Google algorithms are constantly changing and so should your SEO strategy
When researching SEO trends for this post, I saw many articles from 2021 or 2020 that updated the year in titles but nothing in content. This article isn't like the others; instead, it captures the ever changing nature of trends.
While Google’s main criteria for finding quality websites to display on search engine results pages (SERPs) remain the same, now, Google pays closer, more precise attention to content formats, features, and other requirements that I’ll describe here.
If you've been in SEO for a while, this article will help you choose the focus, prepare for future updates, win time, and get ahead of the competition.
SEO trends in 2022: Should we consider them?
This is what comes up when typing "SEO trends 2022" in Google Search:
The correct answer: SEO will always be a relevant channel as long as people use search engines and interact with search algorithms. Instead of saturating pages with keywords, in order to appeal to search engine algorithms, SEO experts will need to understand user intent when shaping their content.
With so many tools and opportunities in Google, it's the SEO specialist's job to choose the right set of tools that will generate traffic and leads from organic channels, depending on the businesses’ needs. This point is also among the core ones mentioned in WooRank's most recent webinar highlighting the best SEO insights and strategies for 2022.
So, let's dive into details.
Top 10 SEO Trends to Focus on This Year
During the webinar, Nils De Moor and Courtney Harrington wrapped up everything that happened to the SEO niche in 2021 and discussed the following points to consider for SEO success this year.
1) Core Web Vitals
Core Web Vitals (CWV) are a set of specific factors Google considers when evaluating the experience users have with your website. Since May 2021, CWV are on the list of ranking factors, and, as mentioned in WooRank's webinar, have become one of the most significant changes for search as Google now measures websites by the experience users have with them. If pages featured on the SERP deliver a bad experience repeatedly, it will signal to Google that your website isn't worth ranking high. With a sense of how users experience your website, you will know what to change to improve your SEO performance metrics.
Core Web Vitals are about three specific page performance metrics you can control and improve for a better user experience and SEO:
- LCP (Largest Contentful Paint): the time it takes for your largest content asset to load.
- FID (First Input Delay): the time it takes for your website to respond to a user's interaction with a page.
- CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift): the number of unexpected shifts occurring during a page's lifespan.
A great tool to identify these vitals and understand which ones to improve is WooRank. You can check the dashboard to see which pages don't meet Core Web Vitals standards and why it happens. The Google console itself can show you poorly performing URLs (red)and URLs that need improvement (yellow):
Unlike the report, keeping the number of red pages (those with poor user experience) at zero is important as they affect your overall SEO performance. Make sure to focus on red pages because they weaken your SEO endeavors even more than yellow ones. In other words, it's better to focus on going from red to yellow than from yellow to green.
The work on Core WebVitals optimization is mainly technical as it includes processes like:
- Implementing lazy loading: Lazy loading is an optimization technique allowing images to load at the exact moment when a user scrolls down through a page. It influences your LCP score, improving your SEO and website's performance.
- Compressing images and providing proper dimensions for them: It makes your page lighter, therefore improving its loading speed.
- Improving your server response time: It's critical for LCP too. As Google says, "The longer it takes a browser to receive content from the server, the longer it takes to render anything on the screen. A faster server response time directly improves every single page-load metric."
If you don't have the in-house resources to make these adjustments yourself, external SEO services or tools like WooRank can come in handy. Agencies expanding their offerings to include page experience optimization is another trend we’ll be seeing more in 2022 as they understand the importance of Core Web Vitals for online performance.
It's important to note, as Nils mentioned, that clients are also ready to invest in this trend and notice that their web pages perform much better when optimized accordingly.
2) Google Passage Ranking
In October 2020, Prabhakar Raghavan mentioned Passage Ranking in his article, How AI is powering a more helpful Google. He shared how Google has made "tremendous progress over the past 22 years," and thanks to advancements in AI, they’ve "made bigger leaps forward in improvements to Google than we've seen over the last decade."
Not only were his words about the BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) algorithm and better voice search, but the way to find relevant content via Passages (Google's ranking when the search engine hones in on a specific passage within a page to deliver a nuanced answer to a query). In 2022, this technology will improve 7%of search queries and heavily impact content visibility.
Passages algorithm is about ranking specific parts of pages rather than the whole text. Thus, the "SEO trends" query does not provide the full article but a short passage from the article’s body.
Now, any part of your SEO article can appear in Passages, so it's critical to craft it more carefully.
Consider these writing tricks when working on your website’s content:
- Break down your texts into meaningful blocks. Use writing apps to check content for mistakes and readability.
