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We're back with a brand new season of Whiteboard Friday episodes for your viewing pleasure. First up: SEO expert Cyrus Shepard shares his top 22 tips for successful Google SEO in 2022. Watch to find out what to prioritize and what to look out for in the year ahead!
Howdy, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday, a very special edition, our annual SEO tips of the year edition. This year it is 22 smart SEO tips for 2022. I'm going to be talking about some of the most talked about things in the SEO industry over the past year plus a few tips from last year that we wanted to pull over because they were just that important.
Because we've got 22 of them and we don't want this video to take forever, we're going to be going through these pretty quick, but for you we've linked to some resources in the transcript below so you can explore all of these topics further if you want. All right. Without further ado, let's get started.
I'm going to start with some on-page topics. Tip number one, A/B testing or simply testing.
We've seen a lot more testing tools pop up in the last couple of years, which is awesome because SEO is not make a decision and implement it and you're done. SEO is implement, evaluate, and then make decisions or sometimes course corrections.
Is this something we need to pull back? Did C perform better than D? Which one would we choose? All the tips we're talking about today can apply to this testing mentality. SEO is incredibly complex, and the old-school idea of best practices just doesn't cut it anymore. So in '22, develop a testing mentality with your SEO.
Number two, author pages. I really love this because Google this year updated some of their advice around author pages and their schema markup. It's an important part of my strategy and a lot of websites that I use. A good quality author page helps Google evaluate your authors, which can be used for E-A-T and other things, and helps link them with their expertise.
So linking your articles to a good author page usually includes links to other websites, author profiles, links to the articles they wrote, some biographical information. It can help establish your authors as expertise in a certain space. So take a look at your author pages and try to improve them and make this a task.
Google title rewrites, number three. I don't think there is any topic more discussed in 2022 than Google rewriting titles. A lot of studies, including one I did, showing Google rewriting 60%, 70% or 80% of a site's titles. It can be frustrating. But what we're finding is a lot of people aren't evaluating those Google title rewrites. When you do, you can learn a lot about your own titles.
Why is Google rewriting it? Is my title too long? Am I missing important keywords? Do I have fluff in there that Google doesn't like? Or in some cases you can go back and try to correct the title that Google rewrote if they're doing just a terrible job. So Google title rewriting, do an audit of those Google titles and learn what you can do.
Speaking of fluff, this may be the year that you want to nuke the SEO fluff. You know what I'm talking about with SEO fluff. It's those flowery keywords. It's those descriptions and it's recipe pages. "Oh, I was walking along the Irish countryside thinking about my bread and biscuits." That is your fluff. We're finding that it may not be necessary, and it may even be detrimental to your SEO.
Glenn Gabe wrote a great case study where they reduced a lot of their fluff on category descriptions and they actually saw an increase. Google is removing fluff from title tags. So this marketing, flowery, SEO writing stuff, it may not be helping you, and, in fact, it may be hurting you. Today Google is rewarding sites or seems to be rewarding sites that provide quick answers and more direct engagement.
Better engagement, it's usually better for your customers as well. So experiment with losing the fluff in 2022.
Number five, FAQ schema. So last year we talked a lot about different schema types, how-to schema, FAQ scheme, different things. If there was a clear winner in 2022, it was FAQ. The reason FAQ is the winner is because so many sites can qualify for it, it's easy to implement, and if you win a FAQ schema in SERPs, you can gain a lot of Google real estate.
So there are a lot of articles that talk about how to optimize for FAQs. You can get links, deep links in FAQs. There are a lot of things you can do. We'll link to those in the transcript below. But take a look at your FAQ schema if you're not currently using it:
Last year we talked about tabbed content, bringing your content that is in tabs, in navigation and bringing it out. This year, we're getting a little more advanced.
Our friends at Merj did a study about types of tabbed content and how easily Google can extract and render and index different tabbed content. So if you still have content in tabs, it doesn't necessarily mean you have to take everything out, but you should research if Google is able to index and rank those appropriately. There are better resources this year to try to do that.
So take a look at your tabbed content.
Along the same lines, faceted navigation. We've been talking about faceted navigation for years, but this is the year to get a little more strategic with it. In certain ways, faceted navigation has always been like a set of rules, like if it has green dress, we are not going to index this or crawl it, but if it is size 12 or higher, we will index it.
Today, smart SEOs are getting a lot more savvy about what they index, don't index, and crawl with faceted navigation, and these tools are becoming increasingly available for sites like WordPress and things like that, where you can actually look at the traffic each page receives and index, crawl, faceted navigation on a page by page level, and these broad rules aren't necessarily as necessary.
You can get down to the nitty-gritty and increase your traffic that way, with fine-grained tools. So both tabbed content and faceted navigation, old-school concepts, but we're getting much more sophisticated with them in 2022.
All right, let's talk about everybody's favorite subject, links, because you need links to rank in SEO. But what a lot of smart SEOs know and talk about is you need links to rank in SEO, but you probably don't need as many as you think.
