Search Engine Optimization is an industry that is fast evolving. Google as a search giant is making use of new-age technologies and improving the existing ones to make search results better for everyone.
In the past, some of these updates have caused a massive change in the SEO game, but such major changes are not frequent. While it is hard to pinpoint what strategies or changes will Google bring in the year 2022, but there are some trends that we believe will keep strong this year.
Let’s look at these SEO trends that will be a mainstay in 2022 as well.
Zero-click searches will continue to rise
Simply put, Zero-click results from search queries for which Google provides the answer in the SERPs so there is no need to further delve into web pages to find the answer.
Between 2016 and 2019, the percentage of zero-click results went up to 49% from 43.9%.
This should not come as a surprise as Google is always putting the searchers’ intend first to provide the most relevant results. As the search giant gets better at its job, we will see a regular rise in these zero-click results.
How can you benefit from this?
Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to change the rising zero-click searches. However, when you are conducting keyword research keep these results in mind. If you find a keyword that has a high search volume yet its click rate is almost zero, you need to look for alternatives.
For instance, the search phrase “what does SEO stands for” has high search volume but Ahref’s Keywords Explorer indicates that an estimated 71% of the searches for this phrase have no click.
This mighty be because Google provides the answer entirely in SERP. In the same context, when you look for “SEO tips”, there are only 26% searches with no clicks.
Here Google provides the answer in form of featured snippets, but most searchers will want more comprehensive answers that they can put to practice.
Does that mean you should completely ignore the zero-click keywords?
No. Zero-click does not essentially translate to zero opportunity. You can be benefited in other ways by targeting these keywords.
First, appearing in SERPs for such keywords will lead to increased brand awareness. Your domain name and favicon will show up in the results. Also, if Google is consistently pulling results from your website pages, searchers will perceive your website to be helpful.
In today’s SEO industry, not everything is about traffic, but reaching more people with positive results.
Voice search will continue to grow
The rise of smart assistants on our phones has initiated a shift in searchers’ behaviour. People are actively using verbal phrases for finding information, shopping, entertainment and everything else. According to an Adobe study in 2019, almost 48% of consumers used voice search for general web search.
As the industry reports suggest that smart speaker market in the US will grow to 55% of households by 2022, we can only expect voice search to gain more popularity.
As voice searches are performed in natural native languages, Google is forced to invest in AI and Language Processing technologies like RankBrain, Knowledge Graph and BERT.
There is a lot of information available about what these respective technologies do for Google, but at the core, they enable the search giant to make sense of the context of search queries and understand relationships between various entities like places, people, and things.
What to do about it?
In the past, Google has clearly commented that there is nothing specific webmasters can do to optimize their websites for technologies like RankBrain, BERT, and the Knowledge Graph.
Still, there are some simple methods to optimize your content for voice search.
Make sure your business has a Google My Business Profile. You must have clear directions, opening times and other contact information on your business profile.
Website speed remains an important factor. As voice search results load 52% faster than average pages, you cannot succeed without a blazing fast load time.
Focus on acquiring high-quality backlinks. Studies have shown that Google pulls voice search results from high-ranking pages, and to rank higher backlinks play a pivotal role.
Schema markup is the language of the search bots. It helps them understand the metadata on your web pages. This optimizes your pages for web results to show key data like recipes, ratings, reviews and product pricing.
Providing answers to people’s queries is another way to get ready for voice search results. However, unlike textual searches, the average voice search is limited to 29 words. This is why try to be succinct when you answer questions that people ask in Google.
A good user experience leads the way
A positive user experience is what Google prefers. They have clearly mentioned it on their blog:
“Google already uses signals like HTTPS, intrusive ads, and mobile-friendliness for this, but in May 2021, Core Web Vitals will be added to the mix.”
How you can incentivize this?
Google evaluates a web page’s Core Web Vitals based on these three web metrics:
LCP or Largest Contentful Paint: This is the time the largest element on your webpage takes to load. LCP must be 2.5s or less.
FID or First Input Delay: How long your web page takes to respond when the user first interacts with it. The preferred FID is 100ms or less.
CLS or Cumulative Layout Shift: How a page performs during the loading time. It should be 0.1 or less.
These are actual numbers and you can check these for any web page on Google’s Pagespeed Insights.
You can also use the Core Web Vitals report that is now included in the Google Search Console data.
Mobile-friendliness is mandatory
It was in 2015 that, Google made mobile-friendliness a ranking factor for websites. However, in July 2019, it turned to mobile-first indexing for all new websites.
In simple terms, mobile-first indexing is when Google uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. At the moment 70% of the websites are being indexed and ranked based on mobile-first indexing, by the end of the year, Google will switch the remaining websites to same as well.
What to do about it?
Find out whether your website is already on Mobile-First Indexing or not. If you don’t know how Go to Search Console > Setting > Indexing Crawler.
If you see “Google Smartphone,” then you are already being indexed mobile-first. If it’s not there, then make sure you are prepared for the switch when it happens.
Although, most modern websites are responsive and there is not much you can do. However, if you still operate a different version of your website for mobile, then you need to take immediate steps to bridge the differences between both versions.
Check for alternate rules in robots.txt, navigation, page speed issues, and internal linking.
Google will be better at recognizing E‑A-T
E‑A‑T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
If you have ever read the Search Quality Rater Guidelines from Google, they talk a lot of E-A-T in the document.
Contrary to common belief, E-A-T is still not a direct ranking factor. It works somewhat like this:
- Search quality raters (real people) periodically assess the E‑A-T of search results.
- They share the feedback with Google.
- Google tweaks the search algorithms accordingly to align with E‑A-T.
Can you do anything about it?
E-A-T is not news for the SEO fraternity and it is the talk of the town for a while now. Establishing and improving E-A-T is something complicated for some webmasters, but there are a few tangible steps we all can implement.
Update content regularly. As per Google’s SQRGs this is most common for medical content, but it is likely to be relevant for other topics as well.
Fact-check the content before publishing. Google has always highlighted the importance of factually accurate content, especially for scientific topics. Again, it holds the same importance for other topics as well. If you can’t be that sure about the facts shared on your website, at least try to link to reputable sources that your visitors can trust and benefit from.
Try to remain in the niche you are knowledgeable about rather than trying to expand into territories you have no expertise in.
Procure more reviews. Google clearly correlates positive and negative ratings to a website’s reputation.
Also, getting more mentions can possibly boost the E-A-T factor.
Understanding where the search landscape is heading in 2022 will help you visualize the big picture and optimize the websites for long-term results.
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