In digital marketing, expecting the unexpected is just the nature of the job; you need to adapt, innovate and remain relevant at the same time, making any website owner's role a juggling act. For business owners, it means learning even more about the space and trying to keep up with it all, but that’s truly exciting – there’s never a dull moment.
Thanks to constant changes and fluctuations in consumer behavior, technology, and real-world events, we get to chip away in a field where no two days are the same. For most of us, that means understanding the trends that come with it, with search engine optimization (SEO) one of the most evolving elements of digital marketing altogether.
Due to the nature of this marketing technique, understanding how search engine algorithms work and change over time means knowing the latest advancements to hit the market. But when you’re already trying to run your business or keep tabs on your marketing campaigns, this is a challenge. So, we’re rounding up the biggest and most important SEO trends you NEED TO KNOW for 2022 in this helpful article:
Hold up – what is search engine optimization (SEO)?
If you’ve dabbled in marketing before, this term is nothing new to you. In fact, you’re probably sick of hearing it altogether. But that’s because it’s really that important.
Search engine optimization – aka SEO – is a technique designed to increase your rankings on platforms like Google, Bing, or Yahoo!. The main goal is to overtake your competitors in search engine results pages (SERPs) and gain more organic traffic as a result, leading to increased conversions and profitability.
The tricky part about using SEO strategies in your marketing suite is that it constantly changes. Search engines use algorithms to ensure SERPs are the most accurate they can be for users. When consumer behavior and trends continue to shift, algorithms change to match the demand. For example, with the rise of voice search, Google tweaked its algorithm to be more in line with this activity.
The main difference between SEO and any other form of digital marketing – like pay-per-click advertising on Google Ads or Facebook – is that it’s not a quick fix. That means you can’t roll it out in a week and expect instant results; it takes time, patience, and consistency. Once you hit the mark for returned results, though, they’re endless, and often last the long term. (If you continue your campaign.)
With 61% of online experiences starting with a Google search, there’s no wonder SEO continues to be a popular tactic for brands and marketers the world over.
Now that you know a little more about SEO’s nitty-gritty details, here are the biggest trends you’ll need to keep an eye on in this space for 2022.
#1. Artificial intelligence will impact SEO
For most of us, AI is nothing new in our lives; we use it to get places via Google Maps or ask Siri the hard questions about life. It’s all around us in the world we live in today, and SEO is already well and truly in the depths of it, too.
Right now, we’re seeing AI rise up for use in how users ask for answers – like through voice search or Google Lens – but also in the way SEO is carried out by brands. Platforms like Surfer SEO, Jasper, and MarketMuse are making it easier than ever before to optimize website content, generate material with a click of a button and target the most influential keywords for your topic.
Looking at it this way, and how competitive the market is becoming, it’s easy to suggest that AI is a must for SEO in 2022, not just a convenience. Imagine trying to compete with a competitor who is using a range of AI tools to extract crucial data, create content and target profitable keywords – doing it manually would keep you lagging behind.
Finally, AI is redefining the way users Google search for the information they need in their day to day. Most notably, voice search has taken over, with the ability to ask Google, Alexa, or Siri for an answer on something and have the AI conduct the entire search for you. That means brands need to ensure their content appeals to this activity, with clear, concise, and answer-focused material that increases the likelihood of being the go-to for voice search queries.
And on that, let’s look a little deeper into voice search as it stands.
Getting vocal with voice search
We all have our favorite – whether it’s Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, or Apple’s Siri. And we probably rely on them more than we like to admit, complemented by the fact that the percentage of households owning a smart speaker in 2022 now sits at 55%. In 2018, that figure was only 13%.
People from all walks of life are talking to their smartphones and smart speakers to get on-demand answers – from directions to recipes, weather updates, and sports scores. All of this will only continue to increase in popularity, as our AI tools become the Robin to our Batman.
Additionally, the way these voice searches are conducted will continue to change, too. For example, brands have already had to refocus their content to cater to the fact that people tend to abbreviate when typing, making keyword research and targeting longer phrases a key priority. Why? Because that’s exactly how we tend to talk in reality, rather than in one-word spurts.
