To drive organic traffic to your website (and continue doing so), you need to be quick to adapt to search engine algorithm changes. As you prepare your SEO practices for 2022, here are some SEO trends and best practices to keep your finger on:
1. Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are changing the world in unimaginable ways. For brands and marketers, two significant areas that AI has improved are lead generation and SEO.
But we’re talking about SEO, so we’ll focus on that.
One of the biggest ways AI has impacted SEO is that search engines rely on it more to provide better answers to queries. For Google, this is evident in the Rankbrain algorithm. Rankbrain is a deep learning system that handles search queries better than algorithm-based systems. As a result of AI, Google can better understand what users are looking for and can thus deliver personalized results.
2. MUM (Multitask Unified Model)
Many people don’t know how to formulate search queries that end in the right results. This can be frustrating for users. However, it could also mean less traffic to your pages if users struggle to formulate search queries related to your brand or solution.
And this is where Google’s Multitask Unified Model (MUM) comes in.
MUM is one of Google’s latest algorithm updates. It’s a development in how the search engine works and, like all updates, focuses on ensuring users get the best possible experience.
To better understand MUM, we need to take a brief look at BERT, MUM’s predecessor. In short, BERT worked through advanced natural language processing (NLP). This allowed Google to better understand complex search queries and the semantic context behind the query. This resulted in better results.
What about MUM?
According to Google, MUM is a thousand times more powerful than BERT. For example, before MUM, the search giant says complex queries sometimes took users eight searches before answering.
MUM was developed and trained across 75 different languages and can perform many different tasks at once. This allows the system to develop a more comprehensive understanding of information and world knowledge than previous models. And because it’s multimodal, it understands information across different content formats like text and images (and soon, video and audio too).
This allows the search engine to provide comprehensive and more accurate answers to complex search queries.
Again, the implication on SEO for marketers is that it’s becoming more difficult to game the system with black-hat techniques. The only way to ensure your SEO game is effective is to understand what search engines and people are looking for and meet those needs.
Another impact MUM will have on SEO is that it levels the playing field when it comes to content format. To improve your chances of ranking, you must ensure you have content in different formats.
3. E.A.T, Barnacle SEO, & Social Signals
To ensure users only get the best possible experience, search engines are beginning to place a higher value on web pages:
These are just a few significant factors you should consider as you plan for any piece of content on your website. To ensure your content meets these requirements, you must factor in Google’s E.A.T guidelines, barnacle SEO, and social signals. Let’s briefly take a look at each one to see the role it plays in a successful SEO strategy:
E.A.T — Guidelines for Quality Content
A few years ago, ranking high on SERPs was easy. All you had to do was create content on a topic, hit publish, build a few links to the content, and hello page one. Today, however, Google scrutinizes the quality of content and uses that to determine the quality of a web page.
Enter Google E.A.T.
E.A.T is an acronym that stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. The main content creator, the website the content is published on, and the content itself must exhibit these qualities. A few factors that can help you achieve this include:
- Linking to reputable sites
- Citing facts and statistics
- Showing the author’s credentials
- Getting backlinks from authoritative sites
The quality of content is increasingly playing a greater role in how search engines rank content. Thin, flaky content stuffed with keywords just won’t cut it anymore. That’s why you must invest invaluable content that meets Google’s E.A.T criteria.
Barnacle SEO — Leveraging Established Website’s Rankings
Barnacle SEO is a strategy whereby you leverage the authority of websites that rank high for competitive keywords you want to rank for. Attaching your website to these bigger and better-performing websites can help you show up for search queries that include your target keywords. Some examples of barnacle SEO at work include:
- Listing your website in business directories
- Guest posting
- Taking part in round-up posts
When your website or content is associated with larger, more prominent websites, its profile is raised. When choosing sites to attach yours, make sure they’re not competitors. At the same time, they should be websites that attract the type of audience you cater to.
Social Signals — Shining the Spotlight on Your Content
Social signals refer to the engagement your content receives on-page and off-page. These can be shares, likes, and any other social media visibility picked by search engines.
While social signals are not a ranking factor, greater social engagement signals to search engines that a piece of content is resonating with users. Other reasons why you should pay attention to and encourage social engagement (organically and through paid means) include:
- They boost your content’s visibility
- Increase the chances of earning backlinks
More importantly, social engagement signals that your content is value-packed and worth the reader’s time.
4. SERP Analysis
As an SEO or digital marketer, you must constantly keep an eye on search engine results pages (SERPs).
