Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
A new year is a perfect opportunity to take a close look at your website and make sure your SEO is doing all the work it can be. Best SEO practices change frequently, depending on the almighty Google algorithm, the ways in which users approach their searches, and technology itself. If you’re going to take the time to do an SEO checkup, you need the most current information. Here’s my forecast for the top SEO trends for 2022.
Google’s EAT principle
Here’s the good news: Some things stay the same when it comes to SEO, and Google’s EAT principle is one of them. EAT stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. These factors help the search engine decide how to rank pages on the results page for a given search. EAT isn’t the almighty algorithm, but it’s the framework on which the algorithm is based. In other words, the algorithm is supposed to deliver the best results for sites that demonstrate expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.
But how do you do that?
More good news: these are all elements a good website will naturally deliver. Establishing yourself as an industry expert can be as simple as including a few client reviews and ensuring you use just the right language to help someone searching for your services find your website. In terms of authority, two common ways of establishing yourself and your website are links in other documents that lead to your site, as well as content that is likely to be shared – blogs, articles, or videos that will capture the attention of your ideal customer and audience. Customer reviews and demonstrating a concern for your clients’ privacy can lend credence to your trustworthiness.
As I might have mentioned before about a million times, SEO is firmly anchored in rapidly shifting sands, meaning the rules and best practices are constantly evolving. For many small businesses, as well as enterprise-level organizations, tracking these changes and implementing corresponding strategies might be more than a full-time job. Fortunately, with AI-powered tech, you don’t necessarily need to hire an entire department to tackle your SEO needs.
The beauty of AI is that it – by its very nature – is constantly learning, changing, and evolving, which is exactly what you want for your SEO game. AI-based SEO, whether you handle the job in-house or hire an SEO and marketing firm, is both the present and the future of ensuring your website ranks where it should – at the top.
Your website needs to be mobile-friendly. Your website needs to be mobile-friendly. Your website needs to be mobile-friendly.
According to Statista, mobile searches accounted for more than 60% of organic search engine visits in 2021. Not only do the majority of people use mobile devices to access the internet, but Google also explicitly uses the mobile functionality of your website to help rank it. Not sure if your website works properly for mobile devices? You’re in luck. Google has a simple tool that will assess the functionality of a given page. Getting your website mobile-friendly should be priority numbers one, two, and three for 2022.
More good news: Making sure your website and your online business listings have updated, accurate local information is a huge plus in SEO…and it’s quick and free to handle. Take just a few minutes and check your business listing on the major search engines to ensure things like your address, phone number, and hours of operation are correct. Users are increasingly searching for results in their community, and you want to make sure you show up for those searches. If you specifically mention your city, community, metro area, and neighborhood, on your website, you will get more eyes on your website.
The proliferation of virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri has contributed to the enormous popularity of voice searches. What does that mean for SEO? People don’t use identical search terms when they type as they do when they speak. For example, you might type “weather Toronto” to find out if it’s going to rain in Ontario. But you’d ask Alexa, “What’s the weather in Toronto?”
Optimizing for voice search is the sort of task it’s ideal to hire a pro for. You could drive yourself crazy trying to figure out how to make sure you show up for any kind of search, but I and other SEO pros know that strategies like including simple questions and answers on an FAQ page can help your site rank higher for voice searches. Content that’s based on initial questions and brief, relevant answers, followed by a fuller discussion can also bring in those users searching by voice queries. Fine-tuning your SEO for both local and voice searches can go hand-in-hand, and both are vital for ensuring your ideal customers can find your business and your website.
2022 and beyond
Sure, the ways in which search engines rank your website evolve over time, but the most important thing to remember is that useful, updated sites with genuine, relevant information tend to rank high, both as we close out 2021 and move into a new year. Whether you devote your own time or hire a pro, SEO isn’t an aspect of your business you can afford to ignore. You wouldn’t conceal your physical storefront. Likewise, you want to make it as easy as possible for internet users to find and connect with your business.