Machine learning is already changing the way we optimize for search engines and it will inevitably develop in the next years too.
It is an ever-changing subject and if you have a website or online business you need to be on top of these changes.
Google’s Rank Brain algorithm is learning about SEO pretty fast but what do you need to analyze and adopt this new way of interacting online? It’s a hot topic that may change how you manage your SEO in the future.
What is machine learning?
Machine learning is a way to analyze data automatically using a type of analytical method. This artificial intelligence can learn about data patterns and make decisions with very little human guidance. Although machine learning has been around for a long time, it is recently becoming much faster to analyze and produce results from larger and larger volumes of data.
Google’s Rank Brain
Developed in 2015, Google’s Rank Brain is an algorithm learning artificial intelligence system which provides the user with more relevant search results. It works similarly to AdWords and was initially only applied to some searches, but is now applied to every search. Google is always updating and tweaking various parts of the business. But this is something that will affect most internet users. Whether that is those searching or those holding their own websites.
What does it do?
Rank Brain guesses from the word or phrase entered to find words or phrases that might have a similar meaning. Then these results are filtered accordingly.
This means data is handled in a completely different way that changes the way queries or keywords are used. The terms are sorted into word vectors, which are also called distributed representations. So words or phrases that are closest to each in terms of linguistic similarity are grouped together.
Rank Brain then tries to map this query into words or terms that are most likely to match the original search. The machine is actually trying to guess what people mean when they make a search and record and adapt the results. It gives the user a much better experience. Giving them what they want in a shorter time. This means less wading through websites before finding what is relevant to you.
So what does that mean for you?
Well, if you are trying to get your business or blog to rank higher then there is now more than just keywords to think about. Search Engine Optimization is now a little more complicated and you need to know how to optimize to make sure your website is shown in the right place at the right times. Your digital marketing campaign should include a strong SEO strategy following the new machine learning principles.
How can you adapt?
So it may not be as easy as it used to be to rank highly in search results. However, you are more likely to be featured when your content is very relevant to the search terms used. You need to get into the minds of those people who will find what they want on your website. Think about what they will be searching for and what terms they will use.
It may not be as straightforward as it used to be but there are still some things you can do to boost your rankings. Here are a few ways you can adapt to this new machine learning SEO.
1. Make your snippets count
Titles, URLs and meta descriptions are all important SEO factors. They are the first pieces of information looked at when generating search results.
The subject should be clear, concise and easy to understand. Making it clear what your page, post or website is all about will direct the results in your favour.
The click-through rates are important when it comes to ranking rather than content length, the number of backlinks and so on. But what does that mean for you if your click-through rates are not great? It means that it is really important that you answer potential search terms in your titles and descriptions. And of course, following that up with useful relevant content for the end user.
Make and develop your content in a way that targets featured snippet positions in search results. The more concise information you have in your snippet, that also answers questions, the better.
2. Think about your keywords
You should always have a clear message to convey and your keywords should reflect this. However, you should also include other words associated with your keywords as these are considered by Google when returning search results.
It’s about making sure your keywords are very relevant to the content of the whole page or post. You also need to use these words in your descriptions, image tags and so on. But when doing so make sure it makes sense to a person who reads it rather than adapting for SEO.
Google is looking at the topic behind the keyword rather than the keyword itself. Pages will rank organically higher when the content answers a search query first time, preventing users from bouncing back to search results again and again.
3. Write in the correct tone
Content is still the most important factor when looking at SEO. It is even more essential now than ever to write engaging content that is easy to read and relevant to your users.
Be conversational in your language and use easy to read sentences. This will not only keep your readers engaged but it will also be picked up by Google too.
Write like you are speaking to a human and not a machine. A mistake is to write for a search engine and not for your end user. Make sure your keywords make sense and fit well into the body of your writing.
You should answer questions in your content. Think about what the reader would like to know and how they would search for this. Then answer these queries within the body of your text under a clear and relevant heading.
Also, make it easy to read. Once you have engaged a person into clicking onto your website, you want to keep them there.
4. Keep your site up to date
If you don’t update your website regularly then your page rankings will slide. Your content should be fresh and up to date. The information you are sharing needs to be relevant to today’s readers. If you just let your website sit there then others with new content will surpass you in search rankings.
Even if you are a niche site you should follow up with blog posts or new pictures to update and freshen the website. Improving the visual appearance of your site and modernizing the layout and following trends such as including infographics and using good quality pictures will all help.
New engaging content will show the search engines your site is not dormant and has good information for the users.
Even if your website is not a blog as such, it is a good idea to feature a blog option which can keep the whole website updated regularly.
5. Do your research
Look at other websites that Google recognizes as authoritative and analyze what they do. Mimicking some of these aspects on your own domain will help you to learn how to craft your own content to rank highly.
Using the website structure of a well-known site will help you to be more visible in search results on your topic. Look at the snippets, URLs and how they entice and engage the readers. Remember that your topic needs to be clear and structure sound, otherwise you will resemble spam sites which have a very low ranking.
Telltale signs of a spam site include lots of different topics making it unclear of the overall point of the website. A basic layout or a layout similar to known spam sites will also reduce your pages ranking. In essence, you need to mimic the sites you aspire to be like and avoid being like the ones that will reduce your credibility. Make your SEO less spammy and you will see the results.
How will you adapt your SEO strategy?
In the world of the internet, nothing stays the same for too long and you must keep up to date to avoid being left behind. Staying ahead of the game means you are more likely to succeed. There are many ways to promote your blog or website, but you need to get the organic traffic too. This can only be achieved by being SEO savvy and understanding the ranking factors for your blog or website topic.
Remember to make sure your content is readable, relevant and give your users and customers the answers that they want. Follow these five tips and you will be well on your way to improving your page rankings and enjoying more website traffic.
Guest author: Kostas Chiotis is the founder and head of outreach of Iris Signals