2022 News-SEO Trends and Predictions ... 

 

There are many specialties within the SEO community like Tech SEO, Content SEO, Commerce SEO, Link Building, Amazon SEO, etc. You can see this evident in the jobs posted on indeed LinkedIn for SEO roles focused on a specific specialties like the ones mentioned before.  News and Editorial SEO is one of those SEO specialties that require specific skills in addition to traditional SEO knowledge. Thousands of publishers and news sites depend on their in-house News SEO teams and agencies for news template optimization, technical news optimization, paywall optimization, breaking news SEO recommendations, trends monitoring, keyword gap analysis and most definitely how to optimize for for Google News and Top Stories.

It is our humble effort to push News-SEO into the spotlight and highlight the amazing work done by many News-SEOs out there. We started by writing solely on News-SEO covering Google Discover OptimizationNews SEO Ranking FactorsTop Free News SEO ToolsYouTube Visibility in News and much more News Optimization Tactics and Strategies. Then we launched NESS - the first ever News & Editorial SEO Summit - solely dedicated to everything SEO for Publishers, and we then launched the biggest Slack Community for News-SEOs with 600+ experts helping each other.

Today we are excited to bring you the annual look at what's ahead for the News-SEO in 2022, brought to you by the top News SEO experts worldwide.

 

 

 

But before we start, let's see which 2021 predictions came true first:

  • Entity Analysis is the most important theme in 2021. >> NLP & Entities are becoming the basis for most of google searches
  • Sub-Topics layer will enable Google to surface more Google Content driving the SERPs real-estate even smaller >> More Google Features based on Entities
  • User Intent will continue to be an important aspect of SEO. >> True
     
  • Google will continue to introduce multiple and different formats in the SERPs beyond Top Stories article formats. Other formats will make their way into Top Stories, which will have great traffic implications as well. >> Google Has introduced many new features, the most recent is expanded News cards in Desktop taking articles from 3 to 7 articles.
  • AMP will no longer be a requirement to rank in Top Stories. >> YES, finally.
  • Publishers and other brands will start testing leaving AMP. But AMP will remain dominant in SERPs!! >> Many publishers started already
  • It will be harder to rank syndicated content. >> No data on that yet.
  • Local News sites will have better presence in Google SERPs. >> Yes, Google is introducing more local news results
     
  • Google Experience Updates will impact publishers greatly who suffer from heavy pages, slow pages and intrusive ad experience. >> The impact has not been that great yet.
  • Extremely ad-heavy traditional publications with horrible usability will start to see a natural drop in news rankings. >> No major signs that this is happening
  • Speed and especially "good" performance/scores in the Core Web Vitals is already showing that it's a bigger factor than it has previously been.
     
  • Google Discover will continue to grow as an important traffic source for publishers around the world >> Google Discover is becoming a major traffic driver for many publishers
  • Search Engine Console will provide more data to publisher via APIs around Discover. >> YES, GSC now provides APIs for News and Discover as well.
  • More News SEOs will focus on Market and Audience Segmentation. >> Not enough data this is happenning.
     
  • Fighting Disinformation will become a key focus for Google resulting in higher E-A-T standards. Fact-checks, FAQs and snippets will be major this year >> EAT is becoming an important factors in many aspects of news content.
  • E-A-T will continue to impact publishers greatly.
  • AI will have a bigger role in content creations and content briefs. >> We have seen few news sites using AI to write and edit content
     
  • Mixed feeling around Google News inclusion; some expert believe Google will address the issue while others believe E-A-T will makes it even harder. >> Nothing has changed, it is still very hard to get included in Google News
  • Many publishers will come to the realization of the importance of Tech SEO in their organizations especially legacy old sites. More Tech SEO jobs! >> More Tech Jobs at news publishers are posted everyday.
  • Optimizing the editorial workflow for speed and flexibility so that SEO is seamlessly integrated into their day-to-day experience.

 

We would like to hear your views as well, please share with us your predictions and top trends in 2022 at the comments section below.

