SEO is an ever-changing beast. Once you think you know exactly what Google is looking for, an algorithm update throws a wrench in your strategy.
So, what’s one to do?
While there will always be algorithm updates and improvements, some proven SEO tactics will always be in practice. By implementing these tactics on your site, you improve your odds of rankings while also future-proofing your website against Google’s inevitable changes.
12 Strategies to Dominate Google in 2022 With Better SEO
There are two ways to affect change with SEO: on-page and technical/off-page. Let’s take a closer look at both.
On-Page SEO Tips for 2022
If you’re new to SEO or you’re looking to make quick, impactful changes, these on-page SEO tips for 2022 are a great place to start.
1. Target Long-tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific than the usual target keywords. They usually have lower search volume than shorter keywords, but they can be useful as they show you not only what users are searching for but also why.
An example of a long-tail keyword is “how to rank on Google.” This is opposed to a short-tail keyword such as “Google ranking.”
While it’s not always the case, long-tail keywords tend to have lower search volume and, as a result, lower competition. Therefore, they can be easier to rank for.
How can you effectively integrate long-tail keywords in your posts?
You can’t just stuff your current content with a lot of them in hopes that it’ll work. Instead, follow this step-by-step approach:
- Set clear content marketing objectives.
- Create buyer personas to understand user intent.
- Research and select your long-tail keywords.
- Write relevant content.
The goal is to incorporate long-tail keywords naturally and effectively into your content.
2. Use Keywords in Alt Text for Images
Alt text, or alternative text, is a short description of an image. Alt text has three main uses:
- Accessibility: Alt text is read out loud with the use of a screen reader to users who are visually impaired.
- Context: When an image cannot load onto the page, the alt text appears as an alternative to provide context to users.
- Search engine optimization: Search engine crawlers use alt text to help them index an image properly.
As the internet becomes more accessible, so too does Google’s algorithm. This means that accessible websites are prioritized over their non-accessible counterparts. After all, the more accessible a site the more potential for traffic.
How can you use this additional keyword opportunity without keyword stuffing? Focus first on writing descriptive alt text that provides context for the image. This ensures you’re naturally including target keywords or keyword phrases without going overboard.
3. Use Keywords in Headers
When placing keywords in headers, you’re signaling to search engines and users that these keywords have special importance. Just as a table of contents provides context to users, keywords placed in headers can do the same for search engine bots.
This doesn’t mean forcing keywords where they don’t fit. Consider the user experience first and only add keywords where relevant. This includes variations of your target keywords as a way to avoid keyword stuffing.
4. Focus on Great UX
Beyond keywords and content, you have to consider the experience your users have from start to finish. Google takes into account many factors when ranking your website, and one of them is time spent on the page (or dwell time). If users are bouncing from your page within seconds of arriving, it signals to Google that it is not the type of content they are looking for.
5. Include Multiple Media Types
There are some things you can do that indirectly benefit your SERP rankings. One of those things is to use multiple media types on your blog.
Beyond images, media can also include audio files, videos, and GIFs. These media types are meant to be engaged with and, as such, increase dwell time on your website as well as user experience.
You don’t need to go straight to video marketing to see results. You can start small with audio recordings of your blog posts or short video clips that explain difficult concepts in a new way.
6. Use Internal Links
I mentioned above that Google considers time spent on page when ranking your website. A similar metric is time spent on site and this also informs Google’s algorithm. The longer users stay on your site, the further into the funnel they are likely to go. Beyond that, it signals to search engines that your content is high quality and relevant.
The two key steps to increasing time spent on site are:
- Write engaging, in-depth content.
- Link to relevant internal content.
When you link to internal content, you drive your users deeper into the site. This increases the odds of them interacting with your content in a meaningful way (e.g., leaving a comment on a blog post or sharing on social media), which in itself is beneficial to SERP rankings.
7. Focus on “Top of the Funnel” Keyword Phrases
The three main phases of the funnel are awareness, consideration, and decision.
When speaking about the top of the funnel, I mean the keyword phrases that grab the attention of prospective customers. These are meant to build “awareness” around the topic. They draw the reader in without expecting them to take action.
What do these keywords look like? Top of the funnel keywords tend to answer more general questions about the topic. Take this example from my post about keywords at different stages of the funnel:
By focusing on these keywords, you’re doing two things: 1) reaching a larger audience as more general keywords have a higher volume of searches, and 2) drawing users in earlier in their research process.
Technical/Offpage SEO Tips to Rank in 2022
While technical SEO Is often forgotten, it’s a crucial part of any SEO strategy. Here are some tips to implement in 2022.
1. Eliminate Spammy Backlinks
It used to be that backlinks were the hidden treasure of SEO. It’s true that backlinks are still a factor for search engines, but the quality of those backlinks is now more important than ever before.
If you’ve owned a website for any amount of time, you’ve probably received a handful of backlink requests per week. That is people reaching out asking for you to include links to their website on your site in exchange for money. In almost 100 percent of cases, these requests come from the owners of less-than-stellar websites with subpar content and shady SEO practices.
Just like you vet the sources you reference in your content, so too should you vet backlinks. This includes the sites you’re linking to, as well as the sites linking to your content.
How can you know what sites are linking to you and how you compare to your competition? With my backlink checker tool. Simply enter the domain URL and receive a complete overview of your backlink profile:
You can also get more granular and see the linking sites, their domain authority, and anchor text:
2. Build Your Brand
Since the late 2000s, Google has increasingly put an emphasis on brands. In particular, brands are a way to weed out misinformation, which is crucial as trust continues to be an important ranking factor.
