fbpx

It had been a while since SEOs were abuzz with a possible Google update, but a big one hit just before Labor Day weekend, according to chatter amongst webmasters.

In fact, website owners may be looking at two separate updates since many site owners reported seeing big fluctuations in their organic and local search visibility.

Here are 6 things we know so far:

1. It’s Hot Out There

The update appears to have happened on or around September 1, the Thursday before Labor Day Weekend, according to Mozcast.com. If you are not familiar with Mozcast, it is a weather report detailing turbulence in Google’s algorithm on a day to day basis. The hotter and stormier a day is, the greater the change in Google’s rankings. And on September 1, the temperature was 108, and the weather was stormy. In fact, it was the hottest, stormiest day on Mozcast over at least the past 30 days.Moz Forecast September 1

2. Core Search + Local

The updates, according to data posted by webmasters at several online forums, like this, and reported by Search Engine Land appears to affect Google’s Core Search algorithm and also changes to the local search 3-pack.

3. Quality Content is Important

Google’s core web search algorithm, aka Hummingbird, includes a ton of different elements, so pinpointing what aspect of the algorithm has been updated. However, if it is part of core search, you can bet the focus is on quality content and a solid site architecture.

4. RankBrain Could Be Involved

Also, about a year ago, Google announced their rollout of RankBrain, a component of the algorithm that uses “RankBrain” an artificial intelligence system that uses machine learning to process search results and provide more relevant results to users. There is widespread speculation that Google’s latest suspected update involves Rankbrain. More on that later.

RankBrain Diagram

5. Not Penguin

Google loosely confirmed that there was an update, but that it did not involve the Penguin algorithm – the system Google uses to evaluate a website’s links, both internally and from third party sources.Sidenote: Google announced on September 7th that they are working on the Penguin launch announcement. It’s been roughly one year and ten months since the last Penguin update in October 2014.

6. Spam Clean-Up

Most of the impact on local search results appears to have affected spammy results. Google Maps, historically, has been plagued by spam. A niche that had exploited Google Maps was the locksmith industry, with many site owners creating fictitious listings in an effort to generate phone calls and web traffic for more website searches in a geographic area without having physical locations.

There were a ton of complaints about these types of practices, but Google had been slow in cleaning up the data. The two images below show the difference for a “locksmith” related search near Times Square. The image on the left was from 2009 (image courtesy of blumenthals.com), when this type of spam was widespread. The image on the right is for what is currently in Google Maps.

Google Maps location spam

The Impact on You

The impact on you will be largely unnoticeable right now. Organic traffic and rankings for our own clients was reviewed on September 5 & 6, the Tuesday and Wednesday following the update. No changes, significant or otherwise, have been seen.

However, what makes this update, and many other Google updates so difficult to analyze is that they usually roll out an update just prior to a weekend. Additionally, because it takes time – sometimes weeks to months – for a rollout to complete, the full effects are not immediately known. Rest assured, however, that we will continue to monitor our clients traffic and rankings and react accordingly if and when the need arises.

So, What About RankBrain?

If this update to the core search algorithm did involve RankBrain, then Google could be placing more emphasis on search results that have poor user engagement and experience metrics. Low time on site, high bounce rates and poor click-through rates are all signals that often convey that the search query used or suggested by Big G did not match the search intent.

Think about this: 

Rank Brain is sophisticated enough to learn what people are looking for when they don’t search specifically for what they are looking for. It can do this because it has so much data, and it is confident it can effectively provide the answer the searcher is looking for, even if they don’t use the correct question. And if it is truly learning, then the quality of the results should be improving over time.

An example of this is a query would be: “who won the 1994 World Series?” The correct answer is that there was NO World Series in 1994, due to an ongoing strike by the Major League Baseball Players Association. Google is confident in the answer to this, so they provide the answer right in search results. Varying the keyword slightly (“who lost 1994 World Series”, “was there a 1994 world series”) results essentially the same search results.

Who won the 1994 world series?

Perhaps with this most recent update, Google has determined that they can rely on RankBrain more, and the most recent changes in search results are a reflection of that. Changes in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) are difficult to attribute to any one element, so time, and hopefully an update from Google will tell.

What We’re Watching For

Over the next few weeks, we will be looking for drops in organic traffic across our clients’ sites that can be attributed to drops in organic and local search visibility.

If an organic drop is seen, you must determine if those affected pages are properly optimized and if there is enough variation in the keywords the page is targeting. Also, focus on improving the quality of content for those underperforming pages. Plan on looking at those engagement and experience metrics that Google may be evaluating to determine if a page does not match the searcher’s intent.