 

TL;DR : The Top 14 News-SEO Predictions in 2022

  • Google Discover will remain a very important traffic driver to the majority of publishers.
  • Search will become a lot more visual with more visibility of images, short videos and web stories.
  • Short Videos will gain more visibility in Search. 
  • Evergreen Content will become an important editorial strategy for many publishers as a source of sustainable traffic. 
  • Topical E-A-T: Trust and Authority within specific topical areas will continue to grow. 
  • Topical organization and clustering can lead to significant traffic increases from both Top Stories and Discover.
  • Migrating Off AMP will continue to spread among publishers
  • IndexNow will gain more popularity and Google will join.
  • SEO will become more and more complex.
  • Increased focus on Creators, Shopping and Videos.
  • Tech giants will have more Legal battles with Publishers
  • Google will continue to improve on its SERP features expanding News, Liveblogs and Evergreen SERP Features for big news moments and live events.
  • Speedy and good UX website (Web Vitals) will still be one of the big topics in News SEO.
  • Publishers will continue to innovate on Smarter Paywalls and Affiliate Revenue

Big thanks to all contributors: Barry Adams, Lily Ray, Barry Schwartz, Greg Jarboe, Dan Smullen, Matthew Brown, Tobias Willmann, Claudio E. Cabrera and Justin Bank. I added few additional trends at the end.

Enjoy,
John Shehata

 

John Shehata
Global VP of Audience Development Strategy & Partnerships at Conde Nast
Founder, NewzDash.com / NESS / GDdash.com
@JShehata

Affiliate Revenue, Visual Search & Discover

Last year I predicted "Google will continue to provide SEOs with more data in Search Console/Central for different Google surfaces but it will continue to withhold data on specific features performance like Top Stories, Featured Snippets, etc.", I believe this will continue to be true. With the latest redesign of GSC and introduction of Google Discover and Google News APIs, we see Google is providing more "Accessible data". I believe Google will focus mainly on actionable data that impacts algorithum instead of just providing data, Google will also continue to provide better technical data.

More Publishers will continue to focus on alternative sources of revenue like Affiliate links, embeded commerce models and events. Many publishers are already testing paywalls and flexible meters. Publishers who ignore subscriptions will suffer greatly in the near future.

Topical and Individual Authority will continue to grow in niche news content like finance, fitness, health, etc while no major impact on general topics like entertainment or general news.

Google Discover remains to be a major traffic driver for the majority of publishers but yet it is very volatile and so unreliable. We will continue to hear many stories of many publishers who lost the majority of their discover traffic. This should not be a traffic driving strategy but rather an opportunity to get as much traffic while you can. E-A-T and Speed will remain to be big factors in Google Discover traffic. Check our Google Discover Analytics tool at GDdash.com

More visual search where Google will revamp their image search and introduces more visual elements in their SERPs. Visual Search represented in Images, Web Stories and Videos will grow in SERPs. I believe Short Videos will continue to gain visibility in Google Search driven by TikTok, Instagram, YouTube Shorts and other platforms. Images will come from other social platforms in addition to Pinterest with bigger image cards and Web Stories will continue to appear in different Google surfaces beyond Google Discover. 

Bonus: More publishers will invest in Social Commerce specially with the rise with Shopping Features and Influence of Social Platforms (Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, YouTube, etc.). More publishers will invest heavily in building and collecting first party data with the imminent ban on third party cookies. Email will become a vital tactic for many publishers to collect first party data.    

 

Barry Adams
SEO Consultancy
Polemic Digital
@badams

Evergreen Content, Topical/Individual Authority & Discover

I believe in 2022 we'll see a greater emphasis on evergreen content, where publishers can extract themselves to a degree from the vagaries of the news cycle. With evergreen content, additional monetization in the form of affiliate links means greater commercial value.The authority that publishers have in their specific topical niches can translate to opportunities for achieving good rankings and traffic in competitive SERPs.

