2023 News-SEO Trends and Predictions ...
Thousands of publishers and news sites worldwide depend on their in-house News SEO teams and agencies for news template optimization, technical news optimization, paywall optimization, breaking news SEO recommendations, trends monitoring, keyword gap analysis and most definitely how to optimize for for Google News and Top Stories.
It is our humble effort to push News-SEO into the spotlight and highlight the amazing work done by many News-SEOs out there. We started by writing solely on News-SEO covering Google Discover Optimization, News SEO Ranking Factors, Top Free News SEO Tools, YouTube Visibility in News and much more News Optimization Tactics and Strategies. Then we launched NESS - the first ever News & Editorial SEO Summit - solely dedicated to everything SEO for Publishers, we then launched the biggest Slack Community for News-SEOs with 700+ experts helping each other.
Today we are excited to bring you the annual look at what's ahead for the News-SEO in 2022, brought to you by the top News SEO experts worldwide.
But before we start, let's see which of 2022 predictions came true first:
- The ones we got right:
- Google Discover will remain a very important traffic driver to the majority of publishers.
- Search will become a lot more visual with more visibility of images, short videos and web stories.
- Short Videos will gain more visibility in Search.
- Topical E-A-T: Trust and Authority within specific topical areas will continue to grow.
- Topical organization and clustering can lead to significant traffic increases from both Top Stories and Discover.
- Migrating Off AMP will continue to spread among publishers.
- SEO will become more and more complex.
- Increased focus on Creators, Shopping and Videos.
- Publishers will continue to innovate on Smarter Paywalls and Affiliate Revenue.
- To some extent:
- Tech giants will have more Legal battles with Publishers. So So
- Google will continue to improve on its SERP features expanding News, Liveblogs and Evergreen SERP Features for big news moments and live events.
- Speedy and good UX website (Web Vitals) will still be one of the big topics in News SEO.
- Evergreen Content will become an important editorial strategy for many publishers as a source of sustainable traffic. So So
- Oops, this one was completely wrong
- IndexNow will gain more popularity and Google will join.
- IndexNow will gain more popularity and Google will join.
TL;DR : The Top 11 News-SEO Predictions in 2023
2023 will be a tough year for publishers: With the economic downturn on our horizon in 2023, publishers' advertising revenue will continue to struggle. Print revenue will continue to decline. Local News sites will continue to suffer financially.
Traffic from big platforms will go down: Google will continue to eat away at news publishers' real estate on the SERPs, and Facebook will reduce traffic to publishers drastically, and might cancel News tab all together in addition to minimizing Publishers' support.
More publishers will stop print - or reduce the number of print editions per year - and become digital-only.
Many publishers will start investigating how to diversify their traffic to combat a growing risk of Google and Facebook dependency.
More publishers will invest in alternative revenue opportunities like affiliate content and sports betting. More publishers will try gated content to grow their email programs and will test different kinds of paywall.
AMP will be officially dead as Google gave up on it and publishers trying to reduce their Technical debt.
2023 is the year of semantic markups via entities and knowledge graphs.
Google Discover & E-E-A-T will continue to be important for publishers.
Some publishers and SEO professionals will experiment AI-Generated Content. Google will publicly take manual penalties against SEOs who are using AI-Generated content in a spammy way.
Google News will place more emphasis on Original reporting, Local and Translated News initiatives.
Google Search Console will provide more data via APIs for SEOs to create their own dashboards.
Big thanks to all contributors:
Dan Smullen, Barry Schwartz, Kyle Sutton, Tobias Willmann, Steven Wilson-Beales, Barry Adams, Alli Berry, Claudio E. Cabrera, Greg Jarboe, Louisa Frahm, Vahe Arabian, Lily Ray, Leonie Roderick, Virginie Clève, Jes Scholz, Harry Olsen, and Marshall Simmonds.
2023 is the year for traffic diversification!
2023 will be a rollercoaster year for many publishers and SEOs; Big traffic changes, financial struggles, spending cuts and layoffs. Many print publishers will seize print and will go digital-only, Other magazine will reduce their print editions and limit it to a couple a year. Local publishers will continue to suffer around monetization.
Publishers will seek alternative revenue sources; more will produce affiliate and sports betting content. More publishers will lease sub-domains/folders to external entities to run deals, coupons and sports betting. I fear that many publishers producing affiliate content to the point it is the majority of their content will no true E-E-A-T or first hand experience on product reviews will get hit. Same is true for publishers leasing their subdomains for unrelated, unsupervised third-party content with no true editorial guidelines may have consequences on their own organic visibility.
