Businesses have faced significant difficulties over the past two years, and many are hopeful that 2022 will bring a fresh start.

You may be planning your marketing strategy for the new year currently, which means you’ll have to consider your content and SEO approach.

The following are some things to consider as far as SEO trends in 2022, what you should be integrating into plans, and how you can grow your business through your approach to content marketing.

The Challenges

Before you can start to plan the specifics of your strategy, it’s good to grasp what the challenges are going to be.

Some of the challenges most likely to arise in 2022 include:

Content Creation

Citing content creation as a challenge may sound pretty broad, but what we mean here is that content and keywords are increasingly competitive. There are tens of millions of results for many of the things people search for, making it harder for you to be distinctive.

There are more than one billion blogs and only 7.9 billion people in the world, according to Neil Patel, which can provide you with some perspective.

That means there’s about one blog for every 7.9 people. So, what can you do? The biggest priority to keep in mind is writing content that’s different from everything else out there.

Your perspective and your approach are the things you have that no other blog can replicate. For example, maybe you rely on your experiences or expertise when you write. Give your content a voice rather than regurgitating everything else out there.

Talk directly to your audience rather than generalizing your tone.

Hiring Great Writers

This challenge in SEO and content creation speaks to the challenge above. In the past maybe your writers were generalists who were good at conducting research. They might not have put much of their original voice into their writing, however.

Now, your writers need to be authoritative and personal in how they come across to meet the above challenge.

Mobile-First Strategy

Your approach can’t be mobile-friendly. It has to be mobile-first if you want to capture the constantly expanding mobile market. This may mean that you have to undergo some changes in your site design and how you approach content creation.

For example, large videos and images are going to take longer for your mobile users to load.

Are you writing in a way that works well on a mobile device and still lets your audience get your key points?

Rankings Don’t Always Mean Traffic

A challenge you might have noticed in recent years is that just because you have content ranking well, it doesn’t mean traffic is increasing. The concept may have worked in the past, but it doesn’t now. For example, even if you rank well in search results, the initial positions include ads, so you’re buried under those.

You need to rise to the challenge by changing the metrics you assess. Your goal should be to improve your click-through rate rather than just considering being at the top of search results.

Bad Tactics to Avoid

Some bad habits can stick around for longer than we even realize. If you knew much about SEO ten years ago, it was a very different world. You might have written with keyword density in mind, for example. Keyword density was a ratio of the number of times you used a particular keyword in your content compared to other words. There was theoretically some specific number you wanted to meet.

That’s gone now, and if you’re still relying on this or similar methods to create your content, you should find a new strategy.

Rather than keyword stuffing, make the new year the time when you focus on related ideas and phrases as well as sub-topics. You want to get all of the semantically-related information and context surrounding any topic you might write about.

Another lousy approach you need to cut out of your strategy is not focusing enough on your UX. Google is looking at a lot more than keywords and links when they’re ranking your site these days. For example, usage data is relevant. Usage data is how people interact with your site, and if you have a site with a high bounce rate, that will be a red flag to search engines.

High bounce rates can be an indicator that people visiting your site aren’t finding what they’re looking for, so then the takeaway is that your content isn’t helpful.

Also, if your site isn’t aesthetically appealing, it can impact your SEO rankings indirectly. The site doesn’t look credible, and that’s going to affect your bounce rate.

Be mindful of duplicate content. You might know not to copy blog posts from some other website, but there are other sneakier ways that duplicate content can be problematic. For example, you might have the same content that inadvertently shows up in different areas of your site. This is reasonably common with WordPress designs.

Think about teasers on your site as an example. These might be an automated element of your WordPress theme, but they can create duplicate content. The easiest way to avoid this is to eliminate any teasers altogether and just use blog post titles on your site.

Using interstitial ads is problematic and should be eliminated. These are ads that block a person’s screen. These ads impair your user experience.

