Google’s RankBrain – Is It Really That New?

I came across an article about Google making a big announcement about something called ‘RankBrain’, which is stated to be all about ‘machine learning’, or the process by which a computer program ‘learns’ what is the right and wrong way to ‘do things’.

Googles RankBrain
Public Domain from pixabay

This sort of thing is not new at all, computer devices that can learn the route through a maze being one of them. As soon as the recognise the ‘maze’ they can quickly navigate their way through.

Google have been using this sort of system for years in one form or another anyway. Take the way in which the huge test they ran on sites around the world. In this test, they rated sites for ‘usefulness’ and at the same time checked and noted certain information about the site’s pages.

Then later, they checked to see if there was any correlation between the sites rated as ‘not very useful’, like the way the things like the Meta Title were used.

It was no surprise when they found that the ‘poor’ sites demonstrated a lack of details in some areas, and using this data could therefore, with some certainty, deduce how useful a site is likely to be simply by comparing it with a list of characteristics that the ‘poor’ sites demonstrated.

This is machine learning, but it seems that the new system will be taking things one step further. At the moment you only see the sites that are marked  well ‘out of 10’, the really poor ones not getting (or even been considered for) a ranking.

But with the new algorithm, more sites may be considered when it comes to matching search terms with sites, OR, it could be that by learning what sites are best received for any phrase (that is the visitor does not bounce back to the listings after visiting a site) they can in future list sites in a better way.

Rats in Google’s Maze

However, if it is the latter, then even this is not new, Google have for some time been using its users as ‘rats in a maze’.

The process is really quite simple, if vast (Google translates 3.5billion searches a day) and goes like this:-

(1) Google have already matched sites to phrases to some degree / have a method where using current data they can return a list of sites (very quickly) for any search term.

Users are thus presented with a list of sites to choose from for any search term. This will be subtly different because of ‘personalisation’ and Factor X – this being the way in which Google include new sites every now and then to test users reaction. This Factor X, is important for (3).

(2) Google then sees what people click on from the listings. If a site/page does not get any or few clicks (poor Click Through Ratio CTR%) it may be removed from the listings for certain terms. However, if it does get clicks, Google then checks to see if people ‘bounce’ back to Google to try another site.

(3) If they bounce back in enough numbers, Google ‘knows’ that the site is not a good match for that phrase. Good matched are allowed to remain in the listings, bad ones are removed. This is why the addition of some new sites in the listings is important, as it widens the pool of data and helps Google to ‘understand’ what is ‘behind’ a users search term, why it is being used, this in turn being deduced from what seems to satisfy the request….

Of course this takes time, many 1,000’s of searches being required before any decision can be made. Google however, does have the time and the resources to do this and the entire process must be considered to be a form of ‘machine learning’, Google ‘learning’ to tell what is a good match and what is not.

All of this means that the RankBrain may not be that new after all?

The article that sparked off mine is included in part below. For the full article on Google’s RankBrain please click the link.

All About The New Google RankBrain Algorithm

Google’s using a machine learning technology called RankBrain to help deliver its search results.

Here’s what’s we know about it so far.

Yesterday, news emerged that Google was using a machine-learning artificial intelligence system called “RankBrain” to help sort through its search results.

Wondering how that works and fits in with Google’s overall ranking system? Here’s what we know about RankBrain.

The information covered below comes from three sources. First, the Bloomberg story that broke the news about RankBrain yesterday (see also our write-up of it). Second, additional information that Google has now provided directly to Search Engine Land. Third, our own knowledge and best assumptions in places where Google isn’t providing answers. We’ll make clear where any of these sources are used, when deemed necessary, apart from general background information.

What Is RankBrain?

RankBrain is Google’s name for a machine-learning artificial intelligence system that’s used to help process its search results, as was reported by Bloomberg and also confirmed to us by Google.

What Is Machine Learning?

Machine learning is where a computer teaches itself how to do something, rather than being taught by humans or following detailed programming.

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

True artificial intelligence, or AI for short, is where a computer can be as smart as a human being, at least in the sense of acquiring knowledge both from being taught and from building on what it knows and making new connections.

True AI exists only in science fiction novels, of course. In practice, AI is used to refer to computer systems that are designed to learn and make connections.

How’s AI different from machine learning? In terms of RankBrain, it seems to us they’re fairly synonymous. You may hear them both used interchangeably, or you may hear machine learning used to describe the type of artificial intelligence approach being employed.

So RankBrain Is The New Way Google Ranks Search Results?

No. RankBrain is part of Google’s overall search “algorithm,” a computer program that’s used to sort through the billions of pages it knows about and find the ones deemed most relevant for particular queries.

What’s The Name Of Google’s Search Algorithm?

It’s called Hummingbird, as we reported in the past. For years, the overall algorithm didn’t have a formal name. But in the middle of 2013, Google overhauled that algorithm and gave it a name, Hummingbird.

So RankBrain Is Part Of Google’s Hummingbird Search Algorithm?

