What are the Search Engine Optimization Best Practices for 2022?

authorToni Becker dateNovember 20, 2021

Search Engine Optimization, commonly referred to as SEO, is the process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic or web page traffic from the search engine results. It is a tactic designed to target organic traffic rather than to direct paid traffic to the site. 

As a digital marketing strategy, SEO considers how the search engines work, understands search algorithms, unpacks user intent and analyses user behaviour in order to optimize website or webpage reach. 

However, we live in the digital age and online marketing continues to evolve every day and with this in mind, SEO best practices shift right alongside. Google is constantly evaluating what factors indicate a high quality website and in 2022 it’s important you keep up with these factors if you want to stay top of the search engine result pages (SERPS). 

Nobody has the power to know for sure what the ranking factors will be in 2022 however, available data can be analyzed alongside current trends and official advice published by Google itself. What we do know is that Google makes use of 200 ranking signals in order to determine where your site will rank in the SERPS. But it's impossible to create and publish content that is optimized for all 200 of these signals. The good news is that not all of these signals hold the same value and you are able to optimize your SEO content around the factors that hold the most power. 

Let’s take a look at the top 10 SEO signals you should focus your efforts on in 2022.

SEO - Internet Concept Magnifying Glass with SEO and Growth Chart Icon on Old Paper with Red Vertical Line Background.

Quality Content

In 2021 Google confirmed that RankBrain, an AI-powered algorithm is actually the 3rd most important element when deciding where a website ends up in the search engine results. RankBrain is a system that analyzes search listings to calculate the relevance and quality of a website or web page. The calculation is based on a variety of factors including how long a user stays on a web page or website. In order to keep a user on your site for longer, you need to provide them with content that answers their questions and provides valuable insight.  

Keywords are (of course) still important, but you need to ensure that the keywords you use suit your content because Google’s algorithm will quickly pick up on keyword stuffing. Essentially, if your content covers a topic in a relevant way then you don’t need to place too much emphasis on stuffing keywords into it. 

Today, blogging is about quality over quantity. In the past businesses would push out blog after blog to ensure consistent keyword ranking. This is a big no-no in today's digital savvy world and no one wants to land on a business page that pushes out irrelevant and repetitive content for the sake of clicks. If this is something you have been doing as part of your digital marketing strategy, you can be sure that your target audience will quickly click off your website and find another site more suited to their needs.

With this in mind, your blogs and blog topics need to help the consumer and add to their life in one way or another. This means that you need to create blogs that answer questions and provide important industry insight to help the consumer along their purchasing journey. Thought-leadership blogs and e-books play an important role in this kind of blogging strategy as they help your business establish itself as the industry expert which ultimately builds trust with the consumer - leading to greater sales and continued customer loyalty.

Take time to write blog posts and talk with (not at) your customer in order to build dialogue around your industry, products and services. The modern consumer is smart and also has a limited amount of time and they expect fully rounded answers to their questions. Your blogs need to answer these questions if you want to position yourself as a trusted brand or business.

2022 isn't about getting as many blogs out as possible in order to rank higher in the search engine results, it is about answering customer questions in order to gain customer loyalty which in turn, helps you rank higher in the search engine results.

Quality Backlinks

Most SEO specialists will tell you that Backlinks are the most important ranking factor. This forms the foundation of PageRank which sits at the core of the ranking algorithm for Google. 

Backlinks are generated through high quality content that is distributed to well known websites and online resources, and this content directs readers back to your business website. This strategy helps you gain quality leads while establishing your business as a trusted and authoritative website.

This kind of search engine optimization is important when it comes to building website authority. However, this strategy is not about simply spamming sites with your links, as this will quickly get your site into severe trouble with the search engines. In order to do this successfully you need to build relationships with other influencers and industry thought leaders, and get them to share your links on their sites.

