Do you want to increase your organic traffic, site authority and SEO ranking? This complete SEO guide will give you everything you need to get started! My in-depth guide contains the latest SEO best practices so you can improve how your content appears in search results.
Search engine optimization or SEO has been around for years now. In more recent days, SEO has become one of the most important marketing channels used by companies. It can help businesses attract new customers and retain existing ones in an efficient manner.
Merkle’s Digital Media report highlighted that SEO is responsible for over 20% of all website visits. If that doesn’t convince you regarding the importance of SEO, we don’t know what will.
Many people made speculations that SEO was dying in 2022. Contrary to popular belief, SEO is only growing more and more with each passing year. However, the SEO of today is considerably different than that of previous years. This means that SEO is likely to change and adapt in future years too.
SEO guide for an effective growth strategy
To ensure that your SEO strategy is still efficient, it is important to stay up to date with all the latest trends. It is only possible to drive organic traffic to your website if you are aware of Google’s new technological advancements. Here is everything you need to know about new SEO trends in 2022.
1. Have a User-Focused Approach
Most companies do not understand that SEO is supposed to be user focused. If something is good for the customer, then it is good for SEO. Search engines like Google want to provide users with the most relevant content which is why your SEO strategy as a business should also be focused on the user.
If you want Google’s search engine results page (SERP) to send organic traffic to your website, then you need to make sure that each customer who visits your website is satisfied.
Search Engine Journal tells businesses the perfect way to develop a user focus: put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Ask yourself if your content is valuable and if the website is easy to navigate through. If your answers are no, then you might need to change your SEO strategy entirely. Here are a few ways to develop a user-focused SEO strategy in 2022:
Core Web Vitals
Google says that core web vitals are set to become an important ranking factor by May 2022. This means that if you are not focusing on your core web vitals yet, now is the perfect time to step up. These core web vitals are comprised of three basic web page experience metrics that are important for every user.
First is the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), which measures the speed at which your website is loaded. The highest-ranking websites on Googles take no longer than 2.5 seconds to load. LCP is important in 2022’s SEO strategies because no customer has the time to wait a few minutes for your website to load. If it does not load immediately, customers are likely to switch to an alternative.
Second is the First Input Delay (FID), which refers to the speed at which users can interact with your website. Once a customer finds your site, they should be able to interact with it using menus and navigators within the first 100 milliseconds. The reason why this time slot is so little is because users don’t want to just look at your homepage. Instead, they are looking for valuable information that should be accessible immediately.
Last is the Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) that measures the frequency of users experiencing unexpected layout changes. The CLS should optimally be under 0.1. If your website is constantly under construction, then you are probably losing customers that you are unaware of.
All three of these core web vitals are a quick evaluation by Google based on user experience. Other web vitals include mobile friendliness, HTTPS, safe browsing, and no intrusive interstitials. Google says that if you want to rank higher on the search engine, your core web vitals need to be near perfect.
How To Improve Your Core Web Vital Scores
Improving your core web vital scores means taking action to improve your site. However, this depends on the type of site that you are running. For instance, an e-commerce site on Shopify will have different core web vitals from one that runs on a WordPress layout. Before you can start improving the core web vitals, you need to determine what needs improvement.
To find out, you can search for the Google Search Console and select Core Web Vitals. Here, you can take a quick glance at your mobile scores of how each page on your website is stacked. Desktop scores are simply not that important in the modern day since most users will find your website via their smartphone first.
In the score rankings, you need to focus on the poor URLs highlighted by Google. If you have a poor CLS score, for instance, then you need to improve the stability of each page on your site as they are being loaded.
However, improving the stability can be difficult. You can use a light WordPress theme and compress your images but still have a low CLS score. However, it is important to use more innovative techniques like reducing your content or deleting some high-resolution pictures. As a result, your website would load much quicker. Similarly, you need to focus on each element of the core web vitals as part of your SEO strategy in 2022.
2. Create Content Depth
Customers will only trust you if you know how to do your job right. If you are working in a specific niche, then the customer should have access to all the information on your website.
If they have to keep switching between different sites to find everything they need, then your SEO strategy is not very effective for 2022 standards. For Google and beyond, the EAT components are important for ranking. This refers to expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.
The best way to develop content depth is to have one main page with basic information that is linked to other related content. In this way, users will easily navigate between different pages of your website to find the targeted information they need.
