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Search Marketing

RankBrain Update

RankBrain: 5 Things We Know About Google’s New AI Aide

By | Search Marketing, SEO | One Comment

On Sunday, October 25, 2015, Bloomberg’s Jack Clark broke some serious news regarding how Google processes search queries. If you’re familiar with SEO, you know that any insight Google gives into its inner workings is as priceless as it is rare. But after posting better than projected earnings, Google’s executives were in the mood to spread some love.

After dissecting the article and the insight from Greg Corrado, a senior research scientist at Google, here’s what we know about the company’s artificial intelligence advancements:

1. What RankBrain actually is.

RankBrain is the first glimpse into Google’s machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities. After the written input is converted into numerical data, the computer can identify those strings of which it is unfamiliar with and hypothesize other strings that share similar characteristics.

“RankBrain uses artificial intelligence to embed vast amounts of written language into mathematical entities — called vectors — that the computer can understand. If RankBrain sees a word or phrase it isn’t familiar with, the machine can make a guess as to what words or phrases might have a similar meaning and filter the result accordingly.”

The key to RankBrain (and all artificial intelligence) is the ability to learn. This signal can identify patterns and insights once only detectable by people.

2. RankBrain is handling a large portion of Google’s search queries.

Google sees approximately 3.5 billion search queries every single day. Would you believe that 15 percent of those, or 525 million queries, it has never encountered before? RankBrain is a large contributor to processing those 525 million queries. And it’s doing a darn good job. The company found that turning RankBrain off “would be as damaging to users as forgetting to serve half the pages on Wikipedia.”

3. RankBrain outperforms Google’s search engineers.

Further proof of RankBrain’s efficacy lies in its ability to synthesize queries with a higher rate of accuracy than its human predecessors. Google revealed that in comparative testing of query ranking, Google search engineers were correct 70 percent of the time, while RankBrain enjoyed a success rate of 80 percent.

4. RankBrain is the 3rd most important signal accounted for within Hummingbird.

We know that the algorithm Google uses to process search queries is called Hummingbird, which understands both the context and the content (the keywords) of a conversational query such as this, meaning, the words “get people to” is equal to the keyword “traffic.”

Until Sunday, all that was known about Hummingbird’s inner signaling factors was that there were ‘hundreds’ of them. While we haven’t gotten much more insight than that, Corrado did reveal an interesting piece of information about the signals within Hummingbird as a whole:

“In the few months it has been deployed, RankBrain has become the third-most important signal contributing to the result of a search query.”

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5. ‘AI Wars’ are upon us.

Facebook and Microsoft (i.e. Bing) are already using artificial intelligence to personalize and broaden the capabilities of their search engines. Now that we’ve seen Google’s massive gains at the foot of AI capabilities, it’s only a matter of time before greater strides in AI are brought to the forefront.

iOS 9 is Going Local: 6 Tips To Getting Optimized for iOS Search

By | Inbound Marketing, Mobile, News, Search Marketing | No Comments

“Location, location, location” is no longer a mantra for those in real-estate alone. Apple is turning marketers’ heads with its latest mobile operating system, iOS 9, to be released this fall; this time, having a stronger focus on local search. Just like with any major update (we might recall Google’s Mobilegeddon earlier this year) brands and businesses have a brief opportunity to implement changes in an effort to rise to search stardom, or they may sink between the cracks.  

For the first time, mobile app content will be integrated into search, providing an opportunity for users to connect with location-based content. Apple Maps, a local search platform for millions, will implement features to enhance location detail and provide local business search results, as well as detailed public transit information.

These changes could prove to be a great opportunity for local business to be brought to the forefront; having store locations and other important information displayed in Apple Maps though Siri, Spotlight, and Safari search.

Your site may already be marked, “mobile-friendly”, but there is a narrow window to get your site and apps optimized for iOS local search in time for the update. Here’s what to look for to be sure you’re up to speed:

1. Check your location data

Getting your business on Apple’s radar is just the beginning. Check to see that your location data is up to date and visible to its web and app crawler, Applebot. Keep your location data consistently visible and include a store locator feature for you app or website.