I saw a huge jump in traffic in 2016 thanks to one thing: the growth of my brand.
With the establishment and growth of your brand, it’s not only branded terms that see an increase in traffic. As non-branded terms become closely linked to your brand, you’ll see a continued increase in rankings for those terms, too. That’s why I see millions of organic views each month!
3. Create Thought-Leadership and Strategic Content
Once you have solid, pillar content (i.e., content that targets relevant keywords) on your website, it’s time to think more strategically. You want to be more than just an information site, but an authoritative one. You can do so with thought-leadership and strategic content.
This type of content requires you to look ahead and answer questions that aren’t yet being asked. It means you speak to industry leaders and subject matter experts.
While this type of content takes more time and effort to create, it’s well worth it. When you create content that other brands link to, it builds your brand and increases your backlink portfolio.
4. Diversify Your Backlink Profile
What does it mean to diversify your backlink profile?
In short, you want as many links as possible from as many websites as possible. Even more so, you want these links to have various anchor text distribution types. See the following examples:
- branded anchor text: “According to Neil Patel…”
- long-tail anchor text: “…we should consider the future of SEO”
- naked link anchor: “https://neilpatel.com/blog/the-future-of-seo/”
The backlink checker is an excellent way to get this information as outlined in a previous section.
5. Use Subject Matter Experts to Increase Your EAT Score
An EAT score is one of the most important factors when determining page quality. EAT stands for expertise, authority, and trust. You don’t have to be the expert or authority on the topic you’re writing about. However, you do need to look to those such individuals if you want to create content with a high EAT score.
Whether you’re creating thought-leadership content yet or not, you can still look to subject matter experts for help. While interviews with such people are best, they’re not the only way to “borrow” their authority. Other ways to use them to your advantage are to link to interviews done by other content creators and to quote them within your content.
Bad SEO Practices to Avoid in 2022
Now let’s cover the practices to avoid in 2022 if you hope to increase your SERP rankings.
1. Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing is the act of stuffing as many keywords, both direct and related, into a piece of content as possible. The idea is that the more keywords an article has, the more relevant the content will appear and the higher it’ll rank on SERPs. However, the exact opposite is true.
When a keyword appears too often on a page, the page will be flagged as spammy by Google’s crawl bots. This will negatively affect rankings.
The easiest way to avoid this is to keep keyword density to 2 percent. This goes for the main keyword but also related keywords on the topic.
2. Keyword Cannibalization
Keyword cannibalization occurs when two or more pages on your site are targeting the same main keyword. This is common on newer websites where the owner may think it’s better to split up larger pieces of content in order to create more pages.
For example, if the target keyword is “meringue” and they create one post on “How to Make the Perfect Meringue” and another post on “X Common Mistakes When Making Meringue.” To avoid cannibalization, a larger post should be created that includes both of those post titles as H2s. This is known as pillar content.
3. Duplicate Content
Somewhat related to keyword cannibalization is duplicate content.
Duplicate content is substantive blocks of content that match or are similar to other content elsewhere on the site or across the internet. The latter is also termed plagiarism.
To prevent Google from flagging content on your website as duplicate, use the following tips:
- create 301 redirects
- keep a consistent URL structure
- use top-level domains
- use the noindex tag on syndicated content
4. Exact Match Anchor Text
Similar to keyword stuffing, you don’t want exact match anchor text phrases to show up too often in your content. Why? It’s a clear signal to search engines that you’re trying to manipulate rankings.
To avoid this practice, you’ll first need to determine the current status (i.e. partial versus exact) of any and all links back to your site. You can do so with the Ahrefs’ Site Explorer:
The goal is for only 10-20 percent of all referring domains to link exactly or partially.
If you’re not actively link-building, then it’s unlikely you’re in danger of this particular misstep. However, it’s good to keep a pulse on your backlink portfolio at all times.
5. Spammy Link Building
Speaking of link-building, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it.
There are some obvious offenders, like link directories, blog comments, paid links, and link schemes. You should also reevaluate the relationship you have with any referring domains.
Do they have good linking practices? Do they use only white hat SEO tactics? The answers to these two questions will go a long way in informing you of whether the continued relationship will be beneficial or detrimental to your backlink profile.
Frequently Asked Questions About SEO With Google
Is SEO free on Google?
Search listings are free on Google. Search rankings are based on Google’s algorithm and no one can pay for a better ranking.
How long does it take to optimize my website for Google?
Assuming you are using the most common practices as outlined above in the article, it can take some time to implement all optimizations on your website.
How long will depend on the size of your site and your team. As for how long it takes to start seeing organic results, the consensus is four to six months.
How can I dominate the SERPs in 2022 through SEO?
The key to any successful SEO strategy is to focus on white hat techniques that have been proven to work. These are all outlined above.
Are there major Google algorithm updates expected in 2022?
Google releases thousands of algorithm updates every year. As for major updates, one to look out for at the beginning of 2022 is the intention to add page ranking signals to desktop search. This is expected to be completed by March 2022.
Conclusion: Dominate Google in 2022 With Better SEO
As much as things change when it comes to Google’s algorithm and SEO, one thing remains constant: relevant, high-quality content is always a solid place to start.
By implementing the 12 on-page and technical SEO practices above, though, you can be sure to dominate SEO with Google in 2022. Why? Because these techniques help you to improve your content for both users and crawl bots to ensure a clean, engaging experience.
Which of the techniques above will you implement on your website first?
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