How has Google Search changed in 2022? What impact did the algorithm updates have? And how can you get more organic visibility in 2023? Find out in this article.
As we all know, Google is continuously working on the further development of the search algorithm and on the creation of additional SERP features to offer more diverse results and a better user experience. The appearance of the SERPs and the factors that help you achieve good organic rankings are constantly changing and require appropriate adjustments – so of course in 2022.
So let’s take a look at how Google Search has evolved this year and how you can translate actions on your website into good SEO performance.
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Google adjusts its ranking algorithm continuously through thousands of small updates but so-called Google Core Updates usually cause the biggest buzz in the SERPs. They change the algorithm at its core and thus affect us all.
Google communicates very openly what the purpose of each Google Core Update is and what they expect from you as a website owner. If you do not comply with their wishes, you may be relegated to the back ranks and found by fewer and fewer users over time. If, on the other hand, you try to get into Google’s mindset and that of your users, you’ll be tempted by a place on the world’s biggest stage.
Like it or not, not listening to Google on this is like a teacher handing out cheat sheets on an exam and you as a student crumpling them up and throwing them away without looking.
If you are an experienced SEO, reading these words may give you a sense of déjà vu. After all, the Page Experience Update has already been rolled out in 2021 to provide more user-friendliness. But the changes were initially focused on mobile devices.
In 2022, the desktop version was rolled out. In a nutshell, the Page Experience Update is about optimizing your website performance using the core web vitals, ensuring secure and up-to-date content, and removing annoying pop-ups from your site.
Search intent is becoming increasingly important for Google. And since the Core Update in May, Google is trying more than ever to satisfy the search intent within Google Search wherever possible. More and more content is being provided by Google directly.
For example, Google no longer only provides its calculators, but also timers, word definitions, and short biographies in the organic search. Third-party Pages that offer similar services end up further down in the rankings and record significantly fewer users.
Figure 1: Search results for the query “root of 6” with Google’s calculator.
Pages that get in Google’s way when it comes to “search” also suffer from this development. For instance, this may include stock photo sites or directories such as address registers or dictionaries.
In contrast, one website with a search function that is being promoted is YouTube. Google now shows videos of the (admittedly own) platform even more frequently in the SERPs to better meet the search intent of users. Companies that build a corresponding presence and apply a content strategy including video SEO are clearly at an advantage here.
Videos on your website are also taken into account by Google. Since July, Google Search Console offers a corresponding video indexing report that shows which video content was indexed and which was not. The report is worth a look, as the explanations provided will help you to optimize your indexing and thus get more visibility for your videos.
Figure 2: The Google Search Console video indexing report
In August, the Helpful Content Update for the English-speaking market followed. The update gave us valuable hints about the direction Google will be taking in terms of content: Content by people for people, based on real experience. Texts that have been produced by non-experts using tools such as artificial intelligence, article spinning, and templates will be less welcome.
The Core Update in September continued the trend of the previous update. Search intent could now be understood even better, videos became more important, and directory pages continued to lose visibility.
One topic widely discussed with this update was the so-called search intent shift. It refers to the change in user intent for the same topic. For example, the keyword “webinar” was ranking very well during the covid pandemic. While users wanted to know how to set up and consume webinars at the beginning of the pandemic and lockdowns, the relaxation of Covid measures made the question of the pros and cons of webinars more relevant, and search intent shifted.
The shift in search intent happens independently from Google’s updates, but because of the latter, it can be captured better and better by the search algorithm. Therefore, it is increasingly important for you to identify the search intent of your users not only once. Instead, you should constantly keep an eye on it and align your content to corresponding changes. Reminder: SEO is not a single action, but an ongoing process!
These updates turn out to be exactly what they sound like. Google attaches great value to the trust of its users and intends to display content that they have reviewed and found to be good.
For local service providers and e-commerce sites, dealing with reviews has long been a must, and even as a professional service provider, product, or content creator, you should think about whether there is a way to integrate reviews into your online presence.
In the course of the Product Review Updates, Google refers to its help page for writing high-quality reviews
One thing stands out: websites that address and satisfy complex search intent came out on top this year. Websites like hausfrage.de and reihenfolge.de, for example, more than doubled their visibility in the SERPs. While hausfrage.de helps to determine the market value of a property and to contact real estate agents, reihenfolge.de arranges the media chronologically. Both seem very directly geared to a need of users that Google has not yet been able to cover itself.
The opposite is the case for the directory stadte-gemeinden.de, which offers rather generic information about places, or for the magazine bunte.de, which publishes broadly scattered content.
Most of the time, patterns about winners and losers can be identified after a Google Update. However, the most important thing is to look at your site and figure out what you can improve about your pages in response to what you’ve learned.
Tip: Our Google Update checklist can help you to find out if and how your website has been affected by a Google Update.
In 2022, Google search hasn’t changed nearly as much as it did the year before. Core Web Vitals are still a big topic and otherwise, the focus in 2022 was primarily on the creation of natural and high-quality content. In this context, by the way, Google already introduced the EAT guidelines a few years ago.
However, let’s take a look at some smaller changes in 2022 that are worth considering.
Lengthy texts with more than 2000 words benefit from Google’s passage indexing. Google is increasingly serving passages of longer texts in its organic search, provided that they answer specific questions in a compact and relevant way. Well-structured texts that contain such passages are shown more prominently by Google.
