7 SEO Predictions for 2022 with Kate Toon (NEWBIE)

7 SEO Predictions for 2022 with Kate Toon (NEWBIE)
Reading Time: 12 minutes

 

What will change, what will stay the same, and how this will affect ranking

 

Every year about this time, I dust off my crystal ball and start looking into Google’s nether regions, trying to discern what lies ahead on the murky path of SEO.

This is a solo episode, just little old me, and I’ll be running through my opinion of what’s next, what’s changed, and what remains the same.

Will you agree?

Well, that remains to be seen, or heard.

 

Tune in to learn:

  • Important SEO changes from 2021 you might have missed
  • Is Google still even a search engine?
  • How Google is understanding us better
  • The lowdown on user experience
  • How Google is squeezing us out of the SERPs
  • Why we should all EAT more
  • How AI will impact things
  • Why images matter more than ever

 

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Big thanks to Anonymous for their lovely review:

“SEO for anyone

 

This is hands down one of the most educational show’s I have listened to, whilst getting my head around all things SEO.

 

Kate has a great understanding of her audience and delivers the show with some great guests and relevant subjects.

 

She also supports this show with an amazing FREE Facebook group, which offers further insights into what is going on and things to do to improve.

 

Keep up the great work Kate and look forward to the next show.”

 

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Transcript

 

Kate Toon:
Every year, about this time I dust off my crystal ball and start looking into Google’s nether regions, trying to discern what lies ahead on the murky path of SEO. This is a solo episode, just little old me, and I’ll be running through my opinions on what’s next, what’s changed and what remains the same. Will you agree? Well, that remains to be seen or heard.

Kate Toon:
Anyhow, let’s get stuck in to the first episode of The Recipe for SEO Success podcast in 2022.

Kate Toon:
Hello, my name is Kate Toon and I’m Head Chef here at The Recipe for SEO Success, an online learning hub for all things search engine optimization and digital marketing.

Kate Toon:
Let’s be honest, 2021 hit us like a brick in the tit. And most of us are happy to toss that year in the bin and instead roll out a fresh, clean new year. 

Kate Toon:
But as we know, the world of SEO is never static. Things will always be changing and information on what’s changed and what’s important will always be confusing. Even the best experts seem to struggle to explain the facts in simple terms, but never fear. I have compiled and decomplicated a comprehensive list of what to look out for this year.

Kate Toon:
Before we get into 2022, I thought we might do a quick overview of what you might have missed in 2021. So the biggest thing that hit us in 2021 was probably the page experience update, which looked at various signals of what constitutes a good page. So Core Web Vitals, things such as Cumulative Layout Shift, Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay, and lots more. Now we’ve done a few episodes on Core Web Vitals. So if you want to go back into our catalogue, you can listen to them. But other page experience issues are things around mobile usability, making sure there are no errors, no security issues, making sure pages are served over HTTPS, making sure that the ad experience isn’t distracting or interrupting.

Kate Toon:
So super important update, of course, as always Google advised us not to panic, which was helpful. But you can now see some Core Web Vitals reports in Google search console, and start working on those. Similar things that most of us were already looking at over the last few years, just making sure the site loads quickly, works on mobile devices, and is easy to use. The contrast is good, the navigation isn’t too wiggly, all that common sense stuff, but now Google has made it official.

Kate Toon:
Another big thing last year was Google product reviews. So back on April 8th, Google announced it was releasing product reviews in its latest update to show reviews that share in depth research rather than content that simply summarises a bunch of products. Google started to look at the language and the tone of reviews to ensure they weren’t just marketing and sales pitches. It’s looking for helpful information. Good content. So a lot of thinly veiled affiliate sites really took a nose dive and better content reviews rose to the top. What does that mean for you? If you are the kind of person or website that does roundups of products, you need to make sure that they’re not just blatant affiliate links, that they actually create some useful information and that they’re helpful.

Kate Toon:
Another big thing last year was that Google rather annoyingly started to rewrite titles. This was a huge point of discussion in 2021. Experts such as Lily Ray noticed that Google was pulling H1s, internal link text, and other copy into the search engine results pages as the title. Some studies, try saying that fast, some studies showed up to 60% of titles being rewritten, which is super frustrating.

Kate Toon:
But again, the lovely John Mueller said not to sweat the small stuff. Here’s a little quote from him, “Titles are important. They are important for SEO. They are used as a ranking factor. Of course, they’re definitely used as a ranking factor, but it’s not something where I’d say you spend time on tweaking the title is really the best use of your time.” So, titles are important. They are a ranking factor. We’re changing them, but don’t worry about it. I’m not sure. As I call copywriter, I just think titles are super important, not just for Googley bits, but also enticing that click-through.

Kate Toon:
So if you had your titles rewritten, it’s good to look at what Google changed. Why did they rewrite them? Was there something wrong with them? Were they too long, too short, missing important keyword phrases? Were they fluffy? Irrelevant? Look at what Google changed them to and take the time to rewrite them and then maybe Google will use yours instead.

