Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of convincing Google or Bing to place your content at the top when someone searches for the related keywords. SEO has been a crucial part of the digital marketing playbook for over 20 years but from time-to-time it undergoes massive overhauls. Let’s dive in SEO in 2022!
While the bottom line is about serving up high-quality, relevant information, SEO in 2022 is far more than just matching the user intent or having the right keywords on your pages. In this guide, we’ll share the essential factors that decide your performance in search engine results pages (SERPs) and how you can implement them for a traffic and conversion boost.
Let’s dive in!
1. Do an SEO Audit
To go somewhere, you need to know where you are right now. Implementing an SEO strategy in 2022 is something like that—you have to know how you’re performing right now before you set the KPIs.
Running an SEO audit gives you the all-important context before getting into the nitty-gritty. You’d be surprised to know how many companies don’t gauge their current SEO performance and end up setting up goals that are unattainable in a short period of time. SEO does take time, especially if you have not engaged in a meaningful SEO strategy consistently.
Reduce Errors and Trim Website
Start by gathering the basic SEO data. Deeply analyze the domain to make sure the page titles and meta descriptions are unique and correct. Google tends to index multiple versions of pages depending on “HTTPS” and “WWW” signals so use 301 redirects to lead to one version of your website.
When it comes to indexing, it’s important to delete archived, redundant, and thin pages to reduce SEO errors. To see the number of pages Google has indexed, type this on Google- “site:yourwebsite.com”. You should also check Google Search Console to find the index coverage statistics. If you find 404 errors due to broken links, fix them immediately. Ahrefs and Moz allow you to check backlink health to trim down toxic links.
Check Keyword Health
Next, run the URL in Screaming Frog to see if the keywords are present in title tags, descriptions, and H1 tags. The focus should be on keyword consistency more than keyword frequency. Google moved away from keyword stuffing a long time ago, yet many still attempt this outdated practice. Manually check whether the keywords flow naturally and make sure your URL structure is optimized for the Google bot to crawl.
Optimize Existing Blogs
Your existing content should be well optimized before you roll out new strategies. Manually go through the blogs to make sure everything ticks the box. These include
- Headings in H1, and subheadings in H2 and H3. The texts should have plenty of subheadings for readers to skim easily
- Short introduction, preferably with a keyword in the first 100 words and small paragraphs throughout the body
- Bold, italics and bullet points to highlight sections
- Images, videos, and audio to create comprehensive content pieces.
Google emphasizes rich media, but it cannot easily read images. That’s why it’s important to make sure all the images have alt tags that succinctly describe the content. The blogs should also interlink to authority pages to create a content cluster. This way, you can improve topic authority in front of Google.
Lastly, make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Google adopted mobile-first indexing in 2018 and gave a free tool to check the score.
Once you know where your website stands SEO-wise, you’ll be able to implement new strategies and improve visibility.
Apart from technical SEO, content has been the biggest focus of SEO marketing for over a decade now. While it’s still the king, there are so many things at play today. The days of simply writing a light piece of content with the right keywords are long gone.
Perspectives Over Quantity
Brands and influencers have been churning content at a breathtaking speed and consistency. So, content has really become a commodity. We have more articles for a keyword than ever and there’s no stopping the content engine. The only way to stand out is by producing amazing and unique perspectives.
Far too many articles, interviews, and podcasts are uninspiring today. They don’t delve deep into the customer’s preferences or challenges and prefer to work in silos. SEO is all about solving a reader’s problem and that’s why you need to have organic insights of customers.
Check forums and online communities to see what people are talking about your brands and the challenges they’re facing with your competitors. Analyze the conversations in Quora, Reddit, and Facebook groups to see gaps you can bridge with new content. Then, use those insights by adding a fresh perspective.
As websites grow larger, there’s an increasing risk of hosting duplicate content. This can be duplicate meta texts, blog content, or even HTML codes. Make sure you constantly run a plagiarism checker like Copyscape and trim down redundant sections of the website.
Craft Flawless Content
Once you’ve made sure your website is hosting only unique content, move on to creating new articles. High-quality content should exhibit a mix of a few factors:
- The desired length
- Keywords that address user intent
- Rich insights
- Updating old content
The desired length: Backlinko analyzed 11.8 million searches and found the mean first-page search result had 1,447 words. Even though Google has reiterated that article length should entirely depend on the topic’s complexity, it’s a good idea to write 1500 words or more for authority pages.
Keywords: Long-tail keywords and LSI keywords are still important for SEO in 2022. You can use Google’s free SERP resources like Google autocomplete and People Also Ask and websites like Answer The Public for keyword research and identifying user intent.
Rich insights: When you create pillar posts filled with insights from industry veterans, Google recognizes that as the authority. By interviewing and quoting highly relevant thought-leaders, you’ll be able to create a competitive edge.
Update old content: A very few numbers of SEO managers focus on updating old content, but you’d be surprised to know how strongly they perform in SERPs. Updating old content makes your website fresher and more relevant. You can also remove broken links and irrelevant keywords and optimize the articles with new insights and images.
People are visual learners and infographics give them the perfect bite-sized information, faster. On top of that, infographics help you keep their attention and reduce your website’s bounce rate.
But infographics don’t simply address the fleeting attention span of today’s readers—they offer structure and clarity to written content. Infographics are also highly shareable snippets that improve organic reach.
This year, you need to combine blog posts with infographics to see results in your SEO efforts. You can also submit infographics to directories for greater visibility. SlideShare has been a prominent channel for presentations and infographics, but there are multiple infographic directories to submit visual graphs and charts.
