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SEO in 2022: What Small Business Owners Need to Know

SEO (search engine optimization) is confusing, highly technical, and constantly changing. I struggle to keep up, and I only need to stay abreast of its impact on content. So, what does SEO in 2022 look like? And what do small business owners need to know about it?


For answers, I turned to my friends Peter Yeargin and Chris Martin (not that Chris Martin). They are cofounders of a really cool company called Sage SEO that takes the guesswork out of keyword research when writing content. 


I first met them last year when they were enrolled in the Conscious Venture Lab, an incubator for social impact startups in Baltimore. I’ve been a mentor at the lab for years, and I am continually amazed by the ingenuity and creativity of company founders. 


Like, how did someone NOT yet think of ways to make keyword research for content writing easy? Such a huge need. But I digress. 


Instead of a straight Q&A with Peter and Chris, I distilled the top takeaways from our conversation for you. (And by the way, I learned a lot talking to them, too!)


SEO in 2022 is about video, images and text


The major change to SEO in the last few years is the addition of video and imagery into the Google search algorithm; it’s not purely text-based anymore. (People still think that SEO is about keyword stuffing, which hasn’t been true for 10 years.) 


Google’s algorithms analyze the visual content on your website and couple that data with the text to create a more holistic picture of what your website or web page is about. And Google will rank pages higher that include video, images, and text.


Search intent is Google’s North Star


Keyword stuffing and backlinks galore used to be enough to rank well in search. But the more Google updates their page rank algorithms, the better they can achieve their north star: Understanding search intent. 


“Just” creating content isn’t enough


Creating content is not enough for SEO. Doesn’t matter if 100,000 people come to your website, take a look, and quickly leave. They need to hang around and read or watch that content. That’s how Google knows your content is high-quality and relevant to your audience.


SEO still takes time 


SEO takes time because it takes content a while to rank and build up traffic. It’s not like you go from not ranking to being on the front page in a matter of days. It’s a journey. 


You write new content, and it’s on page 27 of search engine results. Then it moves up to page 21 and then page 18 and then page 3 or even 1. If you’re not on page 1, you’re not getting traffic (99.2% of clicks go to Page 1 links). 


The data will tell you if it’s working


As you’re layering on content that’s relevant to your audience, look at Google Analytics to see how much organic traffic your content is getting. Measure the difference over the last 30 days. 


An SEO tool like SEM Rush will show you an estimate of your domain authority and how many keywords you rank for. As you’re creating content, you’ll start ranking for different keywords. The important thing to know is the constellation of keywords you want to move up in the ranks for so it’s easier for people to find you.


Get set up in Google Search Console


If you’re writing content and your ranking isn’t improving, it means Google doesn’t understand it and can’t index it. In that case, visit Google Search Console. It’s a tool that helps you understand how Google views your content and how your content is performing. 


It’s also where you go to tell Google you exist. By submitting your information and asking them to index you proactively, it gives you a door into Google. And it tells you what keywords generate the most impressions and clicks and what to write more of (and less of).


How to improve your SEO


  1. Log into Google Search Console and make sure you have submitted your site map file (your web developer can help with this). 
  2. Write high quality blogs on a consistent basis – once a week, once a month – whatever works for you. Landing page copy alone won’t drive traffic to your website. 
  3. Connect Google Analytics to your website, so you know what pages visitors are spending time on.
  4. Think about who you want as your customer and what they want to know. Create content for each stage of the search intent funnel (general information, brands that provide the product/service, what you do) to build trust.
  5. Make sure the technical stuff is working.


What to outsource to experts


This depends on your technical acumen, but in general keyword research should be outsourced. Doing it effectively takes hundreds of hours of experience. If you don’t write well or don’t enjoy writing, outsource content creation.*


You can also outsource backlinking (links to your website that come from another high-quality site), which is hard and takes time. Companies can get you high-quality backlinks that will raise your domain authority. Just be mindful of freelancers promising “500 quality backlinks”. These are normally poisoned or toxic backlinks that are more likely to penalize your Google rankings than help.


AI content is not a magic bullet


A lot of content on the Internet is written by artificial intelligence (AI) tools. For small business owners who are busy, it looks like an “easy” button. “I can use this service to crank out content and help my SEO!” they think. But from what we’ve seen, the content is not quality. It’s not good enough to pull people in and get them to stay (or buy). 


Your turn


What do you find most confusing about SEO? If I get enough responses, I’ll write a follow-up blog post with Peter and Chris’s help.


*I did not pay them to say this, I swear! However, if you do need help writing quality, relevant blog posts, we are just one email away.


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