Another year, another set of new SEO trends favored by the algorithms. Keeping up with the latest SEO trends can be a daunting task for marketing agencies because it risks putting their clients’ current SEO strategies under revision. There’s no time to waste on outdated tactics, and certainly no time to waste on passing trends and rumors, either.
Now that we’re well into the year, we have a clearer understanding of what’s sticking and what isn’t in the world of SEO. To ensure your agency is delivering the best possible SEO strategy that is current, relevant, and effective, we’ve picked our Top 10 SEO trends to put on your agency’s radar.
This article will also discuss some interesting questions such as ‘What did the pandemic mean for SEO?’ and ‘How AI will affect SEO in the near future?’
Let’s dive in!
Why SEO Is Important In 2022
As the world continues the shift to online-first in 2022, the SEO landscape is rapidly-evolving. For starters, it’s becoming a lot smarter, a lot more data-driven, and a lot more intuitive. Being aware of search updates will keep your marketing agency at the top of its SEO game.
Take Google’s latest update, for instance: Google Passage’s algorithm ranks every passage independently of the other, which will help digital creators rank better for long-form content. Martin Splitt, a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, said: “It’s just us getting better at more granularly understanding the content of a page, and being able to score different parts of a page independently.” He suggests rewriting and reviewing heading elements “so that it’s easier for automated systems to understand the structure and...the bits and pieces of your content.”
Keeping up with the evolving SEO landscape will prevent your clients from getting behind. It will often give you quick fixes to deliver easy wins to your clients and keep increasing their web traffic organically without spending a dime.
Keep reading as we spill the tea on the latest search engine updates and SEO trends to adopt in 2022, which will help bring success to your clients.
Read more: How to Get More SEO Clients: 11 Experts Chime In
Today's Clients Expect More From Your Agency’s SEO Services
It's becoming increasingly clear that clients are expecting more from their SEO strategies than ever before. In order to keep up with the competition - and the changing nature of search - agencies need to start thinking outside the box when it comes to SEO.
Gone are the days of creating a few 600-900 word blog posts, doing a bit of on-page optimization, and finding some backlinks. Your agency needs to apply more strategic thought to all of the changing aspects of search marketing when creating and executing a winning SEO proposal.
From smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home to local SEO, core vitals, mobile optimization, and more - your agency's SEO services need to stay ahead of the curve. Showing that your agency understands these critical SEO trends will also help set you apart from the competition.
10 SEO Trends To Put Your Agency’s Radar in 2022
Keeping up with SEO trends can feel like an endless refresh. Your agency needs to consistently outcompete its clients’ competitors and drive quality organic website traffic that will translate to a high ROI to really stand out. After all, that’s really what your clients are after. Here are this year’s top 10 SEO trends that your agency should know about in 2022:
1. Optimizing SEO for a Mobile-first Experience
Today, we’re spending roughly a third of our waking hours on mobile devices. For marketing agencies, prioritizing a mobile-first approach for your clients is crucial. Since 2019, Google has opted for mobile-first indexing, where Googlebot primarily crawls and indexes pages with the smartphone agent. The rule of thumb is that if it doesn’t look good or load quickly on your phone, it doesn't bode well for your web rankings.
Mobile searches on Google are usually shorter and less complex than desktop searches– and they focus more on local content like “near me.” Local marketing should especially focus on a mobile-first approach, as people are more likely to look for directions to specific locations or services while on the go.
Additionally, Google has increased the length of mobile titles to 78 characters–which is more than on the desktop! Talk about headline grabbers. (Meanwhile, the meta description on mobile are 120 characters long and remains shorter than on desktop.) Running regular SEO health checks will also help ensure that your clients’ mobile sites are optimized to match mobile search behavior and keywords and that titles and meta descriptions are the ideal lengths.