If you only have a few good external links, one of the best ways to leverage that is optimize your internal link optimization. We've seen a number of new tools and processes talking about internal link optimization. We're talking about pages that have too few links, under optimized anchor text, pages that have great opportunities that aren't ranking that should.
So if you haven't done an internal link optimization audit in a while, this is the year to do it and this is the way to leverage those internal links that you're getting.
Speaking of which, deep linking. In the old days, if you linked to a page, you just linked to the URL. But we're seeing an increase in deep linking, linking to specific passages, text fragments, things like that, navigation, jump links.
This is increasingly becoming a popular strategy to get people deeper into the page and give Google and other search engines signals about very specific parts of pages. This seems relevant as Google has recently introduced passage ranking, where they're not just evaluating the whole page. They can understand individual passages as well.
So making deep linking part of your strategy, as opposed to just linking to the URL, seems to be a great way of moving forward.
High ROI link building. I watched a great presentation from Ross Simmonds this year, the Coolest Cool, on link building with assets and determining the ROI of each of them, because everything you build links with, whether it be a tool, a blog post, a free PDF, it has a cost and that cost has an ROI.
Ross found that certain things have higher ROIs than others. Tools have an incredibly high ROI, but they're also expensive to create. Pages with stats on them, not that expensive to create, but also a really high ROI.
I'm going to link to that video. It might be a paid subscription. I apologize about that. But it's awesome. It was voted number one at MozCon. If you do link building, it's definitely worth watching and definitely worth the cost. High ROI link building, know the cost of everything you're producing and how much value you're getting out of it.
Let's go old school again. Our friend Nick LeRoy tweeted not too long ago about reducing redirects. This is really old school, but a lot of people are forgetting it these days. If you have a large site and you have thousands or millions of redirects all sending confusing signals, 301 jumps to a 302 jumps to a 404, what is that?
Looking at your redirect chains and reducing them to a single redirect with a clear directive can help reduce canonicalization errors. It can improve crawling efficiency, and at scale it can influence your rankings. So if you have a large site or even a small site with a lot of redirects, this is the year you want to do a redirect audit. Get on it. Audit, on it.
How about SEO for affiliate links? We don't talk a lot about affiliate links here at Moz, and Google traditionally hasn't talked a lot about it either.
But this year we saw Google introduce specific guidance for affiliate sites, which is something they really haven't done before. Specifically for review sites, Google talking about what a good review looks like, talking about the good and the bad part of the product, the fact that you should link to multiple merchants so consumers have a choice.
We haven't seen this from Google before. So if you do SEO for affiliate sites, you do review sites, this is the year to review those Google documentations and make sure you're creating sites that Google rewards and actually following Google's guidance on it, which is something in past years I didn't think I would be able to say about that. So it's awesome to see.
All right, moving on to different topics, reputation research. My friend Lily Ray talks about reputation research a lot in terms of E-A-T. The idea that Google can evaluate your site based on what other people say about you. So if you're Dr. Mercola and an anti-vaxxer and everybody is saying all these terrible things about you on other websites, Google can disappear you from search.
Reviews, what are other websites saying about you in terms of reviews? Google quality raters often look at other websites to get reputation research, and it's supposedly believed that Google can do the same thing algorithmically. So making reputation research part of your SEO audit process, what are other sites saying about you, is it incredibly positive, is it incredibly negative, this is especially important for your money or your life sites, sites that are going to be more impacted by E-A-T algorithms.
So if you sell things or dispense medical advice, reputation research is a little bit more important for those sites.
Boy, last year we talked about Core Web Vitals a lot. One of my happiest things is that we are talking about it much less. Google announced a big update. It was a big hooplala. It didn't quite work out the way Google kind of explained that it might.
What happened was Google released Core Web Vitals, and some sites saw a boost, other sites saw a decrease, but it wasn't as intense as we thought it might be. A lot of sites did improve. But we're finding in 2022 maybe we don't need to worry about it as much as we thought.
My colleague Tom Capper did a study that showed that slow sites were still ranking and fast sites were ranking even higher, but the effect wasn't as much. The one thing Tom did find though, that was important, was sites that failed all three Core Web Vital requirements were definitely in the dumps. So we should optimize for speed always, but perhaps in 2022 we don't need to obsess over it as much as possible, based on Google advice.
Speed is awesome. You should make your sites as fast as you can. But Core Web Vitals, don't sweat it as much as we were in 2021.
Other things we might want to consider not sweating, AMP. 2021 was the year that we've seen a lot sites start to ditch their AMP. This is because Google no longer requires it as a ranking factor in their top stories. It does provide some speed benefits. It's kind of a neat technology. We know people who work on it. It's really cool. But a lot of companies were stressing out trying to maintain two different versions of their website to get that ranking boost. A lot of sites are starting to like, "Well, we don't want to have two different versions. It's a lot of overhead. It's a lot of engineers. What if we just got rid of it?"