Kate Toon:
Another big change last year was Google MUM back in June 2021, which aimed at delivering search results to overcome language and format barriers. So MUM, which is the catchier version of Google Multitask Unified Model can understand and translate 75 different languages in text and image. So it’s all about interpreting meaning in a people friendly way, breaking down language barriers and meaning that wherever you are, you can get a detailed, relevant answer in seconds. Google wants to be the world’s best mum.

Kate Toon:

One other thing, I mean, look, it wasn’t big news in 2021, it’s been around a little while, was FAQ schema. It was a hot topic among some SEOs in 2021. And I guess it will continue into 2022. I mean, I guess the great thing about FAQ schema is it’s super easy to implement, and it can help you gain a lot of Google real estate. So I’ve included some links in the podcast notes for you to help you wrap your head around FAQ schema if you haven’t implemented it already.

Kate Toon:
Now, as always, I apologise for the noises in the background, my dog is in the office. He is old. He makes a lot of grunty noises when he sleeps. So if you hear grunty noises, it’s not me, it’s my dog.

Kate Toon:
Right. That was 2021. Let’s talk about 2022. But before we do, another caveat. For most businesses, the latest trends in technology developments will have zero impact. Why? Because they have yet to master the basics. I’m talking content, backlinks, internal links, deep linking, minimising redirects, speed, responsiveness. So if you haven’t done all of that basic stuff, there’s no real worrying about the latest tweak that you can make to page 17 of your website, right?

Kate Toon:
And I think often small businesses get distracted by this big new thing. And they think, well, I have to jump on that. I have to do that. All the SEO people are talking about that. But they haven’t done all the stuff that they should have done before that. It’s the job of SEO experts to talk about the latest trends, but often those trends aren’t written in stone yet. They are on the cutting edge. They’re experimenting with really the latest stuff. And it hasn’t trickled down to all the websites. Sometimes Google releases changes that only impact a tiny percentage of the web. And if you leap on it now that might change. Google is well known for implementing things and taking them away again. Remember when it made us all write much longer meta descriptions and we all changed them. And then six months later it changed it back. It’s pretty annoying.

Kate Toon:
So while it’s important to be aware of them, take advice from people you trust about when you start implementing them on your sites. Okay?

Kate Toon:
o yes, often SEO experts will bang on about the latest trends that really don’t have much impact for the average Joanna or Joe, will take a long time to trickle down into an actual doable task. But with that said, let’s make our first prediction.

Kate Toon:
So number one, Google is no longer a search engine, it’s an answer engine. So if you follow certain SEO types on Twitter, who carefully follow Google’s Patents, Bill Slawski from Go Fish is a great person to follow. It’s easy to see that they’re very interested in polishing up their question and answering ability. We’ve already seen featured answers and people also asked features popping up and I expect this function to grow. Why? Well, because regardless of age or demographic, we are conditions now to want quick answers, and we go to search engine for these. So my takeout, move away from looking for keyword phrases and focus on identifying questions people are asking, and then answer them to the best of your ability with really solid content on your website.

Kate Toon:
Prediction number two, improvements in natural language processing, NLP. With the BERT algorithm update a little while ago, we saw a great leap forward in natural language processing. BERT can assess not just what words are used, but the way words are used in a search query and how they relate to each other. This gives Google a much more nuanced understanding of searcher intent. Google MUM is the next evolution. I think we’ll see improvements in this, including translation, language agnostic processing, which in simple terms is about looking for patterns in language regardless of what language is used.

Kate Toon:
I just think Google is going to get more and more sophisticated at understanding the odd idioms, slang, the emphasises, the nuances, emphasy, emphasises, the nuances of language that we
don’t think AI is quite ready to understand, but it’s getting there. So my takeout on this one is that Google will get better and better understanding your content and the people searching for it. And developers, once these systems are in place to understand nuance, developers will be able to produce code that maybe enable automation of SEO techs for things like titles and product descriptions.

Kate Toon:
Right now it’s dangerous to try and use tools to write titles and product descriptions because they do an okay job, but you can kind of always tell they were written by a robot. As the algorithm gets more sophisticated so will the automation that follows that. 

Kate Toon:
Prediction number three, I think there’ll be a continued focus on user experience. So Google has started the ball rolling, wanting quality user experience and website content. And obviously I think this will expand. Core Web Vitals was huge last year and I think they’ll continue to push for sites that are easy to use and navigate, and that will just continue to be the goal. So killing off your frilly design darlings is still important and ensuring accessibility to all kinds of humans on all kinds of devices. I think it’s going to be paramount.

Kate Toon:
Some experts are actually talking about there might even be ranking boosts for accessible content or additional features. And on the flip side possible penalties for those who have inaccessible sites.

Kate Toon:
So my takeout for this one is if you hadn’t had a hard Paddington bear stare at your website lately, now is the time, how quickly does it load? What loads when? How long does it take till I can interact with the page? How good is the contrast? How clear is the copy? Do you have screen reader implementation? Have you named your images well? Do you have audio backed up with transcripts? Making sure that it’s just accessible to as many people as possible and also ensuring that the language is written in such a way that it’s accessible for people where English isn’t their first language.