Publishing quality content and thought leader articles on authoritative websites that your target market visits regularly, and ensuring these articles link back to your website, will help your website's presence in the search results and will ensure that you are generating qualified traffic to your website. 

One of the core ways to achieve this is to publish helpful and relevant content on authoritative websites, and provide an incentive for the reader to click through to your personal website. This can be done by citing a source that links back to your site, linking to something visual that the audience will benefit from, or directing the reader to more in-depth information - all of which will be housed on your personal site. This practice is encouraged by Google and related search engines and should be a part of every businesses marketing campaign strategy. 

Benefits of Backlinks:

  • Referral Traffic: Publishing informative content on popular and respected sites that your target audience frequents ensures you gain high quality referral traffic. That is, your target audience will be directed to your specific website through your backlink. 
  • Branding: By building links and directing traffic to your site, you have the opportunity to present your brand to high quality prospects. 
  • Build Authority: By having your content distributed on authoritative sites, you build your brand up as an industry leader. Not only will you be viewed as a thought leader but your target audience, the search engines will also begin to view your website as authoritative, which in turn, will help you rise up the search engine result pages. 
  • Nurture Relationships: By building relationships with authoritative sites and industry leaders, you will quickly establish yourself as a trusted thought leader in your field. By sharing quality content that links back to your website, you are also nurturing relationships with prospects who will turn to you when they need industry related advice or want to make a purchase. 

Keywords for SEO

With most of the conversation focusing on what brands need to prevent keyword stuffing (as stated previously), it’s important to focus on quality. Basically, keywords are no longer the most important element when it comes to SEO however, they are still incredibly important and the key to using them successfully lies in strategy. 

When it comes to developing a strategy for your keywords, you need to develop your content plan and research topics that suit your audience needs. Once you have this in place, you need to position the relevant keywords in your blog or content headers to push your rankings higher - but never rely on keywords alone. The simple rule of thumb is: if you feel like you’re forcing a keyword into your content then you probably are - so remove it. 

Page Structure and User Experience

It doesn’t matter how good your content is, if your site isn't constructed for the Google site crawlers your website will not rank. With this in mind, you need to ensure that your website is built around a smart structure that places focus on the user experience.

So, what makes for a good user experience?

  • Keep your URLs short
  • Make sure your URLs include your keywords
  • Implement simple and intuitive navigation
  • Never duplicate content pages
  • Include a sitemap

Basically - get back to basics. 

Meta Data and Meta Tags

Meta tags are one of the most vital on-page optimization elements, particularly page titles. You see, every web page has its own unique title tag and this appears in the search results as a kind of headline. This meta description is a short summary of the content that appears on the particular page and can be seen below the title of the page that appears in the search results. Both the title tag and meta description are important and help search engines and users understand the purpose of your web page. 

Both these elements play a vital role in the decision making process when it comes to whether or not a user clicks on the listing the search results. When both the meta description and title tag are optimized, the Click-Through-Rate will rise, ensuring a webpage gains more quality traffic. 

So, how are you able to optimize your Title Tags and Meta Descriptions?

  • Place your primary or chosen keyword toward the beginning of the title itself
  • Keep your title at a minimum of 60 characters so that it isn’t cut off in the search results
  • Try not to use capitals in your title tags
  • Each page must have a unique title so that search engines don’t read pages as “duplicated”
  • Your meta description needs to accurately describe the contents of your web page. Essentially, this should be treated like an advertisement.
  • Make sure to include your primary keyword or chosen keyword in the meta description.
  • Make sure that your title tag and your meta description is easy to read so that the user is compelled to click through to your website

The above outlines the important factors for SEO success in 2022. Make sure your SEO team keeps up with the latest trends to ensure your site ranks and your business grows in the new year.

Key Takeaways

  • Google prioritizes valuable and relevant content
  • Keyword best practices may have changed but they should still be an important part of your overall strategy
  • A positive user experience is vital for site ranking in 2022
  • Backlinks are central to Google's ranking algorithm in 2022

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