Chapter 6: Current SEO Trends
SEO is a constantly evolving topic. Every year, Google changes their search algorithm thousands of times, with a few core updates. Staying current with SEO best practices can keep your page ranking high, while complacency may result in you falling behind. Let’s look at some current SEO trends you should be aware of — and some that are losing importance — to stay competitive.
In the early days of SEO, keyword stuffing was a popular way to manipulate Google’s rankings. Having the same keyword show up many times tricked Google into thinking that the content was more relevant on the topic.
But updated algorithms changed this, and Google began penalizing websites that engaged in keyword stuffing. The change prompted much discussion about optimal keyword frequency. More recently, Google has shifted away from keyword density and instead relies on hundreds of other factors to determine a website rank.
Don’t Forget: While keyword density is no longer a hot topic, remember that keywords are still important to explain what your content is about to Google’s indexing bots.
Google no longer ranks every page on the same scale. Some pages now have a higher rating standard to reduce the risk of misinformation negatively affecting people’s lives.
This is the case for Your Money or Your Life pages, or YMYL for short. Page topics which can potentially impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety must be written at a higher standard to be able to rank well on Google’s SERP. Examples include:
- News and current events
- Civics, government, and law
- Financial advice
- Health and Safety including medical issues, drugs, dangerous activity, etc.
- Information or claims related to groups of people
If your page contains YMYL topics, make sure to fact-check from authoritative resources and minimize potential harm to readers.
Closely tied with Google YMYL, the EAT acronym stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. EAT has been listed by Google to be one of the most important factors when determining a page quality rating. (The degree to which Google EAT applies to your site will depend on your subject matter.)
- Do you have credentials, experience, or extensive knowledge on your subject?
- Is this information readily available somewhere on the page?
Strategy: Have an “About Us” page easily accessible from anywhere on your site. If content is written by someone not included in your “About Us”, have their credentials at the bottom or their content.
- Will people recognize you as an expert in the field?
- Will they accept that your information comes from other places which carry high authority?
- Is your website a well-established brand?
Strategy: Have backlinks and mentions by other authoritative sources to increase your credibility in the field.
- How trustworthy do you or your website appear in the eyes of others?
Strategy: Avoid engaging in black hat, spammy, or click baiting tactics. Make sure there are no negative sentiments about you or your website.
Google has been gently pushing for websites to be mobile-friendly since the emergence of smartphones. In 2021, Google released its mobile-first indexing, which meant that websites with desktop-only versions are no longer being actively ranked.
If you’ve been neglecting the mobile version of your website, prioritize this as soon as possible to avoid SEO penalties.
Core Web Vitals
The Core Web Vitals report is another recent upload by Google that offers a glimpse into how SEO value is determined. The report is based on three metrics:
Largest Contentful Paint
The amount of time required to render the largest element on your website page (most often a picture or video)
First Input Delay
Measures the interactivity of the page by looking at how long it takes between user interaction (i.e. click) and a response
Cumulative Layout Shift
Refers to a websites’ stability, and how many elements shift while a user is trying to interact with it (more shifting elements = worse user experience)
Check if any of your webpages are underperforming through Google’s Core Web Vitals report:
Google Search Console > Experience > Core Web Vitals
Video marketing has been on a staggering rise in the past few years. It makes sense, when 68% of consumers prefer watching videos to learn about new products or services compared to the older forms of articles, infographics, and ebooks. Businesses that understand this shift in the market have been increasing their budget towards everything video, from webinars, ads, tutorials, onboarding, and product descriptions.
This paves the way for an increased interest in a previously niche area in the world of SEO. The shift towards how to rank videos on the Google SERP and also different platforms including YouTube and Vimeo is likely going to be extremely important in the next few years.
Google Continuous Scroll *NEW*
In October of 2021, Google optimized its mobile search engine by introducing the continuous scroll SERP. This allowed users to reduce the number of taps required to see more results. In December 2022, Google rolled this out for desktop platforms as well, meaning that the first 6 pages (60 results) are now all shown on one continuous flow.
While no data currently exists for how this affects SEO, we estimate that the click volume will be more evenly distributed for results beyond 10th place. This may mean that the initial race for the front page of Google (top 10 results) may change to a tighter competition for the top 5 places, or people being content in the first 20 results. We are excited to see how this changes the SEO landscape going forward.
Regardless of whether you apply this guide to some or all aspects of your site, the only way to accurately tell if your efforts are working is to continually track analytics. The factors outlined here are those our team believes are most relevant in SEO today, but not every strategy will benefit every organization equally. Monitor which work for you and update your site regularly.
At the end of the day, the surest sign that SEO is working is when you see high organic traffic and conversions that follow.
The experts at TPM understand that SEO is not always easy, even with this guide. Contact our team today to help guide you through this process for the best results in your website traffic!