Search Engine Optimization is an ever-changing landscape… but the more things change, the more they stay the same. With that in mind, we will look at a few tips for SEO in 2022. Some are tried and true methods that many of us have been implementing (or at least watching) for – potentially – years. Others are logical progressions of how the search landscape and SEO have changed through consistent algorithms updates and best practices over the past few years.
Is Content Still King?
What would an SEO Tips for 2022 article be without referencing “Content” and the semi-regularly discussions on whether content is dead or if content is even more important than ever?
At Efferent Media, we’ve done some prioritizing over the years concerning content refreshes for clients, but also we’ve focused a great deal of energy into consistent, informative blog posting. This strategy will tie into some other tips, but where this has shined was the move from doing content for the sake of core terms and instead focusing on natural language queries, the growth in voice search, and user experience.
At its most basic level, we’re talking about looking at the actual questions people are asking in Google, the phrasing they use with Siri, and even the common questions that customers ask our clients. Why this change in direction? The Google BERT Update led to improvements in Natural Language Processing which ultimately allowed for more relevant results to questions like “Can hats make you go bald?”, “Do squirrels hibernate?”, “Does high humidity affect my air conditioner?”, and more.
Writing content that answers the real-world questions of our client’s customer base – which users can more reliably search for in today’s world – leads to incredible leaps in organic traffic.
What About Voice Search?
As mentioned above, voice search heavily informed how we research and write blog content for clients… But is that enough?
Yes and no. Of course, the content improvements designed to mimic real-world speech and questions did help search results, and the voice search landscape requires a few more essential tweaks to function better. Luckily, all of these are things we may have already been implementing across client sites.
For example, SSL (secure sites) and improvements to site speed and page load times will make your content more accessible in voice search and responses from Google Assistant or Siri. While long-form content can be engaging, we also needed to ensure that short-form content was concise, relevant, and answered questions. Why was short-form content important? I’m sure we’ve all seen the “People Also Ask” section of a Google search result. And who doesn’t want a snippet from their content to appear higher on the first page in a more visible position?
What is Zero-Click Local?
Voice Search and appearing in the “People Also Ask” dropdowns is about enhanced visibility. A Zero-Click is when we receive the answers to our needs and questions without clicking further… such as the knowledge boxes, top stories, or featured snippets. And that naturally leads us into Zero Click Local.
Local Search, Google Maps, Bing Maps, and Business Profiles are important ways to improve visibility. The rise in smartphone usage and hyperlocal searches means that a claimed and optimized business location is vital. How often do you see a map and a few sites at the top of your results? Whether you’re searching for food, shopping, museums, parks, gas stations, barbershops, dentists, and more… you’re likely to see a map pack.
But what is Zero-Click Local? In today’s mobile landscape, people will look at map results, choose a business, and navigate themselves instead of necessarily clicking to call, visiting the site, or tapping the directions button. Sometimes we want a quick overview of ‘are you relevant,’ ‘are you open,’ and ‘what street are you on.’ Visibility in Local SEO can drive traffic to your website for conversions, but it can also aid in driving foot traffic directly to your location.
Reviews and Local Search
Now that we have improved content, we’re answering people’s questions, we’ve improved our visibility, and zero-click has come into play… what’s next? How about enhancing your local presence through categories and tags or getting more reviews?
Google Business Profiles (formerly Google My Business) has come a long way in providing quick, helpful information for searches without needing to dig into a site or call for an answer. Depending on your industry… your listing might now include the homepage link, a contact link, an appointments link, and even a link to order online so that potential customers find what they need and convert quicker. One of the most critical profile sections is the Attributes portion of the business profile.
Why are “Attributes” important? People want to know who they are supporting, if a place is inclusive, what amenities exist, and so on. Being a Woman-owned business could be a central driving point for you… and business owners can highlight that on the business profile. The same is true of Veteran-owned businesses, Black-owned, or Latino-owned. But you can also give people quick info for other things like wheelchair-accessible bathrooms, ways they can pay at your location, whether masks and temperature checks are required, if the Wi-Fi is free or not, if you have gender-neutral bathrooms, LGBTQ+ safe spaces, and more. Including this information helps people make a more informed decision about which business they want to visit and whether it suits their needs or wants.
Reviews are a necessity in today’s landscape. For many people, a review for a business is the new word-of-mouth. Instead of calling all our friends and family to see if a restaurant is decent or this dental hygienist is good with children or if that plumber arrives on time… we instead turn to reviews. The unfortunate part of reviews is that you’ll notice many people click five stars and leave no explanation, while a 1-star reviewer will drop two paragraphs on everything they felt was wrong. How do you counteract that?
Respond to your reviews! Every business will have the occasional 1- or 2-star review. You can’t please all the people all of the time, right? But you can make sure that their concerns are heard, that you’re working on any issues, or even (in some cases) let future customers checking reviews know you did everything in your power or even that this reviewer was not a customer. Sadly, that does happen sometimes.
Don’t forget to respond to your 5-star reviewers. Just because they left a 5-star review doesn’t mean you have hooked this person as a return customer or regular. Responding to their 5-star review and thanking them improves trust, plus potential customers seeing you respond regularly will show that you are a real company, with real people, who take the time to engage with your customer base.
A thousand 5-star reviews are great, but zero responses make it seem like those reviews fall on deaf ears. Whereas having a mix of 1s, 3s, and 5-stars that all have a crafted response shows that you are an active business, appreciate your customer base, and are working to improve your business.
Improving User Experience
Lastly, let’s touch on one more aspect of On-site SEO that will be big in 2022. In 2021, Google rolled out the much-anticipated Page Experience Update. And Page Experience for desktop is scheduled to arrive in February of this year.
What do the Page Experience Updates mean for your mobile and desktop optimization? If the content is king, then Page Experience is Queen. Providing a better experience, reliability, speed, and security is tantamount. The significant metrics that Google is looking at include Cumulative Layout Shift, Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay, HTTPS Security, and Intrusive Interstitials.
Those are a lot of big-sounding terms, but they are not as scary as they may seem.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (or CLS) means that content, links, etc. should be stable. When a page is loading, things should stay in place or at least not bounce around as you’re trying to click a link.
- Largest Contentful Paint (or LCP) is about making sure the largest image or text block visible on your page will load in 2.5 seconds or less.
- First Input Delay (or FID) looks at the time between a user interacting with a page and how long it takes for the browser to process that — for instance, tapping a call-to-action button and expecting a pop-up or page load right away.
- Intrusive Interstitials mean annoying popups. No one likes landing on a site to find some information and immediately getting a coupon blocking the screen or a sign-up form getting in your way. Placing a delay on popups like these or changing them to exit-intent popups (instead of ruining a user’s initial entrance to the site) can provide a better overall experience.
Search Engine Optimization in 2022
While the internet landscape continues to change practically every week with new updates, improvements, changes, etc. – we still see some tried and true methods working across the board. Write content for people, use natural language instead of hyper-optimized targeted terms, provide helpful information, make accessing information more accessible, answer questions, build trust with your customer base, and be more responsive.
If you’re looking to improve your organic traffic and local presence, the SEO team at Efferent Media has a proven track record for success. We’ve helped business owners in various industry verticals gain relevant traffic and loyal customers. When you’re ready for the next step in growing your business, give the experts at Efferent Media a call at (631) 867-0900.