SEO changes every year, but several trends for 2022 are more significant than usual. Because of advances in technology and major changes in Google’s algorithm, SEO campaign strategies and tactics will almost certainly require major shifts in emphasis and additional personnel for creative, technical, and campaign management tasks. If you’re not convinced SEO is for you, look into some of the reasons why you should add SEO to your marketing strategy. Here are the most important trends to have on your SEO radar now.
1. Optimize for Core Web Vitals (CWV)
CWV is Google’s most aggressive attempt yet to associate rankings with user experience (UX) as well as content. Websites with fast-loading pages, fast user interaction processes, and other site features deemed by Google to be of vital importance to UX will see improved rankings — whereas sites testing poorly in these areas may see a drop. Fortunately, Google is explicit in explaining its CWV approach and advising webmasters on appropriate optimization steps. Confirming that your website performs well versus CWV standards should be a high priority for 2022. Looking beyond next year, Google will most likely expand CWV to consider many other UX-related issues. This means that starting now, SEO teams should be involved in routine website updates, website refresh projects, and most important of all, website rebuilds.
2. Long-Form Content Is King
In 2021 online publishers began showing a decided preference for long-form content (1,000-3,000+ words), which has major implications for SEO content produced for link-building campaigns. In the past, articles of 300-500 words were routinely accepted by authoritative publishing sites; going forward, word counts will be three to five times greater and thus require much heftier copywriting and copyediting budgets. Beyond article marketing, long-form content has been shown to improve rankings for target on-site pages. This stands to reason since with all other things being equal, Google bots favor the page with greater substance. Allocating time to expand content on target site pages is a must for 2022.
3. Create Content that Demonstrates Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness
Over the past few years, Google has improved its ability to evaluate content quality, and its quality guidelines are extensive, to say the least. To simplify matters, SEO content must conform to the “E-A-T” principle of demonstrating expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. These quality factors have always been important in SEO campaigns for conversions, but heading into 2022, they will influence rankings as well. Thus, SEO campaigns must produce not only more content (see #2 above), but also better content. Incidentally, E-A-T principles apply to other aspects of SEO as well, including the need for authoritative backlinks, credibility elements on-site, and strong website privacy policies and privacy statements.
4. Ethical Link Building Is the Only Link Building
That Google has been punishing unethical link building for several years is no secret, and there’s no sign Google will be taking its foot off the gas in 2022. A recent Google update warned webmasters about affiliate links, sponsored links, sponsored guest posts — as well as implemented process improvements to fight all sorts of link spam. Black hat link-building tactics must go by the wayside in 2022, along with brown hat and tan hat efforts! The only type of link building that will get the desired results and, in some cases, avoid penalties is ethical, white hat link building campaigns. Google provides guidance on this issue here. One note of stability in the radically new SEO environment of 2022: ethical link-building techniques will continue to focus on the production and marketing of high-quality content to relevant and authoritative publishers.
5. Voice Search Will Gain Traction
Technology has progressed to the point where voice search is convenient and reliable enough to attract B2B as well as consumer search engine users. Since people speak differently than they write, keyword selection will need careful review. For businesses already experiencing a detectable volume of voice search traffic, or where there is potential to capture it, new keywords will need to be added to the campaign, increasing campaign complexity and cost. However, adapting keywords — and on-site content — to voice search terminology and language patterns could produce substantial improvements in traffic and conversions.
6. Concentrate on Featured Snippets
Google continually changes the layout of its SERPs (search engine results pages), but featured snippets seem now to be a permanent fixture at the top. These snippets of text offer the best possible exposure for organic links and should be carefully optimized for all targeted pages of the website. Common formats for featured snippets are paragraphs of text, lists, and tables. For pages already performing well, featured snippets can produce substantial increases in click-through rates (CTR).
7. Put More Emphasis on Brand SERP
Brand SERP, or how your company appears in SERPs for branded searches, is now getting the recognition it has long deserved. If your brand is invisible or barely visible in SERPs, your brand will lack credibility, a crucial factor in winning clicks and conversions. Perhaps worse, by ceding ground in branded searches to your competitors, you give away sales that were originally intended for you. Make sure branded keywords are prioritized in your keyword strategy and monitor their performance carefully. Also, keep an eye on competitors to verify they are not using your branded keywords as part of their campaigns. Another important way to optimize brand SERP is to have and fully optimize a company profile page on ‘Google My Business’. If you haven’t done so already, make GMB a priority for 2022, especially if you have a local search campaign(s) underway.
8. Capitalize on Video Content
Video content continues to grow in popularity among consumers and business buyers alike. Video is convenient, especially on mobile devices, where reading large amounts of text is particularly laborious. In addition, video is engaging and highly effective for conveying the features and benefits of complex products and services. Creating and optimizing video content opens the door to substantial increases in organic traffic from YouTube and video search on Google — better yet, video traffic may produce higher conversions, which is always where the SEO focus should be. Video production can get expensive and is time-consuming on the creative end, which is why many SEO campaigns have avoided a serious effort in the past. Going into 2022, the benefits of video for many organizations will clearly outweigh the drawbacks and offer an opportunity to produce healthy gains in ROI.
9. Use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Improve SEO Results
AI made strong advances in content marketing this year and will be used much more extensively in 2022 to formulate content strategies and generate topics. SEO campaign managers can incorporate AI technologies to conduct keyword research, create on-site content architecture and hierarchies, target on-site and off-site content to buyers, analyze website traffic, analyze conversions based on various types of segmentation, and produce granular reports in real-time. These capabilities support rapid, continuous improvement of campaigns and will improve ROI, especially for campaigns having a large scope.
2022 Will Be Different
Put all these nine trends together, and you can easily see why 2022 will not be “just more of the same” for SEO. There are a lot of misconceptions of what SEO can and cannot do, but one thing is for sure. If your campaign is strong, and if you can stay up-to-date with all the latest happenings in the field, your company will feel the benefits of greater outreach.
It would also be helpful to look into some of the reasons why SEO projects fail and study those mistakes to better aid you in your own campaign. Companies will have to cultivate improvements on both the creative and technical sides of their SEO campaigns. More writing and better-quality writing will be a high priority and implementing AI (to one degree or another) will be helpful if not imperative for developing strategies and interpreting results.