Have a quick imagination about old-architectured factories or warehouses; don’t they look stunning? Industrial home decor is all about converting such interiors into liveable and loft-like homes. Although this home decor is affiliated with apartments and city dwellings, you can take elements from this design and make them work for any kind of living space.
The soap business is shifting to bring a wide variety of soaps. Different kinds of soaps desire a wide selection of packaging that is unique. Bath Bomb is a new type of soap usually made with a unique shape, but round and oval shapes give the appearance of a change. The Doppler effect triggers a critical necessity to create the Custom Bath Bomb boxes giving the same energy in the product. We saw this trend coming in time and are working to prepare your Bath Bombs to compete globally.
If there’s one shortcoming within the sphere of SEO it’s the industry’s inability to at times effectively educate. Don’t get me wrong, the SEO industry is filled with wonderful “educators” and does a great job of sharing knowledge! That said, there are times when I feel that we fail to simplify complex concepts into digestible pieces of information. Perhaps it’s a pet peeve I have as a former teacher, I don’t know. What I do know is that when Danny Sullivan recently tried to explain the difference between neural matching and RankBrain I was initially left scratching my head. I thought, why does this have to be so complicated? Couldn’t the difference between neural matching and RankBrain be explained in a tangibly concrete well structured and “scaffolded” manner?
Surely it can.
Neural Matching Comes onto the Scene
Shortly after Google’s March 2019 Core Update, Google’s “Search Liasion,” better known as Danny Sullivan, responded to renewed interest in the search engine’s “neural matching” and how it differs from RankBrain. But don’t be confused, Google’s neural matching is not brand new. In fact, renewed interest in the AI aspect was triggered by the March 2019 Core Update as some suspected a neural matching recalibration was behind the increased rank fluctuations (to which Google said that was not the case). In truth, neural matching first joined the SEO conversation back in September 2018.
When Google made its big “20th Anniversary announcements,” Danny Sullivan took to Twitter to explain that in the months prior to September Google had adopted neural matching.
Last few months, Google has been using neural matching, –AI method to better connect words to concepts. Super synonyms, in a way, and impacting 30% of queries. Don’t know what “soap opera effect” is to search for it? We can better figure it out. pic.twitter.com/Qrwp5hKFNz
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) September 24, 2018
In the example Danny gave, Google understood that a certain behavior in regards to a TV screen reflected a particular and well-known issue. A TV “looking strange” is a “super synonym for what is known as the Soap Opera Effect (which, in a nutshell, makes the motion in a movie feel less like a big budget production and more like a soap opera). Conceptually speaking, Google is now able to match up ill-defined and vaguely descriptive language to specific word constructs, concepts, and the like. Hence, the “super” in ‘super synonyms’ reflects Google’s advanced ability to perform “abstract” matches.
Of course, matching up user intent with related/similar concepts sounds very much like RankBrain. Hence, how does neural matching differ?
How RankBrain Is Different from Neural Matching – A Simple Explanation
When explaining the difference between neural matching and RankBrain, Google’s Danny Sullivan said the following on March 21st:
“RankBrain is an AI-based system Google began using in 2016 to understand how pages are related to concepts. It means we can better return relevant pages even if they don’t contain the exact words used in a search, by understanding the page is related to other words & concepts… Neural matching is an AI-based system Google began using in 2018 primarily to understand how words are related to concepts. It’s like a super-synonym system. Synonyms are words that are closely related to other words… In summary: — RankBrain helps Google better relate pages to concepts — Neural matching helps Google better relate words to searches.
That actually helps clarify things a bit…. after you read it about 100 times. Not that I’m blaming Danny. To the contrary, for Twitter… that’s pretty good. However, this is a conversation that needs to go beyond a thread of 280 characters… because I’m pretty sure you don’t need a master’s in education to know that’s not a solid pedagogical method!
So let’s ask the question again, but this time giving it a proper go…. How exactly, in simple, easy to understand terms, with at least one example, is RankBrain different than neural matching?
The Unique Roles of Both Neural Matching & RankBrain
I could go and describe what neural matching does relative to RankBrain. I can even use all kinds of fancy, decorative, and downright gaudy language when doing so. That, however, would be perpetuating the very problem I am trying to solve. So, I’m going back to basics… and modeling the difference via illustrative and actual examples.
Here’s the top of the SERP for the query for why am I so nauseous but only in the morning:
If you look at the Featured Snippet, and even the second organic result, Google clearly understands that my query refers to morning sickness. I didn’t type morning sickness into the search box. If you look, Google pulled content for the Featured Snippet that doesn’t mention the word nauseous (though the title and H1 do). If you look at the second organic result, there is again no mention of the word nauseous in the title nor in the description… though Google clearly understood I was referencing morning sickness.
