Anyone in marketing is aware of Google algorithms and the impact it has on your sites search ranking. We take the time to meticulously use our key words and make sure the Meta data is there for all our content and site to be found, among other things.
Consider thinking about it the opposite way; as a customer searching for something. Google has always been about making a positive user experience and providing the best results for the consumer. How will Google use AI to improve the user experience?
What is Artificial Intelligence?
While you may find many different definitions and types of AI; in layman terms it is simply the ability of machines to learn and problem solve. There are many early examples, in use today, from digital assistants like Cortana and Siri to self-driving cars. The growth of big data is fueling the growth of AI applications.
How AI is used in Searches
It wasn’t that long ago where searching for something on the internet was limited to a keyword and wadding through pages to find what matched your intent. Since that time, phrases and natural language is more commonly used to search for an item with good results on the first page. The knowledge graph was launched in 2012 where searches were about “things not strings” and placed a search within a context.
Now, when you search, the results take into consideration your location, device used, your search history, favorite websites and what other users have clicked on for a similar search. All this occurs behind the scenes without the user being aware.
Googles AI is RankBrain
RankBrain uses the machine learning type of AI and is only just a part of the Google search algorithm, called Hummingbird. Hummingbird uses over 200 major ranking signals with up to 10,000 sub-signals to determine which pages appear in response to a query. RankBrain is the 3rd most important signal. General consensus is that links and content are the first two signals. RankBrain initially was used to interpret searches where the pages do not have the exact words search for.
Google processes over 3 billion searches per day. Of that, 15% are unique and never seen before. Many are of the “long tail” type. RankBrain is designed to interpret and translate these new queries and direct to the best content. It leverages what Google knows about common queries to improve the uncommon ones and find similarities among them. Since RankBrain was added to the algorithm it is now used in every search, not just the unique 15%.
SEO for Visual Content
The importance of visual content has increase exponentially in the past few years. Google has improved knowing what a video, audio clip or image is about. Video content is favored by Google as well as Facebook. As marketers, we can make it even easier for our visual content to be found by applying similar optimization techniques to our creatives.
Video keywords are typically shown on the first two pages while normal SERP will show 10 pages of results. Video keywords tend to be a certain type that lends itself to that media; like “how to”, tutorials, sports / fitness related and animals. You want your video keywords to appear for Google and YouTube results. Your video keywords should have at least 300 searches per month on Google.
YouTube judges your video by audience engagement with it. If your video stinks, you are not going to rank. Go back to step 1. Create valuable content.
YouTube evaluates engagement using audience retention (how long do people watch), how many comments are made, how many subscribe to your channel after watching, favorites or how many users place your video on a “watch later” list and how many shares to social media sites.
When you upload a video to YouTube (or another platform) use the video keyword that you want to rank for in the filename. The closer your keyword is to the front of the title, the better.
The description for your video is very important and your chance to explain the value and content of the video. Some best practices include:
- Put the link to your website at the very top of the video
- Use your video keyword within the first 25 words
- Include at least 250 words in the description
- Repeat the video keyword 4 times.
Use tags generously to increase the chances your video will appear as a related video in YouTube sidebar.
The more views your video gets (especially long ones) the better it will continue to perform. So, link to or embed the video in relevant places like, Quora under a question the video answers, blog posts, and other discussion groups.
Voice & Mobile
It is no secret that Google has a preference for mobile friendly sites. Increasingly, users are using mobile devices (and a lesser extent desktops) for voice searches. Digital assistants, like Siri and Cortana, have allowed us to ask for information with a conversational approach. This will benefit the smart content writer to be able to use the conversational phrases in a more natural way when using keywords.
Content is Still King
As always, and Google makes no secret of this – content is king! Creating high quality content, no matter the medium, will continue to be the best long term strategy.
The best long term strategy is still creating valuable content that answers you target customers questions and concerns. While each piece of content can stand alone, creating related content using different media and diving into more detail will provide more authority for your niche.
Black Hat strategies, or keyword stuffing or purchasing links is not a viable long term strategy.
It appears Google is reducing the importance of sheer number of backlinks and considering the quality and relevance of the backlinks to your niche market. This means you should be selective in your link building to make sure your links add to your credibility.
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