2. Voice Search
From Google to Alexa, and Siri, voice assistants have quickly become part of routine daily life: they’re in your living room, pocket, and desk. In fact, Statista forecasts that the number of digital voice assistants in individual devices will reach 8.4 billion units by 2024–a number higher than the world’s population. According to DBS: “Roughly 75% of voice search results will rank in the top 3 positions for a particular question on a desktop search.”
What does this mean for SEO? Higher SERP rankings will be determined by how relevant your content is to what users type and how relevant it is to what users say. And search words and phrases are significantly different compared to text search, becoming more conversational.
What looks like “easy vegetarian recipes” on screen could be: “Hey Google, what can I make for dinner today that is easy and vegetarian?” This means that your clients’ online content needs to be optimized for semantics, context, and conversations.
3. Search What You See
Another up-and-coming SEO trend is visual search. Google Lens is a case in point, a visual recognition technology supported by machine learning allowing users to point their phones at real-world objects and texts to find information online. This makes the use of visuals online not just a perfunctory brand aesthetic but an actionable tool to use for improving search results. Your clients can attract higher-quality traffic to their sites by adding compelling illustrations and images.
4. It’s A Matter of Semantics
There is a growing need to look at how and where users search today, and it’s in the form of semantic search. Search isn’t just about typing in keywords anymore–it’s also about the meaning and intent behind them. This changes your clients’ current keyword strategy to include more long-tail and context-rich keywords.
5. Search Intent: Weighing In on the ‘Why’
You probably already know that search intent is key when developing winning content around your clients’ target keywords. But again, the concept could do with some reflection. How the world searches changes constantly. If you consider Google’s 2021 Year in Search report, you can see a recurring headline on “how to heal,” where topics ranged from mental health to strengthening communities. Accordingly, brands that produce content resonating most closely with these themes have a higher chance of boosting their SEO rankings.
As of 2022, search intent is currently bucketed into 4 distinct categories:
1. Informational Intent
Users who are looking for helpful information, but are not currently in the market to purchase a particular good or service. This could include recipes, home decor tips, or even advice on SEO. Providing relevant advice to help solve these users’ basic problems will make it far more likely that they will turn to you when they need to solve their more advanced problems. Informational qualifiers may include:
2. Navigational Intent
Users who want to visit a particular brand or website and just aren’t sure what the URL (or address) is for that business. For these users, you just want to make sure that they find your client’s site and not your competition. This is fairly straightforward with unique and distinct company names, but “Joe’s Plumbing” or “Deluxe Dental” could send the user down a rabbit hole of similarly named businesses.
Navigational qualifiers may include:
3. Transactional Intent
This is the gold mine for eCommerce sites, as these are the users looking to solve a particular problem by purchasing a product or service. If a user is actively searching for a product or service offered by your client–particularly when they are searching for something by name–making sure that they find your client’s website during these searches is imperative.
Transactional qualifiers may include:
4. Commercial Intent
These users will likely purchase in the near future but are in the early research and consideration phase. They might be searching using qualifiers such as “best” or “affordable.” As an agency, you want to make sure that your client is included within that consideration set.
Commercial qualifiers may include:
Although it’s important to keep these keyword variations in mind, one thing that hasn’t changed in 2022 is the need to write for the end-user. Creating up-to-date content and staying true to the ultimate guideline–writing for people, not for search engines–is a good way to nail this.
6. SEO Is Going Social
The lines continue to blur between social and search. For example, YouTube, often considered a social video platform, is also the second-largest search engine in the world. Similarly, Pinterest which is seen as a visual idea board also acts like an image-based search engine as people can - and do - look for ideas that can inspire them in all aspects of their life.
As social search gains traction, so will the need to use SEO on social media. Although claims that social media content directly boosts SEO remain unverified, there is increasing evidence pointing towards a correlation between the two.
Social media makes up 25% of all digital media consumption. Having a strong social media presence will ensure better inbound links for your clients and using retargeting features will help them guide customers through the sales funnel.
