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3 Ways SEO Has Changed This Year & What It Means for You – Search Engine Journal

January 7, 2022

In today’s world, content alone will not win in Google’s SERPs. Learn the evolution of Google search and how to get to the top of rankings.
The phrase “content is king” emphasized by SEO professionals in the past is no longer the case.
It’s been an active year for Google. Multiple updates over the past three months have led to significant changes in how SEO and companies manage the quality of their website.
On September 8, I moderated a sponsored Search Engine Journal webinar presented by Jordan Koene, SEO Strategist and Advisor at Searchmetrics.
He shared the three ways SEO has changed this year, why it matters and what you need to do to create growth.
Here’s a recap of the webinar presentation.
3 Ways SEO Has Changed This Year & What It Means for You Searchmetrics Webinar
This year, Google has been forward about changes that they’ve made to search.
The pace at which Google makes these changes is faster than what we’ve seen in previous years. But, thanks to MUM, Google was able to make so many changes in the past 12 months, such as T5.
T5 is about text-to-text transfer transformations and how Google’s developed faster ways for processing information from a linguistic perspective or even from meaning and intent.
MUM has allowed us to move through this at a much faster pace.
The reason why MUM and technologies like MUM are important to Google is that it advances their ability to impact businesses.
3 Ways SEO Has Changed This Year Searchmetrics
The number of U.S. businesses grew from around 29 million in 2018 to around 32 million in 2020.
However, only 17 million, or about roughly half of those businesses, benefit from Google services (Google My Business, search, YouTube, etc.)
Only 2 million, less than 10%, actually benefit from Google ads of all these businesses.
That’s why Google is accelerating the pace and the speed at which they do these changes because they want to reach more businesses.
For many of us in the SEO space, the chase to get more traffic isn’t necessarily about focusing on more keywords; it’s likely going to evolve to make the keywords we already rank for perform better.
There is a massive year-over-year growth in concert, show, and stadium-related keywords and terms.
Think about this, what keyword are you focused on now, and how are you generating traffic and awareness from it?
The performance of a set of terms in a particular topic is far more impactful today than our ability to go and secure more traffic for more keywords.
In particular, searches around “open now” changed during the pandemic.
What you would typically think would be a growth vehicle during the pandemic, outdoor dining, wasn’t the case because of the constrictive restraint for consumers in indoor dining experiences.
Understanding these search patterns can be helpful to data points on how we manage our search expectations. Google is processing information like these of what pages and what content to show at a much faster pace.
SERP features have become Google’s most significant asset in changing the landscape.
Here is a small snapshot of different SERP features and historical volatilities for other feature elements in the SERP.
3 Ways SEO Has Changed This Year Searchmetrics
Google can now take non-branded search queries and understand where and when to place site links against non-branded search queries with MUM. As a result, search site links are more prolific across the SERP.
The whole concept here around SERP features is our ability to rethink our brand focus in search.
So it isn’t necessarily a prohibitive factor from our ability to gain traffic from search.
It all boils down to our ability to develop new strategies that create automation around processes, whether you leverage FAQs or your ability to optimize core navigational pages to show up more frequently for a site link.
The reality is that today’s dynamic market demands faster, more targeted decision-making than ever before.
You can leverage these assets as a source of traffic and as a source of awareness in Google.
Searchmetrics did a study across 2 million URLs, looking at how performance sites are in Google. Unfortunately, only 4% of the 2 million URLs they analyzed performed at a good core web vital score.
3 Ways SEO Has Changed This Year Searchmetrics
You are sitting in a place where Google has become much more vocal about the expectations around core web vitals, but even more importantly, around performance.
Simply being the fastest doesn’t necessarily mean that you get the most traffic.
A move from defense to offense for Google.
It’s a collective effort. It boils down to creating a playbook that moves us from just being a faster website to an offensive positioning where we are more focused on what Google expects and the competitive requirements required to succeed.
Out of the billions of searches that happen on a given day, 15% of daily searches are new to Google. But the exciting thing is that this number is radically down from 2012, which was 20% of daily searches.
We must reposition our focus on growing to reach more searches and focus on our brand, relevance, and SERP footprint.
The SERP is a new landscape requiring new techniques for success.
Want more insights from Jordan Koene? He’s a regular guest on the Voices of Search podcast. Catch his latest episode on the August 2021 Winners & Losers.
Check out the SlideShare below.

Learn how to optimize your landing pages and make better use of the traffic you already get. Join our upcoming webinar on Wednesday, Dec 15 at 2 p.m. ET, and learn how to rank better on Google SERPs.
Image Credits
Featured Image: VectorMine/Shutterstock
All screenshots taken by author, September 2021
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Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing … [Read full bio]
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