Financial struggles may impact SEO teams in terms of resources, tools and headcount. SEO teams must become a business function, where revenue is a primary metric, to survive not just for audience scale. Even thought SEO teams may get impacted, I feel more opportunities for Technical SEOs in the year to come as it has been a strong focus for many publishers.
Diversification will become a big topic for many news publishers. Many publishers get about 75% of the traffic from Google and Facebook. Google will continue to place more restrictions with content E-E-A-T and Facebook continues to decrease traffic to publishers and shifting focus away from news into Metaverse. Publishers will start diversifying their traffic sources and look into optimizing their Email programs, Push Notifications and other organic partnerships.
ChatGPT will have a big impact on content in 2023: it will inspire many SEOs to start testing with AI-Generated Content. A huge debate will erupt among publishers/journalists on the ethics of using such approach. In 2020, the content produced online was 90% of all content online at that time. I predict that online content will reach new heights using AI producing millions of articles. Google will place bigger emphasis on original content, author rank, etc. to fight useless content.
2023 will continue to be the year of visual search; short form videos will continue to rise in SERPs - check our SERP Feature Frequency tool, more visual SERP features, Image Search will continue to evolve and will feel like a social feed focused on commerce.
I think Metaverse will go nowhere with publishers, it will be just be a quick fad that some big brands will try and will quickly forget. Same for NFTs.
More and more publishers will drop AMP, currently 45% of of all Top Stories URLs are still AMP - Check our AMP tracker. We can safely predict AMP is officially dead in 2023.
Google Search Console team will continue to provide additional data via APIs to enable SEOs to create their own dashboards.
More and more publishers will start testing with creating their knowledge graphs. I believe 2023 is the year for Entities and Semantic Markup.
2023 is going to be a tough year for publishers!
I fear 2023 is going to be a tough year for publishers. I expect traffic sources to be squeezed even more, with fewer clicks from the big platforms (Google and Facebook especially) to news websites. Larger publishers that have established strong brands and topical expertise will continue to win, while smaller publishers who lack a clearly defined focus may lose out.
As a publisher, your biggest asset is your unique journalism. 2023 is the year you need to go all-in on your own news brand, playing to your strengths as much as possible. Establish yourself as a true authority in your chosen niche of news, and try to own that space. Don't rely on the whims of algorithmically driven news feeds on Google and Facebook to recognise you as a source of truth; become a brand that people will search out directly, which allows you to bypass the algorithms entirely.
In terms of technology, I continue to see a trend towards faster websites on leaner technology stacks. A key aspect of reader retention is your site's usability, and fast load times are a key component. AMP continues to beat a retreat as there is no longer any business case to maintain a separate development effort for AMP articles. Even Google has given up on the AMP standard, reallocating AMP Project engineers to their next shiny bauble.
Off-the-shelf publishing CMSs are a growing market. By using specialised platforms for news websites, publishers won't need to invest heavily in their own product teams. A publishing site can hit the ground running with a 3rd party platform that gives them all the necessary features and benefits to succeed online and monetise their readership.
As Google continues to move away from keywords and links towards entities and relationships, thorough implementations of semantic markup will become a key competitive advantage. It will be benficial to roll out structured data implementations beyond the limited set of markups Google 'officially' supports. Making every aspect of your website machine-readable will give you a competitive edge in 2023 and beyond.
Google Discover & E-E-A-T will continue to be important for publishers
Figuring out how to crack the code for Google Discover will continue to be important for publishers, especially as organic search becomes increasingly competitive among publishers and even with Google itself.
News publishers should double down on understanding the areas where their sites demonstrate E-E-A-T, because in many cases, if Google thinks your site is not authoritative on certain topics, it will be difficult to rank on those topics.
Ensuring your site architecture reflects those areas of topical authority will also be important, especially as Google's criteria for indexing content becomes more strict over time.
It will also be interesting to watch the product reviews space - Google has cracked down on low-quality content in this area with its Product Reviews Updates, and publishers that want to continue monetizing product review content will need to take major steps to follow Google's new guidelines.
Google will do more to make original reporting stand out!
Google has struggled for years with promoting original reporting, it just has, despite its claims of doing a better job with trying to promote original reporting. I think in 2023, you will see Google step up these efforts and do more to really make original reporting stand out from the rest.
That is not to say better, not just original, but overall better, reporting won't do well. It will.
In fact, I think you will see Google News be able to not just promote original reporting but also really figure out which reporting is written by experts and authorities in the space, and promote those pieces of content over the rest.
Or maybe this is all just one big pipe dream.
Google will begin removing violative content before it’s widely viewed!
