Very few marketers, if any, don’t fervently practice Search Engine Optimization (SEO) nowadays. This series of best practices allows content to rank higher in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). In doing so, said content can generate more traffic, acquire more leads, and ultimately secure conversions. Still, this field is intensely competitive, and SEO ranking factors change over time. They don’t just emerge and subside overnight, of course, but Google evolves, and its ranking factors follow suit. Keeping an eye on this can undoubtedly give marketers an edge, so let us highlight some crucial ranking factors to keep in mind in 2022.
Adjusting strategies for 2022
But first, let’s very briefly establish how exactly you may put this kind of foresight to use.
For one, SEO overlaps with web design and similar practices you may wish to inform. But perhaps most importantly, it directly affects content marketing. So, you may use these trends to proactively adjust your content and enhance its effectiveness.
Examples of emerging strategies for 2022 include:
- Interactivity; digital audiences increasingly value interactivity, as opposed to static content.
- Animation; for that matter, animation in social media posts and other outreach also continues to yield great results.
- Specialization; finally, content-wise, subject specialization increasingly becomes the better option toward satisfying more invested, knowledgeable audiences.
Should this front interest you, we have written an article that explores it in more depth.
Conversely, as ranking factors change over time, some other practices begin to fall out of favor or lose significance. But fear not, we will touch on those too.
Ranking factors to keep in mind in 2022
Now, there are over 200 ranking factors – and you can’t reasonably cater to every one of them. However, you may prioritize and keep an eye on what Google values more as time goes on.
#1 Page Experience
Perhaps most importantly, Page Experience remains a core part of Google’s continued push for excellent user experience. Here, there are a few different things to mind:
- Page Experience is not in itself a ranking factor, but directly affects multiple others.
- It leans considerably toward mobile-friendliness, which too is a ranking factor.
- It includes Core Web Vitals and other signals, but not all Web Vitals.
To visualize exactly what it includes, Google offers this handy illustration:
For one, its current value aside, Page Experience will most certainly inform SEO more in the future. That’s because Google is testing a Page Experience visual indicator on SERPs, which should directly affect user behaviors. Moreover, Google is already working on a new Core Web Vitals metric for better page assessment accuracy.
Page Experience aside, keywords will also be high among the ranking factors to keep in mind in 2022 and beyond. There are multiple reasons for this, of course, including the following:
- Keywords are what content ranks for; they inform both human visitors and crawlers of its subject and value.
- They directly inform how well content matches the users’ search intent, which is a ranking factor in itself.
- Google places increasingly more emphasis on keywords in meta title tags, as we will cover below.
What’s more, locally-focused keywords directly fuel local SEO, which continues to gain prominence since the pandemic began. Put simply; there is no SEO without keywords at its core. Thus, keyword research will remain as valuable as ever in 2022.
#3 Content quality
Keywords are only half the proverbial battle, however. Echoing Bill Gates’s famous 1996 quote, Google too believes that “content is king”. It consistently promotes quality content to the top of SERPs and has become consistently better at identifying and penalizing low-quality content that seeks to take advantage of its algorithms.
“Quality” is an elusive term, but we may pinpoint its primary components as the following:
- Length; Google deeply appreciates content length, and the best-ranking content typically ranges between 1,000 and 2,500+ words.
- Authoritativeness; Google also promotes trustworthy content and uses its PageRank-type algorithms to determine authoritativeness.
- Search intent; finally, quality content is simply content that matches what users are looking for and answers their questions.
Needless to say, content will remain key for years to come – especially as Google’s algorithms become more sophisticated.
#4 Consistent content output
Quality is only one aspect of successful SEO, however. Perhaps equally as high among ranking factors to keep in mind in 2022 comes content output consistency. Google’s John Mueller has clearly stated as much manifold and continued to tweet about it in 2021:
However, achieving both excellent quality and consistency may be impossible for many. In this regard, factors to consider include:
- Quality beats quantity; if you have to choose one of the two, Google will value content quality more.
- Output should match intent; you may lean more heavily on consistently producing valuable content for specific search intents that make sense for your business.
- Technology can help; such third-party assets as post schedulers can significantly help with maintaining consistency.
Of course, the exact balance between quality and quantity will depend on your resources and business data.
Finally, backlinks remain the proverbial backbone of SEO. Smart link-building may be among the wisest SEO practices you can engage in in 2022, especially as competition remains fierce.
Backlinks offer immense SEO and practical value for a wealth of reasons. The most notable ones among them include:
- All backlinks, whether Follow or NoFollow, produce traffic. This traffic doesn’t just yield more revenue, but it also informs user engagement – another SEO ranking factor.
- All backlinks typically yield more valuable traffic than SERPs traffic because it’s the more invested audiences that follow them.
- Follow backlinks in particular also enhance your Domain Authority (DA) score and thus boost your SEO score further.
In turn, 2022 should likely see even more use of the skyscraper technique as businesses seek to reap these benefits.
Still, it is crucial to maintain a healthy balance between Follow and NoFollow backlinks. Google may penalize unnatural-looking backlink profiles, which can hamper your SEO efforts.
Google algorithm changes for 2022
Finally, to help you prioritize these factors, let us cite FirstPageSage’s research to identify the weight of each:
As you can see, SEO’s consistent mainstays will remain strong in 2022. In order, the top 5 are:
- Consistent Publication of Engaging Content
- Keywords in Meta Title Tags
- Niche Expertise
- User Engagement
In order, then, consistent and valuable content remains king – and keywords fuel it. Backlinks remain valuable traffic generators and inform industry authoritativeness, which ranks 4th. Finally, user engagement assures Google that you’re indeed offering a great Page Experience.
In summary, the ranking factors to keep in mind in 2022 are content quality and consistency, keywords, backlinks, and Page Experience. The significance of each has only changed slightly from 2021, but Page Experience, in particular, seems to stride ahead. Thankfully, it overlaps with multiple SEO best practices, so it too will favor the diligent and the prepared.