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SEO in 2022 – Experts reveal the best measures, insights and tips

Whether Google Core Updates, artificial intelligence or Core Web Vitals – search engine optimization is constantly changing. In order to provide users with the best possible results, search engines, first and foremost Google with a market share of almost 74% worldwide, are continuously screwing with their algorithms. What was valid yesterday may be obsolete tomorrow. This means that SEOs and online marketers are constantly faced with the challenge of keeping their finger on the pulse, picking up on new insights and adapting strategies accordingly.

What’s in store for us in the New Year and 2022? Let’s take a look into the future today and find out what SEO trends and forecasts await us. To do this, we asked our SEO experts, what will SEO look like in 2022?

1. What will change sustainably in SEO in 2022? Do you have an outlook or an idea about major changes that are or could be coming?

marcus-pentzek-foto

Marcus Pentzek
“Google has already set the direction in which SEO must move for the coming years. With the Hummingbird Update (2013), the introduction of the topic YMYL and EAT in the Quality Rater Guidelines (2014), Mobilegeddon (2015), the BERT Update, MUM (2021), the Core-Web-Vitals-Update (2021): it’s all about the user. The (mobile) user should be “served” fast, easy-to-use websites in appropriate quality and optimally serving the search intent. In this direction, Google will continue to work in 2022 and in the following years, getting better and better bit by bit. Understanding this (finally) is the responsibility of online marketers and SEO, that it’s not (anymore) about tricking or “serving” the Google algorithm in the best possible way, but creating the best online experience for the potential visitor.”

Kathy BrownKathy Brown
“The Page Experience Update for Desktop is scheduled to roll out starting in February 2022. While improving CWV hasn’t led to big improvements in the rankings, I look for Google to slowly rachet up the importance of a good (or at least adequate) User Experience in 2022, such that sites with Poor user experience will start having trouble ranking unless their content is extremely good.“

Bryan Grossbauch
“As Google becomes more sophisticated, we’ll need to use increasingly sophisticated software to track the impact of Google Algo changes. Most enterprise SEO software companies do their best to follow the different data points that SEO touches. We’re seeing companies integrate GA, GSC, User behavior tracking, and log tracking to understand what is happening. There’s a massive influx of data, and there arises the need for automated analysis.“

Tyson Stockton
“SERP landscape. Google will surface more and new experiences to satisfy user intent within the SERP. Google will also start to funnel or guide users through series of queries. Like related and refinement searches. More variance and verticals of ranking factors. It won’t matter as much like signals in e-commerce or media but much narrower subsets within that.”

2. In which direction will the changes become noticeable? Will the technical side become more important or are we more likely to see increased and important changes at the design and content level?

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Marcus Pentzek
“Following this path, we need to “touch” our websites again in 2022 and screw with the (new coming) Core Web Vitals. Besides FID, LCP and CLS, Google will gradually introduce new metrics that can be evaluated with technical tools. Moreover, in addition to the mobile Core Web Vitals, the desktop ones will also become exciting. But limiting yourself to the technical aspects would be negligent – technology is only the canvas for the website artwork. Of course, this canvas should be high quality, durable and reliable, but if the image painted on it does not match the theme, information and aesthetic taste of the viewer, it will not succeed. I believe that many search engine optimizers have already understood this and are trying to take it into account. Therefore, I think that in 2022 we will have to focus above all on an aspect of usability that is still often neglected. How must the website be designed so that it offers all(!) visitors the best possible browsing experience. All visitors are not only mobile and desktop users, but also Internet users who use assistive technologies (e.g. browsers for visually impaired people). And yet again we have to bridge the gap to content, because not everyone is equally well served by in-depth content peppered with technical terms and scientific expressions. The federal government’s webmasters have already recognized this (and I’m not saying they do it well), and also offer much content in “plain language” in addition. Demonstrating expertise, earning authority and trustworthiness will become increasingly complex, and so E.A.T. will continue to be with us in 2022, always teasing new and creative approaches out of us.”

Kathy Brown

Kathy Brown
“Today design and content can trump technical SEO as long as the site is crawlable and understandable for the bot. Technical SEO will always be important to ensure the site is indexable. It will also continue to be important for larger sites and sites that rely heavily on JavaScript.”