On Dec. 19, 2022, YouTube announced, “We’ve removed over 10,000 videos related to the midterms for violating our Community Guidelines, including those that violated our election integrity policy. 75% of those removed videos were taken down before they had 100 views. And we enforced our policies regardless of a speaker’s public figure status or their political viewpoint, and regardless of the language the content was in.”
In 2023, I predict Google will begin removing violative content before it’s widely viewed on their other news surfaces, including Google News. So, News SEO professionals of all levels working for news sites, magazines, and publishers will need to do more than provide information about who writes and publishes their content to ensure that visitors to their site can trust their major stories about election integrity. If your content is fact-checked, then you will want to ensure that it will pass with flying colors.
Some News SEO professionals may be tempted to use ChatGPT, a chatbot developed by OpenAI, to create content for their news site, magazine, or publisher. But they should know that Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller says content automatically generated with AI writing tools is considered spam. Now, some clever black hat SEOs may question whether Google’s algorithms can detect AI generated content. But I predict that at least one of these black hat SEOs will be caught in 2023 and Google’s webspam team will take manual action – very publicly. And even if Google’s algorithms can’t automatically detect content generated by language models such as GPT-3 yet, then I would still bet dollars to donuts on Alphabet, which spent $31.6 billion on AI research in 2021, up from $27.6 billion in 2020, according to The Wall Street Journal. So, you really don’t want to be black hat SEO who gets caught.
Photos and videos play important roles in Google News optimization. I’ve conducted tests of press releases that included both photos and videos and discovered that the optimized headline and photo surfaced in Google News results, but the optimized headline and video thumbnail surfaced in Top Stories when it appeared in Google search results. In 2023, I encourage News SEO professionals working for news sites, magazines, and publishers to conduct their own tests. You may discover that video helps you to generate more traffic and revenue. It may also help you boost your visibility in News on YouTube. Why is that important? Well, YouTube’s surfaced content from trusted sources more than 65 million times in just November 2022. Viewers discovered this video content on the Breaking News and Top News shelves on the YouTube homepage as well as at the top of search results in multiple languages, including English and Spanish.
Google will continue to eat away at news publishers' real estate on the SERP!
Google will continue to eat away at news publishers' real estate on the SERP, as we have seen this year with the World Cup and live blogs and top stories being de-prioritized.
The theme that Google News has taken since 2020 has been fighting misinformation.
Google News will continue to expand initiatives in this space and attempt to amplify local news further.
But, local news will continue to struggle financially - and with the economic downturn on our horizon in 2023, publishers' advertising revenue will continue to struggle. Media spending will be curbed, and publisher organizations must invest in better monitising their internal audiences. Be that in terms of subscriber revenue or cross-publishing and promoting commercial initiatives.
With that opens the question - Is parasite SEO bad for the internet? And how long will the domain and trust power of publisher sites continue to work with this tactic?
We see content affiliate sites being battered by Google's product review update. Will subdomain and subfolder leasing continue to be a safe commercial initiative for publishers, or will the hammer come out soon? It is a hard one to police, for sure, and not technically against Google's guidelines. But we know that Google is fighting poor-quality, high-volume AI content, as evidenced by its latest helpful content update. This leaves a lot of room for high editorial quality reviews. Publishers that invest in a Wirecutter alternative or similar initiative, such as an information site to help consumers with the cost of living, will thrive by diversifying their revenue streams.
Print revenue will continue to decline for publishers - and although many publishers have adopted digital - they have still failed to understand how to monetize the digital environment to its full potential. The New York Times is leading in this space.
From a News SEO standpoint, there is still a lot of value for SEO teams to continue to educate. We will see editorial teams shrink in 2023 - and we will need to do more with less. There is tremendous value in educating journalists on how to write headlines that are helpful with SEO but also that is good for social and internal audiences.
It's not necessarily publishing more content is the answer but maximizing the reach of the content that is being commissioned and published. There is also a lot of value for SEO teams working with news organizations to update the database and find under-optimized evergreen content that could be updated to drive more traffic. The biggest win a News SEO can do in 2023 is to intertwine themselves as part of the editorial team. For News SEO to work, it needs to happen at the time of publishing.
Content Refreshes & Better Reports!
Republishing articles is a topic I see in 2023 for many publishers. Related to this are improved processes, tagging and content calendars. Republishing became important also for Google Discover. Evergreen and seasonal articles don’t really work without republishing in Discover.
We were working on understanding Google Discover better in 2022 and will spend more time in 2023 with this. It’s about checking not just sections and single articles, but find topics and entities. You want to find out for which topics Google decided that you have E-A-T (Expertise-Authoritativeness-Trust). The topics which work well are candidates to double down on in Google Discover.
