As you may be aware, Google has a fairly extensive algorithm in place for their search engine results pages (or SERPs). Their formula involves several components involving on-page, off-page, and technical elements that craft the perfectly optimized page – and it’s constantly changing.
In order to prevent black hat SEOs from taking advantage and using shady tactics to improve their domain authority, Google doesn’t disclose the finer details of their algorithm. We’ve all seen some pretty spammy-looking websites that somehow have a high domain rating and end up on the first page of Google.
Luckily, Google has caught on pretty quickly and started penalizing – sometimes even banning – those websites that use disapproving tactics and strategies such as keyword stuffing or content automation. Unfortunately for us, however, this means that we constantly need to be one step ahead of Google and change our SEO principles and tactics accordingly.
It’s clear that search engines are smarter than ever, and reward those who follow the rules. In this article, I will walk you through some of the top on-page white hat trends on how to improve SEO rankings.
Let’s dive into the on-page SEO checklist.
1. Video & Images are Necessary
So, what is on-page SEO? In a nutshell, it’s any SEO element that influences the on-page website experience. In 2022, Google’s SERPs are prioritizing pages that include rich media. This means that including videos and images on your page is no longer an option – it’s a necessity if you want to rank higher.
Not only do videos and images help break up the text on a page, making it more visually appealing to users, but they also play a role in SEO. In fact, including videos on your page causes visitors to stick around for 88 percent longer – and Google notices that.
And if that wasn’t convincing enough, Google also owns YouTube – the second-largest search engine in the world. So it’s clear that they value video content and are likely to continue ranking pages with videos higher in the SERPs.
The same goes for images. In fact, Google recently published a case study that revealed that sites using the max-image-preview:large meta tag would potentially see a click-thru increase of 79 percent and an increase in total clicks by up to 333 percent.
Needless to say, including videos and images on your page is an essential SEO solution in 2022.
2. Taking a User-First Approach
Over the course of its many algorithm changes, Google has moved toward prioritizing the user experience. This means that if your website isn’t easy to navigate, Google’s bots won’t be impressed.
When we identify persistent user pain points, we develop algorithms to promote more usable pages over less usable ones, all other things being equal.
These algorithms analyze signals that indicate whether all our users are able to view the result, like whether the site appears correctly in different browsers; whether it is designed for all device types and sizes, including desktops, tablets, and smartphones; and whether the page loading times work well for users with slow Internet connections.
Google encourages website owners to optimize their user experience (UX) by providing resources that can help optimize the page experience (which we’ll discuss further down the page). Here are some third-party resources that can help you optimize your website:
Hotjar is a comprehensive user feedback tool that helps you understand how your visitors are using your website. This is essential for understanding where users are getting stuck on your page, and what changes you can make to improve their experience.
UserTesting lets you observe the way users interact with your website. See how users are interacting with your website and where they’re getting lost.
Crazy Egg’s heatmap software can show you how users are interacting with different elements on your website. This is a great way to see which elements are capturing attention and which ones need improvement.
Lighthouse gives personalized advice and tailored insights into how to improve your performance, accessibility, and SEO.
A/B testing tools like Optimizely help you test different versions of your web pages to see which one performs better. This is a great way to determine what changes you should make to improve your website’s UX.
All of these resources will help you take a user-first approach to your website design and improve the user experience. This, in turn, will help improve your website’s ranking.
3. Core Web Vitals
This critical ranking factor introduced in 2020 looks at your website’s performance in terms of page loading speed, interactivity and responsiveness, and visual stability. Google wants to know that its users’ searches will be rewarded with an enjoyable, functional website – not one that takes forever to load or is constantly crashing.
It’s important to test your website’s performance on all devices and browsers, as well as address any errors you may find. By looking at your Core Web Vitals in Google Search Console, you can determine where your website needs improvement in the Core Web Vitals.
4. Page Speed Insights
Along with the general usability of your website, Google specifically takes into consideration how long your website takes to load and how quickly it responds to user interactions. This is arguably one of the most crucial factors in whether or not a user continues browsing a website; most will only wait a few seconds before abandoning a page that’s taking too long to load.
Google has made a particular effort to alert website owners of this priority by creating the Page Speed Insights tool. This tool grades your website on a 100-point scale, with a higher score indicating a faster and more efficient website.
Since website owners can improve the usability of their site, we work hard to inform site owners in advance of significant, actionable changes to our Search algorithms. For example, in January 2018 we announced that our algorithms would begin to consider the “page speed” of sites, six months before the changes went live.
To aid website owners, we provided detailed guidance and tools like PageSpeed Insights and Webpagetest.org so site owners could see what (if anything) they needed to adjust to make their sites more mobile friendly.
With this tool, you can make sure that you are taking the necessary steps to improve your website speed. A few key strategies include:
Minimize HTTP requests
Leverage browser caching
You can read more about how to improve your website speed on Google’s Developers website.
5. Mobile-Friendly Test
In 2022, around 55 percent of website traffic is conducted on a mobile phone. That number is only going to continue increasing as the years go on. If your website is not mobile-friendly, you’re going to lose out on a lot of potential customers and revenue.
Not only that, but Google will likely penalize you for having incompatible code or design. In order to ensure that your website is mobile-friendly, you can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. This test will analyze your website and let you know what you need to change in order for it to be compliant.
The above must-know SEO trends for 2022 are crucial to familiarize yourself with if you want to have any chance at ranking on the first page of Google. Google is constantly changing its algorithm, so it’s important that we stay ahead of the curve and keep our websites compliant.
Remember that Google is now at a stage where it values the user experience on many more levels than it did in the past. Content relevance is no longer king – your website must look, feel, and act the part, or you will lose out. Make the most of the tools at your disposal and follow the trends to keep your website ranking high.