Google Updates

Goodbye Keyword Research…

For those SEOs in the audience, you are likely aware of the sad news, but for those just getting started or unaware, Google has killed the keyword planner used by so many in their keyword estimations, research, and planning. Okay, “killed” is a bit strong but damn it, we need some inside data, GOOGLE!   What Actually Changed Well, data is still being provided in Google Keyword Planner, but the keyword data isn’t isolated to exact-match of the keyword(s) entered anymore. In a RankBrain world, relevance matters, so the keyword planner now offers a consolidated search volume for similar, variations, and close synonyms of keywords. This update went into practice at the end of June, beginning of July. Over the course of the month, some users also experienced error messages stating: To use Keyword Planner, you need to have at least one active campaign. If you have an active campaign and are still seeing this message, try reloading Keyword Planner in a few minutes. Although, Google contradicted this messaging when users responded and questioned Google on social media. @recalibrate@jenstar@rustybrick@pedrodias To clarify, you do not need an active campaign to use the Keyword Planner. (2) — Google AdWords (@adwords) June 27, 2016 But I digress. The keyword planner, when using it to gather keyword data and find new keywords, the system gives the same volume for search variants. RankBrain does the same thing from an organic search perspective; hence the expected correlation between the two. Here is the example all us SEOs are using (usually just SEO vs Search Engine Optimization): What should be noted in the example above is that the competition, bid, and other segments appear to still align with specific keywords.   The Good, The Bad, and The Workaround Is this a sign that [not provided] is coming to Adwords too?! Will Google limit the number of keywords users can evaluate? Will we feeble marketers need to sacrifice young animals to obtain data from the Google gods? No, no, and hopefully not. That isn’t to say that we know everything Google has planned or up their sleeves but indications are that this change aligns well with organic search; where ads are meant to appear. Remember, Google isn’t a charity and the planner is meant to be used for paid media efforts–with Google. Although we love the tool and use it in a number of areas, not just for Adwords campaigns, that is its purpose. We can’t fault Google for aligning their tools together. So, how do you get some sweet, specific keyword average search volumes? Currently, the workaround is to use the budget planner (within the keyword tool) to get that data. In the “Plan your budget and get forecasts” block, you can specify the match type, targeting, and parameters. From there, the tool will provide daily forecast for the keywords entered. Depending on the match type, CPC bid, and budget you will see details for the clicks, impressions, cost, CTR, average CPC, and average position. In previous posts, we talked about pricing SEO, well, here is how you do some of that work. Make sure the move the selector to the plateau on the chart and open up the keyword group to see the specifics. Again, this update to the keyword planner and this workaround align well with Google’s strategy for organic search quality and personalization along with connecting paid media deeper to the overall strategy and search experience.   The Wrapper The purpose of Google’s Keyword Planner is to help marketers market things. They (Google) wouldn’t want to hurt their bottomline by taking away the ability...

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RankBrain: An investigation of a Search AI