Kate Toon:
Prediction number four, this is a biggie, less and less real estate for organic content. Do you remember when there were just 10 blue links on the page, on the search engine results pages? Blissful times people. These days we’re lucky to get two or three blue links. And I believe Google would continue to grab more and more space in the search results from organic, more featured snippets, more ads, more Google jobs, flights, accommodation.

Kate Toon:
And of course, I think some people think that Google is this magnanimous entity that gives us this search engine for free, but they’re a business. They want to make money. And they want to push the things that make them money. So my takeout here is with less real estate, we’ve got to work even harder at ranking for keywords that convert or work for our business as well as dominating in branded search. So making sure we really own the front page for our own business name and our own name, which brings me neatly on to the next topic, more EAT, expertise, authority, trust.

Kate Toon:
So Google has long been pushing for in depth topics to be written, not just by anybody, but by subject matter experts. This doesn’t mean we all need to rush out and get a degree on every topic under the sun, but it does mean quality content is needed. And to get quality content, we may need to seek out experts to consult and quote.

Kate Toon:
So you need to ensure as well you have a really good Google author page on your site. This is going to help Google evaluate your authors and they can use it for E-A-T. Ensure you establish yourself as an expert and include some biographical information. This really helps Google connect who you are with your experience. And then whenever you have an article, you can link to that author page.

Kate Toon:
Also, work on reviews. Google quality raters often look at other websites when doing reputation research and it’s believed that Google can do the same thing algorithmically. 

Kate Toon:
So my takeout on this is it’s great news for copywriters and niche experts who write in particular fields and have the qualifications and experience to prove it. If you are not an expert in a field, think about getting some qualifications, getting some reviews, beefing up your biography, so it illustrates that you know what you’re talking about and that people can trust you and Google can trust you too.

Kate Toon:
Prediction number six, more AI and automation. So AI has long been a part of Google algorithms and will likely to be used more and more. Google used AI to rewrite those pesky titles we talked about at the start of the podcast, and I think there’s more of that coming. Most SEO types I know are obsessed with automation, finding tools to do mundane SEO tasks faster, dump in the spreadsheets and moving to smarter tools that can do the job of humans.

Kate Toon:
And of course a copywriter’s biggest fear, automation of contents. I don’t think we have anything to fear just yet. Good writers, editors and content strategy types will always have a role. I think AI will play more into things like improving readability and grammar and writing repetitive elements at scale. So all the boring bits that us copywriters don’t hugely enjoy anyway. The creativity angle, I think we got that for a little bit longer.

Kate Toon:
Prediction number seven, image SEO will increase in importance. So Google announced at Search On in 2021 that they wanted to make the search engine results page more visually appealing and easy to use. Thank goodness for that, right? Bigger image blocks, more space for results. But there’s other image impacts here. Google Lens will also help shoppers look for a product using photos on their device. Kind of like a reverse image search. Oh gosh, I’m struggling to speak today.

Kate Toon:
Google Discover is also helping things. So for those who don’t know, Google Discover, it shows results based on what Google’s AI system believes to be a good match to your interests. And it seems that users using large image previews could see a big increase in click through from Google Discover.

Kate Toon:
So those are my seven top tips. Let’s just recap those quickly. So Google moving towards being more of an answer engine, improvements in natural language processing, continued for focus on user experience, less real estate for organic content, more EAT, more AI and automation, and image SEO becoming more and more important.

Kate Toon:
Final bonus tip, forget AMP. Now, most of you have probably not even implemented AMP in the first place, but if you did, it’s clear that Google no longer requires AMP to rank top stories. Of course, it has some speed benefits, but if it’s hard to maintain, well, many of you might just want to start getting rid of it. In fact, many sites have.

Kate Toon:
So there we go. Those are my predictions for 2022. I tried to keep it short and sweet. Now, some of the tops I’ve talked about, especially if you’re a newbie, you may not have heard of them before. So what I’ve done is in the show notes, I’ve included some links, I’ve got articles there about the page experience update, Google rewriting titles and blurbs, the event summary from Search On event, Google Lens, Google Discover, advice on author pages and some information about FAQ schema as well. So lots of good follow on examples there.

Kate Toon:
Of course, you can also head to the I LOVE SEO group on Facebook, where I’m going to be sharing a breakdown of these tips and we can have discussions about them as well.

Kate Toon:
Now, if you like the podcast, it’s a new year and it would be lovely to get some new reviews. So if you are listening right now, open up your device, go to the reviews thing, and if you get time, just leave a quick review, a star rating. Let me know what you think about the podcast and what you would like to learn more about.

Kate Toon:
This year, I have some great guests lined up to talk to you about a huge range of topics, not just SEO, but digital marketing as well. So stay tuned, lots more good stuff coming up. And until next time, happy SEOing.