How was SEO in 2022?

In review of SEO 2022: E-E-A-T, ChatGPT, Search Essentials, and more. SEO had another hard year with a lot of big changes. Here is a roundup of the most important SEO news and stories from the past year.

Was 2022 the year of AI, or maybe the beginning of the AI age? Since a month ago, it’s been hard not to hear about ChatGPT or resist the urge to spend hours playing it.

As usual, we also had algorithm updates, new tools and features, acquisitions, and a lot of other changes.

One thing that stayed the same? Search Engine Land has been covering the biggest stories for 16 years, and we did the same in 2022.

Here’s a look back at the most important SEO news from Google, other search engines, tool makers, and the SEO community in 2022.

Google news

Changes to Google Search Essentials and more writing

Google updated its 20-year-old Webmaster Guidelines in a big way and changed the name of the document to Google Search Essentials. The updated rules were streamlined, made easier to understand, and brought up to date “so that people have clear instructions on how to make sites that serve people well.”

Even though Search Essentials was the most important change to Google’s documentation in 2022, there were many others.

As one SEO consultant in UK noticed, Google updated a number of its Feature Guides:

• Article (author markup best practices)

• Questions and Answers about Education (new content guidelines)

• What it is (variants, as well as disallowing rich results for widely prohibited or regulated product)

• Look at the snippet (use dots for decimal numbers)

Also search for:

• Support for job training structure data was taken away.

• Added a new spam policy

• Changed its review policies so that it’s against the rules to discourage negative reviews or only ask for positive ones, and it’s also against the rules to pay customers to remove or change negative reviews. In a separate update to local search, Google said that some business profiles may need to be verified twice.

Also, after an SEO tool company, Ahrefs, did a study that showed half of GSC clicks went to hidden terms, Google took out the part of its Performance report (Search) help document that said hidden Search Console query data was “very rare.”

In other changes to the documentation, Google: • Added more examples of site categories that may be affected by the product reviews update

• Gave examples of how to improve a meta description; • Stopped recommending dynamic rendering; • Showed how to add canonical tags using JavaScript; • Added a new valid page metadata help document; • Merged its SafeSearch help information into a single new document.

The QRG and the E-E-A-T

This year, Google’s search quality rater guidelines (QRG) were updated in July and again in December.

Lily Ray, as usual, did a great job of explaining what was different in both updates to the QRG.

Google changed its definitions of YMYL, low-quality pages, and more for the July update (Google Search Quality Rater Guidelines Update: What’s New).

And as Ray talked about in the December update (E-E-A-T and major changes to Google’s quality rater guidelines):

“The addition of ‘experience’ shows that the quality of content can also be judged based on how much the content creator knows about the topic from personal experience.

Google also says that “trust” is at the heart of this idea and is the “most important member of the E-E-A-T family” with this new way of looking at E-E-A-T.

Multisearch, which lets you search by image and then add text to that image search, was another big change.

This year, Google experimented with featured snippets by trying out “From the web” and “Other sites say” and by showing two or more featured snippets.

A SERP analysis also found that People Also Ask shows up 10 times more often than featured snippets. PAA was also in the news because People also ask wasn’t coming up as often in Google Search, but it did so again later.

Google also gave a lot of attention to results that had a lot of FAQs.

Oh, and if you have trouble keeping track of all the parts that make up Google’s user interface, the company recently put together a visual gallery that shows 22 of them.

Here’s a look back at some more things that were added to or tested in Google’s search results in 2022:

• Search refinements: the top bar filters with topics that are similar

• Multiple searches for food, Google Lens translation, AR beauty and shoes, Maps live view search, and more

• Add a Google Lens button to the search box on the home page

• Coupons, side-by-side deals, and price comparisons • Site names and favicon logos • Quick Read, 5 Min.

• Warnings about the content, About This Result:

• Perspectives

• Fewer sitelinks • Label that says “highly cited”

• Grid layout on mobile makes it easier to see what’s going on.

• Narrow down your search and broaden it.

New search features for “Russian invasion of Ukraine” include People Search Next and a “Shops” section in mobile search results.

Changes to algorithms

There were 10 confirmed changes to Google’s algorithm in 2022:

• Two major updates every year, in May and September.

• Two helpful updates to the content: the first one came out in August, and a system update came out in December.

• There will be three updates to the product reviews in March, July, and September.

• A note about spam: In October.

• A note about spam links: In December.

• The update to the desktop page experience happened in February.

At SMX Next, Google’s Kim told us that the Panda algorithm changed into a new one called Coati. Even though this was new information about something that had been around for a while in the world of Google algorithms, it was still a cool thing to find out.

Also, Google’s John Mueller confirmed that the 2010 and 2018 page speed signals were no longer used.

The Core Web Vitals took their place.

We also found out from a document Google gave to the U.S. Copyright Office that the Pirate Update can cause search traffic to drop by 89% for sites that break the law.

In November, Google released a document about its most important ranking systems. It included algorithms that are no longer used for ranking or have been added to new systems.

Google also made a “algorithmic improvement” to how it chooses titles for search result snippets when the titles are written in more than one language or script, or when the title element is written in a different language or script than the rest of the page.

Read Barry Schwartz’s summary to learn more about the changes to algorithms this year. Check out our page on the history of Google algorithm updates for all the latest news and tips about algorithm updates.

AI and machines that learn

In the last weeks of 2022, everyone in the SEO world talked about ChatGPT. You can be sure that we’ll hear more about these and other interesting AI technologies in 2023, especially since GTP-4 is coming up soon.

Without a doubt, many sites will try to use AI tools to make a lot of content at once. Just be careful, because Google told you earlier this year that it doesn’t want your AI-made SEO spam content.

Which was kind of funny, since you could, in theory, write your meta descriptions in Google Docs. And, to my surprise, they weren’t too bad.

In Google Search, Google also talked about how it uses artificial intelligence. Google was also thinking about using AI to update the hours of businesses in local listings. Google also gave SpamBrain, its AI-based spam-blocking system.