RankBrain. It sounds like some snake oil concoction an SEO thought up to help sell the local mom and pop shops on SEO. But, it’s not. It is actually one of the top ranking factors for Google. It’s existence was announced in October of last year, although the patent was submitted in 2012. So, what exactly is “RankBrain” and what does it do? RankBrain is officially considered an artificial intelligence system. Reason being is that it “naturally” evolves; growing in “intelligence” as time passes and it accepts search data. What search data you say? Your search data. Online search is considered natural and organic when users perform search actions without other input and as a way to find answers to their questions (queries). RankBrain’s intelligence is focused on evaluating the way organic search is being used, semantic web activity, events, and much more. So there are no worries about this AI developing sentience and enslaving us all. RankBrain is an artificial intelligence program, not a ‘true’ AI in the traditional Terminator or I, Robot sense. According to the actual patent, RankBrain focuses on contextual matching and substitution data to help improve the search results. What this means to the layman is that Google search results will “seem” more intelligent as it produces results that may include organic (and some paid results) that may not align directly to the query. Now, that doesn’t mean RankBrain replaces search results; it is one of the more than 200 search ranking signals used by the search engine. Even more so, it is one of the top three. The other two most important Google ranking factors? Content (duh) and links (double duh). Search Engine Watch pointed out that RankBrain fills in a need that exists around live updates. Content is and has always been and will likely going to always be, king. Links provide signals of importance, authority, and credibility of said content. But, what about live actions and search activity in connection to the content and links? Hello RankBrain! 15% of all queries completed each day are new. Furthermore, Search Engine Land outlined that Google processes 3 billion searches each day. With that and the 15% means 450 million entirely unique searches are created daily! Forbes‘ contributor and SEO Jayson DeMers offered a great outline of what RankBrain is NOT: Not the ‘new’ Knowledge Graph. (KG is a AIP too, but focused on offering definitions and details on the query) This isn’t an algorithm change or update. RankBrain isn’t a new type of search. It impacts what shows in the results. RankBrain isn’t a robot. It is really just mathematical equations working together. I think of it like compound interest, as time goes on and the calculations are completed, the completed calculations impact all future computations. Will there be more announced algo changes? In the past, Google would have to internally test updates, develop the change, then push the change live. This is where we got some of our fun names like Penguin, Panda, and Hummingbird to name the latest. Those days are over (or deprecated for the techies in the crowd). Now, if there are any changes to the algorithm, they will likely come in the form of live updates or “bolt on’s” to the current algorithm. That isn’t to say Google won’t update the core like when they switched to “Caffeine” in 2010 and “Hummingbird” in 2014. The Wrapper You’ve probably done a search or two since RankBrain was released on Google. Any changes to the SERP aren’t being completed by some robot locked in a closet. Design isn’t RankBrain’s forte, search is. Verve Developments offered some great examples of what RankBrain “physically” does to...

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Google & Yahoo working on a 3-Year Deal

Today, during a call with investors about earnings, the Yahoo management team presented the investors with a bit of a confidence booster in news of a partnership with Google. According to the press release containing details on Yahoo’s business highlights: In October, the Company reached an agreement with Google that provides Yahoo with additional flexibility to choose among suppliers of search results and ads. Google’s offerings complement the search services provided by Microsoft, which remains a strong partner, as well as Yahoo’s own search technologies and ad products. Yahoo & Google Partnership History You may have forgotten, but this isn’t the first time the two search giants joined hands. The first came in 2000 when Google won the partnership when Yahoo moved away from Inktomi. Yahoo’s search results have rarely been “Yahoo” search results, often being supplied or managed by a provider. In many of these deals, Yahoo not only benefits from the service of a respected search platform but in the deal of 2000, Yahoo gained shares of Google, that was privately-held at the time. Wonder what those stakes look like today?! During the deal that lasted from 2000 to 2004, Google search results were mixed with Yahoo searches, creating a blend that Yahoo’s algorithm manages. Although Yahoo didn’t have a very large market share at the time (or now) they didn’t care and in the renewal of the Google deal in 2001, the main change was in the Yahoo directory, when it went from being a free platform to a $299 paid system. Since then, Yahoo has connected with Yext for business listing. It’s kind of their strategy, to just generate revenue through partners and businesses that believe in Yahoo. If you’re a statephile, you can check out Danny Sullivan’s article on the old partnership. This first partnership lasted until February 2004, at which time Yahoo returned to using it’s on algorithm and technology for search results and ad delivery. What should be noted is that each geographical area, such as the UK and Japan, have their own versions of the search results. Part of a global or multilangual optimization strategy involves ensure use of language support for traffic from different locations. You may have seen URLs containing .eu, .au, .fr, or others. In 2010, Yahoo Japan, chose to use Google technology, powering 90 percent of web searches, instead of following the U.S. based Yahoo that elected to use Microsoft Bing in 2010 (NY Times). Chief Executive of Yahoo Japan Masahiro Inoue was quoted as saying, “At the present time, we feel there are quite a few areas where Microsoft is not yet ready, Google is one step ahead in Japanese-language services.” Nuances of the Current Deal In this 2015 deal, Google isn’t taking over the results just augmenting the results. After signing a 10-year deal with Microsoft Bing in April 2015, that mirrored the one from 2010, Yahoo had renegotiated the rights to partnerships and the ability to use other technologies in the results, aside from Bing’s. As reported by Vindu Goel in July of this year, “Under the revised deal, Yahoo can use its own search technology or that of other providers for up to 49 percent of its search results.” What this really means is that Bing is used for 51% of all Yahoo search results. The other 49% is up to Yahoo to fill in. That means it can be Yahoo, Google, Blekko, you name it. This deal and many others with Yahoo focus on ad revenue more than the search results. And that ladies and gentlemen is part of the reason why...