Bonus: Content Distribution
With so much content available already, marketers are turning towards content distribution to improve SEO ranking. You can distribute existing content like quotes and data to third-party guest posts and improve Domain Authority (DA) via backlinks. Another way to distribute content is through paid media channels like Google Ads.
If you’re not looking forward to third-party collaborations, you can repurpose them to fill the content calendar. For instance, you can turn existing blogs into email newsletters, and social media posts and create blogs out of podcasts. Content distribution is often a cost-effective way to strengthen SEO performance.
User Experience (UX)
Good content alone is not enough to keep you on top of SERPs today. With Google’s Core Web Vitals (CWV) update coming into play, everything is signaling towards the user experience provided by a website.
User experience for SEO focuses a lot on how you answer the queries of the readers. It incentivizes creators to create content around users rather than keywords. Analyze the top results for a keyword and try to find a pattern in the way they solve a problem. Deeply think about how you can help the same readers in a better way and create content by keeping the end goal in mind. Cyrus Shepard in his Moz interview mentions the importance of being the “last click” for users. If you can satisfy a reader with comprehensive knowledge, they’ll leave your site with a positive experience.
However, this is not the only factor deciding UX today. Google’s CWV update has concentrated focus on speed, interactivity, and stability.
Core Web Vitals
Google’s CWV update sheds light on three things:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
- First Input Delay (FID)
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
LCP measures how long it takes for the largest content of the page to load. It’s essentially a speed metric that rewards websites with faster load time. To improve LCP, you should focus on optimizing images, and getting rid of render-blocking scripts.
Finally, CLS measures how stable the website UI stays when the content and ad banners load. To stop content from moving up and down because of ads, consider specifying dimensions for ads and images, along with discouraging dynamic content injection.
By going deeper into your Google Search Console data, you can understand your LCP score. Apart from that, Chrome User Experience Report should help you improve FDI and CLS.
All these factors are curated to improve the user experience provided by websites so if your website is hovering around the red zone, you have to pay attention to improving the UX.
Create SEO-Optimized Landing Pages
Landing pages differ from homepages in their goal of converting visitors into buyers or pushing them further into the funnel. It’s more action-oriented, which means they give a solid boost to SEO.
According to Omnisend, landing pages have the highest conversion rate (23%). Since they are standalone pages created to drive an audience, personalization plays a big role. According to HubSpot, personalized calls to action (CTAs) perform 202% better on landing pages.
It’s evident that when it comes to paid traffic and email newsletters, landing pages convert far better than homepages. But marketers often struggle to fine-tune landing pages and end up squandering the opportunity of closing deals.
How to Craft Seo-Optimized Landing Pages?
Well-made landing pages can do wonders for your business. While most of them are middle of the funnel (MOFU) content, you can use them for the top of the funnel (TOFU) as well.
Here are the 5 elements of landing pages:
- A title that hooks people in and clearly demonstrates the value you provide
- A subtitle that elaborates your process
- Visual cues and explainer videos to help people understand what they’re getting
- Testimonials and user-generated content (UGC) to drum up social proof
- Clear and concise CTA
Landing Pages Best Practices
Landing pages should offer minimal distractions to help people decide. The CTAs should also come naturally. Clever writers use a copywriting technique called AIDA (Attention-Interest-Desire-Action) to build up a compelling offer.
Make sure you use long-tail keywords, clear graphics, and visuals to communicate the message to people. Finally, create a mobile-friendly version of the landing page to improve your SEO efforts.
Social signals play a vital role in SEO performance. When it comes to branded search, Google looks at social media presence to dictate SERPs. You should embed social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter to offer all content in one place and make it shareable for users.
We have already mentioned how rich media such as audio and video play a big role in recognizing the quality of content. The social links also improve how long people stay on your website, which is a strong SEO factor. Finally, social media brings more footfalls to your website. When you share web content in SlideShare, Quora, or LinkedIn, you not only improve organic reach but also attract different sets of audiences.
Link Building Strategies
Link building strategies have changed over the years, but they still work wonders for SEO.
First, start with interlinking. The deep network of links within your website gives Google all the signals regarding the depth and breadth of your content.
It’s important to think of internal links as clusters. Link related pages and contents that readers might be interested in exploring. Google has recently introduced passage ranking that focuses on segments of an article. Deep linking helps in understanding how snippets of content work in relation to the queries. However, it’s important to not give spam signals.
Link to High Authority Sites
You should also link to high-quality websites to show your research. When you cite a website with high Domain Authority (or Domain Rating, if you’re following Ahrefs), Google understands the nature of your content. Thanks to several iterations of Penguin update, only links to relevant, highly specific websites make a mark in SEO ranking.
If you’re trying to find authoritative websites to link to your content, consider trying alltop.com and HARO.
Build High-Quality Backlinks to Your Site
Apart from linking to major websites in your niche, it’s equally important to get backlinks from these sites. To find the sites that can offer you backlinks, run your competitor’s website in SEMRush. You’ll find a backlink portfolio, containing backlinks coming from guest posting.
Guest posting is one of the best ways to build DA for your website. The higher the DA, the bigger the chance for you to rank. You can mimic your competitor’s backlink strategy by reaching out to publications that accept guest posts.
SEMRush data on competitors should give you more insights on top-performing pages. Analyze the content and try to make it better. Write a more detailed blog with updated insights, reports, and visuals to race ahead. Next, reach out to the influencers of your industry to secure links and end up beating your competitor’s content. Backlinko’s Brian Dean calls this the “Skyscraper technique“.
SEO in 2022 is a lot more complex than it was a decade ago. There are more data points and a bigger checklist to follow. But SEO is a game of consistency. If you can follow the above steps and stick to them for a long time, you’ll see an uptick in Google ranking and traffic to your website.