What You Need to Know about SEO for Today and Beyond

Search Engine Optimization - SEO

Last Updated: January 7, 2022

What’s in store for your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) for 2022 and beyond?

The first thing you need to realize is that Google still owns search and we have to live with it. According to Statcounter, in North America, they still dominate with close to 89% of all searches. (Globally, they have close to 92%)

Look at the the most recent search stats for December 2021:

United States search stats for Dec. 2021. Source: Global Statcounter

Obviously, Google is still king. You might as well ignore the others. They’ll find you if you follow Google’s rules for SEO… Source

[Google] says their aim is to serve their users the best possible results, but we can’t help but note that coincidentally, we’re seeing Google answering more and more questions directly through SERP [Search Engine Results Page] features (“zero-click searches”) while also driving up CTRs for paid listings.

So, our content is used to answer questions directly in the SERP, and we get nothing in return (except maybe for a bit of brand value).

Slowly but surely, Google’s eating up the SERP, and decreasing the CTR for organic listings.

I know this has been the trend for a while, but recent developments for the SERP features — as well as the results of a recent Rand Fishkin study on CTRs — are alarming. ~Steven Van Vessum, Search Engine Journal

Keyword Research is Still Important for SEO

It’s a bit more complicated. Before you used to use the Google keyword tool to find the keywords and phrases for your particular business. You went for the ones with high search volume. You still can and it still helps. But….

Search volume is not a good indicator for search traffic.

You can have a high search volume for a keyword, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you get a high number of clicks. ~ Search Engine Journal

Now, because of featured snippets (see below), the answer to a question or search term will usually appear on the top of the SERP (search engine results page) and there’s no need for the searcher to go any further.

Moreover, your meta tag — the descriptive paragraph that comes up in search under the URL — is vital to entice searchers to click on to your website.

User Intent

For Google, search intent is very important. They’re goal is to bring up the freshest, most relevant content in response to what a user enters into the search box. When creating content — blogs, videosgraphics, podcasts, etc. — focus on answering the users’ questions. This means you need to put yourself in your target market‘s shoes.

What are they going to enter into the search box to find you?

Understanding where your audience is coming from will be crucial to come up on the first page of Google.

There are 4 types of intent queries:

  • Informational: How to…? What is…? How much…? How high…? Where is…? When was…?, etc.
  • Navigational: Branded Queries: Where’s the nearest Starbucks?”
  • Commercial investigation: What’s the best ____?
  • Transactional: Download, buy, order, get…

How do you find which ones will work for you? Look at your competition’s SERP results. Play with different query searches. See where you come up in comparison to your competitors. What phrase did they rank for?

This article in Search Engine Journal explains where and how to do it. 

Google partnered with WordPress

This goes to show that Google recognizes WordPress as the premier website platform.

With its 59 percent CMS market share equating to 29 percent of all websites running WordPress, a partnership with the platform makes perfect sense for Google to advance its goals of a stronger, better, faster web. ~ The Need for Speed

And there is the free, Google plugin, Site Kit for WordPress. This plugin makes it easy to track your analytics monthly to see what’s working and not working.

Create Quality Content for SEO

Truth: there’s a lot of content out there. Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity. Your content needs to be epic and stand out. 

  1. Create content that solves your target market’s problems.
  2. Content should motivate and connect with people. The Importance of Great Content in SEO
  3. Use the right language to move the user through the page. They need to keep reading and want to read more.
  4. Good marketing content will lead them to convert — whether it’s to download a freebie so you get their email address and put them into a marketing automation system or going straight to the sale (ecommerce sites).
  5. Good content will increase your and your site’s authority on the topic. As a result, you become known as an expert in your field. Think EAT: Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness. 

People buy from whom they know and trust.

Links are still Important for SEO

  • Internal links: your navigation, linked keywords to other pages and posts within your website.
  • External links: quoting sources, social media profiles, and other relevant sites.
  • Expert Tip: Make sure all of them open to a new tab so that keeps the visitor longer on your site.

“Hey, Google, Siri, Alexa…”

Whether they’re asking their phone or their “smart speaker”, voice search use will increase. People are going to ask questions or they are seeking something local. Therefore, the idea is to come up in the SERP and be the first one the smart speaker finds with the correct response to the query.

What do you need to do to come up in those search results Featured Snipppets?

  • Snipppets are answer boxes in reply to questions asked in Google Search.
  • Research which keywords will trigger a snippet: Most of these keywords will implicitly or explicitly ask a question.
  • Structure your content: Most answer boxes are pulled from paragraphs, tables or lists in your content. For paragraphs, make your answer short and to the point. Also, ensure your answer appears at the top of your article.
  • Be accurate and correct: Google wants to reward websites that offer up the most accurate and complete answer to the question.
  • Put the question in a “H2” heading tag.
  • For example, for the query, “What is SEO?”, this is what comes up:

Google My Business, a Must for SEO

If you’re a local brick-and-mortar, make sure your Google My Business (GMB) Now called the Business Profile Manager  listing is up-to-date with your company’s information, hours, phone, email address and that you’re verified local. Furthermore, you can also post to GMB and it will come up in Google searches. See the example below:

Also, make use of the Google Search Console.

Website Loading Speed a Factor

Your website has to load FAST. Especially on a mobile device. Test your website here. It will give you tips on how to improve your loading speed. The Google WordPress plugin, Site Kit, includes the Search Console and Page Speed Test. Then there are the Core Web Vitals which also affect your ranking.

Social Media Integration and Posting is Still Key for SEO

  • Share your blog posts to your social networks – you can automate this with the free tool, Dlvr.it.
  • Create promo posts with links back to your website
  • Use Pinterest – pin your graphics and videos. It creates a backlink and when someone clicks twice on your pin, it goes to your website.
  • Re-purpose your content on LinkedIn. Write the post first on your blog, share it on LinkedIn, in a few days, copy it to LinkedIn’s blog. Always put, “This post/article originally appeared on _____.” with a link to the originating article. That gives the original authority with Google. Also, put a call-to-action (CTA) back to your website.
  • Share relevant posts again if something is trending on Twitter.
  • Send out a monthly (at least) newsletter with excerpts of your blog articles with “click here to read more” and a link back to the website. This, too can be automated with MailChimp’s RSS auto-posting. If you don’t do any blogs, it doesn’t go out.
  • Talk to your target customer.
  • Share it in online to niche groups and forums.
  • Encourage blog commenting.
  • Encourage happy camper customers to recommend/review you or your business on LinkedIn, Facebook, Yelp, Google and other pertinent sites.

SEO is constant work.You need to blog at least weekly to give Google the fresh content it’s looking for.

The Magic formula of a good, optimized website + fresh, relevant content + being active on the social networks really does work!

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By Giselle Aguiar

Giselle Aguiar is a social media, inbound and content marketing specialist and trainer helping business owners learn how to leverage the power of social media marketing, increase traffic to their websites, generate leads, increase brand awareness and establish themselves as experts in their fields.