Here are the three most important trends and changes to SEO we believe will matter in 2022.
1. Competition Won’t Stop Increasing
Most business owners feel like there’s more competition every year when they google their preferred keywords. And, in 2022, it’s not going to get any better.
We just saw the vicinity update in December which reoriented Google’s local search results around businesses that were physically closer to users than other businesses. That shrinks the likelihood your business will appear in local search results outside of the immediate vicinity of your locations. Other businesses physically closer to potential customers will win out in some searches.
However, increased competition is just as true, if not more true, for the overall search results. Business owners are more SEO-savvy than they’ve ever been before. Or, if they’re not, they’re working with agencies. Either way, most industries now have more than 10 websites competing effectively for the fabled 10 Blue Links, for every keyword relevant to your business.
This means that, no matter how niche the user intent you wish to target, there are likely multiple good websites trying to rank for that same user intent.
So in 2022 (even more than in 2021), you need to ensure that you understand exactly what your customers are looking for. On top of that, you need to make sure that Google (and Bing!) understands that your business is the best one to solve these users’ problems.
At Techwyse, we’ve been formulating and executing effective SEO strategies for 20 years. If you’re unsure of how to meet the demands of growing competition, give us a call today.
2. The end of 3rd-party cookie
The much-heralded end of the 3rd party cookie is coming in 2022 when Chrome and Chromium-based browsers will stop allowing 3rd-party cookies. You can read numerous articles about why this is happening and what this means for marketing; the short version is that it will be hugely detrimental to your PPC spend efficiency.
But this article is about SEO and for SEO the death of the 3rd-party cookie means something else altogether: SEO is perhaps even more important than ever.
And that’s because the basic way the internet works – and search engines work – is not changing. People will continue to search for literally everything they think of – including services or products your business provides – only the ads they see online will be less specific and targeted than they used to be. It’s a little bit like we’re going back in time with ads but staying where we are with SEO.
So, there are a couple of things your business needs to do to deal with the end of the 3rd-party cookie:
- Make sure your SEO is as good as it possibly can be: Ensure you’re targeting the right people with the right web pages, and you’re focusing on every stage of the buyer’s journey. (And, before that, you need to make sure your site is up to par with Google’s technical standards.)
- Ensure that you are collecting user data with only 1st party cookies or universal IDs: Cookies themselves aren’t going anywhere. As long as your site is the source of the cookie, it will still be accepted by the browser. The other solution is a “universal ID” which anonymizes the user as they travel from site to site. There are technical issues with this latter solution, though, which you can read about at the link. If you have one site, or you do not track users across your multiple sites, you should be fine.
The important thing to take away from the death of the 3rd-party cookie is that properly tracking user behaviour on your site is more important than ever, as is a proper SEO user intent strategy. 3rd party cookies may make PPC advertising less efficient, so SEO and CRO become all the more important.
3. MUM Comes to SERP
What is MUM? MUM is Google’s Multitask Unified Model, an AI designed to answer users’ questions like a human would.
Currently, if you want to learn something or know something in detail – a “complex search query” – you have to use multiple searches to get all your answers.
In Google’s blog post announcing the existence of MUM back in May, Pandu Nayak uses the example of someone who wants to know what they need to do in order to hike Mt. Fuji in Japan.
Nayak says the potential for MUM is to offer the following on the SERP in response to this question “I’ve hiked Mt. Adams and now I want to hike Mt. Fuji next fall, what should I do differently to prepare?”:
- Elevation and trail information
- Local weather for autumn
- Fitness training information
- Hiking gear.
That’s obviously a far cry from how Google currently works. (When I enter this query into Google today, all I get is the Google MUM blog post and commentary on it.)
Nayak goes so far as to say that, in the future, MUM might actually be able to answer a question “across types,” including information from voice, text, photos, and video. The example he uses is taking a picture of your hiking shoes and asking Google “Can I use these to hike Mt. Fuji”? If MUM can do this, it will change search (and SEO) forever.
Andrei Prakharevich over at SEO PowerSuite does an excellent job of explaining how this might look like soon enough. He highlights a number of changes we can expect very, very soon:
- Searching with Google Lens (i.w. “What’s in this picture?”)
- Larger images in the SERP (which we’re already seeing, at least a little bit)
- Better “what next” recommendations after you finish watching YouTube videos
- “Things to know”
- “Broaden/Refine this search”
- The end of “Ten Blue Links” (though we’re there already)
- The end of rankings?
There’s a lot to unpack there and I highly recommend reading the whole article.
Let’s start off with “Ten Blue Links.” Though there are often 10 organic results on a SERP page still, you have to scroll to find them, especially on mobile. This is because of ads, of course, but also because of featured snippets, knowledge graphs, and the local pack.
The idea is that MUM will make it easier for Google to produce more content from different types (video, images) on the actual SERP page to satisfy the query, leading to fewer and fewer organic webpage results on that crucial first SERP page. (And even if the 10 blue links remain, they will be further down the page than ever before, with correspondingly low CTRs.)
Some of the things that will push down organic results (or lead to their outright removal) are search refinement features like “Things to know” and “Broaden/Refine this search,” MUM’s improvements on the “People also ask” and “Related searches” features on the current SERP. MUM should eventually allow Google to produce an entire page of “things to know” about your complex search query, like wondering how to prepare for hiking Mount Fuji in the fall.
Better image and video results will also push down organic results, especially if those results are displayed much larger than they currently are. This is all connected to the rising importance of voice search, as MUM tries to answer human questions with answers that are as sophisticated as an actual human’s.
At this moment, we don’t know how successful MUM will be in 2022, but we’re already seeing increasingly sophisticated SERP pages and that’s only going to increase. I’m not sure we’re actually going to lose the rankings entirely in 2022, but it could happen in later years, certainly. A terrifying possibility for anyone with a smaller brand.
What can we do about MUM?
As MUM becomes more and more of a factor in SERP, the SEO world needs to focus more and more on satisfying not just user intent but “complex search queries” with content addressing different parts of the problem the user is trying to solve.
Prakharevich says this means that businesses need to provide information for every single part of the buyer journey, and I agree with him. But we should have been doing this already.
So-called omnichannel marketing is going to be more important than ever. All this means is finding your customers where they are; businesses are going to have to diversify marketing efforts across channels, using SEO and content, social but also offline marketing strategies, and potentially other avenues we haven’t even conceived of.
And local search is going to become even more important than it already is for brick and mortar businesses. That’s because not every search is going to be a “complex search query.” People are still going to be looking for businesses near them.
SEO will get more complex but also more important in 2022. And there will be fewer and fewer opportunities to dominate the SERP. To do so, you need someone in your corner with the expertise and experience to craft the right strategies for 2022. Contact TechWyse today.
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