SEO Trends 2022
As every year, hundreds of articles on digital marketing trends and predictions flood the news sections. The slightest mention of Google's algorithm captures the attention of SEO professionals, although the reality is that in recent months we have not witnessed any disruptive changes. The reason for this becomes obvious once we review the "news", as they all follow in the wake of the previous year (and the year before that, and the year before that...). Google has made it pretty clear, but are we listening?
What do search engines want, and especially Google?
This is the million-dollar question. Search engines work as follows: they crawl all the links available to them, create a huge index and decide by means of a secret algorithm how to sort what they have found. When you search for something, the search engine in question will offer you the links that best match your request. If you search for "bluetooth headphones", it will be quick to show you headphones that connect to other devices using this technology. Simple, isn't it?
It goes without saying that every webmaster would like their website to be chosen and to appear often, if possible above the competition. In this way, they will get visits that can bring them profit and, with this goal in mind, they optimise the site by trying to appeal to the search engines. This is the big mistake. Neither Google nor the other search engines want you to optimise your website for the search results algorithm, no, they want you to optimise it for the user. "Our mission is to organise the world's information and make it useful and accessible to everyone" - Google.
The dreaded search changes help Google learn about the relevance of its results. In this way it is able to refine its product. More and more effort is being put into deciphering the user's query and providing a good search experience. So, does a website with a good structure, quality content and targeting the right keywords have to worry? Not really.
Pay attention to these "new developments", but don't forget that an SEO strategy should not be short term. 180º changes only frustrate SEO specialists, because if there is one thing that is clear in the world of SEO, it is that quality comes first and no trend should radically alter the course of your strategy. That is, as long as you are working according to the most basic principles of search engine optimisation.
Artificial intelligence and search intent: MUM
It is no surprise that Google wants to continue to rely on artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve. The BERT algorithm refined the search system by considering the context and nuances of queries. Now they want to interpret even sentiments and abstractions through a language processing and interpretation model that breaks down language barriers: MUM (Multitask Unified Model). Not only that, they want MUM to be able to manage the various formats and offer you an answer to something that you had not even formulated explicitly. In other words, they are presenting us with a future multilingual, multitask and multimodal algorithm.
Is this clear to you? Of course not, because it has not yet been implemented and we only have the examples provided by Google itself:
Example of how MUM focuses on search intent
If we wanted to know if our mountain equipment is suitable for climbing a particular peak, having conquered the summit of other similar peaks, we would need about 8 Google searches to get the idea. First, we would check the altitude, the difficulty, the temperature in the season we are in... but if we were to ask an experienced hiker instead of Google, we would only ask one question. We would perhaps show them a picture of our boots and say: "Is this enough to climb next Sunday?
If you think about it, Google has more information than the mountaineer, who may not have been lucky enough to climb in recent years. The problem is that, until now, he was not able to fully exploit it. Perhaps one person published his experience on that same mountain in Japanese. Surely there is a list of boots classified according to the difficulty of the terrain, but of course that information can be found on another blog. With MUM, Google will decipher the complex question and provide you with the answer, despite the fragmented nature of the information, in the original language and adding a series of related tips or subtopics. This, in theory.
But enough of MUM, what do we take away from this potential breakthrough? Well, we need to respond to the user's search intent in the best possible way.
This post is titled "SEO Trends 2022" and if you've arrived through an organic search you probably expect to find a list of trends, a brief explanation enlivened with examples and, best of all, an infographic that summarises them. Omitting any of these elements would probably result in a disappointed reader abandoning the site, and this is a metric we want to avoid.
More than a few webmasters have noticed that Google modified their <meta title> in the SERP in an attempt to better match the topic to the relevant search. We want the user to enter, stay and move around our site: clearly define the content and encourage them to stay!
E-A-T and Quality content
The advent of BERT encouraged more attention to the semantic part of on-page SEO. However, in many cases this was misinterpreted, resulting in the generation of insubstantial content geared exclusively towards SEO. Product sheets and blogs quickly filled up with paragraphs from other sites, generic content that didn't add much. Not only that: if a lie repeated 50 times becomes the truth, what happens to a piece of information that is copied over and over again with slight variations? The results page was filling up with "rehashes", damaging quality and veracity. Google was quick to tighten the E-A-T guideline.
