“The trend is your friend except at the end where it bends.” –Ed Seykota

As you read this, the top SEO and digital marketing trends for 2021 are bending as we continually march toward next year’s top trends. And what are those? Well, some are the same—like the urgent need for marketing automation—and some are emerging—like core web vitals taking a front-and-center place. 

Now is the time to learn 2022’s top trends so you can lean into the curve, instead of falling behind it.

Read more articles to help grow your business in 2022:

Look Forward to 2022’s SEO & Digital Marketing Trends

While many of the 2021 SEO & Digital Marketing Trends are still intact, there are a few more to be aware of for this upcoming year. 

#1 Featured Snippets Are Still Important

Consumers want quick answers to their search queries, and they’d rather not click through the top few results to find what they’re looking for.

Featured snippets are those bits of information that Google provides directly in the search results in the form of an answer box. Google’s algorithm chooses the most relevant content based on the search query and features it at the top of the page. Google also tries to show content that is the most useful for readers, meaning the ranked page has high traffic and a low bounce rate.

The most obvious benefit of capturing a featured snippet is increased web traffic. If your content is selected for the snippet, it will be front and center on the search result page, and being at the top of organic search results is nothing to scoff at. But beyond higher organic traffic, a featured snippet will also give your organization higher prestige. After all, Google is essentially saying your content is the most credible source of information, and the searchers will believe it.

The best way to gun for the featured snippet is to have your content answer the search query right away. If you’re hoping to get a featured snippet for the key phrase “how do refrigerators work?” then you better title your article “How Do Refrigerators Work?” and dive directly into a simple summary of the answer in the first sentence. Then you can use the rest of the article to hash out the details.

#2 Search Intent Continues to Be More Important than Keywords

In Google’s early days, content writers had to include very specific keywords or phrases to rank high on results pages. They were so specific, these phrases oftentimes didn’t make a lot of sense in the context of the article. Fortunately, Google’s algorithms get better and better, and rankability is much more focused on search intent.

Search intent is the motive behind a user’s search query. Do they want to buy something? Do they want to read an informative article? Do they want to compare products before making a purchase? Are they looking for food near their geographic vicinity?

So when writing with keywords and phrases, you have to start thinking about the intent behind them. Why would someone be asking this? And how would they be asking it? Are they typing a common phrase into the search bar or are they asking a conversational question via voice assistant? These will inform you of what to write about.

#3 Faster Load Times Lead to Better Rankings

People don’t like to wait for a website to load. In fact, 25% of visitors would abandon a website if it takes more than four seconds to load.

Load time isn’t just important for consumers, speed is a ranking factor. If their web crawlers take a long time to make it to your webpage, they won’t stick around for long. Plus, an increased load time of one to five seconds makes the likelihood of a bounce go up by 90%. To improve your load times, reduce your image sizes, take out unnecessary redirects, and enable compression to start.

Optimizing for mobile users is just as important. In 2021, over 54% of all web traffic came from mobile users. Make sure your web host has a mobile optimization option to appease all of that web traffic. 

#4 EAT Matters

You’ve likely heard how important “high-quality content” is for improving your online relationship with readers, but what does that content look like? A popular, and effective, acronym that floats around the marketing bubble is “EAT,” meaning expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

Expertise means explaining your higher knowledge and skill on a particular topic in a way that engages your readers. To do that, find out what your audience wants through searcher intent and then overdeliver.

Authority comes when people start associating a topic or product with your brand. Getting mentioned or linked to in other blogs indicates to Google that you know what you’re talking about, making you much more likely to rank higher. Even a Wikipedia page for your brand can work wonders for developing authority.

Trustworthiness means you are what you say you are. That means you are truly an authoritative expert who readers come to for accurate information. Things like positive online reviews, a secure website domain, terms and conditions pages, and refund and return policies can instill this trust in your customers.

#5 Longer Content Will Rank Higher

This is a two-parter: you need to write content more frequently, and you also need to write longer content to optimize your ranking chances.

The more content you write, the more keywords and questions you can answer. Since you only want to focus on one primary keyword and a handful of secondaries per article or webpage, you need to write multiple pages for a broad keyword portfolio.

Google also prefers content that is rich with information. The first ten results typically have over 2,000 words. But it’s not because Google checks the word count. Long-form content offers more opportunities for backlinks, keyword variations, and keeps readers on your page, meaning longer user sessions.

But even though Google likes brands that produce a lot of long content, you can’t sacrifice quality for quantity. Be sure all of your articles follow the EAT principles.

#6 Local SEO Is More Important than Ever

Local SEO took a bit of a backseat in 2020, mostly because COVID-19 kept everyone indoors. But this isn’t permanent! Even in 2020, 46% of all Google searches had local intent. 

If you prioritize local SEO, you can gain a competitive edge over your local competition. Besides, if you really want to stick around, you need to use local SEO to show consumers that you exist.

