I always do this kind of prediction each year and I’m always generally wrong. So this year I thought I’d make even more SEO predictions than I normally do, working on the assumption that something might stick – one out of 28 would be nice! Anyway, here are my SEO Predictions for 2022:
1. We’ll continue to see AMP use decline
In 2020, Google started to consider non-AMP pages for their “Top Stories” and it wasn’t long after these websites that supported AMP began to notice the decrease of referrals to their AMP pages.
Then, last year, Twitter announced in its developer portal that Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) technology is being gradually discontinued in the social network. This seemed like a watershed moment for AMP and we expect we’ll continue to see the decline in AMP use throughout 2022.
When AMP was introduced it was all about ensuring the best and fastest experience for users, especially in light of the way people consumed content on mobile. But now, as the internet has become faster and pages are loading with the kinds of speeds that they never have before, we now are moving back to a phase where the experience should be the same for all users. This kind of reminds me of what the internet used to be like when there was one version of a website for mobile and one for desktop.
2. More space given over to Google News
Much more space was given to news stories in Top Stories on desktop search results and I expect to see different types of news carousels beginning to appear in search. I’d expect we’ll start to see more space being given over to alternative views on specific issues, so we could see smaller publishers appearing alongside larger publishers in various topics.
3. More improvements to Google Search Console reporting
Over the course of the last year, we started to see an increase in the ability to report on search traffic from the Google News tab.
There has been speculation that we’ll start to see Top Stories reporting being available in GSC, which would be very welcome by publishers.
4. News outlets will place more emphasis on evergreen content
By and large, the main publishers have spent their time pumping out news content and this has allowed businesses to focus on producing the kind of evergreen content that’s really specific to their products and services.
The thing is, publishers can themselves see the potential for traffic gains with this content and I imagine they will increasingly produce the kind of evergreen content that businesses are producing in their inbound content marketing campaigns.
5. Good SEO strategies should include video
We’ve been talking about making sure video is part of your SEO strategy for a long time. But this has now moved beyond just having video on the odd page or on your youtube channel. Video has to be thoroughly considered as both a supporting piece for text and as an alternative to the way people are consuming content.
6. Short-form video content will appear in Google Search Results
By the end of 2021, TikTok became the most visited website in the world over Google, which is a pretty impressive feat for any website. I expect Google will respond to this by beginning to introduce short-form content to the SERPs.
Expect to see video being pulled through from TikTok, from Instagram Reels, from Twitter and from YouTube Shorts.
7. Clip and Seek Markups will be used for SERPs
Implementing and refreshing video markup (mainly clip and seek markup) will help make the video content more digestible, enabling users to jump to specific times within the video, to help answer key searches. I expect we’ll see more of this video being pulled through to the SERPS (I think of this as being a bit like passage ranking for video).
8. Search trends will return to normal trends by the end of 2022
Search trends have been all over the place over the last couple of years with the coronavirus crisis having dominated search and changed the way we use the internet. But I think we’ll start to see searches returning to more normal trends by the end of 2022.
9. Google LaMDA will continue to improve Google’s understanding of dialogue
LaMDA is what Google is referring to as their “breakthrough technology” it stands for Language Model for Dialogue Applications. LaMDA is like BERT and MUM, but what differentiates LaMDA is it was trained on dialogue, and it’s focused on producing sensible and specific responses that satisfy a human interactor. This dialogue understanding will increasingly help Google to understand the way we use language, beyond simple contextual analysis.
10. Core Web Vitals will become more important
Core Web Vitals and other Page Experience Factors rolled out in the middle of 2021 with much fanfare about the impact it would have and to be frank, the outcome was much smaller than any of us anticipated. But it’s not going away. We will see this be increasingly implemented and become an even more important ranking factor in 2022. And expect to see technology shift to help make the web much quicker
11. E-A-T will become more important in differentiating quality content
We’re going to see more and more user-centric Google algorithm updates and improvement and E-A-T jumps out at me as an area for improvement in 2022. Google’s perception of content continues to move beyond keywords and I think this will be the year that Google will develop new ways to interpret E-A-T factors by moving them beyond the perceptions of the search quality raters.
