Digital marketing in 2022: the trends to look out for

Tom Shurville | 15th December 2021 | Organic

2021 continued to see an increasing demand for digital marketing and we expect this to rise further in the new year. Competition is increasing online and brands have to be savvy and creative to make sure they are getting more visibility than others in their niche. With the key focuses from Google this year centering around making user experience a priority with Core Web Vital updates and page experience ranking signals, we don’t envision that changing any time soon. Google will push this further and there will be even more emphasis on how we monitor and measure data.

Below, our senior experts share their top predictions for the digital marketing landscape of 2022. From exciting new trends, through to AI models, find out what you need to be prepared for.

SEO

Cameron Sykes – Senior SEO Strategist

With Google rolling out the spam update alongside the change in approach to how titles are displayed in the SERPs, I see 2022 putting more focus on overall page quality rather than optimising individual areas. Page quality and depth of content plus matching the right intent for the user will likely have a bigger part to play than we see currently, which means that those who place a higher emphasis on E-A-T will continue to see growth.

Lewis Koch – Senior SEO Strategist

Although Core Web Vitals were a key focus for Google in 2021, these metrics are only going to become more prominent in Google’s algorithm in 2022. They’ve already been incorporated into the mobile ranking algorithm but they’re soon to be introduced into the desktop ranking algorithm in February 2022. Furthermore, Google has openly admitted that ‘these signals are not perfect and future improvements or additions should be expected’ so there will be extra emphasis on how we monitor and measure real-world field data, and how we pivot to the ongoing changes.

Matt Finch – Senior SEO Manager

The last couple of years have been pretty crazy in terms of demand for ecommerce and have only highlighted the need for being visible online. Demand will never reach lockdown highs again but there will now be more sites than ever investing increasing amounts in SEO. Good SEO, previously, may have got you ranking in the top 10. Now, great SEO is needed to do that, so the barriers of entry have shifted. We have tools that show us what micro-changes rivals are making to their sites and how often things are tweaked. Things have definitely progressed in this regard.

Something that we will be doing much more of is click-through rate optimisation. The ‘hardest’ thing in SEO is getting ranked for competitive queries, but there is minimal point in ranking for high-volume keywords if you are only getting a tiny % of clicks.

With the increases in ‘no-click searches‘ and ads that keep getting bigger and looking less like ads, it’s tougher than ever to attract people to your organic listing. This only emphasises the importance of making your result as appealing/clickable as possible, which is something we’ll be dedicating more time to in early 2022.

Lianna Haywood – SEO Strategist

In 2022, Google will continue to focus on serving users clear and concise answers to complex queries. Using AI models, as we’ve seen with the MUM update, Google will be able to better understand language and intent to help users find useful information more quickly. Google has previously mentioned that, on average, people tend to search for eight queries around the same topic as they try to find clear answers to their complex queries.

As Google gets better at understanding intent, it’s important to make sure that we are targeting semantically related, long-tail keywords within one clear and concise piece of content. This will help serve the users with all the information they are searching for in one place, reducing the number of searches they have to do and improving their search experience.

Tristan Reynolds – SEO Strategist

It will be interesting to watch how the mobile space develops during 2022. With mobile-first indexing already present and, more recently, Google introducing the Core Web Vitals into the algorithm to help decide rankings in the search results, having a mobile-friendly website has never been more important. The new update to the PageSpeed Insights tool provides a further signal that this is still a key area that Google continues to evolve.

2022 could also be the year where we see the increased use of voice searches via both mobile devices and smart speakers. Taking this into consideration, the main priorities in the coming year will be to focus on producing trustworthy content that targets long-tail queries (ones that have previously been abbreviated on mobile searches) and optimising FAQs so that they align with your target audience, and are therefore easily picked up by voice search.

Jack Goldsmith – Senior SEO Manager

Strengthening your technical signals for successful indexation will be even more vital in 2022.

Many websites have faced the issue of Google being unable to index their pages due to poor accessibility or low-quality content. This is something that will likely become more difficult next year as Google wants your website content to serve a purpose and be of value to the user.

Strengthening your signals will help Google discover your content quickly and efficiently and can be achieved through an effective internal linking strategy or by adhering to an optimised site structure. Ultimately, this will affect ranking performance, so continue to review your technical foundations and what more could be done to improve Google’s access.

David Westby – Senior SEO Strategist

Over the past few years, Google has sought to encourage SEOs and webmasters to improve websites from a security and user experience perspective. In August 2021, the page experience ranking signal came into effect for mobile devices and will be part of desktop ranking algorithms from early 2022. The page experience signals are centred on Core Web Vitals, mobile-friendliness, HTTPS and no intrusive interstitials.

