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Building an SEO Strategy for 2022

Things constantly evolve and change within SEO and digital marketing. Updates and new industry standards are so frequent that some of the cutting-edge techniques from yesteryear are now outdated and old news. For some, building a good SEO strategy that’s ready for the changes expected in 2022 might mean going back to the drawing board.…
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Things constantly evolve and change within SEO and digital marketing. Updates and new industry standards are so frequent that some of the cutting-edge techniques from yesteryear are now outdated and old news.

For some, building a good SEO strategy that’s ready for the changes expected in 2022 might mean going back to the drawing board. Others, who have been keeping a close eye on the altering trends this year, might just need to make a few tweaks.

Regardless of your position, below, we explore an in-depth look at what you need to do to build an SEO strategy that will work well in 2022.

Looking Back On 2021

2021 saw a lot of exciting trends turn into mainstream practices. Many of these trends have been carried over from 2020, but there are a few interesting things digital marketers have done that have been unique for 2021. It’s important to know this, as what made an SEO strategy 2021 will still be helpful in the new year. Here’s a look at some of the key trends:

Mobile Optimisation

2021 was when everyone bought into the idea that mobile optimisation was necessary for a winning SEO strategy. It’s been a critical factor in terms of SEO for years now, but with Google shifting to a mobile-first approach, it became clear that mobile optimisation could no longer be an afterthought but instead the main focus.

Google now only uses your mobile web pages to index your domain and dictate ranking positions, even if you have a well-optimised desktop version. There’s a good reason they’ve done this – various studies from throughout the year have shown that mobile search is responsible for anything between 70-90% of all web browsing.

That reliance on mobile isn’t going to slow down anytime soon either, so concentrating your SEO strategy for 2022 on mobile is the right way to go.

Focus on User/Search Intent

In some way or another, SEO has always been interested in predicting what users want when they search online and then using that to inform their efforts. After all, this is what keyword optimisation is all about: filling your content with relevant keywords that match the intent of your target customer.

However, as more data and better, robust cloud computing capabilities have become easily accessible, an increased emphasis has been put on working out the user’s search intent and then matching that with your content.

As Google’s algorithms get better and better and can present users with more relevant web pages, suddenly, industry best practices that worked in previous years will have to be updated. Google is getting too clever, and now tactics like writing specific meta’s for each page won’t work to get the users you want.

Instead, to succeed, you need to conduct SERP analysis, which has been a big tactic in 2021 for businesses to get ahead. Here’s an example of it:

If a user searches ‘how to get a mortgage,’ the top ranking websites are going to be reputable businesses that are seen as experts in this field. Google’s algorithm recognises that the user is looking for expert advice and only shows websites with a strong E-A-T and authority online. If you want to rank on that SERP, you need to direct SEO efforts at increasing your E-A-T in 2022. You can learn more about E-A-T and other search quality factors in our Google Search Quality Guide.

Automation

2021 was when automation became a huge SEO strategy within the industry. It took a huge spike, as many businesses and agencies turned to machines to complete some tasks automatically.

Automation has been used for various elements throughout the year, such as quality control and data generation. It has allowed SEO specialists to spend more time and energy on other essential and more strategic tasks.

As automation is set to grow, Google will undoubtedly work out and create some updates to ensure automation doesn’t go crazy in the future.

Google Updates From 2021 and Beyond

Speaking of Google updates, there have been a lot of important ones that happened in the last year that every SEO specialist will need to be aware of going into 2022 if they want to know how to build a SEO strategy. The following are what we believe to be essential ones.

However, as Google makes at least one update a day on average, the following isn’t an extensive list. Therefore, it may be worth checking out the others to see how it will all affect your business.

Page Experience Update – June 2021

Potentially seen as the most impactful Google update of the year and one you’re going to want to address quickly. In June 2021, Google created an update that essentially made the page experience of your website, on both mobile and desktop, a ranking factor.

Websites that load faster and are more interactive will get a boost in the ranking, as Google deems these pages to have superior quality.

Thankfully, the factors that determine what makes a page high quality wasn’t left for SEO specialist to figure out for themselves. Instead, Google created three key metrics that will evaluate page experience, called Core Web Vitals:

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP):

How long it takes for every element of your webpage to load and where your page can be seen and interacted with by a user.

First Input Delay (FID):

How long it takes until a user can actually interact with a webpage.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS):

How much your page layout alters and moves as elements load on it. For example, if an advert pushes the content down the page, this will contribute to a high CLS, which is undesirable.

As well as these three Core Web Vital metrics, there are a few more things that affect Page Experience that is explored more in our blog about the Google Page Experience Update.

Page Title Update – August 2021

This update caught a few people out, as it started to meddle with how well pages were performing. The Page Title update altered how titles were being presented on SERPs, no longer adjusting titles to queries but to better represent the page as a whole.

This led to many businesses seeing a drop in their click-through rate, despite ranking in the same position, as their title no longer enticed users.

Here’s an example of how this happens:

Say you had a web tool for working out a credit score and titled it ‘Free Credit Score Tool – YourBusiness’ and were also targeting that phrase as a keyword. After the title update, Google might automatically change the title to “Learn More About The Free Credit Score Tool – YourBusiness’ because that may be an H1 tag that features on your page.

Now, the title suggests to the user that your page isn’t a tool but instead an informative explanation. It no longer matches the search intent, which is a person looking for a tool to use. So, it no longer matches the search intent and performs worse.

The only way to fix this is to rename your title into one that is more actionable and then get Google to re-crawl and index your page.

Google My Business – 2022

Admittedly, this is less of an update but more of a rebranding that has the potential of being very important for businesses, especially if they offer SEO services. The details are still a little vague with this. However, it has been confirmed that Google My Business will be no more in 2022. Thankfully, the critical local SEO tool is not disappearing. It just has its name changed to help modernise it.

