Is it too early to predict the predominant SEO trends of 2022? I’ve worked in SEO for almost 15 years and spent a lot of time contemplating the direction Google is headed. As such, I don’t think it’s too early to make a few high-level predictions. Here are three things I feel confident saying about the state of SEO in the year to come.
Google introduced AMP technology back in 2015 to promote faster loading times on mobile devices. It soon started showing AMP-based web pages in the search results, especially for news searches. It seemed to be a good invention; Google caches your webpage, then shows the cached version of your page in the search results. These pages load fast, and users can access their content more conveniently.
However, SEOs noted some problems almost immediately. Even though you installed Google Analytics on those pages, tracking became problematic; the numbers were inflated or inaccurate because users interacted across two domains. Google provided some fixes for that, but these fixes were not necessarily all that great.
Another drawback of AMP was that it was aesthetically underwhelming. To make pages load faster, Google was forced to trim away certain design elements.
All that’s just to say that I think AMP technology is likely on its way out the door.
Hello User Experience & Web Page Usability
Google has always advocated for user-first web design and content development. But over the last few years, they have taken it to the next level and improved their ranking signals based on user experience. They have even added a section called Experience under Google Search Console, including Page Experience, Core Web Vitals, and Mobile Usability.
Core Web Vitals has been a hot topic ever since Google introduced it back in May 2020, and their last few core updates have had a heavy focus on page usability and experience. One was so evident that Google even called it Google’s page experience update. It started rolling out in June, and Google said it could continue to roll until the end of August 2021. In an announcement, Google stated:
“We’ll begin using page experience as part of our ranking systems beginning in mid-June 2021. However, page experience won’t play its full role as part of those systems until the end of August. You can think of it as if you’re adding a flavoring to a food you’re preparing. Rather than add the flavor all at once into the mix, we’ll be slowly adding it all over this time period.”
As you can see, Google continues to emphasize user and page experience signals, and I would not be surprised if we have more core updates along the same lines.
Machine Learning & AI Here to Stay
Traditionally, Google’s algorithm ranked a website based on a series of user signals, including onpage and offpage factors. Onpage were things such as meta tags, website architecture, and content. Offpage consisted mainly of backlink quantity and quality, and later, they looked at brand mentions and citations (NAP data).
That stuff is still critical to SEO success, but as AI has evolved and Google has hoarded data, their machine learning capabilities now play a more vital role in rankings.
Google has even detailed how it uses machine learning to improve search results. For example, Google says that users will soon be able to use Google Maps to assess how busy a particular establishment is, using what they call busyness metrics. Google has also announced its intentions to use machine learning to better distinguish news from misinformation.
The list of applications where Google uses machine learning and AI goes on. Moreover, they have been transparent about their willingness to invest more in machine learning and AI to improve user experience, so it is not too far-fetched to predict and expect more AI and machine learning-related Google updates in 2022.
What Can SEOs Do to Keep Up with Changes in 2022?
It’s essential to see where Google trends will go in 2022. Doing so is the only way SEOs can stay ahead of the game. If our predictions come true (and I’m very confident they will), SEOs must do a few things to stay ahead of the curve:
- Keep up with Technical SEO. We are often surprised how many brands, even top brands, neglect technical SEO. That usually happens because of limited development resources. In other words, the developers are working on “bigger projects” that are more noticeable to top management, owners, and stakeholders, so technical SEO often gets overlooked. Do what you have to make technical SEO a priority, take out your developers and project managers for happy hour or dinner if you have to, but make sure you are on top of all of your technical SEO items. Google Search Console is a great place to start looking at data. You can find technical SEO opportunities in Google Search Console under Index, Experience, Enhancements, and possibly Security & Manual Actions.
- Create Content for the user first but optimize for search engines. Good SEOs realize their content must be SEO optimized, and that means ensuring it has the right keywords and phrases in prominent locations. It also means all SEO tags are fully utilized. With that said, SEOs should also understand that content is written for users, not search engines, so content must appear valuable to end users. Suppose users’ impression of your content is poor. If that’s the case, Google’s machine learning algorithms will catch on and devalue the content. Hence, your organic rankings, traffic, and revenue may suffer.
- Look Closely at Analytics Data. What makes a good expert SEO consultant vs. an average one is that good SEOs don’t only rely on the industry news sites to find out what’s going on with Google updates and trends. They also evaluate their website data. Engagement metrics from Google Analytics can give valuable insights as to whether the website content is being well-received by users or not. Based on this information, content can be adjusted or refreshed to ensure better performance. Remember that Google is trying to deliver the best quality content to its users, and all their algorithms aim is to do just that. A good SEO expert should look at content performance closely to identify areas of opportunity for content enhancement and future content creation. Note: In Google Analytics, it is highly recommended to set up micro-moments (also known as micro-conversions), to understand users’ journeys, and to monitor core out-of-the-box metrics such as bounce rate and exit rate, just for starters.
Recap: 3 Important 2022 SEO Trends You Need to Know
In summary, based on current trends, we see three (3) critical changes that will come to pass in 2022: 1) The Google AMP project will go away, or at least support for it will fade; 2) User and page experience will play an even more critical role in SEO; and 3) Machine learning and AI adoption will evolve.
By implication, SEOs need to be on top of technical optimization as well as content development. Content needs to be created for the users first, then optimized for search engines. That means content needs to be well researched and constructed.
To learn more about any of these 2022 SEO predictions, we welcome you to contact our team of experts here at Sefati & Co.