The world of search and SEO is ever-changing, however, 2022 was a big year in search, and not just in terms of Google updates, but also in terms of the competitive landscape of search. Below we discuss some of the most interesting changes that we can see happening in search in 2023 that will impact UK law firms.
More Competition for Google
I’m sure you have tried to “Bing it”, but have you tried to “DuckDuckGo it” or “Brave it”? In 2023, we expect that both new (ChatGPT anyone?) and not-so-new search engines will take some of Google’s market share as users cool on Google over privacy issues and decreasing quality of search results.
Google’s share of search traffic has dropped by about 1.5% since the beginning of 2022 (but still has 84% market share) and we expect it to drop further through 2023. While there is very little chance of anyone taking Google’s crown as the top search engine over the next few years, other search engines are slowly increasing their market share, with Bing now accounting for almost 10% of global searches and DuckDuckGo now accounting for almost 1% of searches worldwide.
Some interesting search engines were either created in 2022 or started to gain more popularity, so there are some interesting ones to watch out for, including:
You.com is a search engine that started in 2020 that has started to get a lot more publicity towards the end of 2022. It is a privacy-focused search engine and tries to differentiate itself from the competition by letting you add “Apps” to use in search. For example, if you like results from Reddit, you can pin the app, of which You.com has over 150, to your search results and that lets you see results from Reddit higher than other apps. Recently, you.com also lets you generate text and images using AI with its free photo too.
Like many alternative search engines, you.com does not have its own index and uses Bing search results.
Yep.com is a new search engine, released in 2022, that is built by the creators of one of our favourite SEO tools at Conscious, Ahrefs. Since Ahrefs has its own website index and crawler, second only to Google’s, it is very different to many other more popular alternative search engines such as DuckDuckGo that use Bing’s search results.
Yep.com has an interesting business model, where they will share 90% of revenue earned through advertising in the search results with content creators.
Kagi Search has been around since 2018 but over the past year has started to gain more traction with technical users as one of its great features is how you can personalise results such as by telling Kagi Search which sites you don’t want to be shown and which websites that you would like to see more often.
They are also making a very unusual step in the world of search by charging users $10 a month to use their search engine. While we don’t expect Kagi Search to gain significant market share as users don’t like to pay for what they can get for free, even if the quality is better, it will be interesting to see how this search engine progresses.
More AI in Search
While Google has been using AI & machine learning in search since 2015 with the introduction of RankBrain, we expect to see the trend of utilising AI in search to increase dramatically in 2023, perhaps even seeing search engines creating AI-generated text and images in search results.
With the recent popularity of OpenAI’s chatbot, ChatGPT, Microsoft is looking to acquire a 49% stake in OpenAI, reportedly worth $10 Billion, to help Microsoft’s Bing search engine to compete with Google. This could significantly change the search landscape, especially if Microsoft can throw their significant resources behind improving OpenAI’s models so that it can give users answers to simple questions without having to visit a website.
Declining Value of Citations for Local SEO
Over the years the value of citations, such as local directories and larger directories such as Yell, has been declining as you see in the graph below. While signals from Google’s own Google Business Profile continue to climb.
In the past, citations were a strong signal for local search as they were more likely to be up-to-date and contain the correct information than other sources. However, the business model of many citation services is no longer profitable, and many have shut down or significantly cut back over the past few years, so citations are a much less reliable source of a business’s details than they were in the past.
As businesses are much more likely to keep their Google Business Profile up to date, other citation sources are now less relevant, and it makes more sense for Google to use their internal data rather than data from other businesses.
Another year and several more updates! Over the past year, Google has been making smaller updates more often, with fewer “headline” updates such as the Helpful Content Update. We expect this to continue into 2023, with smaller “broad core” updates continuing to be pushed every couple of months. However, we do expect there to be one or two larger updates, probably targeting “spammy” content and link-building.
An update to detect AI-written content?
2022 brought us the Helpful Content Update, the purpose of this update was to “ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results”. A big part of this update was targeting content that was spun or generated by AI, with most AI-generated content written at the time being fairly easy to distinguish from content written by a person. We expect that with the increasing popularity of ChatGPT, which can write very believable content that many people may not be able to tell is written by AI, Google will release an update that is designed to target this kind of content.
Some companies, such as originality.ai claim that they can detect AI-written text with 94% accuracy, can we expect better from Google? If Google is unable to detect AI-written content with almost 100% accuracy, it could lead to legitimate websites and businesses being harmed. And it could be very bad PR for Google as we have seen with previous updates, where businesses that did nothing wrong were caught in the crossfire, and penalised by Google.
In all, we expect 2023 to be an interesting year in Search, with a chance of seeing significant changes in the landscape of search and with many opportunities.
If you need support with your firm’s SEO efforts in 2023, give us a call on 0117 325 0200 or email email@example.com.