That’s our understanding. Hummingbird is the overall search algorithm, just like a car has an overall engine in it. The engine itself may be made up of various parts, such as an oil filter, a fuel pump, a radiator and so on. In the same way, Hummingbird encompasses various parts, with RankBrain being one of the newest.

In particular, we know RankBrain is part of the overall Hummingbird algorithm because the Bloomberg article makes clear that RankBrain doesn’t handle all searches, as only the overall algorithm would.

Hummingbird also contains other parts with names familiar to those in the SEO space, such as Panda, Penguin and Payday designed to fight spam, Pigeon designed to improve local results, Top Heavy designed to demote ad-heavy pages, Mobile Friendly designed to reward mobile-friendly pages and Pirate designed to fight copyright infringement.

I Thought The Google Algorithm Was Called “PageRank”

PageRank is part of the overall Hummingbird algorithm that covers a specific way of giving pages credit based on the links from other pages pointing at them.

PageRank is special because it’s the first name that Google ever gave to one of the parts of its ranking algorithm, way back at the time the search engine began in 1998.

SEO Tips That Will Give Your Site A Boost


Content marketing and building links are incredibly different subjects, however, there are indeed ways by which you can use 1 for the development of the other. Basically, articles or blog posts marketing are the reason you are willing to make use of link-building strategies.

Listed here are several ways through which it is possible to build links by making use of content marketing:

Guest Posting: Guest blog websites draw in visitors. However, it is important to reach for high quality written content that happen to be packed with information and facts appropriate for your niche. This will help to appeal to viewers and also build links to your site.

Press Releases: Important updates and information and facts about your business could be publicized by making use of press releases. They are effective at obtaining the focus of media and bloggers therefore you might obtain backlinks from influential organizations and web sites.

Interviews: Among the best ways to spread a word is as simple as carrying out interviews. Either in-person or by telephone or e-mail, an audience conducted can help you to develop connections that will ultimately aid your objective. You can increase your network and stay involved with important industry experts.

Establishing Faulty Links: Making use of Search engine optimization tools and checkers you can easily verify if there are any faulty backlinks in any domains that contain links to your own website. Then you may point it out to the individual site owners and suggest them a web link of your website to replace the damaged links.

Focussing on Infographics: many top SEO experts make use of Infographics to boost promotion. Despite the fact that these are alone not sufficient, however, content rich pieces along with essential keywords and phrases tagged together with visual representations have the power to achieve momentum.

Creating Guides: Content is the most important feature of an internet site that draws audience. Guides, which are a natural part of content, are specialist write-ups that appreciate their struggles and give your visitors a knowledge or how-to for their difficulties.

Connect to Your Community: Answering your followers in the feedback and emails can certainly make your website well-liked by the audience not to mention help obtain their trust.

Getting Listed on Directories: Detailing your business on a local website directory will help obtain links. It is important that your company name and contact details are consistent in all the directories in which they are submitted.

The aforementioned techniques are enough to take your organization to a level where you will find many audiences visiting your site. If carried out properly, these could be boons for advertising your brand and you will experience steep development and popularity.



Gone are the days when search engine optimization was enough to land your website onto Google’s good graces.

Now you must to add content marketing to your arsenal of digital marketing tool if you want to gain search engines’ approval and ultimately win the heart of online users.

Given the important role content marketing now plays in the success of online business, it’s time that SEO ties the knot with content marketing.

The two digital marketing tools that were once viewed as separate entities are now an inseparable couple, promising to inch businesses closer to the proverbial “overnight success. ”The amazing duo can greatly help your online business reach the pinnacle of success and outwit your competitors.

Here are 10 ways you can ensure that the two digital marketing tools work in harmony:

1. Set common goals.

Setting common goals is the first step to make SEO and content marketing work together to bring additional revenues.

Ask yourself what activities overlap between the two digital marketing techniques. Is it increased online traffic, rankings or links? How can you align the activities to achieve common goals?

The answers to these and other similar questions will give you a starting point in creating an integrated SEO and content marketing strategy with clear and focused goals and strong communication.

2. Establish key performance indicators.

Another way to optimize synergy between SEO and Content Marketing is to establish key KPIs that will track performance, and ensure that it is on track for achieving common goals.

These KPIs include content sharing, links to content, online user engagement, call-to-action conversion rates and several others.

3. Understand your target audience.

Understanding your audience is the key part of an SEO and content marketing strategy. Create personas of the target audience and develop a unique digital marketing strategy for each group. The personas can be based on age, location, gender, hobbies or interests.

Don’t undertake any digital marketing activity without considering what your audience wants, and also what you want them to do in return of fulfilling their demand.

4. Create SEO-optimized content.

Google places great emphasis on quality content. You can make the content more relevant for the search engine by incorporating high-impression keywords. Optimizing the content in this way will allow your Web pages to become visible to online users by appearing on the search results.

Avoid overstuffing keywords into website content. In order to play it safe, limit the keyword density to 1 percent or less. This will ensure that your site doesn’t get penalized by the search engine, decreasing online traffic.

5. Research high-impression and relevant keywords.

Include high impression and relevant keywords in the website. Each keyword that you select should be researched properly using online tools such as Google Planner, Google Trend, Word Stream and other similar tools.

