By Chris Rodgers, founder of Colorado SEO
2021 wrapped up as an extremely eventful year for SEO, with increased demand and competition coming out of the 2020 lockdowns, a plethora of major Google algorithm updates, a large-scale shift towards digital, and sizable growth in the b2b enterprise SEO space.
Looking at 2021, some of the big trends for enterprise b2b companies were focusing on user experience, prioritizing mobile, preparing for the page experience update, and creating better original content. With three core algorithm updates this year and almost too many targeted updates to count, the search landscape is changing more quickly than ever before.
As we move into 2022, we see a possible acceleration of Google algorithm updates and a continued advancement in AI and natural language processing, which places even more focus on serving users with the best experience.
Search Intent continues to be one of the most critical pieces of the puzzle and should be central when defining audiences, performing keyword and topic research, and creating SEO content strategy.
Establishing EAT signals will continue to be a big priority, and companies in the YMYL category are continuing to receive enhanced scrutiny from Google, which oftentimes leads to extreme volatility in search visibility. Focusing on business goals, meeting customers’ needs through the buyer’s journey, and leveraging AI and automation will be key in 2022.
User Experience & Mobile
Google has shown a dedication to improving user experience through the development of machine learning components and continued updates to its search algorithm. Notable updates included RankBrain in 2015, Mobile-First Indexing in 2017, Neural-Matching in 2018, and now this year’s Page Experience Update.
The Page Experience Update has a big focus on user experience, specifically evaluating sites based on how quickly and how smoothly they load, mobile-usability, domain security (HTTPS), and on-site ad spam (intrusive interstitials). This update had a big lead-up and was announced back in May 2020 but did not finish rolling out until this past September.
The general feeling in the SEO community was that it didn’t seem to have a huge impact, however, as we look forward to 2022, we can expect that this update may have more influence. It is possible that Google intentionally prevented the update from having too much influence because the majority of sites are not ready and failed to address core web vitals in a meaningful way.
Google has taken this same delayed impact approach with mobile-first indexing, which began in 2017 but has still not fully rolled out despite progress in 2021. Through this update, Google places the mobile experience of web pages as the priority in terms of indexing and ranking.
Expect mobile experience to continue to be paramount and increase in importance in 2022, at least until mobile-first indexing is complete (there is no target completion date from Google currently).
Content & Search Intent
Creating higher-quality original content was a big trend in 2021, especially as it relates to b2b enterprise SEO. These organizations must disseminate nuanced subject matter to a targeted audience through highly-strategic content. This content needs to deliver big value, provide expert-level information, and connect with the customer at the right stage and in the right way.
As we move into 2022, understanding the buyer’s journey and how it relates to search intent and SEO content strategy is critical. Once your audiences (personas, keyword groups) have been identified, they need to be viewed in the context of the buyer’s journey, and more specifically search intent.
Your content should target an audience comprised of keywords that align intent, so that you’re serving informational content to customers at the top of the funnel, commercial content for customers comparing providers, and transactional content to those ready to engage and make a purchase decision.
This process can be done 100% manually, or you can speed things up by leveraging machine-learning through third-party SEO tools or proprietary software that some SEO agencies possess.
EAT & YMYL
EAT (expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness) is a critical concept that Google provides as part of their guide to search quality raters to evaluate websites. The feedback from these raters is then used by Google to train their algorithms through machine learning.
Understanding EAT and how to establish it on your site is necessary to ensure that you are more likely to see gains versus drops when Google releases core algorithm updates. With three core algorithm updates this year, EAT was a huge trend in 2021 for navigating Google’s ever-evolving algorithm and AI updates.
Looking forward to 2022 EAT is as relevant as it has ever been, with entities in the YMYL (your money your life) category needing to prioritize EAT above other business types. Google defines these as pages or topics that “could potentially impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety”.
Some of the big categories we see in the enterprise b2b space are finance, medical, and eCommerce. However, there is a huge spectrum of businesses in enterprise b2b that could have the kind of impact that Google is describing.
The SEO strategies for EAT span across content, links, and even technical SEO with elements like schema markup. Make sure you are incorporating EAT into your SEO strategy moving forward, and pay special attention if you might be in the YMYL category.
Making the Most of 2022 SEO Trends
While we have had a ton of SEO changes both in 2021 and expect more in 2022, the overall outlook is positive. The overarching themes covered here are expected to continue to be important and as marketers and SEO’s we will continue to adapt and evolve to provide the highest benefit possible from SEO.