What to Watch For

Particular things to keep your eye on for the rest of this year and into next include the following:

  • You’re going to see that content is more associated with the actual query. For example, in the past, it might have been that misleading titles capture a spot on page results. The Google algorithm is growing increasingly adept at recognizing the content that has the most relevant information and fulfills user intent most effectively. If you’re trying to fish for clicks without considering relevance, your SEO strategy will not be successful.
  • Google will be delivering more personalized searches to users based on their other recent searches. Google is working to improve the overall search experience for all users to match the information that comes up to their visited pages and frequent queries.
  • In 2019, with the introduction of the BERT algorithm, Google was more able to understand the relationship between words and search intent. BERT came about as a way for Google to serve voice assistant searchers. People weren’t typing their searches. Instead, they were speaking them. Google’s algorithm had to adapt to AI technology. However, BERT was just the start. Google recently announced something called its Multitask United model or MUM. This is the new Google Natural Language Processing Model, which Google says is 1000 times more powerful than BERT. The AI model will be a significant driver of SEO strategies, and it can understand the feeling, context, and intent of users, providing relevant answers unique to the query. Users won’t need to input multiple queries to get the answer they’re looking for.
  • The introduction of the Google Shopping Graph could be relevant to some businesses. The Google Shopping Graph is an AI model that understands constantly changing sets of products, brands, and reviews. According to Google, the Shopping Graph product information is received from brands and retailers directly, indicating how the attributes relate to one another. Basically, it’s a way for shoppers to see in real-time products that are available to them.
  • The trend of passage ranking is worth paying attention to. The passage ranking addition to the Google search algorithm was initially added in early 2021. Passage ranking is a way for Google to hone in on one passage within a page, delivering concise answers to niche searches. According to Google, the change doesn’t mean they index individual passages from content independently of pages, but passages are instead being considered as an additional ranking factor. It’s a way to deliver results for highly specific searches because often, the answer someone is looking for is buried within a page. The passage may not be the primary topic of the piece of content, but it’s still there. Once an entire page is indexed, the search engine determines how to most appropriately use the content on that page that helps it to rank. It’s changing how users view indexed pages in the SERP. If you’re creating quality content, there’s not much you need to do in terms of passage ranking.
  • Focus on creating quality content. This isn’t necessarily a new trend, but it’s only going up as far as importance. Every time Google rolls out a major algorithm update, the focus seems to be on rewarding quality content. You want to create content consistently, and everything you develop should have a user persona in mind. In fact, developing user personas might be an initial content marketing goal you set for your business at the start of the new year if you haven’t already done so.
  • Long-form content of 3,000 words or more appears to be getting more traffic and shares than shorter-length content. It’s better for you to produce incredibly high-quality, longer, and more in-depth content than to churn out more pieces of short, low-quality content. You’re more likely to get links back to in-depth long-form content as well, and your link profile plays a significant role in your rankings also.
  • The EAT principle remains relevant. EAT stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. This is a set of metrics Google uses to determine if your page is providing quality content. If you make claims or cite research for example, make sure you back it up with your external links to reputable sources.
  • Your SEO strategy needs to include video. Online video platforms are massive in terms of traffic. YouTube and TikTok are the two most prominent examples. You can optimize your video content in many of the same ways you do your blog posts. For instance, you’ll want to optimize your video channel description and integrate keywords into your video descriptions.

Will Core Web Vitals Affect Rankings?

Google announced that page experience signals would begin to impact Google Search rankings. Then, a year after that announcement, Google rolled out a new ranking system that factors in page experience signals. Among those signals are Core Web Vitals.

Core Web Vitals measure the speed and efficiency at which Google references to indicate page experience.

These factors measure things like speed and metrics relating to user interaction to understand user experience better.

Core web vitals include:

  • Google measures loading speed as a value described as Larges Contentful Paint or LCP. LCP measures how long it takes from the user’s end for a page to load. LCP is a measure of the time from a lead clicking on a link to when the page fully loads. Google considers an LCP of anything under 2.5 seconds to be good, and anything over four seconds is poor, which will penalize your ratings. Increasing your site speed is essential.
  • Visual stability is another part of core web vitals. It’s described as Cumulative Layout Shift. When you have a higher CLS, it indicates poor visual stability loading so that objects are moving around on the screen as content is loaded. You can help your CLS score by using defined sizes for images and other objects you have on a page. You should also use reserve spaces for ads and other assets that will load.
  • The third component of core web vitals is called First Input Delay or FID. This is the time it takes for users to interact with a page, and interactions can be any number of activities. If you have a page where there isn’t any needed interaction, like an article or blog, FID isn’t going to play as much of a role as the two core web vitals factors above.

When you improve your core web vitals, you can create a better experience meaning improvements in CTR and engagement. You’re creating a good first impression for users and making your site accessible, which is a lot of what you need to be looking at as far as the future of SEO.

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