Fundamentally, our role as SEOs is ensuring that we are matching the correct search intents of our target audience, and ensuring that Google can effectively crawl, index and rank the pages we want to rank. Alongside this though, it is important to consider how we can ensure that our sites are performing well from a page experience perspective by adopting best practices for site security, ensuring our site functions well on mobile, and performs well from a site speed perspective.   

James Donaldson – Senior Copywriter

People are doing more and more through social media, including shopping. With some younger people, it’s a more popular option for shopping than search engines. So expect more money to be poured into social ecommerce, including on relative newcomers like TikTok. However, businesses must be careful that their ads don’t interrupt the look and feel of platforms like TikTok and Snapchat, otherwise they’ll alienate users.

PPC

Amish Adodra – PPC Account Manager

In another pandemic-related consumption shift, YouTube videos are being viewed more and on bigger TV screens. YouTube (Google) has already begun to help PPC marketers tap into this rising market by releasing Video Action campaigns on Connected TV (CTV) placements.

Advertisers love video and the functionality to now scale video campaigns with conversion data on Connected TVs is incredibly exciting. Netflix and Amazon Prime have already started benefiting from this, but Youtube is now opening up options for PPC marketers to place video ads similar to TV placements – with the added advantage of directly measuring conversions.

Over 120 million users watched YouTube through a smart TV in 2020, and forecasts suggest this market has grown further this year and will continue to rise into 2022. It’s time for PPC to hit the big screens! 

Rob Laver – PPC Manager

We can expect to see a shift in the way campaign success is measured. It’s already harder than it was a year ago to get full visibility of every brand touchpoint for a user, but events like the recent software update from Apple, causing a significant decline in data available on Facebook, just show that big tech companies aren’t pulling in the same direction anymore when it comes to attribution.

You’ll soon need so many tags, pixels and first-party data that attention will inevitably start returning to the expected value of an advert view. And in some ways, that’s not a bad thing, because it will allow advertisers to think more holistically.

Sam Pilgrim – PPC Account Manager

I’m expecting a large influx of scripts to be written and made public around ad copy. With Google adopting RSAs as the default next year, algorithms will have huge amounts of data to determine which phrasing works best, testing millions of combinations. I won’t be surprised if this leads to scripts that can alter ad copy to change a poorer performing word to a better performing synonym.

Ethics in advertising is also becoming a larger part of the industry, with big brands moving away from platforms and agencies that have been called out on their ethical values. I can see more brands adopting this structure, meaning any negative press for advertising platforms could lead to a decline in advertisers.

Digital PR

Leah Godfrey – Digital PR Strategist

Reactive PR is becoming a larger focus of digital PR teams across the industry, and I expect this to continue into 2022. The strategy in digital PR is no longer solely surrounding time-consuming hero campaigns. Alternatively, reactive PR can lead to big coverage from only a few hours of work. As this strategy becomes more commonplace, the challenge for agencies, brands and clients is responding to these opportunities quickly enough to get into the journalist’s inbox before someone else does. 

Holly Barry – Senior Digital PR Strategist

Digital PR campaigns are facing a shift in 2022. The industry is fast expanding and gaining the attention of a journalist is becoming more challenging due to the increased competition. PRs need to adapt their campaigns to ensure that they are “evergreen” and can be easily pivoted to meet a trending news story to enhance increased chances of securing coverage.

The trick in 2022 will be ensuring that you can act quickly, turning campaigns, comments and data around in lightning speed without compromising on quality and relevance. Think newsjacking and pivoting previous campaigns to pip your competitors to the post.

Matt Foster – Digital PR Manager

A lot has been said about relevancy in recent years. This is unlikely to change and will only become more significant as Google becomes more and more sophisticated at measuring things like sentiment and context of links. We’re likely going to see further focus on creating campaigns that focus on targeting links from the core relevant publications in the client industry, to help provide great industry coverage as well as those all-important SEO benefits. 

There’s been interesting research carried out by thought leaders in SEO and digital PR looking at the growing impact that no-follow links are having in Google’s metrics. While we don’t think these will compete with follow links, it seems that Google is relaxing it’s approach here. This is a welcome change for the industry and further validates the approach of creating great content with a focus on it being shared for its value to the reader and covering publication.

The industry continues to push boundaries on the quality of content and inventive approaches to digital PR — I expect 2022 will be no different!

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