Search Engine Land » SEO » SEO 2022 in Review: E-E-A-T, ChatGPT, Search Engine Optimization and more
As 2022 also proves, SEO is never boring.
Was 2022 the year of AI – or perhaps the official dawn of the age of AI? Over the past month, it’s been hard not to read or avoid the temptation to spend hours playing with ChatGPT.
We’ve also had our usual share of algorithm updates, new tools and features, purchases, and many other changes.
The one constant in it all? For 16 years, Search Engine Land covers all the big stories, as we did again in 2022.
Here are our thoughts on the biggest SEO news of 2022 – from Google and other search engines, software providers and the public.
Google Search Essentials and more documentation changes
Google has significantly refreshed its 20-year-old Webmaster Guidelines and renamed it Google Search Essentials. The updated guidelines were revised, simplified, and updated “to ensure that people have a clear guide to building places that serve people well.”
While Keynotes was the biggest update to Google Docs in 2022, there was much more.
Google has developed several help documents for Item Recommendations:
Also, shortly after a study by SEO tools company Ahrefs showed half of GSC’s clicks went to keywords, Google removed the language from its Search Performance doc. help, which calls Search Console’s hidden data “very unusual.”
In other document changes, Google:
E-E-A-T and the QRG
Google’s quality guidelines (QRG) for search have been updated twice this year – once in July and again in December.
Lily Ray gave her usual breakdown of what changed in both updates to QRG.
For the July update (Google search quality guidelines update: What’s changed), Google released its definition of YMYL, updated its definitions of low quality pages and more.
And as Ray summarized in the December update (E-E-A-T and major updates to Google’s quality standards):
The addition of ‘experience’ indicates that content quality can be re-evaluated through the lens of understanding how much experience the content creator has on the topic.
With this E-E-A-T change, Google also says that “trust” is at the center of this concept and is “the most important member of the E-E-A-T family.”
Before EAT became E-A-T – we learned from Google that E-A-T stands for “good news quality.”
“E-A-T is a template for how we measure individual placement. We do it on every question and every result. It’s pervasive in everything we do,” according to Hyung-Jin Kim, VP of Search, Google, who spoke at SMX Next in November. Go deeper: 7 takeaways from the SMX Next keynote with Hyung-Jin Kim, VP Search at Google.
Although this is new, it is good for SEO experts to understand why Google does the things it does.
Continuous scroll, multisearch, featured snippets and more search feature changes
Google is constantly testing its SERPs, all in the name of making sure that users have a good experience and find the information or answer they are looking for.
One of the biggest changes was Google bringing rolling (don’t call it infinite!) to desktop earlier this month. Yes, it’s officially time to ditch the term “Google Page 2” – and focus on ranking when you’re ranking.
Another important change was more search – search by image and then add text to that image search.
Google played around with featured snippets this year, testing ‘From the web’ and ‘Other websites say’ featured snippets, as well as showing two or more featured snippets.
For subcategories, Google currently uses MUM to determine whether there is general agreement about content. Google also reported that MUM helped reduce false positives by 40%
Also important: a SERP analysis found that People also Ask appears 10 times more than featured photos. PAA was also in the news because People also asked it appeared half as often in Google Search but later returned to normal.
Many FAQ results have also received significant Google SERP visibility.
And if you’re having trouble keeping track of all the elements that make up the Google user interface, Google introduced a 22-point gallery.
Here’s a look back at some of the features added or tested in Google search results in 2022:
In 2022, there were 10 confirmed improvements to Google’s algorithm:
At SMX Next, we learned from Google’s Kim that Google’s Panda algorithm has evolved into a new algorithm called Coati. Although this was new information about something old in the world of Google’s algorithm, it was still an interesting discovery.
Also, Google’s John Mueller confirmed that Google no longer uses page speed indicators for 2010 and 2018. They were replaced by Core Web Vitals.
We also learned, in a document that Google prepared for the U.S. Copyright Office, that Google’s Pirate Update can cause an 89% drop in search traffic for offending sites.
In November, Google published a document about its notable ranking systems, which included algorithms that are no longer used for ranking or have been implemented in new applications.
Google has also introduced a new “algorithmic improvement” in the way it selects search result titles for multilingual or translated titles or where the title is written in a different language or text from the content of it.
Read Barry Schwartz’s report to dig deeper into the year’s algorithm developments. And be sure to check out our history of Google algorithm updates page for all our latest news and guidance on the latest algorithm updates.
AI & machine learning
ChatGPT was all the talk in the SEO world in the final weeks of 2022. And you can bet we’ll be hearing more about (and other) exciting AI technologies in 2023, especially with GTP- 4 not far.
Undoubtedly, many sites will try to generate more content using AI tools. Just be careful – earlier this year, Google warned that Google doesn’t want your AI-generated SEO content.
