The SME Guide to SEO Strategy in 2023

Written by Sam

2023 is painting a fresh canvas for SEO, the hues and textures evolving with each new development in technology and algorithmic subtleties. The steady pulse of Google’s algorithmic alterations has long been our metronome, allowing us to harmonise our strategies, adjust our approaches, and assay the weight of ranking factors.

Challenger brands, strapped for cash, are obligated to conduct a diligent reconnoitre, judiciously allocating effort and budget to areas offering optimal returns.

As we breach the frontiers of 2023, where should we pivot our focus? What transformations has the landscape undergone with the advent of consumer-accessible AI tech, exemplified by ChatGPT (a nod here was inescapable) and the explosion of AI assissted marketing tools.

Delve into the ‘Matrix of SEO Importance’ for 2023. No, this isn’t a nostalgia trip to the halcyon days of the ’90s or a dive into intertwined conspiracy theories linking The Matrix and The Terminator.

Instead, it’s an inventory of critical SEO components and the attention they warrant in your strategy.

The Matrix of SEO Importance in 2023

SEO Element Importance Time Investment
 E.E.A.T. (Experience. Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) High Medium
 Authority Building and Influencer Engagement High Low to Medium
 Quality Content Creation High High
 Pillar Page Development Medium High
 Digital PR and Link Building Medium High
 On-Page Optimisation (Headings, Meta Information, etc) Low to Medium Low to Medium
 Technical SEO (Page Speed, Mobile-Friendliness etc) Low to Medium Low to Medium
 Local SEO (Google My Business, Reviews etc) Low to Medium Low to Medium
 Rich Media Creation Low High

Massive Caveat – We are assuming here that fundamentally the technical side of your website has been reviewed, is in a good place with regular checks and updates. We are also making the assumption that your rankings are generally on the up, not in decline.

What is E-E-A-T and why is this important in an SME Search Engine Optimisation strategy in 2023?

E-E-A-T. or Double-E-A-T  (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) is a concept that was first introduced by Google in its Quality Raters’ Guidelines (now search rater guidelines. All 176 pages are here for any insomniacs). It refers to the level of experience. expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness of a website and its content. Google harnesses E.E.A.T. as a yardstick to assess a website’s quality and its potential to clinch a higher SERP ranking.

In December 2022, whilst we were all enjoying Christmas parties Google snuck in an extra E: experience. This is “experience” in reference to “…demonstrating first-hand life experience on the topic…”. So for example, this might a video or images with hands-on product experience, so the sourcing and linking of a dedicated expert on a topic or discussion point. For smaller marketing budgets this represents an opportunity to be creative with your content and the blog posts, reviews and rich media that you place on your website.

To help improve the E.E.A.T. of your website you should:

  1. Create high-quality, informative content that is well-written and accurate. This will demonstrate expertise and trustworthiness to potential customers.
  2. Ensure that your website is well-designed and easy to navigate. This will improve the overall user experience and make it easier for users to find the information they need.
  3. Include a clear author byline and a list of authors on your website, if applicable. This will help establish authoritativeness and credibility.
  4. Include links to credible sources to support your claims. This will help demonstrate expertise and trustworthiness.
  5. Have a clear “About” page that provides information about your business and the people behind it. This will help establish trustworthiness and provide users with a better understanding of your company and its values.

Also, be mindful of the fresh ‘E’ for experience when generating content. This means demonstrating that your content is brewed with a degree of experience, such as actual use of a product or having visited a location. For instance, if you’re a small business retailing products, consider weaving in real customer reviews, video testimonials, or case studies showcasing the experience with your products.

For further reading and a decent guide on this subject check out this guide

Embracing the Power of AI

With the rise of AI technologies like ChatGPT and Google Bard, SEO is changing.

Tools like Google’s RankBrain use machine learning to understand search queries, providing a more nuanced and human approach to search. This shift is not just about optimising for bots anymore.

Instead, it’s about creating content that truly resonates with your audience. Context is king, and the reign of keyword-stuffing is over.

In this era of AI, the focus has shifted towards crafting engaging, relevant, and user-centric content. The key here is to view AI as a tool, not a replacement for human creativity.

It can help draft copy, design graphics, and even create videos. But at the end of the day, human creativity and strategic thinking are irreplaceable. The goal is to leverage AI, allowing us to spend more time on creative, strategic endeavours and less time on laborious tasks.

Link Building Strategies: The Art of Connection

Link building has always been an integral part of SEO, and that isn’t changing anytime soon. But what does change, however, are the best practices that ensure effective link-building. Gone are the days of mass link exchanges and buying links.

In 2023, it’s all about quality, relevance, and authenticity.

Building a strong backlink profile requires nurturing relationships with authoritative websites within your niche. Consider guest posting or partnering for webinars and virtual events. And remember, always make sure the content you’re offering provides genuine value.

It’s also worth noting that internal linking is a key aspect of link building. It enhances the user experience, guiding visitors through your site and spotlighting your best content.

It’s also crucial to remember that link-building is not a quick fix; it’s a long-term strategy. According to Ahrefs, it can take up to 10 weeks to see an effect from a single backlink. Patience, persistence, and ongoing commitment are key.

Talk to us about how we use Traditional and Digital PR campaigns to drive relevant links. 

Local SEO: Thriving on your own back doorstep

If you’re an SME serving a local clientele, then local SEO should be high on your priority list. Focusing on local SEO can help you compete with larger brands by targeting the community you serve.

Firstly, ensure your business is listed accurately and consistently in online directories, especially on Google My Business (GMB). Include high-quality photos, positive customer reviews, and make sure to regularly update your information.

According to BrightLocal, 5 billion searches are performed on Google every day, and 46% of those are seeking local information.

Consider incorporating local keywords into your SEO strategy, too. Keywords related to your location (such as the name of the town or city) can help to attract local customers. Similarly, creating locally-focused content can improve your visibility in local search results.

Technical SEO: The Engine Behind Your Success

Technical SEO might not be the most glamorous part of your SEO strategy, but it’s the backbone that holds everything else together. Without it, all the keyword research, content creation, and link building in the world won’t help your site rank.

In 2023, site speed, mobile optimisation, and secure browsing (HTTPS) remain vital aspects of technical SEO.

A recent Google study found that 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if a page takes longer than three seconds to load. Therefore, improving your site’s load time is essential.

Additionally, with Core Web Vitals now a part of Google’s algorithm, aspects like Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) are more crucial than ever.

Use tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights to check your website’s performance and find areas for improvement.

Remember, technical SEO isn’t a one-off task, but an ongoing process. Regular audits can help you identify and fix issues before they start to affect your site’s performance or rankings.