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5 SEO Trends to Leverage in 2022 [HubSpot Blog Data]

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5 SEO Trends to Leverage in 2022 [HubSpot Blog Data]

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Keeping track of SEO trends is like hitting a moving target.

From algorithm updates to evolving innovation — it can feel like the goal post is always moving. And while the goal of SEO remains the same — to boost your presence in relevant search results — the tactics for getting there look different from year to year.

Here, we’ll cover the top SEO challenges facing marketers in 2022 and the five biggest trends to watch this year.

SEO Challenges in 2022

A HubSpot Blogs survey identified the top three challenges of SEO marketing:

SEO Marketing Challenges

1. Algorithm changes.

The number one challenge for marketers is keeping up with algorithm changes. This doesn’t surprise me — in 2020 alone, Google ran more than 500,00 experiments that led to 4,000+ changes to search.

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If you’re like most marketers, this stat can feel pretty overwhelming. After all, how can you succeed when Google keeps rerouting the path to success?

The key is to respond to these changes strategically. For one, this means staying on top of industry news. If there’s a significant algorithm change, the SEO industry will likely comment on it.

The second strategy may sound counterintuitive — which is to wait until the dust has settled after an update. Why? In some cases, Google discovers a change has not panned out as expected and they revert back.

2. Not ranking.

SEO is a long-term game. Unlike paid search, organic results take time to show results — and it’s usually a culmination of smaller efforts.

To use a metaphor — SEO is like a mutual fund slowly building over time. It’s not the stock market, where you see gains and losses in real time. This can be helpful to mention when clients expect quick results.

There are some “solutions” to fix a low ranking, such as technical SEO and content marketing. However, even more important is developing a long-term strategy that focuses on three to four initiatives at a time.

3. Keyword research.

Keywords are the foundation of SEO. But today, rather than scanning for just a keyword, Google takes a high-level look at your website to get an overall sense of its tone, scope, and relevancy.

This means that keyword stuffing is out. Instead, the goal is to understand user intent, or the deeper problem your users hope to solve. With this understanding, you can perform better keyword research and write content based on this insight.

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Check out this helpful article on how to add user intent to your keyword strategy.

5 SEO Trends to Leverage in 2022

1. Voice and Mobile Search.

Hey Google, what’s a good substitute for heavy cream?

This was a question I asked my Google Assistant last week while baking a cake, hands covered in flour. It looks like I’m not the only one using voice search — around half (44%) of all internet users in the US use a voice assistant.

There’s no denying that voice search is becoming a part of our daily lives. But how can we optimize our content for people searching with their ears — not their eyes?

The answer is clear — optimize your site for mobile. Since most voice searches occur on mobile and smart devices, it makes sense that Google prefers mobile-friendly sites with fast speeds.

Another strategy is reworking your content to include common questions users may ask. For example, identify long-tail question keywords and include them in your h2 or h3 headers.

2. Tightened page headers.

In 2021, Google rolled out a new search ranking feature called Passages. This feature lets Google rank specific sections of a page (or “a passage”) semi-independently from the page itself.

In other words, instead of ranking an entire page on relevancy, Google will now score for relevance in specific sections of a page.

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Google Passages

For marketers, this change is no cause for concern – assuming your pages are organized. If not, it’s a good idea to tighten your page headers to provide more context for different sections, enabling Google to understand your content regardless of the markup.

Keep in mind that other page-ranking factors still apply — so don’t skip on backlinks, SEO-optimized copywriting, and other ranking strategies.

3. Emotionally-Charged headlines.

Have you ever clicked on a headline that was too compelling to resist? Turns out, a lot of research has gone into identifying a formula for clickable titles.

According to one recent study that analyzed 5 million headlines, emotional titles — either positive or negative — had a higher click-through rate than neutral titles. In fact, titles with a positive sentiment had a 7.4% higher CTR, while those with a negative sentiment had a 7.2% higher CTR.

emotional-titles-have-a-higher-organic-click-through-rate

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That said, emotionally-charged titles can drive clicks — to a point. Go any further, and you quickly enter clickbait-land. For instance, the same study found that “power words” — or words specifically designed to grab attention — can negatively affect CTR.

