SEO is constantly changing and year on year, we see countless trends come and go. Through Google’s numerous algorithm updates and changing consumer demand, all the way to developing technology, a number of factors can play into how businesses and webmasters should operate in order to perform well in the SERPs. While some trends seem to span for months or years at a time, others are fleeting yet just as important. We pay careful attention to each of them in order to provide our clients with the most informed services possible. Here, we’ve listed 9 of the top SEO trends we’re expecting to see take off in 2022.

1. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has played a significant role in SEO for a number of years, particularly since 2015 when Google confirmed the existence of an AI-driven algorithm in the form of RankBrain. RankBrain is a component that uses machine learning to determine the most relevant results for the search query that a user has entered. It continues to be important to this day and remains a focus of SEO’s worldwide. 

Recent AI trends, however, seem to be pulling the focus away from the algorithm itself and instead, focusing on AI-generated content. Machine learning products and models have made it possible to generate anything from a blog topic to entire articles themselves with the click of a button, all based on previous content and user behaviour. A few bits of data can provide access to a wealth of ideas to help produce SEO-optimised content and data at a much faster rate.

While AI-generated articles aren’t always or entirely fit for purpose quite yet, AI can produce data-driven topics to ensure they are both entertaining and relevant, as well as metadata that is accurate to the content it’s attached to. It can also help to put together outlines or first drafts for articles, making it much faster to simply go through and edit rather than producing the whole thing from scratch. This could be useful for SEOs on a time limit, however does create the risk of creating an oversaturated content market where standing out is much more difficult.

2. Long-form content

While high-quality content doesn’t always have to be long-form in order to rank, there has been a correlation in recent years between the length of the content, and how it ranks in the SERPs. Generally speaking, longer (but not too long!) content can capture Google’s E-A-T signals much more effectively and thoroughly than a shorter, briefer piece, and so we could see long-form content continue to be a focus for SEOs and content marketers for the next year. There is a chance that Google could become more intelligent in recognising quality even in shorter pieces in the future, so it’s important to keep a close eye on how this trend changes in the coming months.

3. Mobile-friendliness

Google has considered mobile-friendliness to be a ranking factor for over 7 years, with the first confirmation of its position released in 2015. It also happens to be one of the longest standing trends that the industry has seen. While most webmasters craft their websites with mobile usability or mobile-first indexing in mind, Google hasn’t relented on their focus. It’s expected that over 75% of people will access the internet entirely via mobile by as early as 2025, which means SEOs and webmasters are under more pressure than ever to ensure that their websites are ready for mobile. Responsive designs or mobile-specific set-ups could be the difference between a page 1 ranking, or not appearing at all. It’s suspected that mobile usability issues could also cause lower rankings in the future, so it’s crucial to keep on top of any problems or errors that arise 

4. Video Content

With the rise of TikTok and the continued popularity of other social media sites like Instagram and YouTube, there’s no denying that video content is becoming one of the most important forms to utilise. In the UK alone, TikTok has over 3.7million monthly active users who average 41-52 minutes of watch time a day, and it remains the 7th most downloaded social media app in the world. With a general demographic of 18-24-year-olds, it’s the perfect platform for businesses hoping to capture the younger generation.

YouTube also provides access to the 18-25-year-old range, however, 26-35-year-olds are almost as active and 36-45 and 46-55 are still both present in significant numbers on the platform. For businesses, this means that capturing a part of their key demographic could be as simple as producing high-quality, relevant video content and putting it where it’s most likely to be seen. Short-form works best on TikTok, while YouTube allows a little more room for detail with 10-minute videos typically performing best.

5. Video And Image Search

As mentioned above, video content has been a core focus for user experience for a while now, but one particular feature worth noting as we progress through 2022 is the addition of two new structured data formats within the SERPs – Seek Markup and Clip Markup. Both are designed to provide key moments to users in the SERPs and offer webmasters the chance to label and mark their videos to appear better in the results. Clip Markup is a manual way to let Google know about timestamps in your video, however, the Seek Markup is an automated way to do the same. Utilising their AI systems, they can scan videos to find the best points for user search queries and show them in the SERPs. 

These markups can be added to videos not only YouTube, but anywhere on the web in recent updates, and are set to be added to and improved in the coming year.

6. IndexNow

IndexNow is an open-source engine that is being used by search engines across the web to find and source new content using a push, rather than a pull, system. These APIs are designed to make producing and indexing content much easier both for webmasters, and for search engines themselves. Any website utilising IndexNow (or similar APIs) will automatically report any changes, deletions or updates that are then pushed to various search engines, rather than bots having to crawl and source this information themselves. Reports have recently shown that Google is looking to utilise this protocol, meaning that changes, new content and new posts could soon be reaching the search engine index faster than ever before. The protocol also makes the process of indexing content far more carbon-neutral, helping to improve Google’s sustainability efforts by reducing the excess crawl load they would need to use otherwise.

7. MUM

Google’s algorithm is constantly updating, but one particular update that we’re keeping an eye on is MUM – or Multitask United Model. This particular model is a language processing model that is reported to be almost 1000 times more powerful than Google’s previous natural language system, BERT. It’s designed to multitask, which means it should be able to analyse not just text, but video and images too, and all within 75 languages to provide the most accurate and comprehensive results possible. It will take a search query, even complex ones, and analyse everything from the text itself to sentiments and context to determine the intent and provide the best results possible for each user.

So far, there isn’t much information as to how to work with MUM as businesses or webmasters, however, there are a few things to watch and expect in the coming months. These include the results and how they appear, more 0-click results, a focus on structured data and a focus on natural content.

8. Passage Indexing

Google announced last year that a new algorithm would be affecting the SERPs called Passage Indexing. This particular algorithm will take natural language processing to index web pages, ultimately improving their understanding of what each passage means. These passages could show up in the SERPs as longer-form content rather than the typical meta description, and doesn’t necessarily have to be within a piece dedicated to that particular SERP. By analysing passage-by-passage, longer-form content could still appear for specific search queries by cutting out a passage from the piece to show in the SERPs.

Passage Indexing has been on Google’s lips since before 2020, but it was February last year when it started to roll out and we’ve been watching it ever since. There is no trick to triggering this indexing for your site, however, businesses are being encouraged to think about the relevancy, accuracy and expertise within their pieces in order to provide as much value in their content as possible and potentially trigger this feature.

9. Core Web Vitals

User experience has been one of Google’s main focuses for years now, and Core Web Vitals play a huge part in that and will continue to in the coming months. Since May 2021, Core Web Vitals have been a part of the Page Experience Algorithm and should remain a focus for webmasters as we progress through 2022. Three main factors affect the rankings, including Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID) and Cumulative Layout Shift (CIS) – these could and likely will play a part in how a page ranks. 

So far, however, this appears to only affect mobile results and currently isn’t a primary ranking factor just yet. We believe it is still worth keeping an eye out for just in case their focus shifts in the future.

For information about any of the trends above or how they may affect your SEO, or for help in producing a results-driven marketing campaign that adheres to the changing SEO landscape, our team are on hand to help. Simply get in touch for more information.