From Google algorithm updates to Facebook’s rebrand, there was a lot that happened within the digital marketing industry in 2021. With the year coming to an end, we decided to put together a recap highlighting some of the major changes that are important to know when planning 2022 digital marketing strategies.
With data showing that the majority of web searches are conducted via mobile devices, Google decided to switch to a mobile-first index. In past years, Google analyzed a website’s relevance for search engine results based on the usability and optimization of a website’s desktop version. As of March, Google now uses the mobile version of websites for ranking. This had a massive impact on both web design and SEO, leading to many websites dropping in rank because of their lack of mobile-friendly user experience.
Apple’s release of iOS 14.5 changed the way web users control their data in 2021 with the introduction of the App Tracking Transparency framework. All Apple devices with iOS 14.5 or later installed now require apps to ask for the user’s consent before they track the user’s behavior outside of the app. While this has vastly improved user privacy online, it does present unique challenges for digital marketers who use apps to collect user behavior data for marketing strategies and advertising tactics.
Core Web Vitals
Google rolled out its Core Web Vitals initiative in June, which changed the way Google views and ranks pages. Factors like mobile-friendliness, website optimization, and SSL certificates are now seen as some of the most important ranking factors, with Google giving more weight to websites with good user experience elements like loading speed, page interactivity, and visual stability.
Facebook Becomes Meta
In October, Facebook announced that it was moving forward with a company rebrand. The parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and several other online platforms will no longer be referred to as Facebook, now using the name Meta. As part of this rebrand, Meta intends to launch new platforms and technologies, including immersive virtual and alternate reality experiences that will change the online landscape.
While TikTok technically launched its TikTok for Business advertising platform in mid-2020, advertising on TikTok really took off in 2021, as the platform expanded its options for business partners and reached over a billion users worldwide. TikTok offers four distinct ad formats: native in-feed content, brand takeovers, hashtag challenges, and branded lenses. With these different ad types, TikTok makes it easier for brands to reach their audiences in new ways.
Google Business Profiles
Google’s local business directory has changed its name and added a few new features. What was once Google My Business is now Google Business Profiles, thanks to an effort to simplify the entire process of claiming a business on Google. This change includes enabling business owners to claim and verify a business right from Google Search Results or Google Maps, and enables messaging between businesses and their customers right from the search results page.
Instagram continued to find new ways for users to share stories and experiences in 2021 with the wide release of Instagram Guides. Guides give brands and individuals the ability to create new content or compile existing content into easy to navigate guides that can be found in an Instagram profile. These serve as simplified Instagram “blogs,” featuring old posts, new products, or interesting places contained in one easy-to-navigate space!
In February, Google launched an algorithm ranking update called Google Passage Ranking. This update is what Google calls an “internal algorithm change,” meaning it’s intended to further Google AI understanding of informational context and when content should be shown in search results. Through Google Passages, Google can now locate highly specific sentences, paragraphs, and sections of content within webpages that answer long-tail keywords and questions, thereby providing a better experience for its users.
Multitask Unified Model (MUM)
Designed to help with complex queries, Google’s Multitask Unified Model (MUM) allows a user to search for a specific, complex intent and find meaningful results. Previously, the search engine would prioritize high-quality sources that may only answer a fraction of a query, leaving the user to scroll through results to compile the correct information. With the implementation of the MUM, however, users can find faster and more accurate results through one search (e.g., “Is Boston or New York a better place to find a tech job?”).
Google Web Stories
Google is the latest to join the tappable story trend that’s been a staple of social media platforms. While Google Web Stories may operate a little differently than most social media stories, they still provide a great opportunity for brands and businesses to create content that will stand out within Google search. These stories run on AMP technology and are comprised of a variety of tappable visual slides and interactive elements that make it easy for users to see and interact with content on mobile SERPs.
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