#2. Optimize podcast show notes for SEO
Now that SEO is more multi-modal than ever before, repurposing content in various ways is an absolute must. For example, more and more brands are using videos as stepping stones for written guides, while others are taking full-length clips and turning them into social media snippets.
Likewise, you can do the same with your podcast efforts. By creating a show that you regularly air, you’re already building a massive amount of content. You may as well put it to good use by turning them into blog posts, which are both great for SEO and also a handy resource for website visitors that may not listen to podcasts in their routine.
So how do you repurpose your podcast?
Turn your transcript into an entire blog post, complete with an intro, sub-headings, screenshots, visuals, internal and external links, and comment sections. You’ll need to include everything you already expect to see in a blog post on your website, incorporating all of the features we’ve just listed as a way to turn it into a well-rounded piece. From there, you can link back to your podcast, so that those who might prefer to listen to it know exactly where to find it – or you’ll just spark more subscribers. (And that’s always a win.)
#3. Core web vitals optimization
It’s not news that Core Web Vitals (CWV) are a big part of any SEO strategy, but it’s definitely becoming more integral as time goes on. In 2022, you can expect this to become more of a priority, as optimizing CWV continues to be a solid trend.
In particular, three primary focus points are already being prioritized by webmasters and brands the world over. These three vitals are:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
In Core Web Vitals, the largest content element in the viewport is measured as the largest contentful paint (LCP). By detecting when the main content of the page has been rendered, it can be used to determine when the page is done loading. Slow server response times are the most common cause of poor LCPs
First Input Delay (FID)
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
This metric is calculated by summing all layout shifts that aren't the result of user interaction. The CLS calculates the proportion of the viewport that has been impacted by layout shifts and the distance traveled by elements that have moved.
Overall, choosing to improve your Core Web Vital scores across all of your pages is known to give you plenty of perks, including positive results across Google search rankings. While Google still prioritizes other factors – like the quality of your content – keep an eye on these elements is still a massive part of building a successful SEO strategy, not to mention ensuring your users have a hassle-free experience when visiting your website.
#4. ‘People Also Ask’ section
We’re sure you’ve Googled something before and seen those nifty drop-down accordions serving up relevant answers to your burning questions. They look a bit like this:
This section of SERPs is known as ‘People Also Ask’ and is a relatively new feature added by the search engine giant as a way to give users on-demand, real-time information. Rather than sifting through website after website to find their answer, users can see important details relevant to their query by interacting with these drop-down boxes.
Actually, more than 44% of search results now come with these featured snippets, so your chances of never seeing them before now are slim to none.
But to land a featured snippet is a bit trickier than just answering the question in your content. Anyone can do that. What you’ll need to focus on is optimizing your content for relevant questions that tend to show up for multiple high-volume keywords.
This is exactly the method used for pinpointing the most beneficial questions to build material around, as a majority of the time, People Also Ask questions tend to be on the lower side of search volume when you look them up as individuals.
How do you find these questions? It’s not as complicated as it sounds:
Find pages that are ranking for many keywords
Collect all of their People Also Ask questions
Look for the most common or popular questions
Ensure you’re not already ranking for it (you’re not the source)
See whether you can actually rank (is it too high in keyword difficulty?)
Optimize your page as you would for any other keyword, for this long-tail/question.
At the end of the day, it’s all about providing answers to common questions in your content, but by using strategy to define which of those questions you put effort into.
#5. Schema markup
Still not widely known, schema markup is another big trend in SEO for 2022. By giving your pages and content more structured data and rich snippets (and formatting) you increase the likelihood of appearing in prime real estate on SERPs – like People Also Ask
.Source: Neil Patel
Because Google’s algorithms are continuing to favor user-focused experiences, optimizing your content to appeal to these parts of SERPs can be just as beneficial as ranking in the top 10 search results on the first page. And that’s exactly why these appearances are called ‘Position 0’.