E-A-T (Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness) is not a recognised ranking factor, but it has a huge impact depending on the nature of the query. For YMYL ("Your money or your life") topics, where truthful information is crucial, it is important to be an expert on the subject, have a good reputation and demonstrate accuracy. This means that if you are a transparent page and write about a topic in your area of expertise, backed up by reliable citations or positive reviews, Google will consider your content over content that does not meet these requirements.
Offering visual content that you scroll through with your thumb in a continuous scroll
However, this year the trend in SEO copywriting is to publish long articles of up to 3,000 words or to add lots and lots of text at the end of the page. In fact, we have argued that it is once again about providing unique and valuable content. What's more, we're trying to respond to a specific search intent, which can take a single paragraph. Don't focus so much on word count and leave the writing to a professional who is passionate about the topic and can provide something fresh and well-structured.
Visual content: images, videos and infographics
Google wants the SERPs to be more visual and intuitive. If we look at the feed of the main social networks, we can see a certain similarity: all of them offer visual content that you scroll through with your thumb in a continuous scroll. With the introduction of Google Discover, images and videos take on a new role in this direction. On the other hand, Google Lens also promotes the use of photos in e-commerce and continues to be refined year after year.
Image optimisation used to be included in the vital metrics section, but perhaps we should emphasise it a little more. It's no longer just about uploading a compressed image that doesn't weigh as much as a baby whale so as not to slow down web loading: original photos, marked and included in the sitemap could hit the right key to improve page ranking.
For example, for informative search terms - which account for 60% of the total according to a SEMrush report - Google shows us numerous infographics in its "Images" section. In a content generation strategy, considering infographics can be very interesting both for the value they provide to the user and for the relevance given to them by search engines.
We should not forget that YouTube is owned by Google and increasingly understands video content, indicators that for sure will be part of audiovisual content.
Highlights and local SEO
Featured snippets produce mixed feelings among the SEO community. On the one hand, being highlighted by Google in "position zero" is a fantastic shortcut that differentiates you from the competition at a glance. On the other hand, the user can read the data he or she was interested in and leave without entering the page, thus not registering a visit.
Despite the suspicion of losing visits due to the "zero clicks" phenomenon, knowing that Google has not only indexed your content, but is promoting it, is a very good sign.
Being aware of how featured snippets work will help you to write content that is more oriented to stand out, that is, to be understood by the user: you can pose short answer questions, introduce informative images, use enumerations... Make it easy!
We include local SEO in this section because the first positions of the SERP, especially the top position, are being occupied in many cases by local content. Taking care of and improving the business listing in Google Business Profile is as important as considering a good local strategy that starts with the language and area to be served.
Clean SEO strategy: watch out for linkbuilding
Google is against black hat SEO and penalises it heavily. As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, the goal of optimisations is to appeal to the user and not to the algorithm. If you are using dirty tricks, you can draw a target on the HOME page and wait patiently for the next update to knock you down.
Linkbuilding has always been a key element of off-page SEO, but also a controversial one. The reason is that Google values inbound links to your site, judging the relevance of a web page by them, but penalises unnatural patterns. In other words, receiving links can either improve your ranking, or it can bring it down. On top of that, you can be penalised years after buying links. The risk of paid linkbuilding intimidates many, but the fruits of a well-executed strategy often encourage people to take the plunge.
John Mueller openly admitted that links were part of the algorithm in 2015, although even then he advised against focusing a ranking strategy on link buying. It is highly likely that Google will continue to detect suspicious patterns and penalise for them this year, as it becomes easier and easier for them to spot spam. Mueller recently stated in an interview about link building:
“So I think first of all, like you probably recognized, artificially building links, dropping links on other sites, buying links, all of that is against the webmaster guidelines. And we take action on that algorithmically, we take action on that manually. And the actions that we take include demoting the site that is buying the links, demoting the site that is selling the links. Sometimes we also take more subtle action in that we just ignore all of those links”.
The recommendation in 2022 is to act prudently and take care of your link profile without taking big risks
Remember that there are sponsored and user-created ("ugc") link attributes that are equivalent to a "nofollow". It will not convey authority, but it will avoid a penalty and is a good way to balance your ratio of dofollow and nofollow links.
The recommendation in 2022 is to act prudently and take care of your link profile without taking big risks: Have you considered linkbaiting, advertorials or collaborations?
User experience (UX) and SEO: SXO
Come on, we'll say it again: we want the user to have the best possible experience on the site. We want them to find what they are looking for, leave us with what we were looking for and leave without slamming the door.
