are two factors making up this rock: there’s a hunger to consume more and more and more, and then a surprising lack of hunger to seek out this ‘more’. Consumers want more but are less willing to go and get it.
Sure, it’s not exactly the most revolutionary trend. But the speed and scale of this change is truly terrifying.
Let’s break it down into its two elements: hunger and laziness.
2023 is going to be the year of consumer consumption. However, consumption doesn’t necessarily mean purchasing.
Think of consumption as in content. Video content, answers from Alexa, doom scrolling (where you scroll endlessly on social media rather than spending time with your loved ones), blog content, rich results (those ‘people also asked’ snippets you see on Google), and more.
It’s rare, particularly for young people, that they spend a waking second not consuming some form of media. This lifestyle has led to a desire for more. A desire the world of business is trying to match.
A better, and frankly more professional term that we probably should have used from the start, is user experience.
People want a good user experience.
Important note: We didn’t say an exciting, mind-blowing, or inspiring user experience, we said a good user experience. Sometimes, a good user experience is something you don’t even notice. A good user experience is one that lets you be lazy.
Now, things do get a little tricky here. People want to be lazy with different things. Sometimes it’s a bullet point list over a long article, other times they will want to watch a video rather than read a guide.
This laziness encapsulates the idea that people expect to see the perfect medium for the message – no matter how difficult that may be to create.
Trends inspired by a new consumer hunger
This new hunger to consume a wider range of content has led to three key elements appearing:
- AI generated content
- Interactive content
- Video, video, video
1. The elephant in the room – Artificial Intelligence
When we’re talking about Artificial intelligence (AI), the elephant in the room really is AI generated content.
ChatGPT can write you a 1,000-word article about any topic you desire in seconds. Literally – it’s both incredible and terrifying.
This tool solves the hunger aspect. People want more and more – now, we can create it in the blink of an eye.
From a business perspective, it makes sense to use this tool. 1,000-word articles in seconds? On face value, it feels like a no-brainer. Right?
Google has straight up said that AI generated content is against their guidelines (see quote from John Mueller below).
“…for us, it’s still automatically generated content, and that means for us it’s still against the Webmaster Guidelines. So, we would consider that to be spam.” – John Mueller, Google’s Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst
A clear trend of 2023 will be an on-going battle between Google and AI generated content. Google can detect AI generated content (yes, even if you tweak it and re-write the odd bits). So, AI content will get better and harder to detect, then Google will get better at detecting it, and so on.
Some websites will fly up the rankings with an AI generated SEO strategy, then crash back down again.
Our advice? Play it safe and stick to Google’s guidelines. Sadly, you are somewhat at Google’s mercy. If Google says it wants human-written content, use human-written content.
2. Interactive content
Interactive content is the new ‘buzzword’.
Create content your users can interact with (for example, this Fact Not Fiction page on ellaOne, which asks users to click ‘true’ or ‘false’ on statements about the morning after pill).
This kind of content encourages users to engage with the page in a way that written articles do not. The ellaOne Fact Not Fiction page has a bounce rate that is 20% lower than the site average, and the average time on page is 150% higher than the site average. It’s working!
You may want to consider a similar approach – what information do you want your users to come away with? In ellaOne’s case, this was simply the need to dispel the myths around the morning after pill, and to educate users about what it does do compared to what they might think it does.
Can you use interactive content to get your users closer to taking the next step? Can you use it to get your users into a transactional mindset?
Other types of interactive content include:
Consider how these content types can be utilised for your product or service offering. It is worth investing in, because if you don’t, your competitors will, and then you may end up playing catch-up for rankings and traffic.
3. Video, video, video
40% of Gen Z prefer searching on Instagram and TikTok to Google (source). Does this mean Google is dead? Of course not, but it does show the increasing desire for more video content.
Additionally, it shows the increase in desire for video content that is more natural, or relatable. People don’t want to see uber polished high-end videos – they want to see someone they can perceive as their peer recording a quick video on their phone.
Trends inspired by a greater sense of laziness
On the complete flipside of a desire for more, there’s also a desire to have to do less.
‘Tell me exactly what I want, in the easiest way possible for me.’
This means, for some, an article is best while for others, it’s a podcast. There’s a diversified desire and it’s growing.
What does this give us?
- Voice search and Google’s next steps
- Search engine results page (SERP) features continue to grow in number and use
1. Voice search and Google’s next steps
In October 2022, Google released its Speakable Markup (still in Beta), which helps optimise content for Google Assistant.
What is speakable markup and why does it matter?
It’s code you add to your content that essentially says, ‘this is the best part of this article to explain over audio’ or, in other words, ‘Hey Google, say this bit out loud when someone asks a question’.
This is a clear example of a change in consumer behaviour leading to a tech giant implementing new systems, which will then lead to brands changing how they approach their web content.
Adding speakable markup to your page will require a good understanding of the user intent and your own content (again, another reason why AI generated content might be quick and easy, but is not the way forward).
Once added, it will help search engines know exactly what sections of the page answer the question in the most human, and often succinct, way.
We’ve got our eyes on this inspiring a new era of ‘keep it succinct’ SEO – something that we’d be very happy to see.
This idea of ‘keeping it succinct’ is already starting to take off with things such as 2022’s helpful content update, but further steps are needed for it to reach full swing.
Our advice? Get in early and make sure every page on your website is answering the user’s intent. If it’s fluff, kick it out.
2. SERP features continue to grow in number and use
By SERP features, we mean elements in the SERP such as features snippets, ‘people also ask’ boxes, knowledge graphs, etc.
Optimising your content to be eligible for SERP features is the bare minimum you should be doing.
Remember though – these SERP features are designed by Google to present the user with the information directly within Google. What this may mean is fewer clicks overall. However, if the user is just searching for information and doesn’t intend to act on that information right away, then you’ve not lost anything at this stage.
And ultimately, if it isn’t your site in these prominent SERP positions, it’ll be a competitor’s site instead.
The hungry and lazy 2023
While sounding a little bit dramatic, this is far from a bad thing.
All trends across 2023 point towards a better, more varied digital experience for users. As brands move to make things more accessible (such as speakable markup for voice), not only does it make using your Alexa or Google Assistant better, it also helps those with accessibility requirements.
AI generated content will likely lead to a flood of computer-generated pages ,as people try to cash in quick before they are penalised and knocked back down. However, this turbulent time will help us better understand how we can use AI to create things.
What are its strengths? When should we stop? When is value better than human personalisation?
2023 looks to be an exciting year, kickstarted by a few years of turmoil. The digital space will never be the same again, and we can’t wait to make the most of the new future.