5 Top Predictions for SEO in 2022 – and 5 Other Things That Might Actually Happen

Whilst we can’t know everything about the future, like the banks, Facebook and Google are now too big to fail. In the same way we look back at keyword spamming now and laugh, soon manual link-building will go the same way – Facebook and Google are both increasingly relying on real user-data, personal information and social interactions as true measures of a site’s value. 2022 will require a more content and social based approach to SEO, but that’s obvious and boring. Let me tell you, instead, about an average day in February 2022….

It’s 5:30pm and I’m late leaving work. I walk out the door and a voice enters my head “your wife’s running late too, if you hurry you’ll catch the next train and be home before her”. I pick up my pace when another voice enters my head “Hi James, why not pop in – our Easter eggs are half price” – to my left I see Tesco with a big sale on.

Prediction 1: Whilst I may be one of the lucky few to currently hear this many voices in their head, by 2022 mobile phones will be making search personal, local and a little bit creepy for everyone.

I get home – Siri was right, I did make it home first. Thinking I need to book a weekend away, I boot up my laptop. My laptop’s running Android – as Google, our evil overlord, dictates.  I load up my browser and Google begins to display holiday destinations – it guessed my intent before I touched the keyboard. Local information, reviews, prices and flights are displayed on a single page – all freshly scraped from the relevant sites. Google knows not to show suggestions with unstable dictatorships and, cross-checking against my medical records, filters out a further 10 destinations. Turkey is absent from the list, probably because earlier in the day I’d emailed my friend that I never wanted to see another Turkey sandwich again in my life – OK search still isn’t perfect.

Prediction 2: Google will use my personal information in ways I would currently find disturbing.

I pick Norway, because for some obscure reason everyone now loves Norway, and Facebook flashes up an itinerary based off of the comments, photos and videos of 23 of my 39,000 friends who’ve visited it in the last 6 months. I regret obsessing so much about Klout every time I see that 39,000 figure. The itinerary’s automatically transferred to my cortical implant, so I’m all-set.

Prediction 3: Facebook will actually become useful for more than just socializing.

Wanting to relax, I think of a really cheesy pop-song. My browser refreshes with the band’s official site. Try as I might, I can’t find anything unofficial about the group – the RIAA and MPAA have totally ruined song and movie searches.

Prediction 4: SOPA style legislation will eventually win.

The next day I’m woken up by Spotify playing. Every minute longer I spend in bed leads to my agenda appearing brighter in my head as items are moved backwards and train schedules recalculated – searching through national rail APIs, my colleague’s calendars and restaurant booking systems to make everything fit just right.

Finally in work I log in by cock-thrusting my monitor. Up pop’s the Linkdex logo; I click one button and my clients are instantly propelled to position 1 for their money-terms. ‘Ah Linkdex’ I think ‘I love you because you beat Google, but most of all because of the massive cheque you send me for mentioning you in each and every one of my articles’.

Prediction 5: I will be sacked for repeatedly cock-thrusting my monitor.

As I’m led out the door by security, I reflect back on my time in SEO and consider how it’s changed – and not – in the past ten years:

  1. With personalization taking over, different groups began to see wildly different search results leading to de-personalised based searches becoming almost pointless. Defining demographics prior to link building became far more important so that real competitors could be identified and so that messages could be tailored to the right audience.
  2. As rankings’ importance declined, three big metrics replaced its dominance: return on investment, sentiment and user engagement.
  3. Content’s still king – except nobody calls it that anymore because it’s so insanely cliché. Most agencies now have at least as many content writers as they do SEOs.
  4. It’s not all about the content though. I still remember when link building was a matter of casting your email nets far and wide. Now even the smallest brands spend hours researching individual link targets before pitching content to them; making sure the content’s appropriate, niche and tailored to the target site. I suppose the biggest change this led to was that it made quantity over quality approaches impossible. After all, when a site acts like a curator you have to prove not just that you have good content, but that the content actually matters.
  5. Local search always used to be influenced by reviews. With frictionless sharing becoming a reality instead of just a buzzword everyone began to review products and services online – mainly through social channels. Why did we ever try so hard to force consumers to trust brands directly, when all we needed was for them to trust their friends’ own recommendations? Incentivising users to shout about their brand experience online became more important than advertising the brand experience through brand-led social activities.

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