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Most music stores depend on Google for the success of their operations. If they rank high in local search, they get more traffic to their websites and people visiting their stores. If their rankings fall, so do their site visits, sales, and overall business results.

That’s why so many music store owners and managers are — or should be — concerned about the big Google Search Engine Optimization (SEO) changes expected in 2022.

The search engine held off on releasing them during the pandemic, but now that it could be waning, they are likely to be implemented in the year ahead. Here are some of the potentially most impactful changes music stores need to be aware of — and plan for — right now.

Google challenges Amazon

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, most people relied on and got used to shopping online. There’s no sign that shoppers plan to shift back to old habits now that the pandemic is abating. This has finally made Google take online shopping seriously, an area it’s ignored for a long time. It’s positioning itself to steal some of Amazon’s thunder.

Music stores must take Google’s interest in online shopping very, very seriously. It could be a boon to their businesses, or bury them.

Google recently announced Shopping Graph, which is a dynamic, artificial intelligence-based shopping model capable of understanding:

  • Different products, such as musical instruments, and variations, including models
  • Sellers, such as music stores and big box retailers
  • Brands
  • Inventory and product information
  • Ratings and reviews
  • And more.

This move will enable shoppers to find and buy products, including musical instruments, based on the latest retailer information available.

How music stores can prepare for Shopping Graph: Shopping Graph will be a powerful engine that will drive sales for your online music store when it launches fully in 2022. So, update your music store’s back-end systems and related online product descriptions. It could also benefit your brick and mortar operation, because many people will want to stop by to see and try out the items they find online.

SEO becomes smarter and more sophisticated

SEO will continue to get more advanced in the year ahead and beyond. If your music store is still focused on keywords and other old school search tactics, it’s time to play catch up. SEO’s future is all about things like artificial intelligence, authority, backlinks, context, snippets, structure, user experience, videos, virtual dialogues, and more.

How music stores can prepare for greater SEO sophistication. If the terms in this section are foreign to you, it’s critical that you deep dive the subject of today’s — and tomorrow’s — SEO and become familiar with it. Contact us to get the help you need to take your music store’s SEO to the next level.

Google’s going MUM

Google’s last major algorithm update was back in 2019 when it released Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT). The update improved the search engine’s ability to understand search intent beyond the literal words used for the query. With music being a complex topic and the searches related to music stores extremely varied, it seriously upset the rankings of many music businesses.

2022 marks Google next major update. The search engine giant recently announced its plans to enhance its algorithm’s ability to understand and service users through Multitask United Model (MUM). Google says that this update will be a thousand times more powerful than BERT as it will be able to analyze text, video, audio, and images in 75 languages. This will allow it to better understand the intent behind complex search queries and provide more valuable answers.

MUM uses artificial intelligence to understand a searcher’s feelings, context, abstractions, and intent to provide more relevant answers and serve up more valuable content and information. It should reduce or completely eliminate the need for users to make several attempts at getting to the information they want.

Users will be able to key in various media, including images, sounds, words, videos, and more to make their queries more dynamic. For example, you could upload a picture of a guitar and ask if it’s good for playing jazz and get the answer. Google might then recommend other guitars that are better for jazz music. It might even include video demos of those guitars.

How music stores can prepare for MUM: Although MUM is still in its testing phase, a 2022 release looks likely. We won’t know exactly how it will affect search results moving forward, but it seems that high-quality, authoritative content about music in a range of formats including text, images, audio recordings, and video will be important, along with content that includes questions and answers.

Google will have conversations with users.

Google has gotten good at voice searches.

Now it wants to master spoken dialogue.

Recently, the search engine giant revealed a machine-learning technology specifically designed to understand human dialogue: Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA). It will give Google the ability to have organic conversations and gather richer, contextual data in order to deliver better-quality search results.

How music stores can prepare for LaMDA: If your music store’s site isn’t optimized for voice search, it’s time to update it. Once LaMDA is released, your site could be close to obsolete, which could have a major negative impact on your music store’s bottom line. Contact us if you need help with this.

Excerpt ranking

Market saturation online and a progressively more sophisticated search algorithm has made ranking on the top spot for a query challenging. It’s not going to get easier from here. With the new zero rank position (snippets) competing for the top spot on the results page, expect that you will have to fine-tune your strategy to maintain your rank.

To help with this, Google launched Excerpt Ranking, supported by passage indexing. It gives a page the opportunity to rank for a specified passage or section instead of the entire page. With Excerpt Ranking, the search engine can now factor in the stronger signals coming from a web page and deliver more meaningful results for niche queries.

How music stores can prepare for Excerpt Ranking: Excerpt Ranking is expected to affect just under 10% of searches when Google completes its roll out in 2022. While information about how to rank for excerpts is scarce, it seems that having the best, most authoritative music related content, especially about specialized topics, will still be critical to page ranking.

Google sets new page ranking parameters

One of the latest additions to Google’s ranking criteria is Page Experience, which it defines as “a set of signals that measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page beyond its pure information value.”

The measurement of the page experience is through Core Web Vitals, the metrics for a page’s load speed based on how a viewer experiences it.

  • First Input Delay (FID): This is the interactivity metric. An FID lower than 100 milliseconds would be your best bet, according to Google.
  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This metric looks purely at load performance. The search engine suggests that a page LCP should be under 5 seconds starting on load.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This refers to the measurement of visual stability. Google says that a website should maintain a CLS score no higher than 1.

Google combines Core Web Vitals with other factors including mobile friendliness, HTTPS protocol use, along with a lack of intrusive interstitials as the base set of measures that support making user experience a key part of its algorithm.

How music stores can prepare for a Google that’s more focused on user experience: Your site must be optimized to meet the Google-recommended Core Web Vitals. Since it’s likely that Google will continue down the path of focusing on user experience, it’s a good idea for you to do everything possible to optimize yours. Plus, it’s quite simply the right thing for your music store customers.

While it’s impossible to be sure of what Google will do before it does it, music stores can use the information in this article to begin planning for the future. Contact us if you need help preparing your music store’s website for what’s next with Google.