12. WordPress releases will be more streamlined and faster
WordPress is still by far the most used content management system in the world, however, some of the newer website builders have been taking a bit out of its huge market share. One of the reasons for this is WordPress has a lot of bloat, both in the core build and also in the coding that’s added through themes and through plugins. This means it’s not necessarily as fast as some of the builders and as this is becoming increasingly important of Google’s ranking factors it’s not inconceivable that WordPress could begin to be passed over by savvy business owners and marketers for a faster platform.
In 2021, WordPress announced that this was something that they’re going to put some emphasis on addressing by calling a developer conference. I predict they’ll make these changes this year and I expect we’ll see it has a number of knock-on impacts to old themes, plugins and older versions of WordPress becoming completely deprecated.
There could be a big opportunity for SEOs to take advantage of this newer faster WordPress when it does finally hit the Update page.
13. Long-form content is going to become more important
I say this year after year. And that’s because it’s always going to be true. If you can create a decent long-form piece of content, that’s long for a reason and does what it needs to do, it’s likely that it’s going to outrank just about everything else out there.
Don’t waste your time by creating articles that are only a few hundred words long. And don’t waste your time creating content that’s a thousand words long if your competitors are all creating content that’s several thousand words long.
Long-form is generally the first place to go when creating content, but only if it’s relevant.
14. Google Discover is going to become increasingly important
Google Discover is designed to help users “discover” content, which is most relevant to them based on their interests. They’ve been working on this for a number of years but in 2022 it’s going to become even more important to optimise for Google Discovers.
Bear in mind that this is mobile content and you’ve got to create content that will be consumed by your audience in the mobile environment.
15. Voice search will increase in relevance
Over 25% of people now use voice search. And whilst keyboard searches have very little to worry about in terms of pure volume of searches, those searches still need to be thought about, because as younger generations come through and as people become more familiar with voice search, we are going to see more and more searches being carried out using voice search.
I predict we’ll see an explosion of voice search before we know it. I remember mobile search taking off, I watched mobile use creep up year after year for about 5 years and then it topped 50% – 60% of activity and before you knew it that was it, everyone was accessing the web on mobiles. Voice search will undoubtedly do the same thing and it will change the way search works for the rest of us as well.
16. Image optimisation will become more important
As Google continues to increase the content it considers when ranking, it’s becoming clearer that images don’t just represent an opportunity, but they are absolutely essential in order to get your content to rank.
So when we talk about the optimisation of images, what are the specific elements we think you need to be looking at? Here are the main elements to optimise:
- Use a unique image
- Use high-quality images
- Define the dimensions based on the use on page
- Optimise the size of the image so it’s as small as possible
- Use the best image format for the application
- Use responsive images to meet mobile demands
- Use keyword-rich and descriptive Alt text
- Use keyword-rich and descriptive title tags
- Use keyword-rich image captions
- Use an image sitemap
17. The use of modern image formats will become a norm
We’re used to seeing Jpegs, Gifs and PNGs but the world is changing and it’s time to start implementing the newer image formats.
This is what you should be thinking about:
- Use PNGs when you want to background transparency
- Use of WebP instead of JPEG and PNG for the best compression
- Use SVG for logos and icons
18. Optimising for the Shopping Graph will be essential for eCommerce businesses
Over the last 18 months, Google has moved to make Google Shopping more accessible to online retailers, and that doesn’t matter whether you’re paying for shopping ads or not and now eCommerce website owners can connect their product feed to Google for inclusion in the Shopping results.
In May of this year, Google has announced the introduction of the Shopping Graph. Shopping Graph is Google’s AI-powered engine for understanding and interpreting the ever-increasing volume of products, brands, and online reviews – making it more easily searchable.
The thing to consider include:
- Keep your product feed clean and up to date.
- Link Google to your customer loyalty program.
- Use promotion extensions to increase offer visibility.
19. Passage ranking will increase in 2022
At the moment, Passage Ranking affects around 7% of all search queries. I expect it will start to increase – this is part of why I think long-form content will become more important. It’s a big change already but expect this to become more important as Google moves away from primarily ranking pages.