Optimizing your content in this way will ensure that your online content is able to attract maximum number of online users.

6. Attract online consumers through link building.

Another way you can make SEO and content marketing work together is through link building. Link building is a pure SEO strategy that results in distribution of online content to a large number of targeted, qualified audiences. You can greatly increase your content’s effectiveness through these efforts.

The links pointing to the published online content is placed on various high authority and high page ranked sites. These sites attract thousands of online visitors that can be diverted to your site by placing targeted links on the site they first visited.

Enlist SEO professionals to enhance your link building strategy. Here are some reputed SEO companies, based on user reviews:

7. Focus on internal link building.

Internal link building works wonders in increasing your website’s ranking along with your published content. Moreover, creating internal links will also result in improved user experience due to easy navigation around the site.

Read more:

What is Unique Content and Why Is It Important?

When it comes to getting better rankings you will hear all SEO’s saying, “you need Good Unique Content as that is what Google wants now“. But what does this really mean?

Many have taken this to mean that all sites have to do is to create copy which is not duplicated somewhere else on the web and is also a good read, using proper English throughout.

Can Google Really Tell What is Good?

When you think of it, that should (and maybe is) enough for Google in that their systems however powerful, cannot really deduce what is ‘good’ and ‘useful’ content, that is still really a job only a human can do.

So, the first step is to write some good copy, that is not itself used anywhere else and make it is over 1,000 words long (that seems to be lowest level that Google seems to ‘like’). If you can then include some images and if possible video on the page and link out to a high power site (one in the same niche / market area), one that provides some ‘back up’ to the page, i.e. a page that provides the facts and figures referred to, being the best.

You will then need some links in to the page, but before we come to that, we need to work out why links are needed?

When Considering SEO You Have to Think Like a Computer

Here you have to start thinking like a computer, looking at things logically and asking yourself the question, “If I was a computer what would I look for if I was trying to decide if this page was any good or not?”

We have seen above that Google checks the words on the page, but that does not give it any idea about the real value of the content, only humans can do that, and as far as Google is concerned, this is signified by a page having been shared, liked, linked to or otherwise mentioned by others on the Web.

Finally, it seems that Google then, being a lot cleverer than it used to be, now also checks to see how many visits a page / site gets, this for the simple reason that a site/page cannot get lots of links or mentions if it has not been visited in the first place. Whilst this is not strictly true ( a site can get a lot of links from a Press Release without a single visitor going to a page) it is an indication that all is how it should be and that the site/page has not been subject to (too much) manipulation in SEO terms.

As you can see, there is a lot more than first comes to mind when considering what you should add to your website…

To read more on the subject of what makes unique content please click the link.

Modern criteria for content

So let’s start by talking about our modern criteria for content, and I have a slide that I like to show a lot that kind of displays this, and many other folks in the field have as well. So if I’m going to be producing content, I need to meet these five criteria.

One of a kind

One of a kind is basically what we meant when we said old unique content, meaning that the engines have never seen those words and phrases and numbers and visuals and whatever in that order on a page on the web previously. It’s been written for the first time, produced and published for the first time. Therefore, it is one of a kind, doesn’t appear elsewhere.


Relevant meaning it contains content that both searchers and engines interpret as on topic to that searcher’s query or their intent. Sometimes you can be on topic to the query, meaning you’ve used the words and the phrases that the searcher used, and not be on topic to their intent. What did they actually want to get out of the search? What question are they trying to answer? What information are you trying to get?


This one’s pretty obvious. You should resolve the searcher’s query in a useful, efficient manner. That should be a page that does the job that they’re hoping that that content is going to do.

Uniquely valuable

This is the one we’re going to be talking about today, and what we mean here is provides information that’s unavailable or hard to get elsewhere — I’m going to dive into that a little bit more —

Great user experience

This means it’s easy and pleasurable to consume anywhere on any device.

You meet these criteria with your content and you’ve really got something when it comes to a content marketing strategy or when it comes to content you’re producing for SEO. This is a pretty solid checklist that I think you can rely on.

Unique value and you (and your website)

The challenge is this one. Uniquely valuable has been a really hard concept for people to wrap their heads around, and so let’s dig in a little more on what we mean when we say “unique value.”

So these are kind of the three common criteria that we mean when we say “unique value,” and I’m actually going to show some examples as well.

1) Massive upgrade in aggregation, accessibility and design

The first one is a massive upgrade versus what’s already available on the web in aggregation, accessibility, and/or design. Meaning you should have someone who views that content say, “Wow. You know, I’ve seen this material presented before, but never presented so well, never so understandable and accessible. I really like this resource because of how well aggregated, how accessible, how well designed this resource is.”

Good examples, there’s a blog post from the website Wait But Why on the Fermi Paradox, which is sort of a scientific astrophysics, “why are we alone in the universe” paradox concept, and they do a brilliant job of visualizing and explaining the paradox and all of the potential scenarios behind it. It’s so much fun to read. It’s so enjoyable. I’ve read about the Fermi Paradox many times and never been as entranced as I was as when I read this piece from Wait But Why. It really was that experience that says, “Wow, I’ve seen this before, but never like this.”