If a drop in local search results is seen, it will be important to audit all name, address, phone (NAP) citations for glaring discrepancies. Any issues for those locations affected by the update should be improved. Additionally, if a site has created local pages, those pages should be analyzed from a quality perspective as thin or over-optimized pages likely will not perform well.

Finally, in a few weeks, as this update has matured, expect more site owners and marketers to share their perspective; this information could inform ongoing strategy. One thing is fairly certain, Google will continue their focus on displaying organic results they believe are the best quality and satisfy user intent.

Source : http://www.verticalmeasures.com/

Categorized in Science & Tech

A major topic of discussion in the tech world is Artificial Intelligence, or AI as some call it. Self-learning systems have been adopted in various fields, ranging from self-driving cars to robotics. Google, the world's most popular search engine has now integrated its own machine learning system as a part of its search algorithm. Google feels that a self-learning system holds the key to handling search queries of the future with greater accuracy. Google's AI system is called RankBrain and it was launched back in October 2015. Its role was revealed to the world through an article on Bloomberg, which showed that 15% of all Google search queries were already being handled by RankBrain.

Chicago SEO Company's Antonio Tooley, an authority on digital marketing, says: "RankBrain's introduction will result in a convergence of sorts in the way Google and SEOs view great content. SEOs will now have to make a greater effort into understanding their audience's complex needs."

Any move Google usually makes has a profound impact on SEOs, bloggers, and webmasters around the world, as they aim to create content that ranks higher on Google's search results. We have seen major upgrades like Google's Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird that were rolled out a few years ago. These updates were primarily aimed at weeding out problems like duplicate content, keyword stuffing, irrelevant sites, eliminating exact-match keywords, etc. RankBrain is just another major step Google has taken towards increasing the quality of its search results.

Inner Workings of RankBrain

Before we delve into exactly how you can create and optimize your content for RankBrain, let's take a brief look at how it actually works.

RankBrain was created to handle complex search queries. Google receives about 500 million searches each day. The queries are completely new to the platform, hence it has no idea how to deliver the best results for them. Google has what it calls deep neural networks of software and hardware. This simulates the web of neurons we have in our own brain. A vast amount of data is absorbed by these neural nets, and learning takes place. This kind of approach is known as deep learning. In the past, Google's algorithms and rules were formulated by human beings; now, that has changed.

So How Does this Affect the Way You Produce Content?

You need to approach content creation in a way that's similar to how successful businesses approach problems. Successful businesses focus on solving the issues of a particular target audience by understanding their needs, and not focusing on the monetary aspect at any point, other than for feasibility purposes.

Similarly, you need to make sure you create content that is tailored to the needs of your audience. The content must be engaging, and the less you focus on what you think Google will like, the better.

Long Form Content

Try to create long content that addresses numerous issues your target audience might have. Suppose you are selling a product like tailored resumes, then you can create a resource page detailing tips for creating amazing resumes, do's and don'ts from industry professionals, etc. There are plenty of possibilities. You will also want to rank for synonymous terms like CVs, curriculum vitae, etc. Long form content will allow you to insert keywords naturally in the article. Gone are the days where you had to mention your main keywords three times per every 500 words to rank. "Rank Brain uses co-occurrence to help deliver the most relevant results to users," says Didit.com's Steve Baldwin.

The frequency with which related terms appear is also analyzed so that the content that reads naturally gets ranking preference. If you need an idea about what words Google thinks are synonyms, then you can simply analyze search results to get an answer. The search for "tips for a great resume" shows us what words Google thinks are synonyms:

google synonyms

Be Specific and Natural

Each piece of content you put out needs to be for a specific purpose. You might have noticed more social media profiles appearing higher in search results. Hence the content you create for your Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram must all be solving the needs of your audience. You need to provide ideas, tips, tricks and recommendations to engage your specific target audience. If your website is solely focused on resumes, and if you create a post on umbrellas, then it's a bad sign for Google. On the other hand, if your website creates content like graphic design resumes, and things like that, then it should help.

Queries are becoming natural and complex at the same time. Human interaction with Google is more conversational. People tend to make use of long search queries like "Where can I find the perfect resume for a photography job?" The growth of voice search has contributed to this. If you create natural and human content, then it's much easier for RankBrain to synthesize exactly what you are getting at.

A cool idea would be to start your article with a query that you think it is suited for. For example, before you talk about the advantages of protein supplements, your article's introduction can contain something like "If you have just hit the gym recently and are not seeing the gains you expected, you must be wondering if protein supplements really do work." This is a great way to grab your audience's attention.

To Conclude

The role AI plays in our life is set to increase, and it is up to us to use it to our advantage. John Giannandra who now oversees Google's search engine activities says that "by building learning systems, we don't have to write these rules anymore. Increasingly, we're discovering that if we can learn things rather than writing code, we can scale these things much better."

