What I’ve Learned and Done about SEO in 2022

Some old ranking tricks may not work well in 2022/2023. Read to find out what is working today if you want to rank higher on Google.

1. Long-form content is not always the best content format

My favorite was a complete/ultimate/all-in-one guide to a topic because it worked.
But, as search intent is getting more important, a lengthy article can harm the user experience if your user only needs a simple, straightforward answer. Just imagine a 3000-word article wouldn’t make your searchers happier than a short and sweet answer at the very beginning when they search for ”What is Pilates?”

I’ve seen long-form content performs better for ”A vs B” search terms while a shorter piece is preferable for ”What is XYZ?” To figure out if you need to write an in-depth post, just google the search term and see what the top-ranking websites are doing. Don’t want to do it manually? You can try Thruuu which scrapes the Google SERP for better SEO insights.

2. Search intent is changing all the time

My old ”Topic A: Pros & Cons” piece was ranked in Google’s top 5 results, then it lost rankings for a couple of keywords and my refreshed ”A Guide to Topic A” post took its place. 2 months ago, the ”Pros & Cons” one climbed back up to top 5.

Reasons for that could be:
1. A lot of ”What is Topic A?” or ”A Guide to Topic A” content exists on Google search. Why would Google prioritize similar content?
2. Search intent is changing. Searchers don’t want a general overview anymore – they may want different angles.

Whether the reason is 1 or 2, by covering a topic from different perspectives – e.g. A guide, Pros & cons, Should I consider topic A, Mistakes to avoid, 8 trends about topic A, you’ll always have something there for Google to pick up when intent changes again.

TIP: Don’t let search volume put you off when planning your content map.

3. Check the average word count on SERP

Word count tells if users are looking for an in-depth answer or just a quick overview of a topic. If most top-ranking pages have just a few hundred words, then a 2000-word guide may not be able to outrank them.

4. Analyze top-ranking websites on SERP

Google prioritizes a page because it delivers helpful content to satisfy users so SERP is a place full of insights. Besides word count, there’re a few things to consider when analyzing SERP like the use of media, topic coverage and the perspective they provide.

Use of media: It’s often wise to use an image, table, chart etc to break up a wall of text and capture the essence of the content. So, check out what type of media these websites are using.
Topic coverage: It gives you a good understanding of what topics you should consider for your content. But, make sure to research further to understand thoroughly what users want and need to know.
Perspective: I usually look at the content angle of top-ranking sites, e.g. expert view, best practices. Then, set a unique perspective for my own one and include it in the page title. (Note: I found it really helpful in boosting rankings by mentioning the perspective in a page title. It helps distinguish my content from the rest.)

5. Use Natural Language API demo

I like to use this free tool to check how it understands/analyzes my text. You could see surprising results just by slightly changing your sentence structure or removing extra descriptions. I usually compare my text with the top-ranking pages and aim to have a more or less, if not higher, salience (i.e. relevance) score. Other SEOs also compare the ”Sentiment” and ”Categories” metrics.

6. Add hyperlinks to your FAQpage schema

FAQ schema boosts CTR – yes, correct!
But if you put relevant hyperlinks within your answer, you could even get a better CTR. Just picture if the listing is not something your user is after, but you still have a second chance because they may click on one of the hyperlinks.

It works very well for eCommerce – you can include links to relevant categories or parent/subcategories in the FAQ schema to improve navigation.

7. Write specific headings to deliver a better experience

People skim content online!
The purpose of descriptive H2s, H3s, etc, is to optimize for people who skim.
”Why” vs ”Why do employees prefer to work in the office?” – the latter H2 is not only more SEO-friendly, but also helps users find their answer quickly. Better still, you should provide a direct answer right after the heading. (You may even gain a featured snippet)8.

8. E-A-T or EE-A-T

It’s hard because having real experts write articles isn’t practical all the time. To make it achievable, I started by re-purposing existing webinars/podcasts/presentations done by our experts into an article. Then, I marked them up with schema and put in as much author info as we could. We also built an author page for each expert.

Some SEOs suggested getting quotes from experts, interviewing experts, etc. In my opinion, direct contributions are still the best but all these approaches can warm us up to the ultimate goal.

9. SEO automation

You don’t necessarily need to learn Python, R, or SQL for SEO automation. Some basic excel formulas/features or free Google sheets scripts would be a good start. I’ve used them to simplify SEO reporting – ranking tracking, keyword classification, SERP scrapping, competitor analysis etc. With ChatGPT, SEO automation is getting easier.

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