2. Provide rich results

Make your content richer by using images, reviews, actions, and adding metadata wherever possible. Keyword usage is an imperative practice as well but be careful not to “over-stuff” and to stay relevant to the content topic. Applebot will ideally recognize it and reward you for having ample, relevant information to scan.

3. Index your best

Improve your “engagement-to-shown” ratio by indexing your best content with a focus on local search. Always index positive user-generated content, as well as content that provides any information on location. Avoid duplicate content by using the same identifier for the same item across multiple APIs.

4. Use schema

Help iOS return more of your information results to users by making sure to markup your website with schema. Two actions are currently supported by iOS; calling a phone number, and getting directions to an address. There are plenty of resources available to help you implement schemas to build out your SERP real estate with more detail, as in this example:
schema-seo-rich-snippetsImage Source

5. Know that speed is a factor

Check the amount of time it takes from from tapping a search result to the content displaying in your app. Apple will be measuring it as well and using this information as a ranking factor.

6. Get user-generated content

Let your users speak for you. Incorporating ratings, reviews, and testimonials will help to give your content a more local focus. Allow users to engage in these actions via your app, website, and social media platforms, and your content will be more likely to show up in search results.

The new iOS 9 update provides the chance for local businesses to be seen in a new light. By taking the necessary actions to implement changes to your site or app, your local business or brand can stay ahead of the curve and gain a competitive advantage over the big players in search results.

What changes are you making to be ready for iOS 9 local search?

Share and comment below!

How to Solve Marketer’s Lovability Problem (Cool Things We Learned at IMSLC)

By | Content Marketing, Inbound Marketing, Search Marketing, SEO, Uncategorized, Video | No Comments

Marketers have a lovability problem.

At least that’s what Nick Salvatoriello, an Inbound Marketing Professor for HubSpot, told the 250 people who attended Inbound Marketing SLC on Thursday. He cited a study that showed marketers to be behind lawyers and stockbrokers on the likability scale (although they were slightly ahead of car salespeople and lobbyists).

Nick, who flew in from HubSpot’s Boston headquarters for the event, suggested that marketers combat their image problem by providing marketing that customers love.  This is the driving force behind inbound marketing, he said, because inbound marketing aims to treat each precious contact as an actual human with needs that need to be addressed.

Next on the mic was our very own Owen Fuller, president and founder of Fit Marketing. Owen explained how important it is for marketers to harness the power of good storytelling. Stories can produce visceral responses from your customers, and the experiences they have with you will be much more memorable.

To create stories, think of the problems that your customers are facing and identify the possible solutions. If you don’t know what their problems are, then you must not be listening.

We then got to hear from Abe Niederhauser, marketing manager at Orabrush. Abe explained how his company takes a data driven approach to its video marketing efforts. When they launched an oral care product for dogs, for example, they went through 55 variations of the conversion video, 245 variations of the landing page and 46 different price points.

Orabrush’s strategy has been highly effective. The company has over 42 million YouTube views, which Abe noted is roughly 1/5 of the views of giants like Old Spice and Pepsi but at 1/100 of the budget.

The last speaker at IMSLC was Dave Bascom, CEO of Fit Marketing. Although Dave is the founder and former CEO of SEO.com, his presentation was titled “Fire Your SEO Agency and Grow Your Search Traffic”.

Dave advised companies to think of SEO as a mindset, not a department. Three “non-SEO” tactics he suggested are 1) juicy content creation, 2) influencer outreach and 3) social media engagement. All of these tactics would be good ideas even if Google didn’t exist because they would increase direct traffic, exposure, leads and sales.

The event was sponsored by Utah Business Games and Signs.com. A big thanks goes out to them for helping to make IMSLC happen.

If you weren’t able to attend IMSLC, you’re in luck. We’re doing it again on May 22. We’ve already received a lot of great feedback from you and look forward to making the next one bigger and better.