Which was surprising, considering you can use Google Docs to write your own meta descriptions. And surprisingly, they had become so bad.
Google has also detailed how it uses artificial intelligence in Google Search. Another way Google considered using AI was to improve business hours on local listings. Google also introduced SpamBrain, its AI-based spam prevention system, launched in 2018.
And while there are many good and fun ways to use AI, there is always a dark side, as we reported in Beware of DMCA link requests made by AI-powered lawyers.
More local search news in 2022 – new features, review issues, Google Business Ranking changes, and scams were some of the headlines:
Google Business Status, Maps and Comments:
More Google news
Microsoft Bing has continued to push its IndexNow strategy, which includes sharing URLs with Yandex, and announced in August that more than 16 million websites are using it (publishing more than a billion URLs 1.2 per day on the IndexNow API), as well as adding more. New links:
More Microsoft Bing news
If you missed the thousands of reminders to adopt Google Analytics 4 until now, now is the time to adopt GA4. Because Universal Analytics will be gone on July 1, 2023. We hope you’re ready.
In a surprising rebrand, Google Data Studio was renamed Looker Studio. Google says it’s “unifying” Google’s business intelligence products — including the popular Google Data Studio product — “under the Looker umbrella.”
Google Search Console
Google Search Console has many new additions – tools, features and reporting updates. Here are the links to our broadcast:
In December, we reported on an experimental feature called Content ideas. Days later, we learned that the Quiz Site was closing. By chance? Maybe we’ll find out in 2023.
The GSC also has a comprehensive section on reporting viruses and other issues in 2022:
We also discussed the final approach to the URL Parameters tool, which Google said has “low quality,” the old message panel and the International targeting report.
Did you get one of those weird interstitials notifications from GSC?
Acquisitions in the SEO space
At the start of 2022, it looked like we were in for a busy buying season. Things slowed down in the middle of the year, but check out the biggest changes we’ve seen this year at the biggest SEO tech companies:
A DMCA request removed SEO tool Moz from Google search in less than 12 hours. Getting your domain name removed from Google search is the stuff of SEO nightmares, regardless how long does it take.
Zero-Clicks: an alternative view
Semrush presented an interesting study on zero click research. It found that 25.6% of desktop searches and 17.3% of mobile searches were zero-clicks, far less than previous — let’s call it “suspicious” — zero-click searches.
Other search engines
Ahrefs made big news when it revealed details about its general search engine, Yep. While it’s not a Google killer, other search engines are a good thing.
Meanwhile, DuckDuckGo, the most popular private search engine, seemed to be continuing its steady growth, finally surpassing 100 billion searches in January. Until April. That’s when DuckDuckGo fell below 100 million daily searches per day. And in the past months, DuckDuckGo has not been able to return to that position.
In 2022, we lost influential SEO pioneer and expert Bill Slawski on May 17. He was well known for helping the public understand search engine optimization, especially SEO By The Sea . Fortunately, that wealth of information lives on, after being gone for a short time. After his death, we again found disturbing Google results for [bill slawski obituary].
Another incredibly sad loss is that of Tatiana Perebeinis, SE Ranking’s chief accountant, who was one of the four people killed in the Russian attack in Irpin, Ukraine.
SMX Advanced & Next
We ran two digital events this year – SMX Advanced in June and SMX Next in November. Both shows were full of practical SEO tips and advice.
Below are links to our SEO track coverage from Advanced.
And you can expect to read a lot of SEO content from SMX Next in the coming weeks in Search Engine Land.
SEO in 2023
Looking ahead, here’s what we know:
Unless you plan to leave Google Analytics, you should fully accept and accept GA4 – because the current GA expires in July. And if you haven’t moved yet? You will have a more difficult time comparing the data from year to year. Also: make sure you save any GA history data you need, because Google will delete it all. And once it’s over, it’s over.
Should you be excited or scared by ChatGPT? Yes. I mean, it depends. Just remember, ChatGPT only works for things until 2021. But GPT-4 is coming soon.
With the rise of AI tools, it will be interesting to see how Google responds to what could be a flood of AI-generated content. If that happens, spoiler: it won’t go well for those places. Because there are a lot of great tools out there to see AI content – and Google knows exactly what’s going on.
We also know that there will be updates to Google’s algorithm. Google has confirmed 10 major updates in 2021 and 2022. We know there will be major updates and possibly more coming with helpful content updates. And when it does, Search Engine Land will be the first to report on it.
Danny Goodwin is the Managing Editor of Search Engine Land & SMX. In addition to writing daily about SEO, PPC, and more for Search Engine Land, Goodwin also manages Search Engine Land’s list of content experts. He also helps organize our conference series, SMX – Search Marketing Expo.