The search marketing industry has traditionally played a catch-up role in understanding new technologies deployed by Google and Bing.
1. Understand content blocks
A common mistake I see is people trying to write about a list of keyword phrases.
The traditional, old-school SEO process is to put your keyword phrase in the title element and then put variations of those keywords in the title elements.
The modern search engine doesn’t understand pages in terms of keywords anymore. Search engines understand web pages in terms of topics, which is referred to as topic ranking.
Classification is the organization of topics into categories of topics and subtopics of those topics.
Here is an example of an old-school directory categorization that organizes topics like this:
Business > Ecommerce > Technology Vendors
Google has published several research papers on topic rankings. A recent research paper on Expand topic classification He starts by pointing out how useful topic ranking is in web search:
“Topic categories that display hierarchical subject structures for a body of text have greatly contributed to many knowledge-rich applications, including web search and question answering.”
When a search engine looks at a title tag, it does so to understand what it is Title From the web page it is.
Likewise, when a search engine is looking at headings, it is trying to understand what blocks of content the headings are referring to.
The web page is about a Title, This web page contains relevant information subtopics.
Creating a webpage becomes easier when you first list the main topic, followed by a list of related subtopics.
Here is an example:
Topic: How to Choose a Fishing Kayak
Once you’ve identified the relevant topic and subtopics, you’re ready to write an article on the topic that’s easy for search engines (and people) to understand.
2. The mass is not always to the point
One of the common mistakes I encounter during website audits of low-ranking pages is the tendency for them to be overwritten.
There is nothing wrong with creating comprehensive content. But there is a point where the content deviates from the topic.
How does this happen? How do you know that is happening?
Writing the best web page on a topic often requires you to be comprehensive.
This phrase, “How to Choose a Kayak for Fishing,” includes multiple subtopics (as explained above).
The topic of kayak fishing contains many other topics.
Some of the broader fishing kayak topics are:
- Kayak paddles.
- Phishing engines.
- Fish finders (sonar units).
- Short handle fishing nets.
- gear boxes.
All of these subtopics are kayak fishing related. But hmm no Related to “How to Choose Fishing Boats:
They are related to a different topic such as: “What equipment does a kayak need to fish?”:
When writing content or proofreading client content, always watch for topic skew.
Topic drift occurs when the topic of the article begins to shift and veer into another topic.
Specificity means the quality of belonging to a particular subject.
Privacy has become impossible to ignore since then Google medical update (when Google got rid of sites that were off topic) and it’s becoming increasingly important as Google adds more natural language understanding to the search engine.
3. Featured image
Google’s new Generative Search Experience (SGE) summarizes the subject’s answer and displays lists from three websites at the top of the page, to the right of the AI-generated response.
The title and meta description are displayed in the snippets, and an image from the webpage’s featured image is also reduced to a thumbnail size.
This image is something you can control, so make the most of your featured image.
It can be helpful to use a distinctive image that is colorful and catches the eye.
Screenshot of the generative Google search experiment
Photo #1 is in color, in focus.
Image #2 is off-center, obscuring the subject when the featured image is cropped.
Photo #3 is in the middle, but it’s dark and muted. Dark colors recede (Which means back off and reduce).
- Create a colorful and focused featured image. The main subject of the featured image should be in the center.
- Pictures with a colorful background attract the eye. Also works if the main theme is colored.
- Do not use an image where the main subject is to the right or left of the image. Google will display it, but it will look a little weird.
- Don’t use an image in the dark or an overall color that is too dark as the overall image is fuzzy.
4. Be original
Many people complain that they are indexed, but their content is not being categorized. This is something that many people are increasingly complaining about.
One of the reasons could be that there is nothing different from what is already there.
Google John Mueller Advise:
“You really need to make sure that what you offer is unique, compelling and of high quality so that our systems and users in general say, I want to go to this particular website because it offers me something unique on the web and I don’t just want to go to any other random website.
I think part of the reason this happens is because the technology that is supposed to help rank is very dependent on search results and competitor analysis.
So what happens then is that a certain amount of homogeneity starts to creep in, the same kind of data gets thrown in there, and nothing makes the site better in a meaningful way.
There are two legitimate reasons for competitor analysis:
- Understand the strengths and weaknesses of competitors.
- Understand the intent of key phrases in SERPs.
Competitor analysis should never be about copying what competitors are doing.
Google can only rank what publishers put there. If everyone posts content that has lists, that’s what Google will rank for.
In many cases, the person who can figure out the best way to serve the reader for a particular topic is the person who will climb to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs).
This is why I have never endorsed the 10x write practice, where you take what the competitor did and do the same thing but 10 times better.