Power words include terms like unbelievable, insane, and crazy. While these may work on social media, they can hurt your organic CTR — so use them sparingly, if at all.

4. Video in search results.

You’ve likely come across a YouTube video in a Featured Snippet. These tend to appear for “how-to” searches where the reader is looking for step-by-step instructions.

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For instance, imagine you’re stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire. One Google search for “How to fix a flat tire” will lead you to the following video:

Flat Tire

Video Snippets are just the beginning — we predict Google will continue to incorporate video into search results. With that in mind, it’s essential to optimize your own videos for Search.

Here are a few ways to get there:

  • Add Chapters to your YouTube videos. Chapters break up your video into sections, usually by topic. This layer of context allows viewers (and Google!) to understand the contents of a video. It also makes it easy for Google to use different clips from your video for Featured Snippets.

Screen Shot 2022-03-30 at 9.32.25 PM

  • Include Closed Captions (CC). Closed captions help YouTube and Google understand every word in your video. While YouTube can automatically generate captions, these aren’t always accurate so it’s better to add your own manually.
  • Optimize your title, tags, and description. Videos are like webpages — they have titles, descriptions (like meta descriptions), and tags (like meta tags). Optimize these using SEO best practices.

Lastly, it doesn’t hurt to embed videos into your website and blog posts — which can improve bounce rates.

5. Tweaking content for “People Also Ask.”

While browsing Google, you may have noticed something new: People Also Ask (PAA). In fact, 43% of search queries now include a PAA box.

People Also Ask

With a prominent position at the top of the SERP, everyone wants to rank in this highly-coveted feature. Luckily, you can increase your chances by making some minor tweaks to your content.

Since the majority of PAA boxes start with question words, like “what,” “why,” and “when,” it’s a good idea to incorporate questions and answers into your content. You can use a keyword research tool to identify long-tail question keywords, then include these questions in your page headers.

Or, consider adding a FAQ section at the bottom of your web pages. Not only does this summarize key points for the reader, but it also has useful SEO benefits.

Back to You

The only constant in the SEO world is change. While it may feel like these changes are out of our control, so much is in our control — namely in how we react. Start by keeping an eye on trends and following the best practices in this article to help you navigate the changing landscape.

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How We Increased a Client’s Leads by 384% in Six Months by Focusing on One Topic Cluster [Case Study]

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How We Increased a Client’s Leads by 384% in Six Months by Focusing on One Topic Cluster [Case Study]

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

Content marketing is an essential part of any SEO strategy. Without it, how are you going to attract customers looking for answers to their questions, and who are potentially in the market for your products or services?

At Tao Digital Marketing, we’ve recently generated some great results for one of our clients operating in the business financial space, The Insolvency Experts, mainly by focusing on just one “cluster topic” that was a huge money maker for them.

When looking at six month comparison stats (August 2021-January 2022 to February-July 2022), we’ve achieved the following:

  • Leads: 95 to 460 (384%)

  • Clicks: 4,503 to 23,013 (411%)

  • Impressions: 856,683 to 2,033,355 (137%)

  • Average position: 33.4 to 23.6 (increased almost 10 spots)

This was mostly achieved by absolutely hammering one topic area: company liquidation. In this case study, we’re going to explain how we did this step by step, so that hopefully you can generate similar results for your own business!

Objectives

If you really break it down, the objective of all SEO consultancy work is essentially the same: increase the number of leads for a business. This was our ultimate goal.

It’s not just as simple as that, though. We all know you can’t get to number one on Google overnight. So, like other SEO geeks out there, we tracked our successes through additional factors such as clicks, impressions, and average position, to show our efforts were worthwhile.

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In January this year (2022) our goals for the next six months were as follows:

  • Leads: Just over double from 95 to 200 (110%)

  • Clicks: 4,503 to 13,500 (around 200%)

  • Impressions: 856,683 to 1,700,000 (around 100%)

  • Average position: 33.4 to 25 (around eight spots)

Insolvency Experts’ audience is primarily directors of UK businesses that are going insolvent, closely followed by business owners looking for financial advice. The majority of Insolvency Expert’s cash flow comes from formal insolvency processes, such as liquidation, administration, and CVAs (Company Voluntary Agreements), so it was really important for us to push these areas.