You need to conduct SERP analysis regularly.
SERP analysis involves investigating and exploring the top ages on search engines to determine what top ranking websites are doing to get there.
This is because SERPs are constantly changing. Keeping an eye on them helps you:
- Understand the content formats that rank high for your target keywords
- Know which competitors are ranking high
- User intent behind top-ranking pages
- Predict content and SEO trends
Conducting SERP and competitor analysis is essential to helping you uncover SEO opportunities and create better strategies that will help you outperform the top-ranking pages.
So what trends can you be sure to notice on the SERPs in 2022 and beyond?
A few examples include:
- More rich snippets
- Including affordable picks on a mobile
- The rise of knowledge panels at the top of SERPs
By creating content that is optimized for these three, you stand a better chance of being featured right at the top of the SERPs (position zero).
5. Video SEO
Video has fast become one of the preferred content formats. If you’re not investing in video content, you’re missing out on a powerful opportunity to attract and engage your target audience.
But the popularity of video isn’t the only concern when it comes to successfully reaching your audience. You also need to pay attention to video SEO.
A few examples of video SEO best practices include optimizing your description and providing essential information such as the thumbnail URL, and video upload date and duration.
But video SEO has evolved to be more than just those basics.
For example, Google recently announced a new structured data feature that helps users get better video results for their search queries. The new feature, called Key Moments, enables users to navigate video segments easily. As a result, they’re more able to engage with your video content.
Key Moments also makes it easier for Google Search to understand your video better. This helps it better recommend your video for relevant search queries. To do this, Key Moments introduced two significant types of structured data for videos:
- Clip markup: this specifies the exact start and endpoint of each segment. It also helps assign labels to be displayed for each segment
- Seek markup: tells Google where timestamps typically go in your URL structure. This enables Google to automatically identify key moments and direct users to those points in the video
These two types of structured data help with search rankings. They also encourage users to click on your video in the search results.
6. Page Experience Coming Into Full Effect
SEO is no longer just about creating content that ranks. User experience (UX) now plays a huge role. Starting from 2021, one of the ranking signals Google will be using is page experience.
Page experience goes beyond just optimizing for speed and encompasses many factors into one ranking signal. To help SEOs better optimize for page experience, Google outlined a set of metrics to guide them. These metrics, called Core Web Vitals, are user-centred metrics that help quantify essential aspects of the user experience provided by your website. Core Web Vitals include:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This metric shows how long it takes for the largest element of your content to load
- First Input Delay (FID): FID measures how long it takes for a browser to respond to an interaction triggered by a user. It’s a measure of interactivity
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This is a relatively new metric that measures the percentage of the user’s screen affected by movement. It’s a measure of your website’s visual stability
Core Web Vitals were a big deal in 2021, and they’ll continue being so into 2022 and beyond. Especially since Google emphasizes UX as a ranking factor, optimizing for page experience should play an essential role in your SEO strategy.
7. Voice Search Continues To rising
Research shows that 65% of 25-49-year-olds use voice-enabled devices daily, showing the rising popularity of voice search. Sure, voice assistants haven’t truly lived up to the hype that surrounded them in their early days. However, the use of voice search is increasing YoY, making it one SEO trend to definitely pay attention to.
However, optimizing for voice search isn’t as straightforward as optimizing for text. That’s primarily because each voice assistant draws its answers from different sources. For example, Google Assistant responds to local queries with content from Google My Business (GMB) and Google Search. On the other hand, Siri draws primarily on Yelp, while Alexa relies on Bing, Yelp, and Yext. That means when optimizing for voice search, you must factor in the best practices for those platforms.
How can you power your voice search SEO in 2022 and beyond?
A few tips include:
- Optimize for local search
- Create conversation content
- Focus on long-tail keywords
- Optimize for mobile
- Build FAQ pages
Ignoring voice search in your SEO strategy will cripple your SEO efforts. People rely more on voice-based search queries as it’s faster, easier, and more straightforward than typing.
Trends Don’t Mean Anything if You Don’t Have Solid Foundations in Place
While we may get caught up in the latest SEO trends, the truth is they may not work if you don’t get the basics right. You must have a solid SEO foundation in place. Before implementing a new element, always remember the basics of your:
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO
- Technical SEO
These must always be 100% on point for any new SEO trend to be effective.
And if you’re not sure about the effectiveness of your SEO efforts, check out our B2B SEO strategy guide for tips. Or better yet, get in touch so we can work together on helping boost your SEO, drive relevant traffic, and get inbound leads.