The internet is an ocean of data, from words, images, videos, and so much more. This is why it is said that you “surf” the web.
The enormous amount of information on the internet is unimaginably large. Without an integrated system to fetch the right information that you are looking for, finding anything useful on the internet would be impossible. This is where the answer to “What is SEO” comes and how it allows the delivery of the right information for your queries.
It is estimated that around 5.6 billion searches are performed on Google every single day! And for every single search, SEO comes into play 5.6 billion times every day. This is enough to give you an idea about the importance and relevance of SEO.
This article will dive deep into the meaning and applications of SEO, why it is so important and then the state of SEO in 2023; all the changes that are bound to happen, and how to keep up with the ever-changing SEO. Let’s get started with the basics.
Basics of SEO
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and while it is processed, the use of this abbreviation has been very liberal. You can find people who call themselves an “SEO”, where the word “optimization” is replaced with “optimizer”. This abbreviation can often be misleading, and an over-simplification. SEO is as complex as the algorithms that run every search engine on this planet. So what’s the easy meaning of it?
Our definition of SEO is this; It is a set of tweaks and changes in every aspect of the website, ranging from obvious sections such as content, keyword, webpage loading speed, to the tiniest sections such as meta descriptions, length of the content, relevancy and much more.
There is no limit to SEO. It is a process of perfecting your website and information in it with the ever-changing world. As long as our search trends and information evolve, SEO will evolve with it. But why do we care so much about SEO?
Why is SEO so Important?
The importance and impact of SEO are not just limited to website owners or the “optimizers” who publish and help perfect the content on the internet. SEO is crucial for the success of giants like Google, Bing, and other search engines. In fact, it is the only thing that makes them different, their best unique selling point.
SEO is equally important for everyone on this planet who takes part in this exchange of information over the internet. Did you search for the weather today? If yes, then SEO is important for you too. It not only assures you that you get the right information that you need based on your question, needs, location, and time, but it also ensures that you get the highest quality information on the internet.
For example, if you search for “online guitar lessons”, you do not want to get a search result that shows violin lessons in some far-off country that was posted 7 years ago. It would be completely irrelevant to your query and needs.
SEO takes into account that you are looking for guitar lessons and based on your location, you’d want to get it in your city or even locality. This is why SEO is so important. It understands your query and gives you the most relevant information.
The fact that you hardly ever need to go to the second page on Google and other search engines is the reason why Google’s and most other search engines’ optimization is so good. All the important information is served on the first page. So is it all Google? No, in fact, it is mostly the content publishers.
A Symbiotic Relationship
SEO is a symbiotic relationship between the search engine such as Google or Microsoft’s Bing and the content publishers, irrespective of the type of content they publish.
Optimization is relevant for article-based content such as this, video-based content that you see on YouTube (yes, SEO is present there as well), eCommerce websites with different products, etc. Even Amazon and other online marketplace rely on SEO.
The most simple way to explain something that is the complete opposite of simple would be this; Google does not do any optimization in the content that is being published. That would be impossible since over 7.5 million articles are published every single day. What Google does is just regulate the content.
Google and most of the other search engines have created a set of publishing guidelines and other key technical factors that publishers must adhere to if they want their content to be displayed to the users. This is what ranking means. The guidelines set by Google ensure that only relevant, fresh, and high-quality content is shown to the users.
So publishers create the best content to be in the good books with Google. Google ensures that the best search results are shown to the users. And finally, the users get the best and more relevant results that are helpful to them. This leads to a mutually beneficial process where everyone can benefit.
So how to be good at SEO and what are the important factors, both new and old, that will help you publish great content? Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of SEO, and everything we know about the mystical, magical optimization process.
Understanding SEO in-Depth
Understanding the exact way how SEO works and what factors do Google and other search engines take into account is impossible. This is because most of these processes are algorithm-based, varying the impact of multiple factors.
But Google has come forward and shared with the publishers the details of creating a better user experience and content to rank higher. While it is a mountain of information, we’ll try to classify and present it in the most easy-to-understand way.
The three sub-categories to understand the entire known concept of SEO, or you can say three sections that we publishers can work on to improve our rankings and give the users a better experience. While these three are ever so important for SEO, come 2022, Google will double-down on these factors even more. These sections are:
- Technical Tweaks
The order of these three sections also refers to the importance of them as well. Content is the most important aspect of SEO, then comes user experience, and finally the technical tweaks.