For some time, we have been obsessed with vital metrics, making sure that pages load fast and do not confuse or annoy the visitor with scrolling elements or intrusive pop-ups. However, the user experience goes far beyond a front page that loads in milliseconds: regardless of the device from which they access it, they should enjoy a smooth navigation, appreciate the attractive design of the website, interact with the page...
UX should be considered at all times, so that the structure of your page is intuitive and coherent. When considering where to place a CTA (Call to Action) or deciding on the number of subcategories in the menu, we must do so from an SXO perspective.
Google already introduced tools for mobile optimisation and on-page experience last year, so in 2022 we can add "mobile page experience" to the to-do list.
"Languages, my dear"
MUM will be able to transcend languages thanks to automatic translation, which does not mean that SEO strategies differentiated according to country and language lose relevance. In fact, semantically related keywords gain importance, which is transferred to the other languages into which you have translated your page. Perhaps the keyword "rustic land" alone is too ambitious for your content, but "house in rustic land problems" nailed. But will you be able to encapsulate that search intent in another language?
With the proliferation of language plugins, many e-commerce sites are happily considering translating their site. This decision should not be taken lightly, just as we would not decide to export in a hurry.
Translating the site with the help of multi-language tools seems simple on paper: if I've already worked on my site for Spanish, why not translate it into Portuguese, Italian and Norwegian, while we're at it? After all, the main keyword should be the same in all these languages and I'll be scraping visibility, right? Well, no. A large and complex site requires maintenance, effort and a multilingual support service. If you don't have a well-defined strategy, it's better to think about it.
Translating means interpreting. We have already made it clear that having a copywriter with SEO knowledge is very beneficial when it comes to generating quality content. Now we emphasise the importance of translators and interpreters. Each geographical area means a variation in the language and you need a person who is able to adapt the terminology, convey the same message with the right expressions and, in short, convey the quality of the text.
Anglicisms are accepted
In the field of languages, anglicisms raise questions: will I be confusing Google if I use an English term in my Spanish content, what if I include it in the URL, can I make an anglicism my main keyword?
In certain sectors, English terms have become fashionable. In addition, alternating the keyword in both languages, as if they were synonyms, helps us to make the reading more pleasant and orientate each heading, avoiding keyword stuffing. Fortunately, Google has commented that anglicisms do not harm or confuse the crawler. In fact, their tools, such as the Keyword Planner, show us the monthly search volume for the term in both languages:
Google understands that Spanish speakers in Spain search for "Team Building", so it will show them your post titled "Team Building: more important than ever in times of teleworking" without any problems.
Data, data and more data
With the new generation of Google Analytics and the focus on data management (I'm sure you've already read about "Big Query" in the Linkedin feed), analytics is becoming more important this year.
Web analytics and SEO have always gone hand in hand. It is common to find professional profiles that combine knowledge in analytics and search engine optimisation, as not all businesses or agencies have separate departments to develop both functions. In any case, every SEO specialist has an assorted repertoire of tools - some free, some paid - from which to obtain data on actions and their effect on the strategy. Whether in an EXCEL spreadsheet or an ad-hoc tool, taking note of each change and measuring the effect is essential for perfecting an SEO strategy. Hunching is no good in this area, and measures that work in one e-commerce may not work in another, so experience only goes so far.
Trends that are no longer trends: Technical SEO and voice search
What happened to the AMP mobile version? Why isn't my site appearing at the top if it's the fastest in the Wild West? What do I have to implement now?
Taking care of technical SEO is fundamental to the functioning of a website - choosing hosting, optimising XML sitemaps, configuring meta robots tags... - but we can't talk about trends in this area. The Googlebot continues to improve and crawl errors are decreasing. In the absence of new developments, it remains to say that having a technically flawless site still requires a good semantic strategy: having the best LPC score does not mean that you are going to take off to the first page, only that you have the car ready to go.
Fortunately, the buzz around the AMP version has died down. Google has removed the lightning bolt icon that used to accompany AMP results on mobile and no longer highlights them in the Top Stories section. We can relax and celebrate that a veil has been drawn over the issue.
As for voice search, which was given so much hype in the last 3 years, it does not seem to be making progress for "classic search". In fact, although voice search is on the rise and Google has announced advances in LaMDA AI, most searches in 2021 were limited to 1 or 2 words. It is unlikely that they will surprise us this 2022.