Related to the Discover topic, the reports in Google Search Console’s web tool are super limited for publishers, which want to see differences between search, Google News and Discover. For this, I expect more and more publishers to use better reports to gain insights.
For Europe especially, it looks like a lot of features are appearing in search, which were not switched on before. We are seeing for example LiveBlogPostings and the first Web Stories. I think it’s time to review options with schema.org and structured data in general and improve if possible.
Google Analytics 4 and blocked tracking will affect SEO too. Again, especially in Europe, GDPR and consent are huge topics. The proper attribution of traffic to a channel became in some cases impossible - so everyone is looking for alternative methods.
Claudio E. Cabrera
We haven't seen the last of Core Web Vitals!
Core Web Vitals. I think a lot of us spent the last year and a half saying how Google exaggerated the importance of Core Web Vitals and it's not super key to have them in order. I don't disagree with that take. I was one of the individuals saying it didn't matter as much. But I do believe we are reaching a time where the SERPs are more competitive, Google is taking more real estate [see World Cup and Google Web Stories] and it won't be enough to just be creative editorially, fast or pump out more stories than your comp set.
I believe that as many changes as we are seeing to the importance Google is placing on E-A-T, that we haven't seen the last of what Google thinks can be part of CWV. I expect an update there and I believe many websites need to begin really zeroing in on this area as I've personally and externally seen the positive effect working on this can have for your brand from a visibility and traffic perspective, especially when you are not legacy media which tend to get passes in this department. I expect next year to bring a more tight and consistent marriage between editorial, technical and product in ways that not only are the products we are building going to take Technical SEO into account, but the overall website experience from a business and editorial perspective as well.
Greater diversification of sources within Google News and Top Stories
I expect we'll continue to see greater diversification of sources within Google News and Top Stories. Stories that were once dominated by national brands will be sharing that visibility with local publishers, especially when there's a relevant local angle. National brands may need to get used to no longer owning a big story like they used to.
Content breakouts and diversification can help to offset this, as well as offering unique angles and coverage where they can be recognized as an original source.
Publishers will continue to double down on direct relationships with their audiences!
If we learned anything this year, it's that Google will not tread lightly when it comes to Publisher domains in its efforts to improve the quality of its search results. That's why, next year publishers will continue to double down on formats like podcasts to forge more direct and personable relationships with their audiences.
Ironically, this will mean more work for the News SEOs as we keep up to date with how podcast platforms are improving podcast discoverability through better topic/entity metadata. Exposure of this metadata is quite limited at the moment in the serps, but that could change at any point next year. In the meantime, just like any other aspect of SEO, it's all about getting the basics right to make sure you are in the best position when someone eventually 'flicks the switch.'
SEO teams will need to get scrappier
I think we're going to see budgets getting slashed across digital marketing because of the state of the economy. This will mean SEO teams will need to get scrappier. SEO teams also have the potential to add more value to their organizations because it's cheaper than paid marketing. I think we'll see more reliance on a freelance or agency workforce because it's more flexible for budgets.
I think 2023 is finally going to be the year we actually start utilizing AI for content creation on a more regular basis. The technology is finally there and it can increase efficiencies, especially with content that is more formulaic. Many people have been resistant to AI, myself included, but if it can get some of the initial content creation done with a human polishing it up, it'll allow more organizations to scale up timely content. That could mean we see more new competition emerge in the high volume publishing spaces. Bring it on!
Publishers to increase their video investments!
In 2023, videos, images, and Core Web Vitals will be prominent on my radar of news SEO success. Across a variety of news topics, Google is giving more leverage to video in search results. With the rise of competing platforms like TikTok and Instagram, it'll be crucial for publishers to increase their investment with on-platform video and YouTube to reach their search audiences in new ways. Live events and evergreen topics of interest are high on my list of video content priorities. SEO and video teams need to be well-connected on strategies to ensure that keyword dynamics are in sync and target audiences can find content in lucrative windows. On a related note, images are also becoming increasingly important in search results.
Google relying more on entities as qualitative parameter!
Through many Google News Initiative Publisher workshops to the recent helpful content updates, 2022 saw E-E-AT as an approach evangelized by Google as an approach for improving editorial standards in the fight against content generated AI. Generally speaking, neural networks are now effective in helping machine learning models generalize learnings and the uniqueness of entities which is potentially why we are seeing Google relying more on entities as qualitative parameter. 2023 will be the continuation of what publishers are doing in improving their site trust signals, and providing measurable standards through beta reporting in GSC by the end of 2023.
