It’s almost the end of another year! The rise and fall of Covid 19 has taught us that existing virtually can be favorable and fulfilling. A massive shift from brick-and-mortar sales to eCommerce channels has intensified the need for digital marketing strategies and highlighted the role of reliable and competent SEO. With 2022 right around the corner, it is time to prepare for newer and better content optimization strategies.
Why SEO is the King of Digital Marketing?
The online world recognizes SEO as one of the highest performing marketing channels giving you the best dividends in terms of visibility and brand reputation. Search engine optimization, if done well, has the power to drive massive volumes of relevant traffic to your website. Besides traffic, SEO activities also generate better engagement and conversions. Traffic driven by search engines is considered more credible and trusted more by users than paid advertisements.
Multiple tools and technologies like Insights or Query Data can actually help you gain a deeper understanding of your audience and track the latest trends.
SEO Trends to Watch Out For in 2022
The content game went through a serious revamp during the pandemic months. Starting from an increase in the number of online content creators and user-driven content to the various types of content, the content delivery modes and the way people consume content, we learned and re-learned what content actually means to us. With the increase in the traffic online, we need to be smarter and more efficient about the SEO strategies. User-friendly pages will be the focus of 2022. Reliance on keywords and tagging will be less, and webpage optimization needs to be worked on a lot more. Here is a rundown of what, we think, will be the biggest SEO trends in the upcoming year.
1. Quality, Value and Relevance of Content
The Google algorithm has gone through a lot of transformation over the years and is sophisticated enough to prioritize the quality of your content over the use of popular keywords. They recently acknowledged the fact that the AI-powered RankBrain is the third most important factor in ranking a page. What this algorithm does is eliminate the overly keyword-stuffed articles from SERP and give importance to high-quality, high-value content most relevant to the search query. Sure, keywords still play a part in the algorithms, but focusing on giving your audience authentic and quality content is what will give you the most benefits.
2. Optimized Content for Voice Search
2022 will be all about voice searches and conversational queries. The ease of voice search is becoming more popular, and you must be cognizant of optimizing your content accordingly. In their recent I/O conference, Google unveiled their latest voice-based technology – LaMDA(Language Model for Dialogue Applications). As the name suggests, this ML model is designed and trained for dialogue. Built on Google’s neural network, Switch Transformer, LaMDA will be able to have proper conversations with you.
The best SEO practice here will be to make your content more conversational. Google wants people to talk to them about their searches. Customizing your pages in a way that allows for seamless recognition by the algorithms will not only help you boost your rankings, but the changed vocabulary will help you connect with your audience in a much better way. Creating target keywords that have a conversational tone will also help.
3. Quality over Quantity for Backlinks
Backlinks are an eminent part of Google’s ranking algorithm (PageRank). Although backlinks are an excellent way to build your ranking and increase traffic on your website, too many of them might counteract all your efforts. Backlinks can help users find your content easily, but getting quality and trustworthy links is essential. Links on sites that have a good authority will help your SEO more than having them on as many websites as possible.
4. Rise of Local Searches
The pandemic saw an increase in searches for local everything – localcuisines, nearby places, etc. Local SEO will skyrocket in 2022. Producing content and building links that are localized will enable local businesses to thrive. And estimates are that this trend will stick around for a while. A successful strategy will also include a well-rounded Google My Business listing.
5. Speed Up or Lose your Ranking
Internet usage has increased exponentially in the past year and ensuring that your website reaches one and all should be your main focus next year. Be it content, services, or products, making everything more accessible for people with disabilities will enrich the customer experience. Optimizing your SEO in ways that will allow your website to be found by visual impairment or other disabilities is a sure shot way to boost your rankings.
Hop on this trend by using definite alt tags. Being WCAG compliant is also non-negotiable. This way, you will know how to tweak and enhance the look and feel of your website to have a better reach among disabled people.
7. Passage Ranking
Ranking a page has become a cause of worry for every SEO expert out there. Being on Page 1 of a Google search is getting tougher. The solution to this is the latest opportunity that Google offers- passage ranking. Passage-indexing will show relevant titles or information on the query page. Instead of focusing solely on what the website offers, if a certain passage is relevant to the user, it will show up on the first page. In fact, according to the Head of Search at Google, passages will contribute to 7% of search queries. Rolling out good quality content will be the most helpful here, apart from meta-tagging.