So you can have the bottom two sections perfected for your website, but if the content is lacking, the bottom two won’t be helpful at all. Let’s have an in-depth look at the components of these three sections.
This is what people search Google and other search engines for. Always remember the age-old and overused phrase, “in SEO, content is the king”, and it is 100% true. No other factor in ranking is as important and impactful as content.
Your content is what defines your website, it is what distinguishes your website from the hundreds of other websites in the same niche. So improving your content automatically affects SEO in a positive way. But how to do that?
There are a few factors you need to take into consideration while creating the content. Here 8 good content rules:
- Search intent
- User intent
- Relevant and fresh content
- Quality of the content
- The volume of the content
- Image and visual content
- Ease of understanding
Many people make the wrong assumption that search intent and user intent are the same things. These two are very different, yet closely related units of content. Search intent refers to the exact requirement of the query. It is understanding what the answer to the question should be, without any unnecessary clutter.
For example, if someone searches for “what is the height of Mount Everest”, here, the search intent is very clear. So the content that Google, and the publisher, should provide to the users should be about the height of Mount Everest.
Creating an article that talks about the history of the mountain and who were the first ones to climb it, then mentioning the height goes against the search intent and Google enforces it. Remember; Provide only what is being asked. Nothing more.
Here’s what Backlinko has to say about search intent and why it is so important for SEO.
User intent brings in a lot of different factors affecting the search intent. Here, you need to factor in the why, where, what, and how of the search query and produce content with that in mind. For example, if there is a search query about the best Chinese restaurant in the place, you need to create content that considers all the above-mentioned factors.
So you need to create a list of all the best Chinese restaurants based on the location as well since here the user intent is to visit these places. Then you can add the “why” with reasons to why the mentioned restaurants are better (including better pricing, good hygiene, and so on). Similarly, you can add ways to get to these restaurants. This is why understanding the user intent is so important for getting a higher ranking in the search results.
Here’s a detailed guide on how Google understands user intent, and how you can use it for your SEO.
Relevant And Fresh Content
No one wants to see irrelevant content that was last updated or written years ago. The internet is a dynamic place, with everything getting updated every second. This is why Google always promotes, and people always want the latest content about anything. This is why keeping your content relevant and fresh is very important.
Relevancy here refers to writing content that captures all the possible information relevant to the query. For example, if you are writing an article on “How to properly change the engine oil of your car”, the article must also contain parts discussing the best engine oil, the precautions you need to take while doing so, and other helpful tips and tricks. This makes your content better.
Keeping it fresh means that you need to update your articles maybe every 6-8 months, trying to add some more information. This continuous refreshing of old yet relevant content keeps the article alive and informative for the readers. Give the readers the latest information, even in articles written months or years ago.
Quality of The Content
We do not need to mention the importance of this. Good quality content is a must if you want readers to read your content and Google to promote it. So what do we mean by “good quality”?
Good quality refers to a well-structured, easy-to-read article with proper spacing, good flow, and most importantly, free from any errors and typos. The content needs to be accurate, well-researched, along with sources where needed. Publishers often do not realize how detrimental a singel typo can be. See how you noticed the typo for “single”. Distrust in the quality of the content takes away all the impact of the article. Make sure that you ensure the maximum quality of the content.
Volume or the length of the article affects your ranking and SEO a lot. But do not be confused by this factor. The trends in SEO for 2022 are all favorable for long-form content, but you need to be very careful with it since if not done right, it could be a double-edged sword.
Writing long content is not a good SEO factor in itself. The length of the article depends on the query of the reader; search and user intent. For example, if the user wants to know what’s the capital city of Russia, the article should be a short, relevant one with only the required amount of information. But if the user wants to know a detailed guide to understand how Bitcoin works, make sure you write a long, informative article detailing everything needed to know about Bitcoin.
So for 2022’s SEO, make sure to publish more detailed, informative, and helpful long-form articles. Long-form articles give the users all the information they need from a single place, hence Google promotes it too.
Authority – (E-A-T)
The very latest addition to Google’s SEO requirements, authority in content refers to writing on topics that you have experience or authority on. This factor affects the healthcare and fitness section of the internet the most, and rightfully so. Google wants to promote content on health written by medical professionals. But it is not limited to the medical space.
