2021 has been a year of volatility, not only for everyone day to day but also for the SEO community. Google certainly hasn’t rested on its laurels this year. We’ve had three broad core updates impact rankings across the year, the release of the much-anticipated page experience update, and the announcement of Multitask Unified Model (MUM).
So, what will be key to ranking success over the coming year? Here are our predictions for the Google trends to watch in 2022:
Without a doubt, content is still king! It’s a fundamental part of all SEO and cross-channel strategies, and last month Google updated its Quality Rater Guidelines and provided some clarity on how it defines ‘quality’ content. The guidelines go into detail about what Google is looking for when it talks about Expertise, Authority and Trust (E-A-T) for content, but it defines 'quality' as extending even further than that; it’s really the quality of the overall website - layout, images, and page speed are all factors. As we move into 2022, it’ll be important to not only ensure your copy is up to scratch, but also that your website is user-friendly, quick to load, and has properly optimised images.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has come a long way since its inception, now influencing how people interact with online content, and it will also begin to play an important role in SEO strategies. Google's AI algorithm RankBrain will likely become one of the most important ranking factors next year. Although it’s not clear exactly how RankBrain analyses content, user experience (perhaps unsurprisingly) does appear to be a key factor. RankBrain uses metrics such as click-through rates and time spent on site to help it prioritise content. So, when putting strategies in place for 2022, you need to be creating content that responds to user queries and is also highly engaging.
We know that Google’s main goal is to improve the user’s search experience; to help them find what they are looking for as quickly as possible. A critical part of that improvement is understanding the complexities of language. This year, Google launched a new language application to understand natural language better. LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) not only seeks to better understand natural language in searches, but also focuses on open-ended conversational queries and can engage in a free-flowing way about endless topics. How do you optimise for this in 2022? You need to focus on targeting phrases instead of keywords, we suggest using more long-tail conversational queries.
Keyword classification has always been the base of any SEO campaign, it’s one of the most basic but powerful sets of data that SEOs use. Going into the new year, organising this data into the right topic clusters is becoming a bigger part of content strategies. If you want to show search engines that your content is relevant and high quality, topic clusters are one of the best ways to do it. To ensure the best results are served on SERPs, Google looks for synonyms and topics that add value when matching a site with a search query. So having your classification groups in topics, as opposed to just using keywords, can ensure the content you’re providing answers more complex user queries.
Back in May, Google announced that it’s developing a new technology, Multitask Unified Model (MUM). MUM will help users with complex queries take fewer steps to find what they are looking for. When the MUM algorithm update launches, Google will start considering the context of people’s searches in order to deliver the best pages and content related to their query. Although we don’t know exactly when MUM will launch, we do know it’s coming!
Google continually emphasises the importance of the user experience, and sites that fail to provide a positive experience will see their rankings suffer. A key component of delivering a positive user experience is page speed. In fact, 53% of users will abandon a page if it takes more than three seconds to load. Enter Core Web Vitals (CWV)! Probably the most talked-about metrics of 2021, CWV measure your page load speed from the user’s perspective. Ignore them at your peril if you want your site to rank next year.
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