This content can take the form of reviews, listicles, best-of collections, and other similar content. If the topic aligns with the publisher's topical expertise, such evergreen content can drive substantial traffic and revenue.

In general, authority and trust within specific topical areas will continue to grow in importance. With the exception of national, general news publishers, a news publisher will have to constantly prove their expertise within their chosen silo to be able to achieve visibility in Top Stories and Google News.

Individual authorship will play a role in this as well. Google is making efforts to identify writers and their output, so it can recognize when a specific voice deserves to be heard on a specific topic. Websites need to put certain measures in place to allow Google to connect those dots.

We will also see more emphasis on Discover, as publishers start to crack that particular nut and learn what drives the most traffic from that query-less and interest-based news feed. This is under-explored by many publishers, so it represents a huge growth opportunity for many. Testing different approaches to headlines and featured images in Discover can yield interesting insights and allows publishers to perfect their articles for maximum Discover visibility and clicks.

On the technical front, I believe we'll see interesting developments with live indexing. Microsoft is taking charge there with its IndexNow protocol, and it'll be interesting to see if (and how) Google follows suit.

Structured data will remain invaluable in the near future, allowing search engines to easily identify different story types that can be fed into their news ecosystems. In the longer run I expect structured data to become less valuable as Google's indexing systems learn to recognize articles without this markup - but that's something we can expect towards the latter half of the decade.

 

Lily Ray
Senior Director, SEO & Head of Organic Research
Amsive Digital
@lilyraynyc

E-A-T: Stay In Your Lane

Focus on E-A-T by "staying in your lane" and providing uniquely valuable content in the areas where your site/authors demonstrate real expertise.

Google appears to be becoming increasingly focused on elevating the visibility of authorities who demonstrate significant subject matter expertise in their niche.

Generalist sites, especially those offering affiliate links and/or product reviews, might find it harder and harder to rank, especially if the quality of content is not significantly robust and distinct from that of competing publishers.

Google is looking for evidence that a significant amount of time and research went into a given article or review, not just a re-hashing of what was already written about elsewhere.

It is also important to provide a unique, expert perspective, as Google is looking to showcase a variety of angles in its news coverage.

 

Barry Schwartz
Editor at Search Engine Roundtable & Search Engine Land, 
President of RustyBrick, NY web dev company
@rustybrick

SEO is a lot more complex today than it was 10 years ago

It is hard to nail down one or two trends that SEO news professionals need to focus on.

When it comes to SEO, the trend has been less about one or two or three single things and the trend has been more about focusing on many things. SEO is a lot more complex today than it was 10 years ago. It is not just one thing, like just links, or just content, or just technical SEO. To perform well in 2022, you really need to excel in all areas of SEO.

 

Greg Jarboe
President and co-founder
SEO-PR
@gregjarboe

Focus on Creators, Video, and Shopping  

Creators: In 2022, smart News-SEO professionals/brands/businesses should focus on how some YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok creators are making a six-figures a year while many traditional journalists are losing their jobs. Today’s critics of successful social media influencers are like the old critics of “yellow journalism.” In the 1880s, Joseph Pulitzer cut the price of the New York World to a penny, hired Nelly Bly, and added bolder headlines, more prominent illustrations, sports pages, women’s sections, advice columns, and comic strips. One comic strip, The Yellow Kid, featured a street urchin in a yellow shirt, and a hostile critic coined the term “yellow journalism” as a damning label for this kind of high-voltage newspaper. Today, most newspapers have adopted bold headlines, prominent illustrations, sports pages, women’s sections, advice columns, and comic strips — and would love it if their “text reporters, photographers, videographers, graphic artists, producers or journalists” won a Pulitzer Prize.

Video: We should also focus on video, which is driving an immense amount of growth. A Google/Insight Strategy Group study asked 12,000 people worldwide in 2019 why they watched what they watched in the last 24 hours. The 12 most important reasons were:

  1. Helps me relax and unwind.
  2. Teaches me something new.
  3. Allows me to dig deeper into my interests.
  4. Makes me laugh.
  5. Relates to my passions.
  6. s inspiring.
  7. Makes me forget about the world around me.
  8. Keeps me in-the-know.
  9. Addresses social issues that are important to me.
  10. Has high production quality.
  11. Helps me be efficient.
  12. Is on a network or platform I like.

