In today’s overly crowded and competitive market, SEO marketing is more important than ever, because when done correctly, it can put you way ahead of the competition. For those who are less familiar with the concept, basically, if two websites are selling the same thing, the search engine optimized website is more likely to have more customers and make more sales.
People often say that SEO changes rapidly and that the algorithm is updated hundreds of times per year. Some companies and vendors over-index on reacting to changes in the algorithm, while some of the algorithms later adjust, calibrate, and roll back. As a result, a lot of SEO providers can feel like they are chasing a moving target. 2021 for example was a relatively busy year for Google and SEOs globally. The search engine behemoth is improving itself all the time, but in this past year, we saw a number of pretty significant updates that gave digital marketers cause for paying attention. From rewarding more detailed product reviews to nullifying link spam, Google keeps thinking of ways to improve the user experience on its platform.
The most notable shifts last year were June’s Page experience update which took place over a few months and notably included the Core Web Vitals and the increased importance on mobile-friendliness. As a result, tens of thousands of words were published around the web instructing people on how to modify their websites to meet the new standards and more inexperienced SEOs out there might have started looking to the Core Web Vitals as the new be-all ranking factor for web pages.
One might wonder, is it even possible to stay ahead of the curve with the constant flow of new information on our hands since last year?
In this blog, my intention is to bring up and dispel some myths surrounding Google’s more mainstream 2021 updates to serve as a guide for what you shouldn’t do in 2022. So, here it is:
Don’t prioritize Core Web Vitals (CWV) above quality content
If you haven’t done so already, Google’s core Web Vitals are one of the elements that you’ll want to optimise on your website in 2022. To quickly run through, the Core Web vitals are the measurements of your website’s largest contentful paint, first input display, and cumulative layout shift. These are the parts of your website that load first and allow users to start interacting with the site in the first few milliseconds. Logic tells us that the slower your load times are, the worse your site’s user experience will be.
This isn’t exactly new information, as we should all be aware by now that page speed affects SEO. We also know how vital it is that your Core Web Vitals perform well on mobile, which is where around 60 percent of Google searches come from. We know that Google takes its Core Wen Vitals very seriously as ranking factors and you can now find a CWV report in Google Search Console and get CWV metrics in PageSpeed Insights results (mobile-only until February of 2022, when the metrics roll out for desktop).
With that in mind, you might be wondering why I am calling it a misconception that CWV should be at the top of your SEO optimization checklist for 2022?
The reason behind my statement is Google itself has explicitly stated that having a top-shelf page experience does not trump publishing killer content. Content is still king in SEO. Being useful and answering user questions is one of the most crucial ranking factors.
So, it’s a misconception that Google will not rank you well unless your Core Web Vitals are all in solid, healthy places.
Nonetheless, having it all is the ideal situation. If you have great web content paired with optimised Core Web Vitals, you’ll probably perform better in organic search than would a page without strong Core Web Vitals. Therefore, this year you should work on your Core Web Vitals for sure, but develop a detailed content marketing plan first.
Don’t assume your affiliate product-review site is in trouble
The 2nd misconception that might have arisen following a 2021 Google update is that affiliate sites, specifically product-review sites, were in some hot water after the Product Reviews update from April. Google intended for the update to prioritise in-depth and useful product reviews over reviews that are spammy and light on details. In other words, just as in organic search, higher-quality content is going to win here.
If at one point there were people making profits by running a shady, low-quality affiliate site that featured bogus product reviews that were spammed out to countless users, Google’s April 2021 product reviews update started to kill that. What they now prioritise are long-form, detailed reviews, the kind that generates trust from users. Those are the types of affiliate content that stand to benefit from Google’s update, while the spammy sites will continue to vanish from top rankings.
As a direct result of this, we can forget about the misconception that good, honest, hard-working affiliate product reviewers would somehow be hurt by the update. For as long as you are presenting something relevant and legitimately useful to users, you may have even seen your rankings rise since the April of 2021.
Don’t assume Google will rewrite all your titles
The last misconception I want to address here is the idea that you don’t need to put effort into your pages’ title tags because Google is going to rewrite them all anyway following its August of 2021 title tag-rewrite initiative.
To provide some background on this, back in August SEOs across the industry noticed that their page titles were being rewritten from what they were originally written as. Google actually owned up to rewriting the page titles that they believed were sub-par for user experience. In Google’s view, those junky title tags included ones that were stuffed with keywords, overly long, boilerplate across a given website, or just plain missing. Google does not actually want to rewrite your title tags. It clearly stated this in its September blog post.
Going back to the crux of this: it is a misconception that you’re wasting your time writing title tags after August of 2021.
Actually, what Google wants is for you to write high-quality page titles on your own, ones that are descriptive, truthful, and useful. Give users what they need, and Google will leave your titles alone. Title tags matter in SEO, big time. Don’t think that your efforts are futile just because of the 2021 change. Focus on creating title tags that matter for users, and you should be just fine.
To wrap up everything that I just discussed above.
Are Core Web Vitals, quality affiliate links, and title tags important to Google? You can bet they are. But SEOs also just have to be smart when approaching these matters. Everything Google Search Central does has the user in mind. Optimise for Core Web Vitals, but still, put quality content creation first.
Run your affiliate marketing site, but ensure the reviews are useful and write amazing SEO title tags so that Google won’t want to rewrite them.Following these guidelines can only help you in the year to come.