However, developing content depth can often mean long pages of detailed content. A 2019 SEMRush study concluded that longreads that has articles with over 7,000 words each is the best in the industry for content performance.
In simpler words, shorter content can never be enough for SEO. You need to show your users that you can provide all the information they need in a clear and concise manner.
Instead of writing shorter content, there are other ways that you can develop content depth.
Google Passage Ranking
In October 2020, Google announced a new feature on their search engine known as passages. This meant that when a user searches for a query, they are given targeted information derived from a single section of a site. Initial reports showed that this new passages feature is likely to affect 7% of all searches, meaning that ranking high on google passages is essential for your new SEO strategy.
Instead of focusing on keywords, UX signals and other Google ranking factors, the relevancy of your content now matters too. If each page on your website is well-organized and SEO optimized, then you can have individual high rankings.
Ranking high on Google passages can be done by organizing your content into discrete sections. This means that Google should be able to view a single page on your website as multiple sections of valuable content.
Each page on your website should behave like a mini web page that contains important information and covers a specific subtopic. If you are not already doing that, we recommend reorganizing your content effectively.
Each section can have a H3 subheading which allows Google to treat the content separately and give you more accurate SEO analytics.
If Google is able to find the answer to a user query on a specific portion of your website, then your site will be featured on the Google Passage section which is the highest on a results page.
While long form content was discouraged in SEO in the past, that is no longer true with Google passages. In fact, longer content that is divided into discrete sections can actually give you a ranking edge on the SERPs and generate more backlinks.
3. Provide More Value
Not all of your customers will have the time to view your entire website to find the content they need. In the age of evolution and change, it is essential to provide value to customers by offering targeted information. A study by SEMrush showed that about 7% of all search results now have a Featured Snippet on top of the page. If your website is on a featured snippet on Google, then consider yourself the highest-ranked for a specific keyword. To provide more value to customers, you can focus on finding featured snippet opportunities on Google.
Featured Snippet Opportunities
To find the right featured snippet opportunities, you need to conduct thorough keyword research first. This includes both the keywords that you already rank high for and the keywords that typically provide a featured snipped on Google.
The reason why your current ranking keywords are important is because almost all of the featured snippets are derived from pages that already rank high for that keyword. If you want to be in the featured snippet, then your website must rank in top 10 already. If it doesn’t, then you have little to no chances of every being on the featured snippet category.
To make things simple, you can look at Ahref’s Organic Keywords report. This detailed report will show you a combination of keywords that you rank for that already have a featured snippet option on Google.
Once you find these keywords, start adding snippet bait to your site. Optimally, this should be a 60-word paragraph that contains specific and targeted content for the featured snippet.
Such snippet bait can work best for paragraph snippets that are less than 100 words. Even though paragraph snippets make up 82% of all featured snippets, they are not the only ones. List snippets such as content in bulleted form and table snipped also make up the remaining 20% of all featured snippets.
Remember to use the right kind of headings and formatting in order to rank in the featured snippet. Google will only pull content from sites that are easily accessible, so make sure that your data is well-organized.
4. Adapt to Novel Situations
Another key objective of your 2022 SEO strategy should be to adapt to novel situations. Always take notes of what is changing in search engines and why. Title tags and meta descriptions are already becoming obsolete, all thanks to Google’s constant A/B tests.
By staying up to date with changes in Google, you can adapt to the situation quickly and rank higher than your competition.
One of the latest innovations in SERP is visual search or searching for something through a photograph. To adapt to this new technological advancement, Google quickly came up with their new feature called Lens.
Statistics show that Google Lens has already been used 1 billion times. Pinterest was one of the first to introduce visual search and currently receives up to 600 million visual searches per month.
While visual search has not yet changed SEO drastically, it is likely to change the future. If you open Google Lens on your mobile right now, you can start scanning common household objects and find targeted results. In some cases, you can even find links to purchase the product online.
Google Lens can identify up to a billion objects at the moment and that number is only expanding with each passing day.
The reason behind visual search’s popularity is the ease of access. The feature can be used for quick shopping, finding directions, identifying landmarks, or reading local business reviews in a new city. Visual search can also provide nutritional information, recipes, and translations for various languages.