- Craft headlines that specify problems a user may have when coming to Google for a solution.
- Use descriptive H2 and H3 subheadings.
- Write enough text and focus on keywords and LSI queries in the first paragraph.
These are some topics WooRank will be covering more in-depth in one of their upcoming webinars, so stay tuned!
3) Google E-A-T optimization
After Google's update in May 2020, most SEO specialists took a hit from its E-A-T algorithm and made it a must-consider factor for writing expert content assets.
Many perceived it as the need for creating author profiles or even separate pages for individual authors:
In 2022, E-A-T optimization goes far beyond author page creation. A primary example is HubSpot which doesn't offer author pages for their writers, but it doesn't stop them from being one of the most popular marketing blogs.
Use every method possible to show that your content comes from an expert or prove that your data is correct (cite experts). Assemble your own set of tools to help Google verify that your content is high-quality.
To optimize your website for Google E-A-T in 2022, you can do the following:
- Ensure your SEO content is comprehensive and authoritative enough, with unbiased and consistent information, sharing actual references.
- Publish content only from experts within your niche, which is especially important for websites within certain industries like medicine.
- Update your "About Us" page: Don't hide your team, business phone, address, awards, customer feedback, and other critical information working on your credibility.
- Your website is not the only place to prove credibility. Work on increasing the number of reviews on various sites.
- Encourage regular citations of your site. For example, you can use HARO to get quotes about your niche and free links from high-quality online publications.
- Remove highly toxic links in Google Search Console.
4) Voice search
2022 is the year to understand how voice search works in SEO and how to apply it right. Given that 71% of consumers prefer to perform search queries by voice, it's worth your consideration.
- Pay attention to keywords: Consider longer phrases people use in conversation rather than abbreviated phrases. When searching by voice, they'll be more likely to say, "What are new SEO trends in 2022?" rather than "SEO trends 2022."
- Consider the query context: Roughly speaking, the "Where is Golden Gate?" query may lead users to different pages, depending on whether they are in Kyiv or San Francisco.
- Add a top keyword to headings: Use it in H1 or H2 and write a short text description below.
- Read and try to implement speakable specifications.
- Create FAQ pages: Since it's become a trend, many websites have begun to add FAQs to all pages and blog posts. Please do your best to add FAQ blocks only where it is appropriate.
5) Local SEO
Do you keep track of Google My Business updates? When working with local SEO, it's critical to do separate optimization for search and voice queries in your Google My Business profile.
For example, the search queries for "near me" grew over 100% in 2020! We could see the increase in widely different categories:
Have you optimized everything for getting the maximum traffic from "near me" queries? For that:
- Set up Google My Business (GMB).
- Get as many Google Maps reviews of your business as possible.
- Optimize your description and use keywords when responding to customer reviews.
- Make your site mobile-friendly and provide an easy way to get in touch with you and take map directions to your location.
- Get links from local resources and put them right on your GMB profile.
- Try to get links that have your address as an anchor.
- Ensure your business description and contact data are the same on your website and GMB.
- Use the correct Schema Markup to promote your local business.
Google is constantly expanding features for local businesses. For example, you may want to try communicating with Google Maps users directly through chat. (That's how to add this feature.)
In 2022, local search listings have become increasingly more significant for SEO strategy because of the rise of zero-click searches: People get answers to their queries from the SERP without clicking through to a website.
Now, users don't go to websites from SERPs for information about businesses. They check the Map Pack, aka Local Pack: a set of the three most relevant business results.
Getting your business into Local Pack is another SEO focus this year. To do this, create (if you don't have it already) or update your Google My Business page accordingly:
- Fill in your company information and any additional details.
- Allow users to write you messages.
- Be sure to respond to user feedback and comments, and add keywords to your responses.
- Publish local posts: promotions, discounts, events.
- Add information about your products, menu, or services.
- Add interior and exterior photos of your local business and set the best one as your Cover Photo.
6) YouTube videos
YouTube is the second-largest search engine after Google, and it turns into the #1 channel for growing the SEO power of your pages.
- Videos account for 82% of all internet traffic in 2022. 54% of consumers continue waiting for even more video content from brands.
- Google often shows suggested clips from YouTube videos in featured snippets. (Here's what you can do to get your YouTube video in a suggested clip).
- YouTube traffic continues to grow, and that's one of the best ways to boost conversion. (8 out of 10 people admit videos influence their buying decisions.)
Free video lessons, webinars, checklists, and any other informative clips are types of content to consider for traffic in 2022.