They're finding it really doesn't make a difference. They can just work with one platform and still get as much rankings as they want. So if your company is struggling with AMP, this might be a year to experiment with ditching it. Or keep it if you like. It's great, but a lot of people seem to be walking away.
On the flipside, a lot of people are flocking to Google Discover.
Google Discover is interesting. It's not traditional SEO traffic, where you research a keyword and people are converting. It's a little bit more like social media traffic. In fact, social media sharing seems to be one of the ranking factors that can influence how much traffic you get from Google Discover.
But what we've seen in the last year is some publishers are optimizing for Google Discover, publishing those stories, and seeing huge amounts of traffic for that. Great for like news sites, blogs, popular things, things that talk about popular topics.
We've gotten some Google Discover traffic here at Moz. We're going to link to a couple of articles to show you how to optimize for Google Discover. But if you haven't tried it yet, it may be a channel for you to explore in 2022.
We've got to squeeze in one local SEO tip. We're doing this for our friend Darren Shaw, who publishes the Local Search SEO Ranking Factors every year, doing an awesome job at it. If you have a local site and you just have five minutes to do one thing, the number one SEO tip for 2022, get your GBP categories in order. Ranking factors studies show that it is the number one thing that can influence rankings.
Do an audit of your Google Business Profile categories. Darren has a lot of tips over there with that Local SEO Ranking Factors. I would encourage you to look at it. Also Joy Hawkins is doing a lot with experimentations. I'd encourage you to look at her site as well.
My tip, the tip that I'm going to die on this hill — favicon optimization. Why favicon optimization?
I talked about this last year, but I don't think people took me seriously enough. Over 50% of search results take place on a mobile phone where your favicon shows, and people are not optimizing those favicons. A good favicon can draw attention. It can zero you in on a very busy SERP, and it does it with just a few pixels.
A good favicon can raise your click-through conversion rate one or two percent, which is awesome. How does it work? What do you notice on this screen? You notice the tip with a favicon. A good favicon is usually bright, it's usually high contrast, and it draws your attention to your search results. So optimize your favicon, folks. I'm dying on that hill.
All right. So I want to spend a few tips on talking about your SEO career, because I don't think we talk about this enough. What should you be learning this year, aside from Python because everybody loves Python?
This might be the year that you want to finally familiarize yourself with GA4. GA4 is the product that's replacing traditional Google Analytics.
You're going to see it in a lot more client accounts. It can be a little confusing to people. Some of the metrics aren't there. It's got some cool things in it admittedly, like they basically got rid of bounce rate and replaced it with engagement metrics, which is great because a lot of SEOs are a little too focused on bounce rate and engagement may be more representative, a holistic way that Google views your website.
Our friend Dana DiTomaso has a course on LinkedIn that you can check out. But familiarize yourself with GA4 so you can walk into those meetings and you can present those reports and know what you are talking about.
Conferences. COVID moved a lot of conferences virtually online. People attended them.
A lot of people are getting burnt out on virtual conferences. But looking back at all the virtual conferences of 2021, there's some great value there. Here at Moz, we had MozCon. We had some tremendous speeches. It also makes it more affordable for people all over the world. Traditional conferences, you pay $1,000 to $2,000 just to attend the conference plus travel and all that.
But with virtual conferences, oftentimes they're free or just $100 or $200. You can attend virtually and focus on the content and the learning and advance your career, and do the networking, reach out to the speakers. There are lots of opportunities there. So I would commit in 2022 to attending two or three virtual conferences and make that part of your career advancement.
Finally, the last tip on the career, charge more. 2022 is the year to charge more for your SEO services. Our friend John Doherty at Get Credo publishes his annual salary report or agency fee report. If you're an independent consultant or agent, you can check to see what you're charging compared to your peers.
But, in general, SEO services are in high demand all over the world, especially high-quality SEO services. The power is in your hands to charge what you are worth, not undermining yourself. If you're working in-house, it might be time to evaluate your salary and make sure you're getting paid what you deserve, especially if you're not getting paid as much as your colleagues or you're part of an underrepresented group.
Charge more in 2022. Make more money.
Final tip of 2022, this was the final tip of 2021. It's my favorite SEO tip of all time. Be the last click. That means satisfy your users. When someone is searching Google or any other search engine and they're presented with a list of results, they're clicking around, looking for what they want to be, make sure you are the last site that they click.
Why? Because when they clicked to your site, they found what they were looking for. You satisfied them so much that when they see your site again, you're going to be the first one that they click on because you gave them the answer. Provide awesome experiences for your users. Think of them first. Give them everything they want. Give Google no excuse not to rank you number one in the search result.
All right, 22 tips for 2022. That's all I've got. I would love to hear your tips. Please leave them in the comments below. Reach out to me on social media. If you liked this video, please share it. Thanks, everybody. It's been fun.