Another great site that does pure aggregation, but they provide incredible value is actually a search engine, a visual search engine that I love called Not particularly easy to spell, but you do searches for things like letter press or for emotional ideas, like anger, and you just find phenomenal visual content. It’s an aggregation of a bunch of different websites that show design and visual content in a search interface that’s accessible, that shows all the images in there, and you can scroll through them and it’s very nicely collected. It’s aggregated in the best way I’ve ever seen that information aggregated, therefore, providing unique value. Unfortunately, since it’s a search engine, it’s not actually going to be indexed by Google, but still tremendously good content marketing.

2) Information that is available nowhere else

Number two is information that’s available nowhere else. When I say “information,” I don’t mean content. I don’t mean words and phrases. I don’t mean it’s one-of-a-kind in that if I were to go copy and paste a sentence fragment or a paragraph and plug it into Google, that I wouldn’t find that sentence or that paragraph elsewhere. I mean unique information, information that, even if it were written about thousands of different ways, I couldn’t find it anywhere else on the web. You want your visitor to have experience of, “Wow, without this site I never would have found the answers I sought.” It’s not that, “Oh, this sentence is unique to all the other sentences that have been written about this topic.” It’s, “Ah-ha this information was never available until now.”

Some of my favorite examples of that — Walk Score. Walk Score is a site that took data that was out there and they basically put it together into a scoring function. So they said, “Hey, in this ocean beach neighborhood in San Diego, there are this many bars and restaurants, grocery stores, banks, pharmacies. The walkability of that neighborhood, therefore, based on the businesses and on the sidewalks and on the traffic and all these other things, the Walk Score out of 100 is therefore 74.” I don’t know what it actually is. Then you can compare and contrast that to, say, the Hillcrest neighborhood in San Diego, where the Walk Score is 88 because it has a far greater density of all those things that people, who are looking for walkability of neighborhoods, are seeking. If you’re moving somewhere or you’re considering staying somewhere downtown, in area to visit for vacation, this is amazing. What an incredible resource, and because of that Walk Score has become hugely popular and is part of many, many real estate websites and visitor and tourism focused websites and all that kind of stuff.

Another good example, blog posts that provide information that was previously unavailable anywhere else. In our industry I actually really like this example from Conductor. Conductor, as you might know, is an enterprise SEO software company, and they put together a phenomenal blog post comparing which portions of direct traffic are almost certainly actually organic, and they collected a bunch of anonymized data from their platform and assembled that so that we could all see, “Oh, yeah, look at that. Sixty percent of what’s getting counted as direct in a lot of these websites, at least on average, is probably coming from organic search or dark social and those kinds of things, and that credit should go to the marketers who acquire that traffic.” Fascinating stuff. Unique information, couldn’t find that elsewhere.

3) Content presented with a massively differentiated voice or style

The third and final one that I’ll talk about is content that’s presented with a massively differentiated voice or style. So this is not necessarily you’ve aggregated information that was previously unavailable or you’ve made it more accessible or you’ve designed it in a way to make it remarkable. It’s not necessarily information available nowhere else. It’s really more about the writer or the artist behind the content creation, and content creators, the great ones, have some artistry to their work. You’re trying to create in your visitors this impression of like, “I’ve seen stuff about this before, but never in a way that emotionally resonated with me like this does.” Think about the experience that you have of reading a phenomenal book about a topic versus just reading the Wikipedia entry.

The information might be the same, but there are miles of difference in the artistry behind it and the emotional resonance it can create.

Why Linking Is So Important In Any SEO Strategy

In order to achieve success in the organic searches, there are some rules that should be followed. Many people think that SEO is about submitting as much content as they can or they haven’t a clue and it’s all jiggery pokery.

The first think you need to do, is to take a good look at your website. Your website is the first point of call for many customers and if it doesn’t tell them much or isn’t well laid out, they won’t hang around, they will go off to one of your competitors. Make sure that your site has relevant, high quality unique content that provides information that the visitor wants. It is important that you have a wide selection of relevant keywords interspersed in the text and that all your tags contain at least 1 relevant keyword. Every page on your website needs to have a suitable title that reflects what the page is about.

Take a good look at the sort of phrases that people are using when they make a search for the products or services you sell. This is a significant factor and it is why you must do a thorough keyword research project before you implement your SEO strategy. If you are using keywords and key phrases that people are using when they perform a search, you are more likely to appear in the search results.

Linking is still very important and the number of links to relevant highly rated sites is more important than ever today. The number of inbound links your site has will be a factor in its ranking on the search engines. If you compare your site to a celebrity, the more you are talked about, the more popular you become. When the people talking about you are important, this means that some of that importance rubs off onto you. The number of important websites that refer to your site is what determines how important the search engines consider it to be.

The quantity or inbound links isn’t enough to get you noticed, the links have to be good quality. What this means is that the sites containing links to your site, need to be relevant to your niche and be important themselves. They need to rank as highly or higher than yours on the search engines. As such, these links are very valuable.

