The experts we work with who monitor Search Engine Optimization (SEO) trends anticipate significant Google algorithm changes in the year ahead. Here are some of the top changes you need to be aware of and start planning for now.
GOOGLE SEO CHANGES IN 2022
Increased SEO Sophistication
The word we kept hearing over and over again from our experts is that search will continue to get more sophisticated. If you’re still focused heavily on keywords, it’s time for a new approach. SEO now and in the year ahead will focus on authority, structure, backlinks, context, artificial intelligence, snippets, videos, user experience, virtual dialogues, and more.
If these concepts seem foreign to you, it’s time for you to do some intensive learning about current SEO and prepare for increased Google sophistication.
Google Is Going MUM
The last complete algorithm change (not update) was 2019’s Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT), which increased Google’s ability to understand the intent behind a search and not just the words searched.
This year, Google announced a new way it plans to understand and service users: Multitask United Model (MUM). According to Google, it will be 1,000 times more powerful than BERT. MUM is able to analyze text, video, and images in 75 languages so it can more accurately answer complex search queries. MUM uses artificial intelligence (AI) to understand a searcher’s feelings, context, abstractions, and intent to provide more relevant answers and serve up better content and information. It should eliminate the need for users to make multiple queries to get the answer they want.
Users will be able to use words, images, and more in their queries. For example, you could upload a picture of a pair of boots and ask if they can be used in the snow and get the answer. Google might then recommend other boots that are good for walking in the snow.
MUM is still in testing, but it seems likely it will be released in 2022. We won’t know for certain how it will impact search results, but it seems like quality content and authority will continue to be important, along with an answer-centric approach to content development.
Google Will Talk Back to You
Google recently unveiled Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA). It’s a machine learning model designed for dialogue. It will give Google the power to have meaningful conversations with users so it can use the information from them to serve up better results.
If your website isn’t optimized for voice search, what are you waiting for? Once LaMDA arrives, your site will be completely obsolete.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping became the only option for many people. There’s no sign that anyone plans to stop shopping online. This has finally made Google take shopping seriously.
Another recent Google announcement was about Shopping Graph, which is a dynamic, AI-backed model that understands:
- Constantly changing products and variations
- Product information
- Ratings and reviews
- And more
This will allow people to shop for products based on current information that is available right now.
If your product descriptions and back-end systems aren’t what they should be, it’s time to make things right. You’ll want to be prepared to take advantage of Shopping Graph when it launches fully in 2022 to drive sales for your online retail operation.
It’s become more and more challenging to rank number one for a search query. This is due to the new zero rank position (snippets) competing for the top spot.
In response to this, Google launched Excerpt Ranking, supported by passage indexing, which allows a page to rank for a specific passage or section of it rather than the complete page. Google now looks at the stronger signals coming from a web page to serve up more relevant results for niche queries.
When it’s fully rolled out in 2022, Excerpt Ranking could impact just under ten percent of searches. There is little information about how to rank for excerpts, but it seems that having the best, most authoritative content will be critical.
Google Redefines Page Experience
One of the latest additions to Google’s ranking criteria is page experience, which it defines as a set of signals that measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page beyond its pure information value.
The measurement of the page experience is through Core Web Vitals, which measure a page’s load speed from a user experience perspective:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): Measures load performance. Google recommends aiming for an LCP under 2.5 seconds after a page begins to load.
- First Input Delay (FID): Measures interactivity. Google recommends an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): Measures visual stability. Google recommends a CLS score of less than 0.1.
Google combines Core Web Vitals with other factors, including that a web page is mobile-friendly, its HTTPS protocol use, along with a lack of intrusive interstitials as the core set of measures that support making the user experience a key part of its algorithm.
You must optimize your site to meet the suggested Core Web Vitals scores and follow the other three recommendations. Since it’s likely that Google will continue down the path of focusing on user experience, it’s probably smart to do everything possible to optimize yours.
While it’s impossible to figure out what Google will do before it does it, you can glean information from its announcements and the direction it has been heading in. Use its latest signals to prepare your site for 2020 and beyond.