If you’re a marketing agency that offers clients a bespoke local SEO optimisation service, it’s likely to include Google My Business as a core element. However, as that term will not be in use sometime in 2022, advertising that in your marketing copy will make you appear less reputable and knowledgeable. This might not be an immediate issue in 2022, as the phrase ‘Google My business’ will still very much be in the zeitgeist, but as the months and years go by, as it’s used less frequently, it’ll suddenly appear very outdated.

2022 SEO Trends To Be Aware Of

If you want to know how to develop a SEO strategy for 2022, you need to be aware of the SEO trends that are most likely to make a big impression next year.

A Shift To Mobile First

With mobile usage showing no signs of slowing down, one of your main goals for the next year in terms of SEO is to create content and a webpage that has a good user experience for those on mobile.

When building pages, you need to create them specifically for mobile displays and then let that inform your desktop design. It’s also vital that your core web vitals that were mentioned earlier perform well on mobile.

An Adoption Of Longform Content

If it’s not clear by their various updates, Google seems to be intent on providing its users with quality content. Websites need to look good, work just as well, and be relevant to the searched keyword; however, another important facet of providing quality is the content itself.

With users wanting better information, it now means that blog articles and pages should favour long, in-depth guides than short pieces. A long piece of content that covers many factors will more likely have what the user wants. In terms of SEO, having longer content will also give Google more to index. Various passages from a single page could appear as a highlighted answer to a query, boosting its rankings.

There are no hard, defined rules, but content under 1000 words is going to struggle to perform in 2022.

Voice Search Optimisation

Voice search already made a big wave in 2021, as more households integrated devices like home assistants and applications like Siri into their lives. In 2022, these devices are expected to grow from a novelty into a core aspect of modern life.

Optimising for voice search is slightly different from regular, text-based inputs, mainly because what people search on these devices are long-tail phrases and instructions.

Some key things you need to implement into your SEO practices to perform well on voice search results are:

  1. Improve your domain authority by undertaking a link-building strategy
  2. Keep it simple by focusing your keyword optimisation on key questions while keeping content casual and conversational
  3. Include location within your keywords, as people using voice search are far more likely to add a place in their searches, i.e. ‘Pizza near me’ or ‘hairdresser in Cheltenham’

Outdated SEO Strategies

There are some SEO strategies that you simply can’t bring with you into 2022. Make it one of your SEO goals to eliminate all of these practices from your brand.

Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing has been a bad tactic for years now, but people still do it because of how effective it was back in the day. As we go into 2022, here’s another reminder: do not keyword stuff.

Instead, focus on keeping your writing natural and include related sub-topics and ideas to your keyword instead.

Intrusive Interstitial ads

Interstitial ads are digital adverts that take up the whole screen once it loads. These are incredibly annoying for users as they deny them access to the webpage they want to visit for a moment of time, which impacts their user experience. As page experience grows into a more prominent ranking factor on Google, it will be a good idea to discontinue this strategy in 2022 so that you’re not penalised.

Spam Comments

One bad thing that came out in 2021 is spammy and automated comments, usually including a link to a landing page.

These comments can make a page’s comment section awful, put users off from interacting on that thread, and destroy useful conversation and engagement. Plus, many blogs and website hosts make these links an automatic no-follow, so they’re useless.

With Google expected to clamp down on automation, expect this kind of behaviour to be penalised in the future, especially on social media channels. It’s unethical, doesn’t portray your brand in good light, and should simply be halted immediately.

Building Your Strategy For 2022

After learning about the key changes from the past year, the top SEO strategies to bring forward with you, as well as the ones that should be left behind, you should be ready to build a strategy that you can carry with you into 2022.

Below is a quick checklist of everything you should be doing to get your SEO efforts to a good start.

  1. Start an SEO audit

When learning how to build an SEO strategy, you should evaluate your current efforts and see where you could improve. With 2022 seeing an increased focus on page quality, make sure your audit closely analyses your technical SEO efforts, particularly the three Core Web Vitals mentioned earlier.

There are many great tools available to help you complete a technical SEO audit. However, for the most comprehensive evaluation, it might be worth using an agency to supply a completely Managed SEO campaign.

  1. Research your keywords

With the increased emphasis on voice search and user intent, the next stage of your strategy is to research the keywords you’re targeting and find those more long-tail phrases and questions that you can answer within your content. A good way to do this is to use a keyword research tool, but you can also look at the top ten pages of the SERP you’re trying to rank on and see what the current top pages are doing.

  1. Create quality content

Next, you need to generate quality content that will be of value to users, especially now, as long-form content will be huge in 2022.

To ensure your content is of good quality, make sure that your information is accurate and well researched and that you have content that is easy to read and understand. Be sure to answer a lot of common questions in your content, as this will help better optimise the content for voice search.

When building your SEO strategy, make sure to schedule at least two long-form blog posts a month, as Google also values consistency.

Conclusion

SEO is a fluid discipline. It’s constantly changing, growing, and becoming more sophisticated by the day, meaning that it’s essential to refresh your knowledge on it each year and keep up with the latest trends so that you can implement them yourself.

With this guide, it should be more clear what the future holds, what type of SEO techniques have value, and how to create a SEO strategy for your business in 2022 successfully.

James Owen

James has been involved in SEO and digital marketing projects since 2007. James has led many SEO projects for well-known brands in Travel, Gaming and Retail such as Jackpotjoy, Marriott, Intercontinental Hotels, Hotels.com, Expedia, Betway, Gumtree, 888, Ax Paris, Ebyuer, Ebay, Hotels combined, Smyths toys, love honey and Pearson to name a few. James has also been a speaker at SEO and digital marketing conferences and events such as Brighton SEO.

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