SEO is forever changing, so staying on top of the game can be challenging. Competition is getting fierce, and your SEO agency must be ready to set the bar higher for your business.
Never fear; this post is going to cover everything you need to know regarding SEO in 2022, from backlinks to user engagement to the most recent Google’s Core Web Vitals.
Now, let’s dig in.
Google’s Helpful Content Update
In August 2022, Google started rolling out what they called their “Helpful Content Update”. The HCU is an adjustment to their ranking algorithm that attempts to elevate truly useful and unique content (like this content I’m writing, right Google?) and de-escalate AI-authored content which is often a simple rehash of other articles that talk about the same thing, but don’t add any unique insights.
Google wants authors to focus on “people-first content” that satisfies searcher intent — basically, that answers the searcher’s questions in a satisfying manner such that the searcher doesn’t need to search any longer.
How does Google know an answer was satisfactory to the searcher?
Because when a searcher visits a web page from a Google search, dwells a bit on the content and, most critically, doesn’t return to the search results and click other links that Google shows, then they believe the query has been addressed adequately by the web page.
In addition, the HCU is intended to address websites that don’t really focus on any particular topic, but rather, try to be “all things to all people”. These sites are often affiliate websites that make their money publishing thin-content “reviews” of products or services that derive all their review content from third-hand accounts, rather than actually testing or evaluating the products themselves.
For example, what is the likelihood that any one person or small organization, test and review a bunch of beds to see which provided the best night’s sleep? It’s nearly an impossibility for a normal human being. Of course, someone could do it, and everyone else would likely just be “summarizing” or just plain duplicating content from the primary source.
Duplicate content has been “solved” for a while by the canonical tag, but of course, another resource’s content can be re-written, especially easily by AI writing programs.
With the Helpful Content Update, Google is using their own AI to rank that primary source and not so much the also-rans.
A Shiny Technical Object: Core Web Vitals
Did you know that most of the internet traffic is generated through search engines like Google and Bing?
Google changes its algorithm every week, and generally by the time you get used to the “new rules”, it already moved on to the next update. What’s more, Google usually doesn’t announce these changes.
In 2021, they made great fanfare around the update they called Core Web Vitals.
When Google says something is “vital”, it pays to listen if you’d like to rank on Google.
Although they haven’t stated exactly when it will become extant (largely due to the pandemic), you can still be ready for when it eventually launches.
So what exactly is Google’s Core Web Vitals (CWV)?
CWV looks at three essential aspects of a website, and they include:
- Visual Stability
Let’s look at what these factors are all about in some high-level detail.
Basically, loading is all about how fast your website becomes visible to the visitor.
Website visitors are impatient. So ruthlessly impatient, that web developers have come up with the “3-second rule.”
If you don’t catch the users attention within 3 seconds, they’re gone. Maybe forever.
Some argue it’s 2 seconds, some say it’s 4 seconds, regardless — that’s hardly any time at all! Your website must be blazing fast.
What happens if your page doesn’t load within that time? Most likely, those potential visitors won’t come back, and Google won’t like (rank) you.
Page speed is something that can be improved with some customized techniques like caching, lazy loading of images, compressing of files, images and source code.
Page speed optimization is a whole topic unto itself, but suffice it to say, loading time can be decreased, resulting in an increase of love from the search engines.
How interactive is your website? This is a metric for both desktop and mobile.
How easily can visitors navigate through your website? These aspects are vital for your search engine rankings.
That’s why you need to audit your website constantly. The “one-and-done” approach to web design and interactivity is almost never enough.
For example, have you sent yourself a contact form from your website lately? How was the experience? Most likely, you can think of some ways it could be improved.
Using a Core Web Vitals report will give a deep analysis of how your website performs, what’s working, and what isn’t.
Google also recommends you use PageSpeed Insights. It provides an overview of how real-world users experience your page. Even better, it will help you with any issues you have.
How users interact with your website is crucial, and you will be sinning in the eyes of Google if you ignore interactivity.
This one is pretty straight-forward. But it’s all about your pages being less and less intrusive.
Is your page easily clickable?
Can it easily be navigated?
How many annoying pop-ups or reformatting resets do you subject your user to in order to help you capture a lead? The less, the better.
Stabilize your visitor’s experience with your website, and Google will like you better.
User Engagement And Search Intent
If you haven’t been focusing on search intent and user engagement, you need to start ASAP, as it’s going to be one of the main trends in SEO in 2021.
User engagement is nothing new, neither is search intent. However, the difference is the change in user behaviour.
In fact, it changes all the time, 2020 was a big lesson for that.
The pandemic changed consumer and search behaviour rapidly.
Search engines like Google and Bing are where people go when they want to look for something, want a question answered, or learn something.
While you might believe that your website is providing something of value, if it’s not what the searcher is looking for, it’s of no use.
You must always do your research, and be ready to cater to what they need.
Users will love you, and so will Google and Bing.
Build Your Online Reputation
Reputation is everything when it comes to online businesses, and bad reviews can damage your reputation for a very long time.
That’s why you need to demonstrate expertise, trustworthiness and authority, or as Google knows it, “EAT”.
Like I said, competition is fierce, and it’s only getting fiercer.
You have content, and that’s great. But the real question is it providing value?
Can users find the same value elsewhere? If so, you need to up your game.
AUTOMATION IS NO LONGER A THING OF THE FUTURE
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is set to make a huge impact on how people interact online.
According to research done by DataProt, 37% are already implementing AI.
If used correctly, AI can be a powerhouse for your SEO. There are so many benefits to using AI; it can help optimize your digital platforms, enhance your keyword search, and improve your link building opportunities.
It is projected that by 2025, the AI industry will be worth $118 billion.
That’s massive! The earlier you get in the game the better.
Video And Voice Recognition
Also on the subject of AI, voice recognition is set to be a big trend for SEO in 2021 and beyond.
Here’s a little fun fact: did you know that today, there are already 3 billion voice assistants in use?
Voice assistants have long advanced since Apple introduced us to Siri.
With Alexa Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home, millions of people are already engaging in voice search technology, and their popularity is only estimated to grow.
Video content is also booming, and there is no end in sight for the boom. The growth of YouTube and newer properties like TikTok is proof that video content is the way forward.
Often, a simple light-hearted video that represents your brand well is all you need. People love it, and with smartphone video quality as high as ever in 2021, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to do it.
The Bottom Line
Implementing these ideas on your website doesn’t mean you should abandon your other SEO strategies.
Backlinks are still important, and you definitely shouldn’t abandon them. Keywords also; in fact, any strategy that’s working for you, you should keep. However, you may wish to pay some additional attention to these new trends.
They will make a difference to your SEO strategy.
So, stay on top of the search engine optimization trends, do your research, and prepare for the rankings (and customers) that your business deserves.