Pandas, Penguins, and Hummingbirds

By | Search Marketing, SEO | One Comment

This is a guest post from Leigh Chesley at Salesfusion.

Keeping Google happy is a lot like pleasing a cat – what they want can change frequently and abruptly.

Major Google algorithm updates Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird have had a major impact on websites and SERPs over the past few years. The general rule that Google has given webmasters about these updates is this: If you are not practicing black hat search engine optimization (SEO), you have nothing to worry about.

That’s all well and good, but then a lot of people ignored everything else Google had to say. Even if you are confident that your SEO practices are on the up-and-up, here are answers to some of the most pressing questions about the menagerie of recent algorithm updates.

1. What is black hat search engine optimization?

If you don’t know what black hat search engine optimization is, how can you be certain your teams (or you!) aren’t guilty of doing it?

Black hat SEO is any unethical technique that is used to manipulate or break search engine algorithms to get higher search engine rankings.

 

Warning: This applies even if it is accidental!

It’s pretty obvious that unethical practices include presenting content in a way that breaks the search engines.

But what you may not know is that it also includes techniques that create a poor user experience because the site was optimized for search engine spiders, not for humans.

Even the most well-intentioned webmasters can fall into the trap of wanting to rank high on the first page and forgetting that it is even more important that people are able to navigate the website once they get there.

You might be ranking third in the search ranking, but if your content is difficult to digest it won’t do you any good in the long run anyway. Make sure your web copy and navigation is natural and intuitive. When in doubt, use A/B testing. In fact, use A/B testing regularly even if you’re not in doubt.

2. What are the updates?

If you know what the recent updates are targeting, you can make sure your site is up to snuff. It can also give you a clue about where Google is going in the future.

 

  • Google’s first Panda update targeted content, ad-to-content ratios, and content farms. It impacted about 12 percent of search results. These websites were considered to be lower quality, or “thin” in regards to content. Duplicate content, too many ads and poor writing were all targeted by the Panda update.
  • The Penguin update targeted keyword stuffing, inorganic backlinking and other false optimization techniques. This update knocked unsuspecting, well-intentioned webmasters’ sites out of the top of the search engine results.

Inorganic backlinking is creating links that are purely for backlinking and have little or no relation to the content on the website. This practice was helping some websites create a false level of trust within the rankings, gaming Google’s PageRank algorithm, which calculates number of links from credible sites as part of its measure of “trustworthiness.”

  • The Hummingbird update, on the other hand, was less about targeting SEO practices than enhancing the user experience, including mobile search. It has been described as giving an old classic car a new engine. Google is continually updating its search algorithm, looking for ways to deliver more qualified, relevant results. (You learn more about specifics here).

What should you do?

What that “Golden Rule” of search engine optimization says is true. If you’re not employing any unethical, black hat search engine optimization techniques, then your website is not likely to suffer from Google updates.

 

  • Backlinking is critical if you are trying to increase visibility for a website, especially if it is in a competitive space. However, backlinking needs to be done carefully and thoughtfully. The best way to approach your backlinking strategy is to pursue logical backlinks from credible websites.
  • Content is king – even in the search engine results pages. Write content for humans (after all, that’s likely your audience) and the search engine spiders will take notice. Go back and look at your copy to see if you can layer in a just a few words that will help your organic rankings, but don’t stuff your copy with buzz words. This is obvious, and is likely to hurt your rankings in the long term. Make sure to include natural keywords. Add in a few links to other credible websites.
  • Distribute press releases through credible online publishers and benefit from the backlinks you get through your PR. When you distribute press releases and create good news stories, you are naturally adding your keywords into organic search. You are also increasing your backlinks for credible sources that continuously have fresh, new content – something that Google loves.

So Google has a herd of animals stampeding through the SERPs. No sweat. The next time there is a new one on the horizon you’ll be ready. The bottom line is this – have a strategy around your search engine optimization plan, but make sure it is logical and humanistic.