Social media has its place, after all, if you have written a piece for your blog and millions of people are liking and sharing it, then it must be good. The think with social media is that it does require work and it is only one part of an SEO strategy, it cannot be the only thing you do to promote your business.

Video is a becoming more popular and businesses should consider making use of it as another string to their bow. The videos can be as serious or light hearted as you want however, they must be in keeping with the type of business you run. It would not be appropriate for a serious business to be producing silly videos, this does not mean that they can’t show the lighter side of that business but anyone looking for those particular services are probably wanting to see something informative and straightforward.

There are many facets to SEO and lots of people think that they can beat the search engines by taking short cuts, this will I’m afraid only lead to disaster. There are no shortcuts, this is why Google has developed and continues to fine tune its algorithms.


Landing high-quality backlinks from within your local community to aid your SEO effort is an important consideration for any small business, and a topic I’ve written about before. But the problem is, many local business owners assume all links are created equal, and that’s not the case at all.

In fact, this misconception often leads businesses to SEO firms that deliver what those businesses initially wanted — links — but in the long run the low quality and spammy links they receive cause more harm than good.

When local business owners receive a $500 monthly quote from one SEO consultant and a $2,000 monthly quote from another, the difference may seem to be $1,500 — but more is at stake here, because there aren’t any push-button solutions. What’s needed is a combination of outreach and relationship-building, and this takes time as well as experience.

So, to secure high-quality links, even with a limited budget, first understand what a high-quality link is by targeting backlinks with the following characteristics:

  • They’ll be seen by potential customers and therefore drive targeted referral traffic back to your website.
  • They have high-quality metrics, which will help increase your website’s authority.
  • They help improve your company’s image — so seek only link opportunities from websites you want your business to be associated with.

Now, here are five sources of links that are of high quality for your local SEO effort — and valuable as such, because links are the most influential ranking factor in Google’s algorithm.

1. The Better Business Bureau

This is a link any local business can acquire, as long as it meets the requirements to be an accredited member of your local BBB. A regular BBB listing doesn’t include an outbound link in the listing, while an accredited one does.

Even though there is an annual fee for that status, the benefits exceed just links. A coaching client told me, “I don’t really want to pay over $500 for a link,” but then I explained the additional benefits: credibility, trust and the reality that many consumers still make decisions based on whether or not a company is accredited by the BBB.

The added benefits beyond a link are particularly important for service-related businesses, such as plumbers, contractors, electricians and landscapers.

2. Local media

Local media outlets provide an abundant source of link opportunities. Imagine if you owned a local home-security company and your area was experiencing a large enough number of home invasions to warrant a news report. As soon as you see local media pick that story up, you should be contacting them with an offer to provide content for their website and information for their broadcast.

By staying connected with local media, you get a nice link and valuable branding and advertising for free. Even if you can’t watch the local news daily, give media websites a daily scan and be alert to what is happening in your area.

Another opportunity exists, beyond a breaking news story that relates to your business. Using the same home-security company example, you might consider contacting local media outlets and saying, “I own XYZ home security, and we just put together a 10-step home security checklist that I think would greatly benefit the community. Would you like me to send it over so you can put it on your website?” Most local outlets would take you up on the offer.

3. Local schools and nonprofits

Local schools and nonprofits often have sponsorship opportunities that highlight all donors on a dedicated page of their website. If you spend a couple of hours searching for these, you can typically uncover amazing link opportunities.

Find local school websites with Google, and use GuideStar to identify local charities and nonprofits to explore further. Even if a particular website doesn’t have a donor page, it never hurts to ask. A quick phone call or email can reveal opportunities that will cost as little as a $10-to-$25 donation.

4. Local partners and suppliers

The first thing I do when I work with a local business is to ask for a list of its suppliers. So, a restaurant’s list for example, will often include local produce companies, butchers and supply companies. These are established relationships — sometimes decades old — which makes the request easier, since it’s an established relationship. A simple, “Hey, since we have been working together for so long, we would love your listing us as one of your preferred buyers” can often be all that’s needed to secure a nice link.

Read more:

The World of SEO Can Be Confusing

The World of Search Engine Optimisation is one that can, at times, be very confusing, and some recent reading has made the situation that bit more difficult to understand.

The document in question was published by BuzzSumo and was a detailed piece of research into the relationship between the number of links and shares that content on the web gained.

SEO - A Confusing World

The reason for my ‘confusion’ is the fact that in SEO circles, it is a well published ‘fact’ that web pages get good rankings because they are not only ‘good quality’ but also because of the links and the shares they gain. This seemed totally logical to me and I have always striven to create useful articles for our clients and to ensure that they get links and shares (some of which I will confess to be ‘created’, this being a part of  the well established SEO practice of ‘priming the pump’).

BuzzSumo Research Quote:-

What we found is that the majority of content published on the internet is simply ignored when it comes to shares and links. The data suggests most content is simply not worthy of sharing or linking. It also suggests that people are very poor at amplifying content. It may sound harsh but it seems most people are wasting their time either producing poor content or failing to amplify it.