Why is this important? With more content choices than ever, people are empowered to seek out what really matters to them on a personal level. The ability to help people dig into their interests was 2X as important as being on a preferred network or platform.

Shopping: The pandemic shifted or accelerated the shift of commerce from offline to online by a number of years and we need to lean into that trend. In some cases, publishers need to take a second look at creating “a multi-revenue food platform” that aligns with the modern way families plan, shop and prepare meals. For example, back in 2011, Meredith launched Recipe.com, a “dynamic website containing more than 20,000 trusted recipes and featuring both in-store and manufacturer savings coupons; how-to videos; recipes from best-selling cookbooks; partner recipes from other well-respected brands; and an online shopping list and recipe box.” Famous brands like Betty Crocker, Campbell’s, Fleischmann’s, French’s, Keebler, Kellogg’s, Prego, and Swanson were some of the marketing content partners that participated in the launch of Recipe.com After publishing Recipe.com for seven years, Meredith took it offline. In 2022, Meredith should ask itself: Was Recipe.com just ahead of its time?
 

Dan Smullen
Head of SEO
Mediahuis Ireland
@dansmull

Migrating from AMP, IndexNow, Evergreen

Turned out I was right on "AMP will no longer be a requirement to rank in Top Stories."
We will continue to see other publishers testing leaving AMP. AMP will become less dominant in mobile SERPs especially with Google prioritizing more niche publishers over generic national publishers.

IndexNow, will become an implementation must for publishers, especially since Google are testing the waters.

More News SEO strategies for publishers will focus on evergreen content. And we will see more publishers experimenting with re-optimization of published content for SEO.

More and more publishers will adopt subscription models to support their online business efforts. This is not a trend that is going away anytime soon. Publishers will continue to innovate on paywalls, i.e. dynamic paywalls smarter paywalls. With machine learning to predict subscriber intent a key driver of this trend. Publishers with paywalls, will continue to invest in data to better understand churn and personalization.

The tech giants will continue to be in legal battles with publishers, but we can expect to see even more initiatives on Google's end where it purports to be helping the publisher revenue model. An example of this is Google Showcase. Live in Ireland at the moment and will launch in more countries.

Google will continue to improve on its SERP features for big news/live events. What this may mean for publishers is a drop in organic traffic, as Google pushes top stories & organic further down the page. Publishers will have to consider more than the standard article format for events. Take example elections/live news - video being the preferred format on Google's SERPS.

 

Matthew Brown
Founder
MJBLabs
@MatthewJBrown

Topical Organization & Clustering & Local News 

After years of being huge leaps behind Google web search in terms of algorithm sophistication, Google News has made huge jumps in relevancy and ability to process trust signals by topic for sites that appear in News search. The takeaway here for News SEOs is that topical organization and clustering, and optimizing on-page signals around those clusters (such as internal linking and related links modules) can lead to significant traffic increases from both Top Stories and Discover.

A good example of this in practice is the recent Google News emphasis on surfacing local sources where appropriate. You could see playing out in Google News results long before they made the announcement here.

What action items can local-minded News SEOs take from this? Content planning consistently around local companies or events can pay dividends down the road in news visibility. An example is Nike and Portland/Oregon, or the Iowa caucuses every Presidential election. Developing strong content around local topics, building links to articles and content hubs, segmenting sitemaps by local coverage, linking to strong authority pages on the topic (both internal and external), and restructuring site architecture to create topical silos. All of these have far more impact on News search visibility than they did three years ago.

 

Tobias Willmann
Head of SEO
Ringier AG / Blick.ch
@tobias_willmann

Google Discover & E-A-T

The first trend I see is Google Discover. Google Discover was a black box in the past - now, especially with the new API, we can learn so much more about it. Many SEO experts and tool developers will start to build stuff. As a follow-up, this will even influence in some cases how SEOs work with the newsroom.