Complementing your clients’ website content via social media is a great way to use keywords and visuals optimally. By using high-quality images on social media platforms, your clients will benefit from visual search results and using SEO-keyword aligned hashtags on social media will further boost their organic search results.
7. Featured Snippets Have Been “Upvoted”!
Cracking the code of the search engine results page has become more user-centric than ever. The faster and easier it is for users to find what they are looking for, the better your chances are of making it to the top of the SERPs. One great way to do this is to focus on Featured Snippets.
These are the listed items you see describing a page–they come before a link to a page and not after, as with the standard format. Featured snippets are a win for SEO. Not only does it answer users’ questions as succinctly as possible, it makes the page look like a thought-leader in the field, and as such, gives authority to your client’s brand.
8. E-A-T Right To Boost Search Rankings
It’s been said a million times before in the world of SEO: Google’s Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trust (EAT) principle should never be overlooked when creating web content. Originally released in 2018, the essence remains the same: Google’s algorithm rewards content that can answer “yes” to questions such as:
Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond the obvious?
If you researched the site producing the content, would you come away with an impression that it is well-trusted or widely recognized as an authority on its topic?
Does the content serve the genuine interests of visitors to the site, or does it exist solely to rank well in search engines?
In 2022, marketing agencies should continue focusing on keeping their clients’ web content accurate, credible, and trustworthy.
9. Pandemic Shift to Online-first Has Led to an Even More Crowded Digital Landscape
While the pandemic gave the world little cause to celebrate, it spurred momentum in digitalization across many industries. McKinsey’s market trends report found that “Digital adoption has taken a quantum leap at both the organizational and industry levels.”
For SEO, this makes the digital landscape even more crowded. As more businesses move their branding efforts online, today’s agencies need elevated SEO strategies to catch potential customers’ eyeballs. A few tactics to do this include focusing on local search (as travel restrictions are not fully gone yet) and upping your clients’ eCommerce offerings with organic content (if relevant).
10. As CPCs Increase, More Pressure Is Being Placed on SEO
Paid online advertising saw a significant surge in cost in 2021, especially for Google Ads, where the CPC went up by as much as 70% in some cases. To make up for this, a lot of companies are being forced to dial-up their SEO strategy and fill the gap. Although comparing PPC and SEO is a bit like comparing apples and oranges, a stronger focus on the latter will help your clients gain customers’ trust online.
Plus, there are many synergies between SEO and PPC that smart agencies can tap into to drive increased business. For example:
High value but expensive keywords can be approached through an SEO lens
Localized SEO can help get your agency’s clients in front of users searching for competitive keywords where larger, and national players own the PPC landscape
Search ad text performance can help inform metadata to improve CTRs
Having both an organic and paid result on the same SERP not only doubles your client’s real estate on that page but helps reinforce a sense of credibility behind your client’s brand
And there you have it! The top 10 SEO trends your marketing agency needs to stay on top of and follow over the next 6 to 12 months. Keeping these in mind when you create an SEO strategy will validate the trust your clients place in your SEO expertise.
So far, the most popular SEO metrics to track include organic traffic, conversions, keyword rankings and backlinks, to name a few. But which of these are still relevant moving forward?
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Keeping On Top of Your Clients’ Metrics: SEO Reporting Is Becoming More Important Than Ever
But trends are only one part of your agency’s playbook for creating a long-lasting relationship with your clients. Agencies will also benefit from advanced SEO reporting to stay on top of all their clients’ SEO metrics and toss out the unnecessary baggage of manual reporting. This will save agencies time and money that they can use to scale their agency.
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Outdated SEO Practices To Leave Behind
If you haven’t already, it’s time to give your agency an internal check-up and Marie Kondo those outdated SEO practices you might still be reverting to. Toss out tactics such as:
Writing solely for SEO. Take a leaf out of the search engines’ book and put users first
Relying solely on backlinks. remember that relevant content will be more of a decisive factor in rankings
Keyword-stuffed domain names and buying exact match domain names. Google has declared that simply having a target keyword in your domain name will not bring SEO wins, so feel free to drop this tactic.