However, the data in this article suggests that the majority of content published on the web is simply ignored, at least when it comes to shares and links. If this is true and I have no reason to doubt the statistics, it would mean that a huge percentage of pages (75% if the data is correct) have no links to them at all, and only 50% having any Facebook shares or likes. Thus if Google is using these factors to rank pages, for these pages (with no links and few shares) it has to do so without the benefit of any links or shares and the ‘this page is of value signal that they represent’.

This is important in my view as a computer algorithm must find it difficult to rate a page on the basis of ‘usefulness’ or being ‘good’. Sure it can check the grammar and the length of the page, plus check on any links that are going out from the page (it is always a good idea to link to any ‘authoritative’  site / data), but how can it truly work out what is good? After all, such a decision is to some degree subjective, so whatever Google decides may in essence be wrong…

You could read this of course as a reason to ensure that any content you create does have links and shares, as this must ‘help’ Google (we certainly do our best to help Google all the time) to rate the page in question higher (because so much of the competition have no links or shares), but it also to my mind at least makes me continue to question the way that Google is said to rate a page.

The data also came to the conclusion that it was no surprise that pages got more shares than links, shares being much easier to acquire. Content it seems has to work very hard to get links..

The Answer to the SEO Conundrum

There is an answer to this conundrum in my view though, as it is my belief that pages are not actually viewed in isolation at all. Their content is surely checked and rated (as mentioned above) but then, and this is the important point, the Domain Authority of the site (and the power of the Home page) is taken into account.

I have seen this in action countless times, many a page that I have seen on the first page of Google, in reality having no ‘right’ to be there at all. It is only when you check on the power of the domain and the links that it has do you see why a page (that has no or few links to itself) has that front page placement.
This in turn means that what you must do, as a site owner (or SEO Professional) is to make sure that a site gets as many high power, relevant links as you can manage. That way, as long as you only produce good quality content you are more likely to get those coveted front page listings.

What Content Is Best for SEO?

As to what sort of content you should create IF you want it get those shares and links (which is bound to help), well it seems that Videos and Quizzes get more of both. However it must be said that it many cases this is because the video is ‘funny and entertaining’ and that a video of your latest product is not likely to stir up as much interest as ones that feature bears stealing fish (remember that JohnWest advert?).

Quizzes will also fall into the same group, the quizzes that really get great amounts of interests again not being ones that are relevant to many businesses, certainly many of the Corporate sites we deal with would not allow one of these ‘popular’ quizzes on their sites.

There are however two forms of content that gains lots of shares and links that would look good on many sites, these being ‘Opinion’ and ‘List Posts’. Of course these opinion posts need some thought and research, so perhaps the ‘List Post’ is the best route to take.

These List Posts are very much like they sound, in that the posts feature a list of points on a subject, often to explain in an easy manner a topic or a how to do something (How To Posts are also quite good at getting shares and links).

I will we carrying out some more research into this area in the near future and I will publish my findings as soon as I can.

Panda 4.2 – It’s not Running, It’s Walking…

Any site owner that is interested in SEO and the traffic that they get from it is always keeping a eye out for one of Google’s animals and for any effects.

Google Panda
Public Domain from pixabay

Carrying out this sort of monitoring is needed, as, without it, you could see a drop in traffic and not know why. Of course, you have to know which of the beasties is out and about and when they were ‘released’ if you are to do this.

In the past this was fine, but now it seems that Google’s Panda, once let out of its cage, did not ‘run’ as normal, but instead is walking, walking very very slowly. This is not good for anyone trying to work out if the drop (or rise) in their Oganic traffic has anything to do with Panda, as they simply cannot relate the change to the ‘release date’ of the Algorithim change.

This article explains the way that Panda 4.2 has been rolled out in more detail and is well worth a read.

On Wednesday, July 22nd, Barry Schwartz broke huge SEO news. Google finally started rolling out Panda 4.2, which we’ve been eagerly waiting for since 10/24/14. That was the last Panda update, which was over nine months ago at the time! That’s extremely unusual for Panda, which typically rolled out monthly (and even more frequently at certain times).

Google explained to Barry that Panda began rolling out the weekend prior (July 18th) and that this would be an extended rollout (which was also very strange). Then John Mueller explained in a webmaster hangout that the extended rollout was due to technical problems that Google was having with Panda. They didn’t want to push an extended update, but were forced to.

So according to Google, Panda 4.2 could take months to fully roll out.

I’ll be honest. I was completely shocked when I heard about the extended rollout. Panda usually rolled out quickly and sites that were impacted could easily identify the exact date of the impact.

One day, big impact, and easier to associate with a specific Panda update. Ah, those were the days.

Having a specific date makes it much easier for webmasters to understand what hit them, and then what to fix. With the extended rollout of Panda 4.2, sites could theoretically see impact right after 7/18, a few weeks from then, or even a few months out from 7/18. And with Google pushing hundreds of updates throughout the year (and over one thousand last year according to John Mueller), how are webmasters supposed to know if Panda impacted them, or if it was something else (like Phantom, Penguin, or any of the other updates Google rolls out during year)? Short answer: they can’t.