Our strategy

1. Research “company liquidation” search volume and related queries

We first picked this client up in November 2020. Initially, our focus was on the basics: updating all the top level pages (such as service pages and guides) to make sure they fit the intention of the user and clearly explained the services that Insolvency Experts offer.

Researching what works well at present

One of the pages that our content team updated was their company liquidation guide. After updating, the page started to perform very well in the SERP, and ranked at position #4 for “company liquidation”. Clearly, this sort of content was working, and we wanted to hit it even more.

After pulling some research together, one of our strategists proposed the idea of a “Company Liquidation Content Hub”, as the company liquidation guide was ranking for a lot of long tail questions:

Screenshot showing ‘what’ queries in Google Search Console, such as ‘what is voluntary liquidation’ and ‘what happens to a director of a company in liquidation’

After cross referencing with the monthly search volume for these questions, she added some of these as H3s within the guide to see how they would perform. They resulted in so much more traffic that she decided they warranted their own individual guides, hence the idea for the hub. This would mean we weren’t putting all of our eggs into one basket, and that we could also internally link all of them together for users wanting to read more.

Users that are further down the marketing funnel don’t want to scroll down a huge guide to find the answer to their specific question, and we were certain that this would positively affect bounce rate. We therefore made sure that nine times out of 10, the H1 contained the question that was being answered.

Infographic explaining the sales funnel, starting with reach followed by act, convert and finally, engage

In order to further target those at the bottom of the marketing funnel who want to speak to someone quickly, we placed regular “Contact Us” CTAs throughout the content so that they don’t have to scroll right to the bottom of the page to get in touch with Insolvency Experts.

An example of a piece of content with a ‘Get Free Liquidation Advice’ CTA in the middle

Undertaking a competitor analysis

We also conducted a competitor analysis on this topic, focusing on three key players in the industry that were all ranking well for the phrase “company liquidation”. We found that the key competitors had the following:

Competitor A – 38 indexed articles on liquidation

Competitor B – 23 indexed articles on liquidation

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Competitor C – 47 indexed articles on liquidation

Insolvency Experts only had six indexed articles on liquidation at the time, so it was clear we needed to be on their level – this was an obvious content gap.

Pitching the content hub to the client

We suggested this idea to the client alongside a forecasting spreadsheet created by our founder, in order to justify the resource that was needed to push the client as high as possible in the rankings for company liquidation.

This spreadsheet broke down a huge list of keywords alongside monthly search volume, average click through rate for positions 1-10 on the SERP, domain authority of competitors who are currently ranking for these keywords, and average conversion rate on the site at the moment.

Table demonstrating projected revenue for Insolvency Experts depending on where they ranked on the SERP

This unique formula would then allow us to explain to the client that for X amount of work, we predict we can get you to position X in X timeframe, and this would result in approximately X annual revenue. After pitching this to the client alongside infographics and current performance statistics, they told us they loved our ideas and agreed to let us go ahead.

2. Plan the content after client approval

After the client gave us the go-ahead, the next step was to plan all of this work based on search volume, and therefore priority order.

It’s easy to get lost in all the data within SEO, so it was incredibly important for us to have a solid plan and timeline for these changes. Topics were going to range from How to Liquidate a Company with No Money through to Administration vs Liquidation.

How we communicate planned works to our clients

In order to orchestrate clear communication between ourselves and our clients, we create a Traffic Light Report, which is a live Google Sheets document detailing all work to be undertaken for the current and next quarter. This is split into sections for technical SEO, content, and digital PR/link building (the three pillars of SEO).

This includes justification for each change we make, as well as a link to any live changes or documents. It also details when this will be done and if the action is with us or the client. The tasks are coloured in green for live changes, yellow for action needed, orange for in progress, red for anything on hold and clear for not started.