Another factor that has become more important for Google search in 2022 is locality. If you offer a location-specific service, incorporating relevant terms such as the city’s or district’s name will improve your ranking.
Small online stores in particular had to be careful to avoid using text templates in 2022, and news websites did well to limit themselves to well-defined topic areas. The visibility of healthcare providers that didn’t adhere to EAT was reallocated to more reputable competitors. As is true with money, visibility doesn’t diminish, it’s just held by someone else.
This development also affected e-commerce sites. Above all, marketplaces like Amazon, eBay Classifieds, or Ali Express benefit from Google’s focus on search intent. Not only because direct purchase intent is immediately apparent, but also because more and more complex problems can be associated with genuinely helpful products.
To take advantage of this opportunity even as a smaller expert store, it helps to optimize the structure of your texts, so that you provide the core information of your products, and answers to the most common questions in a paragraph in a nutshell.
Among the big winners of the 2022 Google Updates are, unsurprisingly, video websites like YouTube, TikTok, Hulu, and Twitch. Google is increasingly suggesting videos about products and services because 73% of users prefer to learn about a product through the medium of video. And of course, Google is happy to comply with this request.
But don’t worry, beyond these two industries, recent Google Search developments offer opportunities for all types of businesses. All you need to do is create high-quality, unique expert content that is targeted to a specific audience. You need to meet their search intent with clear, first-hand expertise built into a website that offers an excellent user experience.
With the growing importance of EAT, experts who rely on personal branding enjoy an extra advantage – particularly as they can more easily make use of videos. At this point, it is also worthwhile to work with external influencers. Well, at least if they fulfill the EAT guidelines and fit in with the company’s target group and its search intent.
Maybe Google Search has not changed fundamentally in 2022 but hang in there. The near future offers exciting new opportunities and changes that you should prepare for now. If the search engine company backs up its words at “Search On 22,” Google Search in 2023 will look like never before…
Google Search in 2023 will be based on the motto “More than a search box”. The world’s largest search engine aims to move away from text search and towards natural, intuitive multisearch. Just as the first iPhone united numerous formerly analog devices into a kind of Swiss army knife, the search box is to become a digital toolbox.
With multisearch, the camera and microphone will become our keyboards. Instead of typing in a specific fruit, a quick swipe in combination with the question “Where can I find this?” will be enough to call up the navigation to the nearest supermarket with the corresponding offer.
A random photo of a man wearing a tie should be enough to find and order the same tie online. Artificial intelligence will translate foreign-language texts in real-time and, with the help of augmented reality, insert them into the real object of origin in true style.
Figure 3: Google introduces Multisearch
Yep, user experience is going to become even more important for Google Search in 2023. In this context, visual content will become more relevant for SEO. With the indexing of videos, it is conceivable that they will become even more influential. From now on, you as a website operator have to think about how you convey content in multimedia.
Also, text search is going to change. Google Search will try to anticipate search intent to offer more concrete suggestions from the very beginning. For example, the search term “Beautiful places in Egypt” will automatically turn into “Beautiful, affordable places in Egypt for families.” Google will also try to display content related to search intents that the user is not yet aware of.
In addition to the categories “images”, “videos” and “shopping”, the search results will be expanded to include additional, more specific categories such as “Beaches” or “Bars”. These should also be able to be combined, which you can imagine as in a fashion store, where you filter the offer based on several criteria such as “men”, “shoes”, “black”, “shoes”, “size 43”.
E-commerce stores can look forward to additional traffic through features such as “shop-the-look” or an expanded “suggested” function. The latter will no longer be limited to news, but will also suggest products that are trending and fit the buying habits of users.
Those who run an online store should also consider creating digital 3D models of their products. On average, they generate 50% more engagement and will therefore be prioritized by Google. The search engine company has announced that they will be adding functions allowing users to create 3D models themselves simply with the help of a few photos.
Overall, Google will continue to blur the line between its own and third-party content and show content directly in Google Search. So for some content types, organic visibility will increase, but at the same time, conversion opportunities will decrease. Especially providers that focus on simple functional search intent and offer services like translators and product comparisons will be the losing players of this change.
In this article, we’ve looked at what changed Google Search in 2022, what will be different in 2023, and how you can be one of the winners of these changes. The better Google’s algorithm understands its users, the more important user intent becomes for you. Unique and concise content that meets the search intent of your users will keep you ahead in the SERPs in 2023.
Particular attention should be paid to content relevance and user experience. Depending on what industry you’re in, it may be worth being one of the early adopters of natural multisearch by, for example, adding 3D models of your products to your store or gearing your restaurant to collect authentic reviews where your customers provide images.
As a provider of services or products, you should think about video SEO and using personal branding or connecting with trusted influencers. As a content publisher, you can focus on addressing very specific questions from your target audience and answering them in short paragraphs condensed into long and high-quality articles.
Good luck – we are curious to see what 2023 will bring!
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Published on 12/15/2022 by Maximilian Koch.
Maximilian is a copywriter and aspiring psychotherapist. His SEO journey started with the creation of product comparison pages. After writing day and night about washing machines, telescopes, and beer taps, he was able to join Google's top ranks with the help of his link building team. Then the market was taken over by large comparison platforms. Maximilian switched to his own books and created SEO content for Geldhelden, Bitcoinmag and Wallstreet Online. Meanwhile, he is an Amazon bestselling author and enjoys writing for Ryte.
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