Google’s latest update in improving this was termed E-A-T, which stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. These three factors define the quality of a webpage. Ensure the three to promote the SEO of your webpage and website.
You can read more on Google’s EAT guidelines and updates by Google’s own developers.
Whatever the topic be, make sure you write content that you know about. Or if you are writing something that is out of your sphere of expertise, then get it approved by an expert and mention it in your content. It all comes down to user benefit, and if the users are benefitting from your content, Google will help you reach more readers.
Image And Visual Content
Images and visual content has been on the rise since 2019 and there is no sign of stopping. 2022 SEO will harness the power of visual content and publishers must be prepared for it. Do not keep your content just limited to text only. People want more diversified content. Add images, illustrations, infographics, statistics, interactive content, videos, etc to create more informative and engaging content. With the increase in per-capita internet speed, people want more visual content. Take advantage of it for 2022 and improve your website’s optimization.
But as always, relevance matters a lot too. So do not add images just for the sake of it. Add informative images and other visual content that add to the written content. Embed videos that are related to your article (with permission if the video is not your own), and create custom images for your website instead of using stock images.
Ease of Understanding
Publishers need to keep in mind that they are creating content for the masses. This includes many people who are not avid readers. So creating content in a style or language that is too advanced is a negative SEO factor. Remember that advanced readers can understand simple content, but basic readers (which is the majority) cannot understand complicated content. Keep the content informative, simple, and easy to understand.
2. User Experience
Coming to the second pillar of SEO, especially for 2022; User experience. Around March 2020, Google had announced that the search engine will bring the Page Experience update that takes into account all the factors that affect the user experience of a website. It was titled the “Page Experience” update. And for 2022, we are certain that Google is going to push it even further. So what does it entail?
Publishers need to ensure that when a reader opens their website, they get a smooth, fast, and clean experience. This includes avoiding spammy content, too much advertisement, lagging, slow-loading websites, and perhaps the most important one; mobile-friendly websites. Let’s look into detail about all these factors.
Here’s a detailed guide on Google Page Experience from Google
Core Web Vitals: LCP, CLS, and FCP
Google’s Page Experience introduced us to these three terrifying terms; LCP, CLS, and FCP. But what are these and why should you care? These are the metrics with which Google looks at the user experience of your website and these three are going to be more impactful in your website performance from 2022. Here’s what they mean:
LCP stands for Largest Contentful Paint and it refers to the largest (in terms of storage size) image or block of text that loads when you open a website, without scrolling. Let’s say that you open a website and the largest element of the front page is the logo. The time taken for the website to completely load that logo is the LCP of the website.
A good LCP time is under 2.5 seconds. Anything above 4 seconds is considered bad. It not only puts a negative effect on your SEO, but it also affects your traffic. No one wants to wait for 4 seconds for a website to load an image or a block of text.
The best way to reduce your LCP is by using light themes, with optimized images and using a caching plugin. Google has officially stated that LCP is a ranking factor.
The popular website web.dev describes CLS as:
“CLS is a measure of the largest burst of layout shift scores for every unexpected layout shift that occurs during the entire lifespan of a page.
A layout shift occurs any time a visible element changes its position from one rendered frame to the next.”
We know, it is hard to understand. What it means is that when you open a website, every element of the website must attain a fixed position as soon as possible. This is related to spammy advertisement loading, which changes the position of buttons and other text and image blocks after the website has completely loaded.
Google says that a good CLS time is under 0.1. In practical terms, make sure that your website’s elements (buttons, texts, images, etc) do not change their position too much and remain stable.
FCP refers to the First Contentful Paint, meaning that it measures the time a website takes to load the first meaningful content (image or text over the blank canvas). As with the other two metrics, less time is better for a good FCP score. Whenever a website is loaded, the faster it shows any form of content, the more people are likely to stay on the website.
Other than these three factors, there are hundreds of other minute factors that Google takes into account for SEO. These include the server response time, server location, how well the website is optimized, the fonts and other files being used. But there is one factor that if not worked on will definitely destroy all your SEO efforts, especially in 2022.
