Google processes more than 5.6 billion searches per day. For most companies, that makes Google a marketplace just too big to ignore. An SEO campaign that produces ever-improving organic rankings can become a big contributor — if not the biggest contributor — to lead generation or new online revenue.
But, for SEO to have that kind of impact, execution must be close to flawless. And because SEO best practices evolve rapidly, outdated strategies and tactics are potentially fatal flaws. To keep your SEO campaign clicking on all cylinders in 2022, put these powerful strategies to work.
1. Improve Page Loading Speed
Slow-loading pages have always been a source of user frustration and a major reason for potential customers to click off a website in a hurry. But in 2022, slow page loading and other UX (user experience) issues will begin to matter more for SEO as well. Core Web Vitals, rolled out by Google in 2021, is an aggressive initiative to tie organic rankings more closely to UX. Page speed is an important dimension of this, so now is the time to analyze and optimize your site for speed.
2. Research and Optimize Voice Search Keywords
Voice search figures to gain traction in 2022, as more and more people are relying on virtual assistants such as Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant. Because people use different speech patterns when talking than when writing, traditional, text-search keywords are beginning to lose volume as voice-search alternatives come into use. In general, voice-search users input longer queries and use natural language. If you haven’t researched voice-search keywords recently, you may uncover a great opportunity to expand organic traffic or, at the very least, prevent it from slipping.
3. Do a Keyword Research Refresh
Speaking of keywords, if you haven’t conducted new keyword research in the last year or two, don’t let 2022 go by without doing a refresh. Some companies make the mistake of viewing SEO keyword research as a one-and-done proposition. Nothing could be further from the truth. Industry terminology, buzzwords, brand name changes, new products, and new services can change keyword volumes and create entirely new keywords well worth targeting. If you don’t take notice of these changes and your competitors do, your organic traffic will suffer and theirs won’t!
4. Add Word Count, On-Site and Off-Site
All other things being equal, Google favors web pages with more words over those with fewer words. In 2021, the trend toward long-form content gained momentum. Off-site, publishers are looking for articles from 1,000 to 2,000 words and up, which can impact your editorial linkbuilding campaign costs and creative timelines. On-site, adding relevant, high-quality content to SEO target pages could give them a noticeable rankings boost. Be sure, though, to structure the content in a way that adds conversion power to the content rather than detracts from it.
5. Shift or Add Emphasis to Local SEO
Has your national SEO campaign plateaued? One way to keep organic traffic growing is to target local keywords, especially in your big geographic markets or those into which you would like to expand. Local keywords tend to be less competitive than national ones, and often have surprisingly high volume because mobile search, which often has local intent, accounts for more than 60% of total search volume and is expanding rapidly.
6. Optimize for Local Search
As just noted, mobile has a substantial lead over desktops in search volume — enough so that Google has shifted to mobile-first indexing. This makes eliminating technical SEO issues from your mobile site, creating a superior, all-around mobile UX, and in particular improving the quality and formatting of images and other visual design elements imperative in 2022. Fortunately, Google makes doing that easy: The link in this section includes a step-by-step checklist of mobile-SEO issues and how to fix them.
7. Embrace Linkbuilding
Beginning back in 2012 with the Google Penguin update, companies with linkbuilding campaigns and publishers who worked with them collectively became deathly afraid of being penalized by Google for employing “bad” links. For a long while, linkbuilding became almost a dirty word — even though the real intent of Penguin was to stop the deceptive link schemes engaged in by only a very few companies or publishers. Ten years later, ethical linkbuilding is again being embraced and fully underway, as it should be and as it has been for many companies all along. Next year would be a perfect year to ramp up linkbuilding because nothing moves the SEO dial faster than an outstanding backlink profile.
publication, and then never think about it again. In the real world, however, on-site content is changed from time to time, and over the course of one or two years, may bear little resemblance to the original text. This can create a serious SEO problem if inattentive or non-existent editing causes target pages to become confusing, less relevant to the target keywords, and/or riddled with grammatical errors. A wise policy is to thoroughly review the home pages and SEO target pages at least once a year (at minimum).
8. Re-edit On-Site Content
Over the years, Google has gotten better and better at identifying high-quality content — that is, the content it wants to reward with high rankings. Like keywords, many companies edit on-site content before initial
9. Improve Calls to Action and Offers
The last two strategies are not directly related to an SEO campaign but are often indirectly the difference between success and failure. At the highest strategic level, SEO succeeds or fails based on its ability to convert organic traffic into sales leads or online orders. If your SEO campaign is delivering lots of organic traffic but few conversions, the problem could be weak calls to action (e.g., “Contact us now”) and/or weak offers (e.g., “Some discounts may apply”). On the other hand, if these content elements are attention-getting and irresistible, the ROI from your SEO campaign will be better than ever in 2022.
10. Improve the Sales Lead Handoff
For lead generation SEO campaigns, there’s always a handoff from the digital lead to the real-world effort to turn the prospect into a customer. After the SEO campaign generates the lead, what happens next? If you are training your phone operators and inside salespeople to communicate with those leads quickly, accurately, attentively, and engagingly, the odds of converting those leads into living, breathing, buying customers increases exponentially.
A lot of business unknowns are hovering going into 2022, due to supply chain disruptions, labor shortages, pandemic response policies, and other factors. One thing we can be reasonably sure of is a continued reliance on the Internet for B2B and B2C buying and selling. Powering up your SEO campaign to meet that need will help keep your business moving forward no matter what direction the economy takes.
Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, a Chicago-based Internet marketing company that specializes in SEO. With decades of marketing, sales, and management experience, Shorr has written for leading online publications including Forbes and Entrepreneur, and for the American Marketing Association.