2021-22 Essential SEO Buzzwords (And Why You Should Care)
The world of search marketing is absolutely riddled with buzzwords – all the way from BERT and Core Web Vitals to FLoC and NAP. It can be hard to keep up with all these buzzwords if you’re not living and breathing search every day.
Fortunately, we’ve compiled a list of essential SEO buzzwords you need to know in 2021-22, so you can keep on top of the latest search trends, techniques and updates.
1. Core Web Vitals (LCP, FID, CLS)
This year, Google finally released its long-awaited Page Experience update in June, which finished rolling out at the start of September. Google warned us about this update back in 2020 to allow those working in SEO, development and the wider marketing field to bring websites up to scratch.
In Google’s eyes, a good website according to Core Web Vitals would be a site that delivers a great page experience. This update meant that Google would begin to strongly factor in a site’s page experience when determining ranking positions in the search results.
One way of defining and measuring a site’s page experience was for Google to use a set of metrics, coined ‘Core Web Vitals’. These metrics measure three different aspects of a user’s page experience; perceived page load speed, responsiveness and visual stability. These would help Google to assess if the user is receiving a positive or not-so-positive experience on a web page.
The three Core Web Vitals metrics are as follows: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID) and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS).
We won’t bog you down with what each Core Web Vital measures (you can read that here), but we can comfortably say that this is a big deal and Core Web Vitals are here to stay. If you aren’t already, you should be benchmarking your website’s Core Web Vitals and deciding whether it’s time for an upgrade – for your users’ sake and Google’s.
2. NLP & BERT
NLP, or Natural Language Processing, is an area of AI that focuses on the interaction of natural language between humans and computers. This could be via speech or text.
So, what has this got to do with SEO? Google’s ongoing mission is to help people obtain the most accurate and relevant search results. To this end, Google has been working on ways to improve how it understands normal, human language.
Google’s biggest endeavour on this front is probably back in 2018, when Google introduced their technique for NLP pre-training, which they called ‘Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers’ – more commonly abbreviated to BERT. BERT was later released as an algorithm update in 2019, with the aim to improve users’ search results. This NLP update looks at the context of words and phrases, words following and preceding, as well as an entire web page’s content to comprehend meaning.
To this day, NLP continues to be an important part of SEO. Read more about why it’s so important.
This is an acronym you have probably seen before if you read any SEO/industry blog posts: E-A-T is short for Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness. All SEOs should take E-A-T into consideration when creating content (particularly for YMYL content – see point 4). Referenced in Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, its aim is that people produce quality content that is backed by an authority – e.g., someone that has expertise and a recognised voice on a topic.
Here’s a bit more information about what each point means:
- Expertise: Your website should showcase its expertise on a subject, e.g., featuring awards on the website. Likewise, authors on a subject should have the relevant credentials – do they have qualifications? Links to their LinkedIn?
- Authoritativeness: Meaning that both the creator and the website should have authority on the subject – not writing about something they don’t have expertise about. Are there helpful reviews on other sites? Does the author have a respectable number of authoritative citations?
- Trustworthiness: Does the website have an About page? Help pages? The site must be secure (HTTPS). For the author of the content, do they have citations elsewhere in relevant places?
When creating content, as an SEO you need to ask yourself whether it is useful and if it fully satisfies the search, and if it doesn’t, take these points into consideration when changing it.
Linking closely to E-A-T, ‘YMYL’ in Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines stands for ‘Your Money Your Life’. This relates to content that could impact someone’s life – or as Google put it, their ‘future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety’.
For content covering topics such as shopping, finances, laws, current news, health and safety, they need to have very high quality standards, because if they are low quality, they could impact someone’s life through the spread of misinformation. Therefore, with these topics, E-A-T guidelines are important to follow – as expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness prevents this from happening.
To summarise, if you write and comment on topics surrounding YMYL, then you need to make sure that you are following E-A-T recommendations carefully, as Google will ensure YMYL pages like this will go through extra scrutiny before ranking their site.
NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone number. This is what a business will need to have put in place consistently to optimise their local SEO. NAP is a buzzword used to refer to the order in which a business has put the name, address, and phone number in place across their website, directories or anywhere else your NAP is mentioned online. It’s important that this always remains consistent to benefit local optimisation.
