The release of Core Web Vitals stole the show in 2021, with CLS monopolizing much of the SEO optimization conversation. In parallel with Core Web Vitals was Google’s launch of the new Page Experience algorithm. There was a broad core algorithm update earlier this month, as well as at least two additional more targeted updates — one for product content quality and one for how they handle spam.
And now, 2022 is around the corner and I’m predicting there will be more Google search changes in these next 12 months than ever before. Many of these trends support the direction Google has been heading for years, but the results of the Page Experience algorithm haven’t yet been fully seen.
Here are the must-know 2022 SEO trends for publishers:
Increased Quality Standards
Top results in Google will fully meet the needs of the user. A piece of content returned in the top placements must instantaneously supply the reader with the most accurate, useful and usable information. It must infer helpful sub-topics of related content that makes the user even more satisfied than they expected to be.
Competition amongst online content creators is too steep to not produce your absolute best every time you hit publish. One of the best things a publisher can do when writing a new post is Google the term and click around the top results. Perhaps most obvious is recipe content. Top results for recipe content continues to impress me. Less personal stories and added useless fluff preventing me from getting to the actual recipe, and more helpful tips, ingredient facts, and step by step instructions. Almost always a video tutorial to go with it.
User experience can’t be ignore. UX trends in 2021 were dedicated to mobile experience and included recommendations like increasing font size and padding between lines. Modules that suggest related content to the user, internal links and jump links all on the rise.
Again, familiarize yourself with top ranking sites in your niche, look at their content, images and accessibility. If what you’re producing doesn’t meet the same quality standards as what you see, you might as well not publish at all.
Search algorithms are largely powered by artificial intelligence. In earlier versions, understanding the intent of the user through the language they used, was challenging. The current AI technology (dubbed BERT) and the latest one in testing (called MUM) strives to understand the user’s feelings, context, abstractions and intent, from which it provides relevant answers to the user’s query.
In coming years, Google will continue to use ranking signals previously established to elevate top position rankings. This isn’t something to worry about, as long as you’re always at work publishing top quality content. Sites that seek to serve users with a smooth UX, accuracy and quality content in a timely manner will continue to be revealed in search results. Continue to focus on E-A-T.
Google’s goal is to provide the user with the most precise answer to their query, and if that answer can be found deep within a blog post, they will extract to the search engine result page (SERP). This began to appear in the wild earlier this year, but was recently given a name: Passage Ranking. Passage ranking is one example of the recent AI advances and speaks to the level of precision Google technology can achieve. This adds opportunity for your content to appear in very specific searches.
One of my strongest content recommendations for the coming year is to break articles up with heading tags. The heading tags themselves should be dedicated to SEO optimized phrases, relevant to the overall page context. Consider them sub-topics of the main topic and use them to create a more thoroughly comprehensive piece for the user.
In order for your content to appear in the search results, it must first discover it and this is referred to as indexing. Google relies on URLs, links and crawlers to essentially travel through the web, discovering new content. As well as sitemaps, and other technology-specific methods that allow Google to “see” your latest posts.
In the past, Google has been reliant on webmasters to distinguish what should — and should not — be indexed. They use bandwidth to crawl and re-crawl pages that may never be useful in the results. And due to the over-saturation of web content creation, they may not need to index every piece of content published each day.
With the planned indexing advances, like the IndexNow tag, Google will be able to better weed out what doesn’t need to be indexed.
Google understands user behavior and has seen all the data they need to indicate users find videos helpful and entertaining. Videos help explain processes in a more visual way and keep people on the page longer. Modern users are more likely to watch a video than read a long post in its entirety. Videos add value to content and to the user’s experience.
Videos have their own real estate in the search results and earlier this year, Google announced the addition of a new video structured data type that you can use to get added SERP exposure. This new markup seeks to showcase key moments throughout the video and is referred to as clip markup.
Watch our latest webinar on what direction SEO is heading in the coming year.
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