Studies show that more than 60% of young consumers are looking forward to new visual search opportunities in the future. Now is the time to make your content more visual search friendly.
SEO and Visual Search
Making your content optimized for visual search means adding lots of pictures. If you are selling a product, then you should add photos from multiple angles. This will help customers find your product and website through visual search regardless of the angle that they are viewing from. Most businesses forget to add back-view photographs to their site which results in lower ranking for visual searches.
Remember to always use high-resolution photos. Even if this means investing in professional photography, you should do it. Google Lens is most effective with visual search when the photographs on your website are of high quality and easily accessible.
Additionally, you should also have a mobile-friendly website. Since users are taking images from their phones, they should be able to access your website through the same device immediately. Statistics show that 9 out of 10 Google Lens results were of websites that initially passed the Google mobile-friendly test.
While visual search relies on modern technology, traditional image SEO is still relevant. Optimize your image filenames and add alt text to ensure that your website ranks high on Google Lens every time a user searches for your product.
4. Add Internal Links
Adding internal links to your site might sound like common SEO knowledge. However, businesses in 2022 are undermining the importance of internal linking. When you make links between different pages on your site, you are allowing the user and Google to identify pages that are interlinked. This will make it easier to navigate through your site and find targeted information.
Internal linking is most important for websites that have millions of product pages or a large volume of content. To make your SEO strategy more effective, you should have a clear site hierarchy that enables users to navigate from one page to another. You should also provide useful suggestions for related content through internal linking on each site page.
Typically, the homepage of a website contains the most internal links. As users navigate from page to page, the link value is divided amongst all the other internal links on further pages.
Links always pass their link value forward, which is why more links to a webpage means higher value. This will give Google an idea of the way your content is organized and helps in ranking your website better on SERPs.
Effective internal links can help you retain users on the website. If users are unable to locate the exact content they are looking for, they are likely to switch to another site that has a clearer hierarchy. By optimizing all your content with useful internal links, the bounce rate of your site can be reduced significantly.
SEO Strategies for Internal Links
Create content hubs on your website that includes one pillar page including all the content related to a specific topic. This will help both users and Google navigate relevant content quickly.
You can also optimize your site with internal links using faceted navigation which allows shoppers to add filters to their searches. By letting users search for specific styles, colors, or prices, user experience is improved to a great extent.
If you are unable to integrate internal links within your content pages, then you can add linkpacks at the bottom of your page. This can include suggestions of similar products or other products that can be paired with the current one.
Crawl depth is a complicated term used for the number of clicks needed to reach the target page. If a user has to through 10 pages before finding one they need, then you have a high crawl depth. The aim of any SEO strategy in 2022 should be to have an as low crawl depth as possible.
Crawl depth is particularly relevant to targeted search results such as Google’s Featured Snippet spot. To make user experience better, it is recommended to add hyperlinks to related content naturally.
Another factor that you should consider while focusing on your crawl rate is the speed of your site. Webpages that take too long to load have lower chances of being indexed by Google than those that are loaded immediately. Here are a few ways to improve your crawl depth:
A. Lots of Content
If you want to insert internal links on your site, then you need a large volume of quality content to begin with. Consider adding blogs or articles to your site that provide user guides or other useful information for the customer. This can give you an opportunity to advertise your own products while providing a helpful guide, how-to, or information regarding a niche.
For example, if you sell gardening tools, then you can start writing blogs on the best seasons to cut your trees. This will give you an opportunity to add internal links naturally in your content.
B. Link Popular Pages with New Ones
Analyze which page on your website has the highest SEO ranking. You should add more internal links to the popular page since it will give your low-ranked pages more customer exposure. This transferring of authority can be a great way to improve your SEO strategy in 2022.
Tools like Ahrefs can help you identify your high authority pages under the ‘best by links’ and ‘pages’ categories.
C. Use Anchor Text
Images can make your content more attractive and engaging. While you are adding internal links, don’t forget to add anchor texts to your images instead of linking them. Even if you are adding links to images, then always add alt tags that describe the photo.
5. Optimize for Local Search
Your target population will typically share the same demographics as you. Local SEO is known to help brands attract more customers and drive more traffic to their site. Even sites like Google have started showing local and relevant results in search. Since zero-click searches are becoming popular, it is important to have your website rank the highest for local SEO in your area.
