A couple stats jumped out at me from Hubspot’s recent “Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics for 2022,” including that “69% of marketers invested in SEO” last year, and that the company “website is the #2 channel” for reaching customers, “behind social media.”
It’s no surprise that SEO remains highly relevant in 2022, or that social media is taking over as the #1 place to reach buyers.
But I would have thought that first statistic, “69% of marketers,” would have been much higher.
Whether you’re currently investing in Search Engine Optimization, or whether you’re on the fence, it’s important to understand how SEO has changed in the last two decades.
Let’s have a look at some best practices for SEO in 2022.
1. Get the Basics Right
SEO isn’t new anymore. You can’t afford to have a glitchy website, or pages that aren’t indexed by Google. Yet some businesses still fail to fix basic problems that hurt them with the algorithm.
Here are a few things to get right.
Core Web Vitals
Google introduced its Core Web Vitals (content loading speed, visual stability, and interactivity) in May of 2020. Since that time, marketers have learned that while it isn’t necessary to optimize all three (doing so won’t improve your rank all that much), if your website fails all three you can guarantee it will rank poorly.
Speed is still important. Just not crazy important. As long as your website loads reasonably quickly, you shouldn’t have to worry too much.
Don’t do it. Don’t be that website – the one with all the redirects to pages that don’t exist. Fix your broken links.
If customers can’t find what they’re looking for on your site, they’ll leave. Google penalizes broken links for a reason, and when people click away from your site quickly due to a broken link, that hurts your rank even more.
Solid User Experience (UX) is a must-have.
If your website is difficult to navigate, people won’t hesitate to go elsewhere. Good design is what every website needs. This isn’t so much something that will boost your rank tremendously as it is something that can kill your rank if you screw it up.
A/B testing (or A/B/C/D testing) is the standard in 2022; however, only 17% of marketers use landing page A/B tests to improve conversion rates, which might be why Cyrus Shepard listed it first in his “22 Smart Google SEO Tips for 2022.”
Be the Last Click
Speaking of Shephard, when it comes to getting the SEO basics right, I thought the most important thing to highlight was his “favorite SEO tip of all time,” “Be the Last Click.”
If you give users exactly what they want, they won’t go anywhere else. The purpose of Google’s algorithm is to give users the result they want, so 10 times out of 10, being the last click is going to boost your ranking.
2. Don’t be Too Clever
Don’t try to outsmart the algorithm by getting fancy with your SEO. I’m talking keyword stuffing, spammy practices, etc.
Keyword stuffing is like overusing Microsoft Word’s thesaurus function in your first 9th grade English paper. You end up with a bunch of big words you can’t understand, and your teacher can tell. It’s unreadable, and so is your webpage.
Shephard calls this “nuking the fluff.” According to him, “Google is rewarding sites… that provide quick answers and more direct engagement.” Not flowery category descriptions and keyword-jammed title tags.
Real quick on gaming the system (i.e., spam): don’t do it. In his list of SEO practices to avoid in 2022, Neil Patel highlights “spammy backlinks” and “spammy link building.”
3. Go Beyond the Basics
Internal Linking and Deep Linking
Both Patel and Shepard point to the need to optimize your internal links. Not only will this help the ranking of each page, it will help the ranking of your website as a whole, because Google’s algorithm doesn’t just consider time on page, it considers time on site, and if you can direct people to other pages on your site, you’ll increase that. Patel recommends including 2-5 internal links in each blog post.
Likewise, deep linking is a strategy you should be implementing. Instead of linking to a URL, link to a specific passage or text fragment. This may help you with Google’s passage ranking. It also gets people deeper into your site, and ideally brings them to exactly the information they’re looking for.
Multiple Media Types
Patel also recommends taking advantage of the growth in video and audio by embedding different media types into your pages. This can “improve the user experience and increase dwell time on your site.”
Finally, long-tail keywords are the way to do SEO in 2022. Patel notes that 91.8% of Google search traffic is for long phrases, and that “long-tail keywords tend to have a lower search volume and, as a result, lower competition.”
You might think longer keywords, which are naturally more specific, might reduce your potential traffic. But, they’re easier to rank for and they have a higher search intent. Quality, not quantity.
Long-tail keywords give you a greater chance of giving site visitors exactly what they’re searching for. Meaning you’re their last click, and they spend more time on your site. Which improves your ranking.
4. Optimize for Mobile
I could have included this under “Get the Basics Right,” but it deserves to be called out by itself. According to that Hubspot article, only about 25% of companies are investing in mobile optimization, even as about half of all web traffic worldwide is from mobile devices.
In 2022, there’s no excuse to have a website that doesn’t work well on mobile devices. And yet, too many businesses still haven’t optimized for mobile. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been frustrated trying to navigate clunky business websites on a smartphone in recent months. This isn’t something you can afford to screw up anymore.
SEO in 2022
SEO has changed a lot in the last 20 years. Following these best practices will help you ensure you’re getting it right, so you can build and engage your audience.