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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]

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

SEO Starter Pack




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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

​​

via GIPHY

To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

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Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

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So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To
  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

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So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

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The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


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