Bryan Grossbauch
“We expect to see a continuation of the Google flattening of traditional technical SEO signal across the board and incorporate user-driven data through SERP split testing to optimize toward what the user expects vs. what we think they want. Users are looking for authoritative content that loads fast and is easy to absorb. The website architecture & infrastructure provides context for that experience to happen.”

Tyson Stockton
“It will be on both sides but depending on the category or type of query it will be more pronounced.”

3. Core Web Vitals were the talk of the town in 2021. In your view, have Core Web Vitals already led to strong fluctuations or changes?

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Marcus Pentzek
In 2020, I didn’t believe there would be much of an impact yet, as I believe Google had also previously relied heavily on Page Experience and Page Speed factors when evaluating websites. But the whole machinery that Google set in motion with the promotion of the Core Web Vitals led to an unimagined progress in the optimization of these values for many website owners, which also allowed Google to tighten the influence with the official rollout of CWV as official ranking factors executed in 2021. Yes, I think we are already seeing an impact and will feel it even more in 2022.”

Kathy BrownKathy Brown
“CWV may function as a tie breaker for highly competitive sectors, just as HTTPS has done. But improving CWV is going to help your bottom line more by delivering higher conversions than it will help your SEO.”

Bryan Grossbauch PhotoBryan Grossbauch
“CWV makes the most difference for sites that are in the red. If a site is relatively compliant, optimizing for that 5%, speed enhancement won’t do much at this point.”

 

Tyson Stockton
“Not really. Anticipate it will increase in strength but not something that will send shock waves. It provides for clarity on measurement but as a relative factor don’t expect it to be a massive splash in impact.”

4. Now that Google has rolled out the last Core Update on November 17, 2021, what tips do you have to ensure website owners don’t experience any negative impact on their SERPs in the future?

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Marcus Pentzek
“Any answer to that question would be highly speculative. I think a roadmap with which one is guaranteed not to feel any negative effects of Google updates, there will not be. The Internet is constantly in motion, websites are constantly being adapted, search intentions change and Google wants and needs to take this into account. This leads to updates and updates lead to changes. These will never have only positive effects. But if you work continuously on your own website, have your users in mind and listen to their wishes and expectations, do this better than the competition, then you will always move in the right direction and should not have to fear an upcoming update. Still, you should never expect to always win. And even if you are “hit” once, you should not try to find out “why”, because there will be no why. If the website is better than the competitors and everyone else recognizes that (topic: reputation), then it will go up again with another update.”

Kathy BrownKathy Brown
“Think also about having a page or an experience for each step in the customer journey. In our recent eCommerce Study we saw big gains by several informational sites in multiple eCommerce sectors for 2020. With the digitalization of the shopping experience, a trend already occurring – but then accelerated by the pandemic – these sites stepped into an informational gap for searches that we used to think of as transactional but are now interpreted by Google as having an informational aspect to them. Now its true that some of these informational (and affiliate) sites have lost some of their 2020 gains with the Core and Product Reviews Google Updates we had in 2021 – but this trend is worth paying attention to.

“Overall you can’t go wrong by keeping close to your customers and making sure you deliver the best experience possible to them whether you are eCommerce or a publisher. I would also say keeping on top of SEO technical and on-page hygiene is important. No one likes to visit the house with broken blinds and weeds in the yard – so put your best face forward for both the users and the bots.

“We also continue to see gains by finding the gaps in sites and creating pages for those gaps. I don’t think that will change in 2022.

Bryan Grossbauch PhotoBryan Grossbauch
“Think long term about what users want to see from a brand and experience perspective and don’t try to create content for the sake of content.”

 

Tyson Stockton
“I would not change strategy from any of the recent core updates. They are still all in the vain of interpreting and improving query or content intent. Keep focusing on understanding user intent and searches will keep perusing that. If not already I would move away from the legacy concept that more pages are better. Answer multiple questions and queries with less more robust high quality pages that are technically sound and well linked together. Keep it simple.”

5. What will Google’s UX focus be in 2022?

Bryan Grossbauch PhotoBryan Grossbauch
“Mobile Mobile Mobile. Google is looking for a mobile-first optimized experience. Mobile-First means one design specifically for mobile. It’s a challenge because the site also needs to function for desktop users. So it’s really about designing for those custom breakpoints vs. building a desktop site and swishing it down. Google gives SEOs leeway to allow UX teams to hide design parts to simplify the experience.”

Tyson Stockton
“More SERP features. Organic rankings will be squeezed more and more by additional SERP features.”