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Here’s an example of what the content section of Insolvency Expert’s traffic light report looks like for their current quarter (July-September 2022):

Screenshot detailing content to be undertaken between July-September 2022, and justifications for each action

Scheduling the tasks

We then scheduled these topics for our various content writers to work on using our project management software, ClickUp. Within each task we placed a link to a skeleton document consisting of H1s, H2s, and H3s, as well as a title, meta description and keywords to include.

3. Write the content while implementing technical SEO

By this time it was around April 2022, and it was time for us to fully attack the content portion of our task list. Since then, we’ve written 18 pieces of content around company liquidation, and still have quite a few left to go before we consider this area of focus complete.

As part of our uploads, our technical SEO adds FAQ schema, which has helped Insolvency Experts showing up for several featured snippets (more details in results section).

Analyzing as we go along

Once we covered the big topics in the first couple of months of writing, we started to use Low Fruits to find smaller queries which are estimated at around 10 or fewer monthly searches. We’ve had a lot of success targeting lower search volume phrases, as these users seem to be more focused and lower down the sales funnel, so are more likely to be better engaged and convert better. A lot of the time they are pleased that you have answered their very niche question!

The below is a screenshot from a keyword analysis. We trawled through hundreds of keywords to pull out the ones relevant to the client.

A screenshot of queries from LowFruits.io featuring questions such as ‘can you still trade while in liquidation?’ and ‘can you trade out of insolvency?’

We then used Low Fruit’s Keyword Extraction and SERP Analysis tool to give us further details on a select few key terms.

These terms are shown as having a search volume of either 10, less than 10 or 0. Of course, we know that this is still hugely important to cover, and targeting these will bring in a very niche reader who is much more likely to convert due to the nature of the long-tail queries.

Finalizing the hub

Our plan is to finalize the hub this fall, and ensure that everything is internally linked. There will also be a menu change to make the addition of the hub very clear. See screenshots below for the current hub vs. how it will be presented once all content is ready (screenshot taken from their staging site in Kinsta, our hosting platform where we make design changes so that the client can approve them before they go live).

Current ‘hub’ in the menu:

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Screenshot of the current ‘liquidation’ drop down menu, featuring four pieces of content

How the hub will look once all content is complete:

Screenshot sharing newer version of liquidation hub menu from Kinsta staging site

As part of our content process within ClickUp, we have a recurring task to check a new URL in Google Search Console two weeks after upload. This allows us to see if we have the “Google Spike of Acceptance”, which is a sharp incline of impressions/traffic indicating that the content will do well, before it falls then slowly rises again.

A screenshot showing the ‘Google Spike of Acceptance’ in Google Search Console - a sharp spike of clicks and impressions after upload

If we don’t see this spike, we carry out multiple checks, including: Is it an orphan page? Are there any technical errors? Is it indexed? If it is not indexed, we push the URL through Index Me Now.

If the issue is just that the piece isn’t getting picked up, we will take another look at the content to see if there is something else we can do to improve it, e.g. tweak the H1 or expand the content.

4. Build links to the relevant pages and homepage

Once we’d uploaded the content, it was time to build links to the priority pages and homepage in order to build the domain authority.

We wanted to really hone in on generating links for our company liquidation page. The page has 36 backlinks, many of which were built through link building efforts. This was largely done by working with business site publications and creating natural anchor text that would help with certain keyword rankings.

Example of a guest blog titled ‘The Advantages of Business Liquidation’

As well as building links specifically to the company liquidation page, we also built links to the main URL in order to boost overall domain authority. This was done through answering queries through platforms such as HARO and Response Source, as well as working with the client to create relevant, time-specific thought leadership pieces. Here’s an example of a HARO request we responded to, the topic being “Recession-proofing tips for small businesses”:

Although the site’s domain authority tends to fluctuate between 30-33 depending on links lost and general algorithm updates, the links to specific pages have still resulted in an increase in rankings, detailed further below.

Results compared to objectives

Although we knew that our strategy was going to work well based on our experience with our other clients, we were very pleasantly surprised by the huge positive effect our work has made, which enabled us to smash the targets we set!

Leads

Goal: Increase from 95 to 200 (110%)

Result: Increased from 95 to 460 (384%)

As a result of creating incredibly useful, lengthy content and placing regular CTAs throughout the content, we managed to almost quadruple the amount of leads coming through to the client in the space of just six months.

