- 1 Register to Watch
- 2 First The Good News
- 3 What You Should Be Doing
- 4 What You Should Start Doing
- 5 Key Takeaways
- 6 [Slides] State of SEO: The Top Opportunities & Risks for the Next 12 Months
Register to Watch
Status of SEO: The Best Options & amp; Risks for the next 12 months [Webinar]
I would like to receive the latest search news and updates from SEJ. Send me insightful insights from some of the leading experts in the SEO industry.
Where should I focus my SEO strategy for next year?
What new factors are helping me to get ahead of my competitors?
What threats could hinder my success?
Our September 28 webinar examined the answers, moderated by me and presented by Shelley Walsh, Special Projects Editor here at Search Engine Journal.
Here is a summary of the webinar presentation.
In May 2021, Search Engine Journal surveyed 2,830 SEO professionals and got an amazing results response to our very first flagship state in SEO survey.
From the survey, we have taken the data and related them to move on to next year.
The focus is on new factors in SEO and what the threats are.
Here is a translation of these results and why they should matter.
First The Good News
Despite pandemic uncertainty, client budgets have increased.
This chart shows how many companies have doubled online spending and significantly reduced offline spending.
It also underlies how many customers initially froze their budgets when the pandemic started, but quickly came back on board when it became clear how critical digital success was at the new focal point.
Clients finally get that SEO is essential to their success.
It indicates here that many see SEO as a central part of the marketing strategy.
There is a real shortage of resources in the industry and a huge demand for talent. The knock-on effect of it has been a lot of wages rising.
Now is the perfect time to be an SEO professional!
What You Should Be Doing
As the SEO industry is robust and healthy, there is plenty of room for growth and opportunities.
So what should you, as an SEO professional, focus on right now?
We asked our audience what were the most critical factors that contributed to the ranking in the past year.
These results highlight what is at the core of SEO.
Since SEO is the sum of many parts that make up the ranking successful, Walsh’s advice is to make sure all of your basic and best practices are in order.
In the following study, we asked about the biggest threat to SEO in the next two years.
SEO is skewed towards being dependent on Google through organic and paid search.
Google Is A Threat
Google searches that ended without a click are not an accurate indicator of erosion of opportunities as some people might think.
But no matter what, the discussion that zero-click SERPs are so dependent on any entity that we do not control is a significant risk.
So what do we need to do to control it and navigate the threat that Google imposes?
It is a complex symbiotic relationship. But Google needs publishers just as much as publishers did Google now.
Google’s business is actually providing quality data, and it just wants to make sure its users return.
So that means the results they show are the best answer in the user query.
Google puts the user at the center, and by getting into that mindset you can start building a more sustainable strategy and a website.
Volatile or Sustainable?
Whether you like it or not, you have a close relationship with Google, and it’s far better to try to work with them than to work against them.
What you need to think about is what kind of business do you want to build?
Do you want to constantly play the system, or do you want to build something you know is sustainable and has a long life?
What You Should Be Doing – Summary
What You Should Start Doing
As part of our study, we asked what would be the most critical new factors in SEO in the next two years.
Walsh talked through a few of these factors and explained why they are important and what you can do to move forward.
Core Web Vitals
There has been some discussion about how important they are and how much they contribute to ranking.
Google wants a fast, unobstructed page so it can deliver results quickly to a user.
They want their core business to deliver the best results by sending users to sites that deliver value on their promise.
They just try to show the best results for a query and to do this they contain a lot of user feedback.
To get your Core Web Vitals in perfect technical order, you must meet the following needs on the site:
Hunt the user and not the algorithm.
“Google is increasingly using structured data to understand a site’s content and present better web results to users.”
Using schema to get rich results can improve certain listings significantly.
If you look here, you can see how the eye is drawn to the image on the BBC website. The star ratings also make you look good.
You also get additional data on cooking time and calories, which also helps in getting significant traffic.
Below is the result Walsh has included that was not in the top four but is important to focus on.
Google passes on structured data to identify devices.
If you look at this graph here on the right, you know that it highlights devices like:
These feed the knowledge graph, and the knowledge graph is probably one of the most important factors to consider in SEO right now.
It links information on the page and it sends a lot of signals to Google.
The graph draws from various sources to give you the best solution without relying on a single basis.
The new knowledge graph also pulls data from reliable sources like Wikipedia and Wikidata, so you can manipulate your knowledge panel by getting listings in those sites.
Knowledge panel vs knowledge graph
The knowledge panel and the knowledge graph are two different things.
Some people use these terms interchangeably, but they are different. The knowledge panel represents a subset of data from the knowledge graph.
Apart from the knowledge panel, the use of knowledge graphs will also be crucial in building a picture of relevance to topics.
To work with the knowledge graph, make sure that:
Understanding machine learning is important because it emphasizes everything about evolving Google algorithms and where the search is headed.
How machine learning, RankBrain and hummingbird are connected
Google rolled out Rankbrain in 2015, and it is a system through which Google strived to better understand the user’s intent with a search query.
The main focus of RankBrain was to handle queries it had never seen before, so it tried to develop the ability to guess which words and phrases have a similar meaning.
Hummingbird, on the other hand, is the current algorithm that Google runs on. Rankbrain feeds Hummingbird.
There is no particular algorithm here, and Machine Learning consists of many parts, with RankBrain emphasizing the knowledge graph and how Google connects devices and information.
Google strives to write more like a human with natural language queries and not just look at a keyword in a query isolated like a robot.
In 2018, we were introduced to Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT), and it was a machine learning technique for processing natural language at the time.
It was a big step in how Google deciphered queries, and it strived to connect individual words and how their relationship changed meanings to earn better results.
BERT is now being replaced by MUM. It intends to be the language modeling code as part of RankBrain.
To illustrate, here’s a query on “how can I complete Mario Karts without cheating.”
The returned results are the exact opposite of what we want.
Instead, it shows ten results from Mario Kart cheat, and this is where Google fails – by using stop words to send a query.
MUM is working to resolve this. MUM ensures accuracy by looking at the words around the keyword so they can better understand a query
Here’s what you can do to embrace Machine Learning:
Google is focused on stopping the spread of misinformation
“We have an important responsibility to our users and to the communities in which we operate to slow down the efforts of those who aim to spread false information on our platforms. “
Google has been pushing hard for publishers to emphasize their content with expertise, authority, and credibility as it constantly refers back to the search quality guidelines.
E-A-T is not a ranking factor, but it feeds the quality and depth of content on your site.
That in itself is a shorthand for a lot of signals.
E-A-T is essential for YMYL content
“It probably makes sense for you to find experts to write or review what you wrote so that the content is” correct and credible. “He added that it’s content you want to feel comfortable that your friends can share with other friends.”
Always Be Learning
Only 1.8% of people believe that there are no new factors in SEO. These data show good results because SEO is a constant investment in learning and testing.
You have to get the best results, and to be the best you have to keep up with that development and always learn.
Dive deep into these areas to take your SEO to the next level:
SEO and Google are closely intertwined, so understanding what Google wants will take you far to achieve long-term success.
“Good SEO is not about learning what Google does, but why it does it.”
The State of SEO survey is a wealth of insights and data with opportunities and threats. It’s free, so grab your copy today!
We were unable to answer all of your questions, but joined two more State of SEO events:
[Slides] State of SEO: The Top Opportunities & Risks for the Next 12 Months
Status of SEO: The Best Options & amp; Risks for the next 12 months from search engine journal
Featured Image: Search Engine Journal All screenshots taken by the author, September 2021