Is Your Online Presence Failing to Sell?: Here Are 4 Reasons Why

There is an old saying in that ‘you can bring the horse to water but you cannot make them drink’ and never has one been so accurate when talking about web traffic…


From an SEO or Social Media point of view, getting traffic to a site is the first big goal, but it has to be the right sort of traffic and then the site must do its job and get them to engage, taking a ‘sip’ if not a big gulp.

The Engagement Process

A part of this ‘engagement process’ is of course down to design, it has to appeal (very quickly) to the browser, or risk loosing them in those vital first seconds.

The next thing of course is the content of the page. Is it what the customer wants?, your Bounce Rates will tell you (and Google too if they come from a search) so need to be constantly rewiewed, just in case you are not doing things the way that your customers want, these after all being the final arbiter…

The site’s content and the way it approaches it’s customers is therefore key. It does not matter how many potential customers (horses) you deliver to a site if the ‘water’ does not look good and tasty.

Getting on the Customers Shortlist

But what is ‘tasty?’ A very good question and one that will change depending on what the site is about and where in the buying cycle your customer is. The article below covers this in one of it’s points saying in effect that those who are just starting in their quest are looking for very general data and thus don’t want the full nine words on your product / service, but just an initial description. If you get on their shortllist they will be back..

Besides the issue of good ‘useful’ content, there is the matter of Re-Engagement. This is another topic and one that we will come back too in the future, but it is important as just because the visitor does not buy today, does not mean that they might not buy tomorrow, so keeping in contact and reminding them that you are there waiting to serve them, is a good idea.

For the full article on Why your site is not converting, please click the link.

The cheese moved. The buying process has changed. Technology to support and further that change continues to grow and evolve. Communicating through the vast array of digital channels (website, SEM, social, email) is no longer an option. It is a must-do.

The online presence of your business must attract and convert prospects. It must engage with leads through a variety of channels as users travel through a longer and more complex buying cycle.

How we market and communicate online has come a long way from static, brochure-like internet pages and “spray-and-pray” email blasts. Unfortunately, for many, online marketing is still failing to reach its full potential.

Pointing a finger at the underlying technology would be easy, e.g., marketing automation, content management systems or any of the tools and solutions laid out in Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology Super Graphic.

It’s easy to say the technology is failing, so the marketing effort is failing. But the reality is more complex. Here are four of the biggest reasons why your online presence is failing to drive sales.

Engagement For The Wrong Reasons

Using engagement tactics that are not aligned with business goals is a huge waste of time and money. Too often, I see engagement for engagement’s sake. This results in leads stagnated in the buying cycle and low-volume sales funnels.

Having a high number of Twitter followers or a successful content syndication program is great, but that is not success.

CMOs are being judged on sales. And following your brand or downloading an asset is not a sale.

Social followers matter. They are your advocates. They can extend your message.

But focusing on the number of followers and not their engagement and conversion ratios results in negative ROI for the money spent to generate them. It also takes the marketing eye off the important goal of a sale.

Weak Commitment To Prospects

Generating new leads through content syndication or SEM is the start of the buyer’s journey. Most leads are not ready to buy at that point.

So not using retargeting or nurture programs to bring them back for further communication is a waste of the money spent to find them to begin with.

When they fail to travel along the pipeline because they are left to rot somewhere between the marketing and sales organization, it reflects negatively on the organization.

Lack Of Good Content

Everywhere I look, the numbers show an increase in content marketing spend and usage. Businesses are spending millions to have content developed — to tell their story, engage with their prospects, and help convert their leads through the buying cycle.

And yet much of what is used to attract and engage leads is sales enablement content. It’s all about features and functions. Or it’s focused on selling something, rather than trying to educate.

Take, for example, the content used in top-of-funnel nurture programs. More times than I care to remember, I’ve seen programs use 45-minute product webinars or 20-page product briefs.

Breakdown happens when leads don’t engage, and the prospects in the funnel dry up. This is because leads in the early buying cycle don’t want to know everything about the product, and they don’t want to be sold to. Rather, they want to know what the options are and what to consider as they do their research.

Marketing Teams Are Not Living In The Now

Stagnating means not going to where your customers are by using better ways and different channels to communicate with them online. It results in low communication. And poor communication results in low sales.

Searches And Mobiles, What’s The Plan?

Google’s new algorithm is aimed at sifting through mobile searches. These days most people use their mobile phones to perform searches on the internet. If your site is not optimised for mobile, you will not rank so it is important to make sure that your website is accessible on any device. What this means is that searches performed on mobiles are going to be provided primarily with a list of sites that are mobile friendly. Recent research has shown that there is a high number of high profile sites that are not compatible with mobile devices.

The average person will not notice the changes but for those companies who have not been able to get themselves sorted, they will be affected by these changes and will find themselves either sliding down the rankings or not appearing at all. The number of searches on computers has decreased significantly so it really does make perfect sense to make life easier for visitors to your site who are using mobiles.