Luckily, there is typically an easy, go-to formula you can use to create structured data for any page on your website:
Use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper to build your schema
Choose the ‘Type of Data’ most appropriate for your needs
Paste in the URL to be mark-uped
Choose which elements to mark up
Keep adding more markup elements
Generate the HTML
Add the markup to your page.
#6. Emergence of long-form content: A.K.A, Google EAT
Google EATs quality content right up. Okay, all kidding aside, EAT stands for:
This acronym is actually the official guideline used by Google to observe and crawl web pages and assess the content quality. It’s what its bots use to define high-quality content from low-quality content. In actual factor, this rule of thumb has been active for more than 7 years, but it wasn't until 2015 that Google officially announced these criteria, due to a leak of its guidelines online.
Fast-forward to 2022 and EAT is still a huge part of SEO strategy. In reality, it’s probably more of a priority than it ever has been, with brands and marketers continuing to prioritize quality content over other aspects of their SEO campaigns.
Additionally, choosing to create longer-form content never ceases to bring around more and more benefits for the brand by investing time and attention into it. From more natural backlinks to users spending more time on the page, the benefits for SEO and overall marketing are infinite. Plus, it’s been proven that longer content means better SEO rankings:
Source: Neil Patel
Not sure what you’ll need to do to create EAT content? Google defines its values in this area pretty well in one, single sentence:
“Websites and pages should be created to help users.”
Keep that in mind when building content and you’ll tap into the trend of creating user-centric, high-quality content that solves problems.
#7. Industry-specific ranking factors
This one is commonly forgotten for brands and websites that are newer to the SEO field. A big part of this technique is incorporating local SEO tactics into your strategy, allowing your niche business to be seen among competitors in your industry, in your direct vicinity.
For example, industry-specific ranking factors include aspects such as backlinks, citations, Google My Business, social signals and more. Think of them as ‘proof of your business’s offering’ and the general word-of-mouth consensus from the public who have come into contact with you before.
Understanding user/search intention
Any successful SEO strategy needs to consider the user intent behind the original search query.
While it’s all well and good to optimize your pages and create content that targets a specific keyword, you need to consider why an audience chose it in the first place – are they after a service right now, or are they in need of guidance to get started on a particular topic? Not everyone is ready to convert right in the moment they Google something, so you’ll need to keep their intent in mind at all times.
Source: Loves Data
In 2022, this trend is becoming even more of a priority, with the insight to look beyond keywords in their raw form and focus on search intent more intelligent a massive part of well-built SEO campaigns.
Plus, with Google’s Multitask Unified Model (MUM) and coinciding algorithm update already in full swing (an improvement on its 2019 update BERT and RankBrain), this task has never been more important. This combines with the rise of Natural Language Processing (NLP) in algorithms, where the bots are more able to understand the natural way humans speak and write.
So how can you look further into search intent over general keyword targeting?
A note on Google's MUM
Consider the fact that Google’s MUM algorithm is 1000 times more powerful than BERT and is capable of multitasking, enabling it to analyze video, images, and text in more than 75 languages at a time. It can then return users' answers and results without any language barriers, no matter how complex the original search query was.
To appeal to MUM as a Google ranking factor, understanding semantic search intent is a must. Because it can combine various aspects of a search query and comprehend the sentiments, context, entities, and intent of the user, your strategy needs to do exactly the same.
Research your audience and their biggest pain points, then research them again. Ensure you have a bright and clear picture of what they need, desire, and demand so that you can target the most beneficial keywords possible.
#8. Localization of SEO strategies
We managed to slide it in above, but Google My Business deserves a section of its own here. The localization of SEO in 2022 means your website will need to prioritize its optimizations in this regard too.
In a time where there’s still widespread uncertainty and political events occurring, knowing whether businesses are open or how they are operating is crucial. And that’s exactly where Google My Business comes in – by providing users with the contact and trading information they need about providers/retailers in their area.
These listings also include:
Up-to-date business hours in real-time
Busy periods and times of day to visit
Map and directions.
Plus, you can even post updates that relate to your operations or special offers, so you can inform your customers of any important changes in your business.