To optimize your videos for YouTube, use target keywords that have search volume there, not in Google: YouTube Suggest, Google's video results, and YouTube keyword tools will help here.
Craft all the content accordingly:
- Keep the title short.
- Add detailed and keyworded descriptions, tags, and categories.
- Organize videos into sections and add transcripts and time codes.
As Nils specifies during the above-mentioned webinar, transcripts help Google understand the content of your videos. While YouTube provides auto-captions, they are far from perfect; plus, you can optimize your captions for particular keywords for even better results.
You may also consider combining YouTube videos with text content you publish on your website. These two channels will support each other and help your pages rank higher on SERPs.
7) Google Lens
As Nils joked during the webinar, people from an SEO sphere can call every year "the year of physical visual search," but images and search by image are "becoming bigger and bigger every year". It's time to pay more precise attention to image choice and optimization, especially now, when Google Lens hits the stage.
Google Lens is an AI technology using your mobile phone's camera and machine learning to find and identify an object. It also scans, translates, helps with shopping, and more. More than 60% of Google Lens users are Millenials and Gen Z.
SEO is among the best practices to promote your online business, and it's also critical for promotion in Google Lens. For that, you need:
- To optimize all the content for mobile.
- To use the traditional SEO practices for image optimization: Consider file names and alt-text, remove or optimize EXIF data, add your logo, and ensure the pics are of high quality.
- To craft long-form content (Pages appearing in Google Lens are 1,600-word on average).
Nils emphasizes that now SEO specialists can't limit their optimization with an alt-attribute. He says that we shouldn't just "pick something random from any website". We need to be "aware of what images to put on an article and where to put them to fit a narrative."
8) Featured Snippets
"Google really wants people to stay on Google." — Courtney Harrington, WooRank
We all notice those boxes at the top of SERPs, providing brief info and stealing traffic from competitors, right? Known as Featured Snippets or Position 0, they appeared in 2017 and became even more prominent recently.
Getting into snippets is a sure-fire way to boost traffic, CTR, and overall rankings.
First and foremost, it's worth noting that there's no universal recipe on how to get there once and for all. Even if you win Position 0, your content will stay there until Google finds a better fit.
It’s also important to mention that 99.58% of Snippets come from pages that already rank in the Top 10. (That's a hint for what pages to consider for Snippets optimization.)
How to optimize content to increase chances of getting into Snippets:
- Create a comprehensive content asset: Focus on question-based queries, answer them step-by-step, use lists, add FAQ blocks if appropriate.
- Insert Snippet Bait into your article: a 40-60 words block of the text specifically designed to rank in snippet spots. It can be a definition, a short step-by-step list, or a table.
- Use HTML5 techniques and Structured Schema Markups (Q&A, ItemList, HowTo) to format your content for snippets.
9) Long-form content
Go back to your old SEO texts and update them if necessary.
If you've noticed the drop in certain pages' rankings this year, pay attention to the amount of content there. Various studies show that the more words in an article, the more traffic and backlinks it gets.
Thus, long reads of 3,000-plus words get 3.5 times more backlinks, three times more traffic, and four times more shares than those with 900-1,200 words. Some SEO experts also discovered that the optimal number of words for content on the best free blogging sites is around 1,900 words.
Long content is more likely to display all the E-A-T signals Google associates with quality: in-depth, original, with expert analysis and authorship, and backed up with relevant data. With its constantly improving NLP algorithms, Google matures at recognizing quality; so, start focusing on long-form content that will provide comprehensive info on your target keywords.
With Passage Ranking also in trends, when Google highlights different parts of your page, you can get a few times more traffic for various queries if designing your page right.
The number of content makers in the podcasting niche has grown recently, and the trend of listening to them on different platforms has been showing stable growth:
- Statista specified 86 million podcast listeners in the US last year, projecting 132 million by 2022.
- eMarketer spoke about 78.9 million podcast consumers in 2019, suggesting a 20% increase over the next four years.
The podcast trend is relevant and will continue for SEO too. By distributing podcasts on different platforms, you can also get links to your site. If the topic is relevant and popular, prepare and publish text transcripts on your blog, optimize them, and get extra traffic from Google.
Google algorithms are constantly changing, and with these changes, new SEO trends emerge. While some stay relevant for a few years, the principles and instruments of implementing them often transform due to updated requirements and tech advancements. If you want to rank higher in 2022, you need to learn the rules and play the game. Start now with Core Web Vitals and E-A-T optimization — the earlier you start, the faster you'll get positive results.