Ironically, the original 10x strategy has been rewritten and renamed the skyscraper strategy.
Both are the same thing, and neither is, in my opinion, a good strategy because it just repeats what the others have already done.
Always start with the user and think about the best way to answer their questions. Does this mean step by step addition? More illustrations?
As Google and Bing have become better at understanding natural language, it has become imperative to better serve users in the manner required by a search query.
5. People also ask
There is a trend where people are mining Google’s People Also Ask (PAA) feature to find subtopics to add to their content so that it is complete.
Some of these suggestions are subtopics of the main topic. But some suggestions are not.
So it is very important not to take all of the PAA suggestions and add them to your topic.
The reason not all PAA suggestions are used is because some of them branch off into other topics, making them irrelevant to the main topic.
Logically speaking, adding an unrelated topic to an article does not make that article more relevant.
The whole purpose of the PAA feature is to help researchers find a different topic.
Google documentation He says this about the PAA feature:
Often called “People Are Also Asking,” these visuals help users expand their search journeys.
…Discovery features help searchers explore more questions or searches related to the original search query (also known as “people also ask”).
The word ‘expansion’ means expansion of distance or expansion of something. Thus, some of the PAA suggestions are related to the main topic but broader in scope.
The Google page on PAA also says:
“Although you can’t control what appears here, it can be helpful to pay attention to relevant search queries when you’re thinking about what topics to write about for your site.”
PAA content use can be helpful but can backfire if the article becomes too broad.
Don’t rely on PAA to understand what you should be writing about. Find out what people care about when they buy a particular product.
If you really want to dig deeper, you can ask the salesperson what are the most common questions consumers ask about the product.
Check out what people are talking about on social media in relation to any topic you write about.
6. Fake it until you’re sure it doesn’t work anymore
There are many shortcuts that some publishers take to create an impression of expertise or authority.
However, using artificial intelligence to recognize those acronyms is becoming increasingly effective.
Google uses artificial intelligence called SpamBrain to analyze link patterns to detect fake links between websites. This AI can also learn to identify new tactics that correlate the manipulators’ uses.
“We also improved SpamBrain as a powerful and versatile platform, launching multiple solutions to improve our coverage of different types of abuse. One example of this is random association. We also participated in
In December, we trained SpamBrain to detect sites that generate spam links, as well as sites created to pass spam links to other sites.
Thanks to SpamBrain’s ability to learn, we detected 50 times more link spam sites than our previous link spam update.
False profiles on LinkedIn
Some publishers create fake authors using fake author bios in an attempt to manipulate what they think is Google’s algorithm related to Experience, expertise, authority and trustworthiness.
But LinkedIn has successfully identified the AI-generated images used to create those fake profiles, blocking and removing millions of fake profiles.
One affiliate marketer stated that LinkedIn detected 100% of their fake profiles used to support fake author profiles used on their websites.
is reading: How does LinkedIn catch fake profiles?
Fake Google Business Reviews
Google uses machine learning models to catch fake reviews contributed by users before they are published.
Google uses a variety of signals to detect fake content (is reading: How does Google spot fake business reviews?).
And in 2022, it has blocked or removed more than 115 million fake reviews.
When I mentioned this recently to a local search professional, they told me that they advised their clients not to buy fake reviews, but they went ahead and did it anyway.
Local search pro told me:
“I literally told the company not to do that. They came forward anyway and did fake reviews. I think within 24-48 hours of posting the reviews, they had their Google Business Profile suspended.”
In addition to blocking and removing fake profiles and reviews, Google has also begun to prosecute companies that create fake business profiles on Google.
Google has sued a scammer who created several fake business profiles on a monetization model called Rank and Rent.
What Google has objected to is creating fake business profiles, creating fake business websites, and adding fake reviews in an effort to make those business profiles look authentic.
Google and LinkedIn cannot catch all fake profiles, comments, and commercial links. But a LinkedIn engineer told me they now have 99% of them figured out.
Research is developing in every direction
It is important not to stay restricted to one search engine optimization method. It is wise to remain open to insights based on the latest reliable information.
It is equally important to know how to spot SEO misinformation, because there is a lot of it out there.
For example, one trend I see is for an SEO professional to cite Bill Slawsky as inspiration and then go on to talk about things that Bill never promotes or suggests.
Always check quotes. Don’t assume it’s because someone says Bill Slawsky said, or Google says the following is true. Always check quotes.
But don’t let the spread of misinformation keep you tied down to one way of doing things because search practices are evolving faster today than at any time in my 20+ years of experience in the industry.
Featured image by Dean Drobot / Shutterstock