#9. Video SEO gets an upgrade
Let us throw this SEO statistic at you: there are 800 million YouTube videos out there, with 37 million active channels – and counting. With this activity in mind, it's no surprise that video SEO is becoming more of a ‘thing’.
For 2022 and beyond, and with the rise of Google’s MUM algorithm favoring video snippets in SERPs, optimizing your video content for SEO is a biggie. It’s no longer just about ensuring your written content is up there on the first page, you’ll need to do your very best to blast your video content out there too.
How? By following these steps:
As always, choose a focus keyword. A tool like Keywords Everywhere can be helpful here.
Optimize your title and description.
Choose appropriate tags.
Write an engaging and exciting script.
Create longer-form videos
Use gestures and techniques to keep people watching.
Promote engagement – i.e. ‘Click subscribe/like to…’
Use an engaging and eye-catching thumbnail.
Build backlinks just like you would for your content.
Spread and promote your video content on social media.
Include closed captions. (This is a must!)
By the way, video is even getting two new dedicated structured data updates from Google for this content hosted on your website. There’s also the alternative option for videos hosted through YouTube. Both of these are called Key Moments and it’s likely you’ve already seen these snippets appear in search results. Here’s how to optimize them according to your format:
Clip structured data: Define the start and end of each segment, as well as its label.
SeekToAction structured data: Provide Google with your URL structure so that it can automatically identify key moments and link users to them.
In the description of your YouTube video, you can specify the exact timestamps and labels.
Remember, as we mentioned above, you can use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper to get you started and test your optimizations as you go.
#10. Mobile SEO is as important as ever
Think Mobilegeddon is so 2017? Like it or not, it’s not over and likely never will be. As consumers, we tend to live more on our mobile devices than on our desktops, so naturally, optimizing SEO strategies for this trend makes sense.
For 2022, we recommend keeping a keen eye on how mobile-friendly your content is, alongside ensuring your website design allows for the best possible experience on mobile devices. This includes optimizing:
A separate mobile version of your site
Mobile Google indexing
Page load times.
NOTE: Don't neglect traditional SEO!
While all of these new and exciting SEO trends for 2022 are tempting and definitely worth pouring time and money into, it’s important to not lose sight of traditional SEO and its efforts. At the end of the day, you’re choosing to invest in this technique because you want to improve your search visibility, website traffic, and sales through exposure on search engines like Google. That means you don’t entirely have to reinvent the wheel.
So, by incorporating the above important SEO trends with your classic campaign (we’re not talking old-school, black-hat techniques), you can enjoy an innovative and up-to-scratch strategy that covers all bases possible.
What boxes does traditional SEO tick, you ask?
Just as EAT favors credibility and authority in content, overall high-quality material will always see some kind of benefit in your Google search results rankings. If you put the time and energy into developing content that answers questions and guides users, you’ll never cease to amaze yourself with consistent website traffic, rankings, and increased conversions.
They’ve been a contentious topic of late but backlinks are still well and truly alive in the SEO space. However, focusing on collecting and earning high-authority backlinks is more of the priority, rather than choosing ‘link schemes’ and ‘link farms’ to buy a whole package of low-quality ones. Google doesn’t like poor content, and links are no exception.
Going hand in hand with your off-page efforts, on-page SEO looks at everything that appears on your website – from content to image SEO alt text, to page speed and load times and more. Ensure you’re giving the best possible user experience by building out all of these elements carefully, with no hiccups disrupting how your target audience interacts with your page.
Consider this the optimization of all the factors that allow a search engine spider to crawl your website. This includes navigation, sitemapping, structure, and even server optimizations. All of this combines to create a seamless path for these ‘bots’ to follow and map out your website, allowing them to understand what you’re all about. A poor technical SEO strategy means you won’t be indexed properly, or at all.
Like anything to do with search engines, there's a lot to get your head around when it comes to staying on top of trends and user behavior. Whether it's understanding voice search technology or choosing to rank web pages through a multi-modal focus, 2022 is the time to diversify your SEO strategy.
Need a hand streamlining all of this? Our experts are here to help you maximize your Google rankings and dominate SEO trends now and in the future. Get in touch now for a free digital audit and no-obligation chat.