A common misconception is that businesses need to have a physical location to optimize their website for local search. In reality, it is essential for all types of businesses to create a Google My Business account and keep updating their location frequently. The benefits of local SEO can go way beyond a physical location.
Whenever you search for a specific query, Google will show you results that are relevant to your demographic. This means that if you search for pizza delivery, then you will be shown options that are nearby and deliver to your current location.
Google often integrates keywords with a map to show up to three possible options to users. This happens even when you don’t add the words ‘near me’ to your search, since Google automatically uses location accuracy to provide local search results. As a business, you should aim to be in that top three category.
While local search has been an integral part of SEO for ages, it is now becoming more common due to an increased mobile internet access. Since everyone is always connected to the internet and are sharing their location with Google, local SEO is becoming increasingly important in 2022. Here are a few ways to optimize your site for local searches:
A. NAP Consistency
NAP means name, address, and phone number. These three concrete pieces of data are essential to any business search. In some cases, ‘W’ is added to the acronym that represents your website URL in order to make the user experience better.
To optimize your business your local searches, you need to provide concrete information regarding the NAP+W. This information should be consistent across your webpages, social media sites, and third-party sites where your product or service is listed.
If you face a NAP+W inconsistency, then you can lead to misdirected customers that opt for alternatives instead. Search engines like Google are highly cautious about NAP+W information since they do not want to provide inaccurate information to users. If you are caught with a NAP+W inconsistency, your search engine rankings are likely to go down significantly.
B. Online Presence
Apart from having accurate information, you also need to have an important online presence. This means that your website, blog, and social media must be kept updated. It is important to engage with customers and reply to queries promptly in order to establish a concrete online presence.
The content you provide must be engaging enough for customers to remain interested in your company which further helps you rank higher in local SEO. All this implies that it is crucial to invest time and resources into developing a strong publishing strategy for your business.
C. Competitive Advantage
Since you and your competitors share the same geographical region, you must be better than them to rank higher on local SEO. This means that extra effort needs to be invested in creativity in order to stand out from the crowd. Competitive advantage can be acquired based on your unique business environment, but a general thumb rule is to uncover opportunities that your competition has not yet discovered.
For example, a competitive edge for a high-end grocery store would be to have YouTube videos of chefs preparing dishes with their ingredients. Not only will this set the grocery store apart from the competitors, but it will also help them rank higher on local SEO where competition is intense.
6. Automate Your SEO
Not everything needs to be done manually anymore. Living in 2022 means that AI, machine learning, and natural language processing tools can enable businesses to automate their tasks. For SEO, writing content and generating reports are just two examples of tasks that can be automated.
Instead of hiring a team for keyword searches, perhaps it is time to invest in automation technology that can be far more efficient. Through automation, your SEO strategy can develop and improve at a much quicker pace than your competition.
Depending upon the niche of your business, many SEO tasks can be automated. Multiple tools are available in the market that allow businesses to automate their SEO strategy and improve it further. Automation is most useful for repetitive tasks that require a considerable amount of human power.
By switching to AI, businesses can reduce the costs of wages and turn to computers for more efficient SEO strategy development.
SEO companies like SEMrush are a prime example of automating your SEO. Instead of offering one specific SEO solution, the company offers a plethora of tools that combine to give you a complete set of automated SEO processes. It is also possible to use computer programming languages like Python to code and automate the SEO workflow.
On a basic level, automation can contribute towards SEO tasks such as position tracking, website crawls, brand mentions, new links, broken links, reporting, and analyzing the current strategy. More complex SEO tools can even provide personalized suggestions to improve your SEO strategy automatically.
Regular Site Audits
Automating your SEO strategy also means having regular site audits. No SEO strategy can be successful if your site is not functioning properly.
Since it is nearly impossible to conduct manual site audits every day, relying on a functional automation tool is much easier. A technical audit can be conducted automatically everyday with AI which enables businesses to identify issues that might be ignored otherwise.
In a world where search engine rankings are directly proportionate to sales revenue, keeping up with the latest trends is essential. Through strategies such as targeted content generation, optimizing Google’s latest tools, and bringing back the basics of SEO, businesses can perform much better.
Since higher search engine rankings are an objective of each business, it is essential to keep track of the changing SEO environment in the world as modern technology continues to develop. While internal links and alt text to images is still relevant to SEO, so is a strong online presence and task automation.