Google is likely to show an increasingly diverse set of content in the Top Stories box!
Google will continue to take up a growing amount of real estate on the SERPs, forcing news publishers to reassess their optimisation efforts in order to cut through.
This will be particularly relevant when it comes to big news events, where Google is likely to show an increasingly diverse set of content in the Top Stories box (this, of course, ties in to a few of Google’s ranking factors when it comes to news, such as originality and diversity of content).
Instead of incessantly chasing trends, publishers should start by asking themselves how they can best add value for readers – whether that's with a live file, in-depth analysis or expert Q&A. Gone are the days where you can assume that just because your competitor is ranking highly with a live file, yours will also cut through. With the increasing importance placed on E-E-A-T, publishers would be wise to lean into (and spell out!) its journalists’ expertise as a story develops.
Publishers should ultimately aim to curate a focused package of content when a big news event happens, with each story serving its own distinct purpose and value – ideally capturing a different search intent. One added bonus: This focused approach will also avoid overwhelming readers with a glut of content.
The end of AMP, affiliate content on the way down, and more Discover audience!
AMP: Google is reducing the place of AMP more and more every day, which is logical given the significant obstacles it represents for subscribed users (obligation to relog on AMP) and for digital subscriptions in general. Not to mention the GDPR constraints in Europe and perhaps soon all over the world. AMP has fulfilled its role pushing publishers to work on their web performance. 2023 will be the year of AMP decommissioning projects.
Affiliate content: Aggregated or affiliated content has been a big hit of media sites for at least fifteen years: dictionary, encyclopedia, quotes, conjugation, how to content and so on. It is clear that this content, often hosted on sub-domains and operated by partners, puts the entire brand at risk with each Core algo. Google seems determined to devalue sites which abuse of those SEO techniques. 2023 could be the year of the rationalization of these contents.
Discover: The traffic generated from Google Discover continues to grow month after month, to the point where some sites' SEO audience is becoming "Discover only" or almost. In 2023, it is certain that Discover's share will increase even more. Still few publishers have set up a fine daily tracking of this source with regular analysis. It must be said: it has become absolutely essential. The main obstacle remains that we have very little data outside your own website and it is almost impossible to analyze the competition. And unfortunately there is little chance this will change in 2023…
Bonus - don't forget the basics: News sites are very often huge sites, with very old content and layers of successive product versions. In short, very complex websites. It is good hygiene in 2023 as always, to perform once a year an in-depth audit of these "lower layers" in which great potential for SEO optimization often nests.
SEO for young audiences!
The need for publishers to connect with Millennials and Gen Z is growing. Yet too often, brands feel they tick the box because they “do TikTok SEO”. But this is not enough.
Google is not blind to the need to engage with young audiences. We’ve seen how hard they have pushed Discover in past years and the payoff it has had. In 2023, Google will build on these learnings, making search results more interactive, visual and most importantly predictive of user journeys.
They will continue to take inspiration from social networks. Expect to see even more follow topic buttons, rich cards, carousels, tag navigation, ability to view in 3D, augmented reality and web stories in the SERPs.
For news SEOs, this means double down on entity optimisation, images and video (including in vertical format) as well as social presence in Google SERP featured networks.
More Affiliate Content Investments!
Increased investment in affiliate content: Many publishers will be looking to spend more on producing affiliate content as more and more publications look to diversify their revenue streams as economies face a recession next year and advertisers and consumer spending become more limited.
As a result, more publications will seek a competitive edge and enhance their search performance by following Google guidelines around product reviews.
The main areas to focus on will be the need for the editorial staff member to have tried and tested the products and outlined the key factors they are testing on the consumer's behalf so they can make a well-informed decision.
Some standout sites for product review content are Good Housekeeping and NYTimes Wirecutter to take inspiration from when thinking about your overall approach to producing this content and understanding the requirement levels before making the venture half-heartedly.
More publishers will be more open to introducing AI Machine Learning Content: The main concerns I hear in the industry about this technology tend to be related to being the first to adopt such an approach, stealing journalist jobs and audience perception of this content.
How publishers should perceive this technology as a way of supplementing areas of growth and allowing journalist to focus more on unique and investigative stories.
This can be great for emerging content markets and hyper-local content strategies where you help build prominence around a topic or local area without intensive resources and mitigate the costs of exploring these opportunities.
The search recession is here!
Despite an active news cycle in 2022 YoY traffic was, for the most part, down across the board. The search recession is here, and messaging should be communicated to upper management to prepare.
Search Traffic can be broken into three categories:
All three should be viewed in isolation, the last two were anomalous and none of them should be compared to the other.