NAPs are important for SEO because to Google, consistent NAPs are proof or credibility, for which Google will give you higher search rankings locally. It is imperative to keep them consistent everywhere, especially if you move or change your number. For any changes, you will need to ensure you get in contact with any directories that may have your NAP listed and get them changed, alongside all the references to your NAP on your website.
6. Entity Salience
Entity salience is a technical topic with significant implications for the way that search engines understand content and the importance of references to ‘things’. When discussed in the context of SEO, it refers to the process by which Google makes use of machine learning to understand the core topic and the importance of the ‘things’ (brand, product, objects, organisations, people) referenced in the content.
For example, we use the word ‘SEO’ it in a title tag, URL, and main heading (H1 tag). These are all strong signals to a search engine like Google that this salient entity (important thing) is SEO.
Entity salience, and indeed entity SEO, is more important than ever for those in the digital marketing space. People are looking at content in more granular and semantic detail. For instance, you may find that your competitors’ core entities are more salient than yours in content, or they hold entities that you currently aren’t referencing – entities that are aiding their rankings in search that you can leverage. Read more about entity salience in our Guide to Natural Language Processing and SEO.
When it comes to looking at entity salience within your own content, there was previously a free tool to test your content for entity salience, however this has recently been removed. Google also has their Cloud platform, Google Cloud, where you can try Natural Language for free. You can also try IBM Watson Natural Language Understanding.
7. Topical relevance
Topical relevance is a process search engine use to determine how relevant a web page is to a user’s search query. It essentially is defined by when a website builds and establishes authority around a particular topic through building content around it and links towards it. It is usually based on a combination of factors, including content, backlinks and keywords.
Topical relevancy is great for small business looking to build authority around their niche. If your website is getting relevant links from relevant websites within your niche, this counts as topical relevance and can help your Google rankings, however, when receiving backlinks from sites with very little relevance, this can have an adverse effect on your SEO, especially if there are significant amounts as this can come across as spammy.
8. FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts)
Google announced in March 2021 that they would stop using cookies to track individual users across the internet by the start of 2022. This deadline has since been extended to late 2023. Don’t be fooled into thinking Google won’t be tracking users anymore; what it actually means is that there is another solution that Google has been working on to keep track of its users. This is where Federated Learning of Cohorts comes into place.
This is a draft API (application programme interface) that extends the Chrome browser. Instead of using individual cookies for targeting, FLoC provides aggregated groups of users. To be more precise, the FLoC API relies on a cohort assignment algorithm that allocates a cohort ID to a user based on their browsing history. This is Google’s answer to third party cookies.
By late 2023, if you don’t adopt a cookie-less solution, your visibility on organic or any other channels will diminish. Therefore, you won’t be able to take a data-led approach to decision-making and you won’t be able to assess performance of marketing efforts.
This affects anyone doing digital marketing; all will have to account for a new way of tracking and move away from third party cookies. Though it’s worth noting, first party cookies are not as much of an issue. If you own your data, it’s generally fine.
Google Passage Ranking is (for now) a US-only Google update that describes a way to talk about indexing and rankings. The update will be able to not just rank specific pages themselves, but specific sections from within pages that best match the user’s intent or answer the user’s question.
Google stated that passage ranking will affect 7% of search queries across all languages when fully rolled out globally. It is now live in the US-English results, so it should have an about 7% impact in the US=English search results. With Google crawlers getting smarter at understanding the content and context within our pages, they’re able to take the correct answers and deliver them to search from not just pages, but passages from our pages.
Last week, we shared about how we will soon identify individual passages of a web page to better understand how relevant a page is to a search. This will be a global change improving 7% of queries:https://t.co/iQoXktmSkt— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) October 20, 2020
In this thread, more about how it works…. pic.twitter.com/2oqdoCkt6r
So, how can you optimise for passage indexing? Should we be rewriting headings to make it clearer for Google to comprehend the different parts of the site?
Google’s Martin Splitt answered:
“It’s pretty much that. With any kind of content some semantic and some structure in your content so that it’s easier for automated systems to understand the structure and the kind of like, the bits and pieces of your content.”
As SEO buzzwords go, there sure are a fair few. We’ve selected some of the most important ones to know about right now, most relevant to any industry changes happening imminently. If you’re looking for some SEO support for your business, get in touch today and speak to one of our SEO experts – we’ll get you found in no time.