Top Performing SEO Content in 2022
In 2022, we likely won’t see small list posts, micro-infographics, and fake news articles dominating organic search results. Instead, as Google’s algorithm and digital marketing keep refining, they will start to emphasize high-quality content. This SEO guide will share what top-performing SEO content will likely look like in 2022.
Foundational Characteristics of Content, Which Rank Well in Search
Content that ranks well in the SERPs (search engine results pages) is often considered the gold standard of SEO. However, I believe, in 2022, your website content needs to have specific characteristics to achieve a coveted position in the search results pages, especially for high search volume or competitive keywords.
After reviewing all the recent changes, and what we are hearing from other SEOs and search engineers, here are the top five areas to focus on to make sure your content gets ranked well on Google.
Article Length and Coverage
Have you ever wondered what the best topic length is for SEO content? Some people argue that shorter is better with focused 300-500 word articles ranking well in Google. Others argue that more complete long-form articles rank better. But what’s the proof behind these claims? Is there any evidence about top-performing keyword types in 2022? The answer data! Or at least a thorough analysis of publicly available keyword data from Google and other data-rich SEO sites.
What the SEO data tells us for the last quarter about article lengths and content matching:
- Articles with less than 500 words are shared less often than those with longer content.
- Articles with 3,000 words or more get 1.3 times or more organic traffic than those with 500 words or less.
- Google now checks if a target topic is fully covered in the article or not and displays it in the SERP accordingly.
Google is starting to test content matching to audiences using NLP, and will be using a person’s previous search and website history to determine which “audiences” to share or not share content with. In essence, matching the search intent of the user from historical knowledge.
Already in 2022, we have a better idea of how article structures affect the SERP and how much weight Google puts on each. By analyzing recent data, we’ve been able to pinpoint different types and formats within SEO-optimized articles. This information is already helping us to create even better content for our blogs and giving us tools to produce great content for our clients. What we also found was:
- Make your content instantly more engaging and shareable by adding lists. For example, articles with one to two lists per 500 words get 60% or more organic traffic than those without lists.
- On average, you can make content 50% more likely to rank high in Google when you use a hierarchical organization such as advanced heading structures (H2, H3 and H4).
- Data shows that almost 40% of articles with no H2 are in the lowest SEO performing group of all the content analyzed.
Images, Videos, and Other Visuals
In 2022, Google will display a more visual representation of ranking in search results. In fact, it’s already started. Images and videos are becoming more common than any other content on the internet; just look at how many YouTube video views you get with each article you write.
Hashtags, linked images and featured snippets, reviews and ratings all help us understand better if we want to buy from a particular website or not. However, the next step in the evolving SERP will be to use all this information with visuals (video, image, and text) to rank websites higher for their offering and allow searchers/users to have a complete view of a website before having to click on it.
- According to a recent analysis by SEMrush, blog posts with videos embedded in them get 83% more organic traffic than those without embedded videos.
- A recent study of 500,000 articles discovered that those blog posts with more than three videos generated 55% more backlinks (including social shares) than those without.
- Articles with seven or more images see over 100% more organic traffic and 30% more social shares than articles without photos.
SEO Enhanced Headlines
SEO enhanced headlines will become an essential part of the content creation process for successful pages in the coming decade. In 2022, Google is expected to focus an even more significant portion of the algorithm on analyzing content headlines using natural language and AI analysis.
This means headlines and overly written text containing keyword stuffing, low-quality filler content or poorly written sales-oriented copy will be penalized by the new search ranking algorithms as our industry evolves. As a result, content creators and companies need to adapt now to remain competitive with these search engine changes.
- Shorter is better: Articles with seven or fewer words in their H1 get an average of 36% more average organic sessions than those with 14 or more words.
- Word choice matters: Headings with “Guide” in the title will easily attract organic traffic to your pages, on average three times that of articles without that word.
- Look what users search for: How-to articles tend to succeed due to their audience’s enormous popularity. In the last quarter of 2021, 68% of internet users Googled “how to” questions at least once per month.
How to Rank on Google in 2022
- Make Every Word Count
Even though longer articles tend to rank better than shorter ones, the primary reason is that long articles tend to be more in-depth and not simply because they contain more words. The preferences of your audience and the topic or format determine how long each piece should be. When creating content, make sure to cover the topic thoroughly so that you can receive preferential treatment from Google.
- Lists Can be an Effective Tool
Adding lists to your content can help readers understand important information, but they should only be included when necessary. Including lists as a form of content, as filler lists can dilute your page’s overall relevance. This rule applies to all other areas of your page—focus on pleasing the reader who visits your site instead of the search engines with irrelevant content.
- Use images and videos to enhance articles
An image or video can convey a message more quickly and with more immediacy than words. By including relevant keywords in the alt text, you can help increase your image’s search visibility. When creating your articles, try to use original images and infographics, but you can also find free-to-use and paid stock photographs online.
- Write SEO enhanced headlines
Analysis shows that articles with the words “guide” and “how to” in their headlines receive the most organic traffic on our platform. Unlike other types of content, such as reviews, “how to articles” are meant to give readers step-by-step instructions. The words “lists” and “questions” also did well in our analysis and are two more words that can help your headlines perform better.
Wrapping Up: Ways for Content to Rank Well on Google
While it’s still too early to know exactly how Google will choose to rank content in 2022, focusing on the highlights above and producing engaging and interesting articles will help you rank well on Google. There’s no way to get around it: if you want to rank well in Google this year, your technical SEO and content have got to be top-notch.