There is another reason for these changes taking place, the behaviour of people. Those who perform a search for a particular product on their Smartphone are more likely to be wanting to make a purchase. Often, mobile searches are not looking to research the products rather, they have often done this beforehand on their PCs so are ready to buy.

With the numbers of mobile searches, making your website mobile-friendly is in fact more important than performing SEO. The whole point of the new algorithm is to ensure that the right search results are provided regardless of the device being used. The easier the access, the more likely it is that a purchase will be made there and then. So, if the visitor can make their purchase quickly and easily, it will affect businesses who have failed to adapt.

It is important to keep up with all the changes that are taking place so that you are not concentrating on doing things that are perhaps not quite as relevant as they once were. For instance, where unique high content was the key to attracting search engine attention, there is a bit of a shift towards compatibility and how user friendly the site is. This does not however, mean that you can forget about providing quality content, this is still an very important aspect of SEO but you need to balance the user’s experience as well. Having a content rich website is still a main goal but do make sure that your site is accessible on a variety of devices so that you do not miss out on all that potential business being done via mobile devices.


Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales once reportedly said: “If it isn’t on Google, it doesn’t exist”.

While statements like this may be best left on the sun-blessed coffee shop terraces of Silicon Valley, as far as brand and business awareness is concerned, it isn’t far wrong.

The numbers are staggering. Google currently accounts for 88 % of the UK’s search engine market. It processes an average of over 40,000 global search queries every second, 3.5bn searches per day and 1.2tn searches per year worldwide.

On the web, sole traders can in theory compete with the corporate big boys, so being able to be found – and found easily – among those searches is essential for any firm. It’s this desire to be higher up the Google rankings that has led to the explosion of the search engine optimisation (SEO) industry.
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Successive Google algorithm updates have seen the nature of SEO change radically. Where once processes such as keyword stuffing – cramming words that are popular in Google searches into your website’s copy, whether they make sense or not – may have worked, now they can actually work against you.

These algorithm updates, such as the exotically named Panda and Penguin, mean that now – as Bill Gates once famously said – “content is king”.

Meaningful content that operates as part of a wider digital marketing strategy, with the likes of social media and blogging all playing a part, is now key. The ability to view your site on smartphones is also gaining importance at an exponential rate.

But because of the rapid speed of change, there’s a feeling among experts that some small businesses are still getting it wrong.

“There seems to be a belief that if we cram keywords into content then this will push those all important rankings up,” says Sarah Duffy, MD of creative marketing agency Red Hen Creative.

When we approached Google, they said they don’t comment on SEO, and much of what’s under the bonnet is still the subject of supposition from the outside world.

One thing’s for sure though, Google is getting smarter. It’s now much harder to take shortcuts or to pull the wool over its eyes and cheat your way to the top – you have to earn your place.

But lack of time and writing expertise can prove hefty roadblocks for firms looking to evolve their content. A lack of patience too (SEO can take months to start showing any real impact) is also a problem.

Phil Morgan, head of search at advertising agency Delineo, says: “SEO results are only keenly felt long-term, and therefore it can be difficult for small business owners to see the value in taking time out of their day to write about their industry.”

He adds: “The online audience has evolved and expectations are high. They are mobile, they are time poor and they live in a world where sharing ideas and content on social networks is just a natural part of consuming online content.”

Cheshire-based wedding photographer Christopher Ian has seen first hand how much Google has changed.

“Google is my primary source of enquiries so it is of vital importance. When I first started my wedding photography website in 2011, I found that ranking well depended largely on key wording specific phrases,” he says. “I’d just put in a list of locations or photography styles, listed one after the other in a robotic style. But now Google will look for these words and phrases in the form of structured and real-world paragraphs that actually make sense, it is more human.”

So what options do businesses have if they want to get their SEO in order? Firstly, when it comes to creating content, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of being earnest – create content that’s enjoyable to read and genuinely relevant to your customers.

Duffy says: “Don’t stuff content with keywords – it’s just awful to read. Yes, you’ll probably boost rankings for a short time, until Google blacklists you, and in the interim once you do get a potential customer on your site, they’ll click off within seconds. People buy from people – be natural, be engaging, be human.”

Another tick in the plus column when Google is ranking you is if reputable websites link to you, and if people are talking about you online.

Leon Brown, founder of Nextpoint, which sells education services and content, says: “I use social media to engage in conversation with people, it’s also useful for opening opportunities.

“You can use it to refer people to your content as part of the conversations and find people who can share your content, such as retweeting on Twitter.”

Faced with a real lack of understanding about this rapidly changing industry, SEO experts and agencies are still highly sought after.

Alex Fenton, lecturer in digital business at Salford Business School, runs courses at MediaCityUK. He says: “A lot of SMEs come on our courses and quite often they will have had some kind of bad experience, either being ripped off by someone taking their money and not delivering results, or some kind of search engine penalty.”

Paul Delaney, head of natural search at Vizeum Manchester, adds: “To ensure no opportunities are missed, having the right team members focus on SEO and essentially learn through training will really help get the business on the right track.”
Five ways to improve your SEO

Create great content. Google’s reputation depends on it leading users to high quality sites, so the better and more original your content is, the more Google will like you.

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