Keyword density and keyword stuffing. again two things to steer clear from. Remember that the winning tactic in writing better for SEO is to not write for SEO but to write for people instead - which includes using all the different semantic variations of keywords that real people would use rather than the same word over and over and over again.
Buying links. It might seem like a tempting shortcut, but the risks associated with it are simply too great.
Foregoing internal links. Some have been afraid that Google might punish pages with too many internal links, but don’t fret, this is a practice that is still worth doing in 2022.
Create long content just to beat competitors. Adding fluff to a page just to increase the word count will not have a long-term benefit as your bounce rate will offset the word count very quickly. Come back to the evergreen rule of putting users first and always catering to user search intent.
Putting off slow load time issues. Do not put up with a slow website anymore, even if you are creating a content-rich website with high-quality visuals. Explore options such as lazy loading in these cases instead of compromising on your page load time.
Giving up on Core Web Vitals. It’s not heavily weighted just yet, but it might be prudent to keep the three principles of visual stability, loading performance, and interactivity on your radar.
Desktop first focus. Remember that mobile-first markets spend one-third of their waking hours on mobile.
The Future of Search Is AI-Powered
Looking ahead, there is growing proof that the future of SEO will be AI-powered. Take, for example, Google’s latest announcement on MUM, or Multitask Unified Model, which at its simplest, wants users to access complex information with as little search effort as possible.
The distinguishing factor in this update is its focus on multimodality, meaning that Google will become smart enough to gather information across various formats to help answer users’ queries. For example, in the future, you could take a picture of your new winter gear and ask Google if they’re OK to camp at a specific location, and the search engine would understand enough to give you an answer without you having to go through several web pages and piece together something yourself.
This further strengthens the case to put the user first in your client’s SEO strategy. The more you can preempt users’ questions and address them in each content piece, the higher the chances of being rewarded in SEO rankings.
Preparing for the Great Tech Revolution
While Google is making massive strides in AI, it’s not alone in doing so. Have a look at You.com, a search engine created by former Salesforce employees. Created to put the user front and center in the search experience, you.com focuses on displaying search results in a user-centric way. Try searching for a recipe. What will come up is not a list of web pages to click on but the most relevant “featured snippets” of each website right on the search engine result page.
The search engine also launched an AI writing tool that paraphrases search results and customizes the ensuing copy for different platforms.
What this means for an agency is that the need to create content that could be consumed on a different platform will be ever-increasing. Because these users may not land on your client’s site during this search, it’s important to use this interaction to build brand awareness and trust.
Another fascinating arena is navigating search in the Metaverse, where “seeing and searching” will dominate, making visual search vital for SEO.
What to take away from all this? Despite their growing prevalence, quality over quantity will help marketing agencies compete with AI-powered rivals. Although AI and technological advances will dramatically transform content creation and writing for different media, there is no technology (as of yet) that can beat quality content fueled by human creativity. If you can offer your clients an innovative content strategy in tune with current trends and one that resonates with people in a changing world, you are still the real MVP!
To Sum Up The State of SEO in 2022
SEO is here to stay–albeit with some big changes. A strong SEO strategy is a must.
The latest SEO trends include featured snippets, mobile-first content, voice search, visual search, integrated social media content, keyword research, user search intent, staying true to the E-A-T principle, a crowded pandemic-induced online landscape, and increased CPCs placing more pressure on SEO.
Tracking key metrics will help you keep your fingers on the pulse of your SEO efforts and the larger SEO landscape.
Tactics such as relying solely on backlinks, writing for search engines rather than users, and creating keyword-stuffed domain names should be tossed out of your SEO toolbox.
The future of search in a post-pandemic and AI-powered world is constantly evolving. Marketing agencies need to stay tuned and advise clients on the best course of action.
Tell us what you think about the future of search. Participate in our social media poll on LinkedIn @AgencyAnalytics!