In the six months before our liquidation project began, our Leads Dashboard within WhatConverts shows that Insolvency Experts had five liquidation leads via phone call and 10 leads via their contact form on a liquidation-focused page.

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In the six-month period since we’ve been working on the content hub, they have had 38 liquidation leads via phone call and 52 leads via contact form on a liquidation-focused page.

Result: 660% increase in phone call leads and 420% increase in contact form leads.

Previous six months:

Screenshot of the leads dashboard within What Converts showing that five leads were generated before work on the content hub began

Current:

Screenshot of the leads dashboard within What Converts showing that 38 leads were generated after work on the content hub began

Clicks

Goal: Increase from 4,503 to 13,500 (around 200%)

Result: Increased from 4,503 to 23,013 (411%)

By creating highly relevant content that matched the user’s search intent, we managed to almost quadruple the clicks over the space of six months, doubling our original 200% goal.

The site has received 29,400 clicks overall across the past 12 months. Below, you can see the huge spike in clicks and impressions from January onwards when we really started to focus on the liquidation content.

Screenshot showing spike in clicks and impressions once focus on ‘company liquidation’ began

Impressions

Goal: Increase from 856,683 to 1,700,000 (around 100%)

Result: Increased from 856,683 to 2,033,355 (137%)

Again, by creating highly relevant blogs, Google started to understand the relevancy of our content, so the number of impressions hugely increased. Along with the 137% increase above, over the past 12 months (August 2021-August 2022) the site has received 485,000 impressions for the query ‘liquidation’ alone.

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Google Search Console Graph detailing huge spike in impressions between August 2021-August 2022

The main company liquidation guide that we updated had a total of 732K impressions over the past 12 months, too, with a huge spike from February onwards, when we updated the guide.

Google Search Console Graph detailing huge spike in impressions in February for the updated company liquidation guide

Average position

Goal: Increase from 33.4 to 25 (around 8 spots)

Result: Increased from 33.4 to 23.6 (increased 10 spots)

This increase is due to the relevancy of our content and the amount of keywords each piece ranked for. As mentioned, the main company liquidation guide has worked incredibly well, ranking for 181 keywords, 67 of which are page one (37%). It now has the number one spot for the term “company liquidation”. See below for an example of queries the page is showing up for.

Google Search Console Screenshot sharing queries the company liquidation guide is appearing for, such as ‘members voluntary liquidation’, ‘liquidation of company’, ‘how long does liquidation take’ and more

The page also shows up for six featured snippets as a result of us implementing FAQ schema.

Screenshot showing the company liquidation guide appearing in a featured snippet query for ‘process of liquidation’

335 clicks and 93,663 impressions have come from the FAQ rich results alone.

Screenshot of Google Search Console showing ‘FAQ Rich Results’ within the search appearance column

In the six months before we updated the guide, it pulled in around 650 clicks and 227K impressions. In the six months following, it brought in around 1,180 clicks and 382K impressions. We’ve practically doubled clicks on one single guide.

As mentioned, this particular piece of content has 36 backlinks, and actually ranks ABOVE the official UK government company liquidation guide, which has a domain authority of 93 (about 60 higher than ours). Clearly, we’re meeting the searcher’s intent and giving them what they are looking for.

Screenshot of the SERP showing that Insolvency Experts’ company liquidation guide appears above official UK government advice.

In the six month period before we started work on liquidation, Insolvency Experts had an average click through rate of 0.5%. Over a six month period of us working with them, this more than doubled to 1.2%.

Another success worth noting is that 3 out of 6 of our latest articles have an average page view duration of between 9 and 10 minutes! The other half are averaging around 5 to 6 minutes, which is still very good. Clearly, users are wanting in-depth information on this topic.

The “What happens to a director of a company in liquidation?” guide, which went live in May, is now the fifth most clicked page on the site. when filtered on GSC by the term “liquidation”.

Overall, we’re extremely pleased with the results we generated, and so are Insolvency Experts — the company liquidation department is now inundated with queries and they are rushed off their feet!

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