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Google FIBER, Nashville!

Google is making a big announcement today concerning Google Fiber and it’s introduction to Nashville proper. If you aren’t familiar with Google Fiber, let me enlighten you. Google Fiber is the search giants expansion into the ISP field in the form of low-cost, high-speed Internet service. Fiber focuses on Internet and TV services, connected to the Google Play store, Google+ and Google Drive. Fiber is currently only available in certain cities. Unfortunately, C.SEO‘s Spring Hill location is out, but the satellite office is in Nashville, so, still winning! As Google expands, they make a big hoopla around each new city. And expectantly so with broadband speeds in the 1000 Mbps range. That is about 100x the speed of basic services currently available in most locations. To view a list of current cities and Google’s plan for expansion, visit: https://fiber.google.com/newcities/.   But, back to Nash Vegas! The introduction of Google Fiber will result in new jobs, faster Internet services, and something the community has been looking for; alternatives to Comcast, Charter Communications, and Dish Network. Healthy corporate competition never hurts consumers… well not always, and not in this case. With Google Fiber jumping into the fray, the ISPs will be forced to reduce costs, improve service, or alter there business models where Internet services are concerned.   The Wrapper Google Fiber in Nashville is a good thing. Want to see if you will be able to get in on the action? There are only a few areas that will start off with high-speed Internet by Google. According to maps posted on Erichsen Group’s website, for the latest round of Fiber cities (Portland, OR | Atlanta, GA | Raleigh-Durham / Charlotte, NC | Nashville, TN) the areas in Tennessee that will be privy to the next evolution of Internet service are: Springfield, Hendersonville, Downtown Nashville, Brentwood, La Vergne, parts of Smyrna, Murfreesboro (lucky MTSU), and Franklin. Check to see if your neighborhood is getting upgraded by visiting https://fiber.google.com/cities/nashville/home/ and clicking “Check Address” at the top. If you’re one of the lucky ones, Welcome to the...

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Penguin 3.0 Is Here!

The last Penguin update occurred in October of 2013. We saw some signals a new update of Google’s link quality component of the algorithm was coming. Before most Google updates are implemented, there are changes that happen with the SERPs, fluctuations in the number of search impressions, link changes in Google Webmaster Tools (GWT), and a few other signals. As of October 21st, Penguin 3.0 is being released, worldwide. It should impact 1% of all US English queries according to Pierre Far of Google UK. The roll out will last several weeks as it is implemented across all of Google’s search platform.     Although this Penguin update is given a full version number, it is being referred to as a refresh; only it is a refresh on a global scale. Most SEOs believe this refresh is focused on determining the value of links in guest posts and blog networks to a further extent than the first iterations of the update. However, the focus was to also help sites doing well in the link-building category a slight boost in search visibility. The Wrapper In the Penguin’s last update, several websites were hit with penalties and Google offered a link disavow tool to help webmasters communicate with Google concerning links the website owner does not endorse. Penguin’s latest update shouldn’t impact most businesses or websites that are not pursing paid links, spam links, advertorials, link networks or other links that violate Google’s quality...

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Panda 4.1

Content is built to help inform and educate users. Google’s algorithm handles multiple areas focused on quality and content. To ensure the search results are as relevant as possible, the Google algorithm has several components that focus on separate values. Panda is aimed at identifying low-quality content. The latest update to Panda, released on September 25 and rolled out over the span of 2-3 weeks, is designed to help SMBs and their sites. This update, like others, only affects certain queries. “Depending on the locale, around 3-5% of queries are affected.” According to Pierre Far. Furthermore, Pierre said, “Panda identify low-quality content more precisely. This results in a greater diversity of high-quality small- and medium-sized sites ranking higher, which is nice.” The latest version of Panda (4.0) was released in May of 2014. Websites with low-quality content and content that is overly duplicated were impacted by the release of 4.0. Popular websites PRWeb and PRNewswire were impacted, losing up to 70% of their search engine traffic according to Forbes. That original release (Panda 4.0) affected about 7.5% of all English queries by comparison.   The Wrapper What can be taken from this latest Panda version and Pierre’s comments is that the algorithm has been further refined to improve the way content is evaluated. Websites that offer little unique or informative content may find themselves loosing visibility; while small businesses with good localized content may see a slight increase in search...

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