#7 Niche Marketing Wins on Social Media

Social media marketing is oversaturated. Every brand is trying to reach its audience(s) with the “right” message. But, not every company is able to make its desired impact.

The key to social media marketing in 2022 is to identify where your customers are, create niche content that they are most likely to engage with, and get them to convert. This strategy has the potential to be extremely profitable, but only after performing some extensive experimentation on these channels.

Figure out which social media channel is the most popular with your audience. Experiment with different types of content to find out what they engage with the most. And above all else, try to instill trust and authenticity in your brand image through your social media content. When it comes to ads on social media here are some Instagram tips that could prove useful for your marketing situation.

#8 Marketing Automation Is Needed to Compete

Marketing automation is nothing new. For years, automation tools have helped marketers to target the right customers, simplify time-consuming tasks, and maximize overall efficiency for marketing campaigns.

So why is it so important to start on marketing automation? Because everyone else is. HubSpot’s 2021 Marketing Report found that automated email marketing campaigns are one of the top three tactics used by email marketers to improve performance. 

Take time to find a marketing automation service that you can customize to your exact needs, whether it’s for sending out customer emails or creating nurture campaigns.

#9 Voice Search Marketing Has to Deliver

Voice devices like Alexa and Siri made it so people can ask a question and get a handful of useful answers. It’s changed the way marketers approach keywords, opting for full questions and phrases rather than a few choice words. But voice search is changing the way we market our products, too.

Voice search now works to improve the overall customer experience. This can include personalized messaging, which creates a more natural interaction between customers and brands. So when a customer asks about getting new shoes, their device can show them deals and styles related to their past purchase information, geographic location, and intent.

#10 Non-Linear Customer Journeys Have to Be Followed

In the early days of marketing, customers would see an ad and either go to the store to buy the featured product or order it from a catalog. Those days are long gone. Now customers are doing their research, comparing one brand’s offer to another, and reading online reviews. It’s a long, thorough process.

Brands have to constantly re-grab a customer’s attention. That’s why strategies like remarketing and cross-device targeting have become so popular. These are the strategies that make people think Google or Facebook is reading their minds.

#11 Experience Economies Are What Customers Want

If you see two ice cream shops next to each other, one with flashy and colorful decor and the other with a simple design, chances are more customers will go for the flashy shop. It’s not because their ice cream is better, it’s because they’re offering something more: an experience.

Consumers don’t just want products anymore—they want a memorable experience to associate with their purchase. Whether they get that experience from the brick and mortar store, the unboxing process, or the product itself is up to you.

#12 Weak Brands Need to Be Strengthened

All of these previous tips help your brand to get noticed, but what if your brand sucks? You’d be drawing attention to something that most may not want to associate with at all.

If you need to fix a bad brand, start with reputation management and new social media marketing strategies. These can strengthen your brand, helping leads to see your values and how your product can help them.

#13 Video Marketing Should Be Used More and More

Perhaps a top marketing trend today (and likely one that will be for the next decade) is video marketing—and we don’t just mean recording a video and throwing it up on YouTube. Video marketing includes:

  • Live broadcasting on Instagram or Facebook (newly renamed to be Meta)
  • Embedding video in a published article
  • Ripping the audio for use in a podcast episode
  • Inserting them in your email marketing campaigns (inserting the word “video” in the subject line)

Video marketing is no longer an option, but a necessity because as discussed in Biteable’s 2021 report, 74% of marketers say video has a better ROI than static imagery. And 68% say it has a better ROI than Google Ads. 

Where does this high ROI come from? Fifty-three percent say it’s from the fact that videos raise awareness, 49% say video engages their audiences, and 52% say video builds trust with potential customers.

#14 Core Web Vitals Takes on a Whole New Meaning

Page experience, also called UX, is a new member of Google’s ranking factor family. The announcement said “the experience of interacting with a web page beyond its pure information value” will now be considered in rankings. The global rollout of this factor just completed as of August 2021. That means next year is when this new trend will really be getting off the ground.

Here’s what you need to know now:

  • Google’s page experience signal measures how users perceive page interaction 
  • User experience must be delightful across all web browsers and devices
  • Business ranking success will evolve as users grow more engaged and have less transactional friction

Getting back to core web vitals, these are a set of metrics that quantify the above key aspects of page experience, along with: 

  • Load time
  • Stability of content
  • Interactivity
  • Security of user data

Without these metrics, there will be no way for a business to know what can be improved to achieve a higher search rank. That’s why this trend is a big one to get ahead of before your competition takes the cake.

Don’t Procrastinate

You may think it’s a little early to start planning your company’s New Year resolutions, but preparing now gives you the head start that’s imperative for maintaining a competitive edge.

Think you need some extra hands implementing these trends into your marketing plan? Big Leap can help. Our holistic approach to digital marketing and SEO makes for an efficient and effective approach to any marketing campaign. Contact Big Leap today to learn how we can help you reach your company goals.

Julie Snow