E-A-T and especially to work here for specific topics is a second trend for me. It’s about how to show expertise, authority and trust not in general, but specific for each topic. The methods may differ a lot depending on the topic. Often it’s better to double down on the topics which already work for you. Show more E-A-T, than to try getting into areas where others already shine.

To work on a speedy and good UX website (Web Vitals) will still be one of the big topics in News SEO for 2022. For an ecommerce website, it’s obvious that a fast website helps with more sales. That is not in any case true for a publishing website. A big, intrusive and slow ad could generate a lot of money. So for News SEO, the discussion is much more complicated. AMP or not AMP will also be part of these considerations.

 

Justin Bank
Founder
Senior Director, Digital News & Strategy
NPR
@bankonjustin

Google Discover & Liveblogs

Google Discover: As my man Claudio Cabrera said in these very predictions last year, this surface is here to stay. In 2021, most publishers should have seen the referrals rising. The thing to watch in 2022 is what are the elements that get a story that's not-necessarily-a-search-story to wedge itself into Google's serendipity surface. One thing we've seen at NPR -- feature stories with a little SEO hook in the URL or headline finding a clearer path in.

Liveblogs: Whatever happens with the AMP in SERPs and Google News, the slots dedicated to live coverage continue to grow. It reflects a news environment that is increasingly driven by incremental updates and a publishing industry that aims to serve their audience with putting these updates in live coverage vehicles. So publishers should keep their schema updated and keep watching the impact of timestamps and keyword mapping to optimize across those rotating slots/surfaces.

 

Christine Liang
Sr. Director of SEO
The New York Times
@csmliang

The Visual Search Evolution & AMP

Get ready for an influx of images and videos. The visual revolution is coming. Based on what Google revealed at Search On, we know that they’re re-imagining search result pages to be more visual. Large image cards—once designated for Google Discover—are now a prominent component paired alongside organic search listings. Google is also working with Instagram and TikTok to get social content indexed and surfaced on search results. We’ll likely see more visual media elements incorporated into our day-to-day search experiences. So spend time thinking about your visual formats. Google Web Stories might even make a bigger comeback in search.

AMP will continue to be on life support. There will be more AMP blips—like the AMP crawling cache drop-off. And AMP “bugs,” similar to the one we saw with iOS 15, which was originally reported by Google as a bug but ended up being a change in browser support. A major shift could happen fast. These types of platform changes show the direction AMP is headed. AMP will play less of a primary role in how content is crawled and rendered across all Google surfaces.

 

Claudio E. Cabrera
Deputy Audience Director, News SEO
The New York Times
@CECabrera_

Evergreen Content Treatment For Big Events

How will brands treat evergreen and how will Google treat evergreen?

As Google continues to experiment with carousels providing different designs and additional layers for your scroll both on desktop and mobile, what inevitably loses space is organic results. In a year, at least domestically, where there were so many major court trials, elections, Olympics and more, etc., many brands focus on evergreen content to balance their editorial approach both from an authority building standpoint for search and also packaging perspective for readers both on and off-platform. With these changes occurring, it makes you wonder how Google will treat evergreen content for bigger events that are already seeing stories produced such as The World Cup, Midterm Elections, Winter Olympics, elections in Brazil and Colombia and more.

With these organic results further pushed down, how much will we lose with the newly designed carousels? Outside of that, it also brings the question as to how Google will incorporate evergreen into storylines with their “context feature” which they introduced earlier this year.

In final, I expect Google to help offset the potential losses brands may see in organic search and surface up more of this content for bigger storylines in the news carousel much more often than we’d expect. It may be mixed in between news or added as a “context feature.” But I wholeheartedly believe there will be an ‘organic news search result juice’ loss for many that we may be on a road of non-recovery on.
 

Now it is your turn, What are your News SEO predictions for 2022? 

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