Over the last year, we have witnessed a remarkable evolution in the world of SEO.
At a time where consumer behavior was at its most erratic and unpredictable, SEO grew -- beyond not just being the most cost-effective marketing channel -- to become a vital source of business intelligence fueling digital and omnichannel marketing success.
SEO’s transformation to the mainstream had come at a time when organizations across every type of discipline needed it most.
From manufacturing, automotive, and consumer good organizations needing to track demand and balance supply through to travel and retail organizations needing to unveil new behavior patterns, SEO held the keys to success.
In many ways, SEO morphed from being the voice of the customer to also being the voice of the future consumer in a new virtual online user group. From mobile phones to wearables and voice-activated devices, multiple entry points continue to open up for people wanting to consume and for marketers needing to be discoverable.
In 2021, the rollout of Core Web Vitals and the Page Experience update signified
just how important the user experience is to Google. The resurgence of E-A-T principles also tells its own story on how marketers need to adapt their SEO and content strategies to focus on expertise,
authority, and trust.
The forthcoming introduction of MUM to replace BERT as Google’s resource for understanding natural language is set to reinforce the need for quality content and the need to have SEO and query-intent factored into all content types and strategies. This will lead to a greater reduction of misleading content and poor quality content reaching users.
So what does this all mean? First, it means that search, content and digital marketers, website owners and IT developers all need to unite in their quest for customer-centricity. This includes focusing on the discoverability of their products and services and the delivery of experiences that perform.
How can you do this in 2022?
Focus on experience as an imperative
It’s no secret that with CX technology spending expected to reach $641 billion in 2022, online experience matters. From content creation to dynamic personalization, online experiences are now the must-have competitive advantage.
The golden rule of SEO is always to make your site discoverable. However, it cannot stop there. Next year, search marketers need to take that extra step forward to create holistic experiences for users.
Google technology is built to look for better signals to inform users if content is relevant, high-quality, and trustworthy. So make sure you are aligning your strategies alongside your understanding of the entire customer journey from discovery and engagement through to purchase and retention.
Ensure you are continually measuring Core Web Vitals
You will need to prioritize Core Web Vital thresholds, as well as ensure that they are in
close sync with IT and remove barriers such as code freezes. It's also important to track not just the Core Web Vitals, but those of your competitors.
Be prepared to move faster
Speed has become the number one factor that is central to algorithmic changes, search updates and vital web rollouts. At the same time, consumers now demand instantaneous information and answers. This means that you need to look at moving faster in two ways in 2022.
Be faster as a practitioner
Technical SEO has become even more important over recent years. Core Web Vitals alone has meant the need for technical speed, responsiveness and visual stability has grown. In addition, as search engines evolve how they process information voice, video and images -- optimization for all of these has become just as important as text.
Machine learning and AI adoption is multiplying. 2022 is a year where embracing automation is going to be vital. To move at the speed of search, it is going to be critical to:
- Embrace AI for the provision of real-time insights
- Take advantage of automation to remove repetitive SEO tasks
- Utilize technology to automate and prioritize website fixes
- Be faster as an organization
Agility is a word often overused in some marketing realms, but it is becoming more and more meaningful in SEO. To improve user experiences, keep pace with SEO change and move faster, your SEO operations need to be more nimble.
As conversational and contextual updates create more search paths, Page Experience and Mobile-First updates will reach full effect next year.
Start 2022 by ensuring search is central to all your marketing plans. Ensure you have executive buy-in, and if you don't, get to work on doing that now. Utilize the data that shows the demand for SEO. Now has never been a better time to showcase how SEO has a far-reaching marketing impact.
Utilize your data far more intelligently
Data is only valuable if used and if used correctly. In today's digitally centric economy, those who can utilize data and transform this into real business insights will be able to successfully navigate future markets, make informed decisions and adjust their strategies to meet both business needs and market trends.
Eighty-eight percent of companies are now using market research to make business decisions. From macro trends into market shifts through to category and page-level insights, SEO data can now help fuel progress across all business areas.
From an SEO point of view, utilize your data to inform:
- Sales teams on market trends
- Content teams on intent and SERP/content types
- Product marketing on feedback, competitive intelligence, and future product launches
- PR teams on branding, awareness, and sentiment
- PPC teams on opportunities for synergistic approaches
- Digital teams on cross-channel opportunities and consumer trends
While the landscape of search engine changes builds at breakneck speed, advances in the platforms that provide vital intelligence and automate to make the complex simple have become central to digital organizations worldwide. 2022 is the year where SEO opportunity rises, once more, to a whole new level.