8. Hello MUM!
Multitask United Model (MUM) was introduced at the recent Google I/O conference. In Prabhakar Raghavan’s (Head of Search, Google) words, “Google’s new Natural Language Processing Model is 1,000 times more powerful and can multitask in order to unlock information in new ways.” Essentially, MUM is an AI model that can interpret the user’s feelings and search intent to provide relevant results. This latest innovation will be able to read images, videos, and texts from over 75 languages.
While the online community is torn between the advantages of MUM and the potential threat to the SEO community, nothing can be concluded till the model actually rolls out.
9. Page Experience Means a LOT
If your website has the best content available but is impossible to navigate through, achieving a good ranking will be painful. Customer experience is the future of SEO. Anything and everything that helps make the users’ overall experience smooth will become a marketing tactic in 2022. A good user experience guarantees that people will stay on the page longer, and that is a positive for Google. Short URLs, intuitive navigation, sitemap, easy-to-read fonts – everythingwill make for a wholesome page experience. This also includes the use of images and videos wherever possible. The pictures individually also contribute to rankings. Apart from that, they are pleasing to the eye and help with the overall look and feel of your website. Videos can also help build your EAT (Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness)ratings by letting the audience know that you are exceptionally well-versed in your field.
10. Mobile Optimization for the Win
The ease of access for mobile phones is increasing the number of internet users. With that in mind, Google has enforced mobile-first indexing. This means that the mobile versions of websites are considered more relevant and important. Also, Google algorithms crawl through the mobile versions before deciding on the rank of your website. While mobile-friendly versions work for most users, making your website mobile responsive is what will get you those rankings. A responsive design ensures that the website adapts to the customer’s phones and reformats content accordingly. This will make the end-user experience exceptional.
11. Build your EAT Rating
SERP guidelines clearly emphasize the importance of Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. Sites offering advice or selling products and services need to demonstrate expertise in their fields. SEO, in the upcoming year, will involve establishing a brand as an expert on the subject matter of their website. Qualities like author bios or well-researched content will contribute to a page’s ranking. Quality backlinks are also imperative here. Basically, you need to prove to your audience that the content and services you offer are of a certain standard and that you know what you are talking about.
12. Domain Security
Everyone in the SEO world will tell you the gravitas of making a move from http to https. Security is one of the ways in which you can build your site authority. A secure domain lets your users know that your brand is trustworthy and cares about its consumers. Google is very careful of not sending users to insecure websites that may not protect their data. For e-commerce, getting an SSL certificate was a no-brainer, but now, for any site that collects user data, SSL is compulsory. DDoS and CDN protection might also help your website’s case with Google rankings.
13. Shopping Graph
The latest field Google is looking to conquer is the online shopping world. With their latest launch, Shopping Graph, people will now be able to discover and shop for products that are available in real-time. Their partnership with Shopify will also allow them to expand their product catalog.
E-commerce stakeholders can utilize this opportunity to up their SEO game. Optimizing the metadata to include relevant markups, working to make the backlinks more optimum, and planning out the content marketing strategy will help the e-commerce businesses.
Things you MUST avoid in 2022
1. Keyword Stuffing
Don’t get us wrong; keywords will still be an important part of the logistics. But, congesting your content with too many keywords will not work. Google has gotten smarter and can tell the difference between quality content and unnecessary tactics used to boost the rankings. Using keyword analysis to build a content strategy and plan out the topics of interest will become more popular. However, do not forcefully incorporate keywords in your content.
2. Too many guest posts
Guest posting can be a wonderful way to reach out to more people. But, too many guest posts from your site can be a cause for worry. You need to pick and choose which sites to blog on else your rankings will be affected. The same holds true for guest blogs on your website. Remember, superior content will boost your rankings. If your guest blogs are not up to the mark, you may lose out.
3. Intrusive Pop-ups
In 2022, if you do not optimize your website to make it more user-friendly, it will affect your traffic. Too many ads on the page that cover the main content will be punished by Google. This especially affects the mobile-viewing experience. Like we said before, the user experience will be the most important factor in Google rankings in 2022.
The future of SEO is forever changing and evolving. The current situation has forced people to spend more and more time online, leading to an increased need to optimize your content. Certain old practices like keywords need to be revamped to keep pace with the new and coming Google AI models. Emphasis on the audience and how people consume content is the future of SEO. Google Analytics needs to know that the content you create and the services you offer are relevant and customer-centric. It also wants to work extra hard to make the end-user experience worth it. Smarter, smoother, and faster websites are the key to 2022 SEO.
Alok Pathak is the Founder at Continuum Software Solutions,a leading AppDevelopment and SEO Company in Toronto, Canada. He’s passionate about helping startups and ecommerce businesses grow online.