Google has turned into a “mobile-first” indexing search engine, meaning it gives more value and priority to websites and content for mobile devices, like smartphones, tablets, etc. Since this has been the norm for many years, websites that are still not mobile-friendly will be penalized heavily in 2022 if they do not adopt the standard.
What mobile-friendly means is when the desktop version of a website is opened on a mobile device, it should change its functionality, interactivity, and overall website dimensions accordingly.
These are the user experience factors that matter the most for 2022 SEO. In summary, to get the most of SEO in 2022, publishers should aim to make their website faster, more responsive, clean and clutter-free, easy to access and read, lightweight, and mobile-friendly. Achieving all these would take care of all the user experience woes and keep you away from Google’s wrath.
Now with the two most important SEO factors covered, let’s come to the final one. While it is not the most important factor, and even Google has never confirmed how much weight they put on these factors, they do affect SEO. And with every other factor perfected, Google will surely start taking these factors more seriously come 2022. Here’s all you need to know about the technical part of SEO for 2022.
Want to check if your website is mobile-friendly or not? Click here and check it for yourself.
Where content and user experience were something that was directly for the readers and visitors, technicality is more for the search engines. These factors are something that does not directly help the visitors but allows the search engines to easily take your website and put the spotlight on it. Make sure that you are working on it to get the extra edge over the competitors.
The importance of backlinks cannot be overstated. Backlinks are the metrics that Google uses to evaluate your website and content’s authority. You can consider backlinks as a type of recommendation. The more websites link back to you (through do-follow backlinks), the more it shows that you can create great content that is actually helpful for the readers. The state of backlinks in 2022 is going to get even better.
Google is getting better at understanding the difference between quality backlinks and useless, spammy ones. Since the worth of spammy backlinks will go down, it automatically pushes the worth of great quality backlinks up. This means that getting good backlinks from great websites will be one of the most powerful SEO factors, providing a massive boost to your website traffic. Backlinks are here to stay, and they are going to get even more important. This would be the best time to pay attention to them.
Headline Metrics – CTR
What many publishers do not know is Google notices the little things. Headline metrics are something that Google uses to rank your website and content. Here’s how it happens: Google records how many people saw your headline on the search page and then how many people clicked on your website. If the ratio is negative, i.e., More people seeing but fewer clicks, Google takes this as a negative SEO factor.
But don’t get too excited. Using spammy and misleading headlines to get clicks has already started to get penalized and from 2022, this will be more stringent. That’s why ensure a great, catchy headline, not a misleading one.
Instead of ranking your entire content for a query, Google can rank a passage or a portion of it in the featured snippet section. This is the content you see on the front page, at the top of the search results. This type of ranking leads to more visits. So how to get that?
Always in your article, remember to add a short section answering specific questions so that if not your article, but a passage would rank. Here’s what Google said about Passage ranking. Here’s a detailed article about the implementation and importance of passage ranking.
Keyword in URL
A highly debated factor in the ranking where many people consider it to be a statistical error while many consider it to be an actual factor. Perhaps Google will give us some more information about it in 2022, but for now, try to incorporate the keyword of your article in the article or content URL. Also, short URLs tend to rank better statistically.
The meta description is a very important component of the search results. This is the “trailer” of your movie, a snippet of what the article is going to be like. Use this efficiently and smartly to get more clicks and increase your ranking (since more clicks on headlines ensure better SEO)
Other Factors to Look For in 2022
Online content is ever-evolving. This is why 2022 would be the right time to diversify your content and get maximum growth. More and more people have started using Google’s Voice Search, Image search, and audio search. The importance of Google Assistant’s voice search requires a separate article. Publishers should keep in mind what type of queries are done in voice search and prepare content for that.
Add Other Social Media
The most powerful (and most difficult) way to boost your SEO is by using the power of other social media such as Quora, Reddit, Linkedin, and most importantly, YouTube. 2022 is all about video content. Do not miss out on that.
With your website content, try to incorporate video content as well with YouTube. There will be a healthy exchange of visitors from one platform to another, ensuring growth in both. Video content is on the rise, especially short video content. Take full advantage of it for SEO in 2022.
This was all you needed to know about SEO and the factors and trends that will affect it in 2022. While it can be a little intimidating at first, a thorough and proper understanding of SEO will yield great results. So prepare your New Year resolutions and add SEO to that list too.