20. Smarter answers to more complicated questions as MUM has more data
I expect this year, Google will increase the knowledge transfer between different languages due to MUM and this will increasingly have an impact on the ranking of various keywords.
MUM is also a big reason why you need to properly optimise multimedia as well and as this rolls out because it’s really going to focus on linking up not just the content on the page but the multimedia that goes alongside it and throughout your digital profile to understand you know what you’re talking bout.
21. Could this be the year of decent AI content tools? Maybe not but they’ll impact things.
I remember trying an AI content creator in something like 2014 or 2015. I remember writing a blog for GrowTraffic about it back then and even creating some content using the AI content creators. Needless to say, the content those content creation tools created was generally useless. And I’ve tried them ovr the years and at the moment I can still say I can tell when it’s been machine created. But content is getting better and it’s being used in ways that are better aligned to its limitations, such as in sports reporting and reporting on the financial markets.
I do think we’ll see it coming through more and more. I keep hearing of SEOs out there who say they use it all the time and that’s great for them, but I don’t see it being so widely used that’s it’s currently a threat, but if they get that AI just a smidgen better it’s probably going to be something that will have a serious impact on the world of SEO.
22. We’ll continue to see Spam Updates weeding out poor quality backlink building
There were two or three fairly brutal spam updates last year and I expect we’ll see more of these in 2022. Doing terrible link building is definitely a way to get your website banned and downgraded and I can’t see that changing. If anything I think Google is starting to get even savvier about link building and guest posts are getting really frequently removed and discounted.
23. More businesses will ignore quantities of backlinks over quality
This kind of goes with the point above. In the olden days (OK I was still doing this a bit last year) we would look at the backlinks of the competitors and then try to work out how many and how strong the backlinks should be. I think it’s probably time to consign this theory to the dustbin of SEO superstition. It’s not a strategy, it’s just voodoo. Now is the time to just create content on other websites that generates good links. Don’t overcomplicate link building because when it’s overcomplicated that’s when it becomes a problem.
24. The importance of Schema will decline but it won’t disappear
Google loves markup and it’s always introducing new bits of markup that should be considered, but most marketers and business owners out there have no idea how to implement markup and this puts them at a huge disadvantage. That’s why every time Google introduces something it tends to put a release out saying it now understand what a section means without markup. This trend will continue but don’t expect markup for SEO to be around forever, it won’t.
25. Brand signals will become more important in local search
Local search has been a bit of a wild west in terms of SEO and many of the old spammy SEO tactics we used to employ ten years ago still have some kind of relevancy. But I predict we are going to see brand signals becoming more important in 2022 for local search. We’ll see the exact match domains that are still regularly seen in local search begin to phase out of the map boxes to be replaced by genuine local brands.
26. More SEOs will refer to backlink building as online PR
I’ve started talking about online PR rather than link building. And it stands to reason that in the future we’ll think about it in these terms. Even now, we’re not just thinking about links, but we’re thinking about the content and the brand and the quality of the publication and the publication’s audience. The quickly we move away from thinking about links and we move more towards thinking about PR the better it will be for everyone.
27. The decline of 3rd party cookies will continue to confuse us and offer new opportunities
We’ve seen huge upset with the way Apple unilaterally started to protect the privacy of their users. We’ve seen Google start to think about what will replace third-party cookies – namely FLoC. I think we’ll continue to see a change in the way people view their own privacy online and I expect this will continue to have an impact on how we as marketers understand online trends.
28. Content with unique research or insights will dominate
There are so many people out there generating a huge amount of similar content. I’m going to hold my hand up here and say GrowTraffic creates a lot of content for our clients and a lot of it is based on content we find around the internet. We often find a couple of pieces of content and then use some of the insights from that content to develop content for our clients. This is fairly standard practice but is it adding anything new or unique? Probably not. And you’ve got to think about how much content is being created. Google is going to start looking for more and more signals of uniqueness and insights and this year I expect we’ll see a move towards rewarding content that adds something that no other piece of content out there does.