6. What is important to be successful in 2022? Which strategy or which measures will Google reward more than others? Which measures can be helpful to catapult domains to the top ranks?

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Marcus Pentzek
“Creating and publishing meaningful content, serving demand and search intent in all its facets, and demonstrating expertise, authority and trust will become the most important issue in 2022 (I’m assuming, after all, that every SEO has their website technically under control).”

Kathy Brown

Kathy Brown
“User experience and great content continues to be important. If your competitors continue to innovate and you aren’t keeping up, then you will struggle.”

 

Tyson Stockton
“Sound structured data and schema mark up. Robust and relevant content. Page performance (including Core Web Vitals but not limited to only that).”

 

7. Google is relying more and more on artificial intelligence. From BERT to MUM – what works here sustainably to be able to profit from it?

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Marcus Pentzek
“Having the user and your own target group in mind. What do users expect in terms of information, in terms of depth, in terms of accompanying content, in terms of advice, in terms of expertise, … if you manage to engage with your potential users and create the content that picks up these users at the various points in their customer journey, you will continue to benefit from Google search in the future. Important: the world is constantly changing and so the website should also constantly evolve and adapt.”

Kathy BrownKathy Brown
“I don’t think there is a particular SEO tactic that capitalizes on A.I. As Google improves its semantic abilities, custom crafting your title tags with the perfect keywords will become less important. Having an article that thoroughly explores the topic becomes more important. Cookie cutter content that’s like everyone else’s will not perform well. That being said, using AI to generate content has some interesting promise to it, but today that generated content needs a final touch by a human to be great.“

Tyson Stockton
“Holistic content. Further leverage mixed media, building rich experiences to satisfy user intent through usage of text, images and video. Expand how we think of content from just written copy to the overall user experience.”

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about SEO in 2022?

marcus-pentzek-fotoMarcus Pentzek
“Don’t focus too much on Google. The Internet is so much bigger than Google. There are other “classic” search engines that want to serve their users, like Bing, Yandex and Baidu. There are many more search markets than just the US, UK and Germany. Every language, country and culture wants to be served differently and every search engine is evolving in a direction to serve “their” search market a bit better every year and so the (international) marketer should also keep optimizing their channels. Why do I say here not “website” but “channels”? Because SEO, because online marketing is not only Google and also alternative search systems (Amazon, eBay, Zalando) want to be served, because also other publishing formats (magazine websites, print magazines, …) can serve as a source of information for people and can fulfil the purpose that many SEOs currently try to serve with a website.”

 Kathy BrownKathy Brown
“Site owners need to consider the importance of branding and brand impressions especially for those zero click SERPs.”

 

Bryan Grossbauch Photo

Bryan Grossbauch
“More than half of all of the SERP clicks go to a zero-click listing. That trend is continuing.”

 

Tyson Stockton
“Image search will continue to expand. It is talked about less than voice search but I believe image search through things like google lens will become more common. The ability to search with pictures + text vs standard text queries will be more common. The application has a tie to e-commerce but will not be limited to this. Multimedia in content but also through search will continue to evolve and be more prevalent this upcoming year.”

Our surveyed experts agree almost unanimously:

  • To occupy the top spots in search results, content that serves search intent and is relevant is essential.
  • Core Web Vitals have not led to the feared landslide – rather, the newly introduced ranking factors should be understood in such a way that targeted readjustments can be made.
  • And all experts share the opinion: Focus on the user: Put the user in the center! If you have the user in mind and satisfy their wishes and needs, you are moving in the right direction.
  • User-centric websites that deliver added value and answer questions in the right context will be successful and sustainable and will not have to fear core updates.

Looking for some advice on SEO, content or Core Web Vitals? Then get in touch! Our Digital Strategies Group experts will be happy to help!

Please contact us

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Boris Wartenberg

Boris Wartenberg

Boris Wartenberg is an SEO specialist at Searchmetrics responsible for technical and content-related search engine optimization. He has worked in online marketing since 2006 after completing his studies in marketing with a focus on sports and sponsorship. Having worked in content marketing and search engine optimization both agency and client side, Boris has overseen performance marketing for B2B and B2C clients, held several positions as an in-house SEO as well as having worked with well-known international clients such as Mercedes-Benz and Roche Pharma. He has evolved from a generalist into a specialist and is very passionate about all things SEO.

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