Deep learning might play a much bigger role in the future for bloggers, webmasters and SEOs alike. Hence, it is probably best to focus on producing content that delivers the maximum value to our audience.

Source : http://www.econtentmag.com/Articles/Editorial/Industry-Insights/Keeping-Up-with-Google-How-AI-Will-Shape-Future-Content-113028.htm 

Categorized in Search Engine

What is the Google RankBrain algorithm update all about & how does it work? How does this machine learning Artificial Intelligence (AI) affect SEO? In my previous article on facts and myths of Artificial Intelligence, I wrote about Strong AI and Super AI. I said that they may take time before they arrive; that it’s just a matter of time before someone cracks how to make a machine think like humans. I also said corporates would be glad to fund such projects if they promise better profits. For one, Google now has a “brain” that works well and it is called Google RankBrain. It may not be able to think yet but who knows the future! What surprised me was a comment from a Google executive saying they can’t understand what Google RankBrain AI is doing.

What is Google RankBrain AI

AI stands for Artificial Intelligence, and I will be using the acronym here to keep it easy. Before proceeding to the part where we will talk about Google not being able to understand what its own creation is doing, this section introducesBrainRank AI Search to readers who don’t know about search engine algorithms.

Search Engines like Google depend on hundreds of factors to bring the best possible results to anything you enter in the search box. Earlier they were dumb and focused just on keywords. But the keywords could also be dumb. For example, people can search for “explain top of the food chain”. This can easily confuse a search engine into assuming that maybe the person searching is asking something about food chains like restaurants so give him a list of top restaurants in the area

But the person is actually searching for the name of which, the top carnivore. The food chain starts with single cell animals, goes on to herbs, then herbivorous animals, carnivorous animals, humans and ends with a predator on the top.

Google and other search engines store plenty of information on their servers so that they can provide you with the results you want. For that, they check out many factors. So far, no artificial intelligence was involved. Among the hundreds of factors, it was ‘items in bold’, ‘headings’, ‘subheadings’, ‘repetition of a word or phrase’ and many such things.

If the person who is searching on Google, types in irrelevant things into the search box, the results were always garbage. The first principle of machines is if you feed garbage to machines, they’ll give out the garbage. You may search GIGO(garbage in, garbage out) for examples of this principle.

To tackle such situations, Google kept on making changes to its search algorithms and then secretly included BrainRank into it somewhere in 2015. It kept it a secret until recently. An event was held in March, and that is when they acknowledged that their engineers do not know how the thing works. It does send out wrong signals. 

RankBrain is part of Google’s Hummingbird search algorithm, and is said to be the third-most important signal – the first probably being the quality of back-links. It will soon change the way SEO works.

Here is what Google RankBrain AI search algorithm does according to what I could grasp from my research. Instead of focusing on each search initiated, it focusses on the entire search session. Normally, to get proper results and to narrow down, many researchers use synonyms and words related to what they are searching. Like in the above example, one may use “topmost consumer in the food chain” and “what’s the highest level of food chain called”. He or she may use more keywords depending upon what the person wants to know.

So as the searches progress in the session, from the first search to nth search, Google RankBrain AI will start presenting more and more relevant pages to the researcher. This may include pages that do not even include the keyword but provides more related information about the same.

What does Google RankBrain work

Google RankBrain AI

Here comes the problem. The creators of the RankBrain AI themselves do not understand how it works. Since it is limited to search, it is not a scary situation. But imagine creating a similar thing in a domain that is related to weapons? What are the odds against a machine growing mature enough to take its own stand against the creators? What if we create AI-based robots for the army, mass produce them and some things go wrong to make them turn against their own generals? It doesn’t look right. The chances are 50:50 – a good amount of risk.

In an event called SMX, Google’s Paul Haahr, who goes by the handle @haahr on Twitter told many interesting things about the algorithm and acknowledged that Google engineers who work on RankBrain don’t know how it works. Either Haahr was not willing to share information or the creators really don’t know much about their creation.

If later is the case, it should ring some alarm bells. Already many scholars have raised their fears on AI and the fast growing research in the domain. They petitioned governments to stop funding projects leading to strong and super AI.

Google RankBrain AI is just the beginning!

Source : http://www.thewindowsclub.com/google-rankbrain 

Categorized in Search Engine

airs logo

Association of Internet Research Specialists is the world's leading community for the Internet Research Specialist and provide a Unified Platform that delivers, Education, Training and Certification for Online Research.

Get Exclusive Research Tips in Your Inbox

Receive Great tips via email, enter your email to Subscribe.

Follow Us on Social Media

Book Your Seat for Webinar - GET 70% OFF FOR MEMBERS ONLY      Register Now