This matching of terms and concepts is reflective of neural matching. For the record, I am not saying this is 100% an example of neural matching. I’m not Google, I can’t 100% say this is neural matching in the wild. What I can say is that it seems so. More importantly, for our purposes, you have a pretty good idea of what neural matching generally consists of without me having to define it in technical terms.
Let’s try another example. In the game of basketball, one must constantly bounce the ball while moving with it… this is called dribbling. Failure to do so is called “traveling” and is against the rules of the game. Here is a keyword that loosely describes the violation of “traveling” without ever mentioning it:
Again, Google was clearly able to “abstract” what I meant by rule, walking with the ball, and basketball. The Featured Snippet shown is all about the rule against “traveling” with the basketball though the term walking with or even walking is never employed (as it is in the second organic result).
As you can clearly see, Google is using what it refers to as ‘neural matching’ to match an abstract query to a refined term/concept. It’s a “super synonym” because it is a large and impressive leap towards bridging what is not adequately expressed in definitive to terms to that which is!
But What Does RankBrain Do?
OK, then where does RankBrain enter the picture? I thought RankBrain “matches up intent?!” It does… but on a broader sort of level. RankBrain does not match up what is intended within a phrase to other terms (as was shown above). Rather, RankBrain helps to identify what intents, or rather, what topics, are relevant to a certain term or phrase. In other words, now that Google knows that
Enough talking… here’s the full SERP for the query rule against walking with the basketball:
In the above, I “boxed” the three different intents found within the page’s results:
- Information about “traveling”
- Tips on officiating a basketball game vis-a-vis “traveling”
onhow “traveling” has impacted the game of basketball
What does RankBrain do? It takes the topical determination of neural matching and then works to elect what is relevant, or included, within the concept that was established to be the meaning of the query (via neural matching).
What’s that in plain English Mordy?
Great… we’ve established that “walking with the basketball” equates to “traveling”…. wonderful! However, what is included within the “concept” of traveling from a search/user perspective? The neural matching process has nothing to offer us in this regard. We need something else to tell us that when users search for “traveling” they not only want information on the rule but how it has impacted the game and even how to officiate the rule. Enter RankBrain.
Now let’s take what Danny said about RankBrain again: “RankBrain helps Google better relate pages to concepts” and “RankBrain is an AI-based system…. to understand how pages are related to concepts.”
In other words, there are two stages or processes or however else you want to characterize this: Determining what the concept within the query is (neural matching) and determining what relates to the concept (RankBrain).
Where neural matching helps Google relate the mishmash you entered into the search box to a formal and recognized concept, RankBrain helps Google to know what sort of topics or “pages” are related to this query/concept.
There, is that so complicated?
Another Piece to Search’s Machine Learning Puzzle
It would be ambitious to say it’s all coming together, so I’ll say “more” is coming together. I’ve been tooting this horn for a while now… there are many AI elements in use over at the Googleplex, RankBrain is only one of them. For some time now we’ve seen a noticeable increase in Google’s ability to better understand the “inner” intent of a query. Since neural matching has been around for months before Google disclosed its existence in November, it all makes sense.
However, let’s not forget that other AI-like forces are at play. Google, when it first mentioned neural matching, also brought the “Topic Layer” to the table which is “a way of leveraging how the Knowledge Graph knows about people, places…” – Google’s words not mine. For every AI element we know about, I would wager to say there are two we don’t know about. My point is, Google’s ability to understand search terms, to qualify entities, to profile sites, is deep… perhaps far deeper than we think.
At least for now, one small piece of the intent analysis puzzle is a bit clearer. I’ll take it!
I am so sad to report that John Carcutt, an SEO many of us have known, has suddenly passed away. John Carcutt has been in the SEO industry for two decades, not only doing the work day in and day out but also sharing his knowledge with the SEO community at large. This man was just so giving and kind, not just to his family and friends but to so many people who he didn’t even know in our industry. He was truly a legendary SEO and individual.
He had given himself for two decades to the industry and co-hosted SEO 101 on WebmasterRadio.fm for over 12 years with Russ Dunn.
Brenda Malone first notified me of his passing and wrote on Twitter “The SEO World has lost another great – @JohnCarcutt, SEO Director at Advance Local. He was my first SEO mentor and employer. Condolences to the Carcutt family and his SEO friends.” You can view his career timeline in the SEO space on LinkedIn starting in 2002 with paid inclusion and paid search and in 2021 as the Director of SEO at Advance Local.
His consistency in providing a weekly SEO radio show, every Wednesday at 5:00pm EST was incredibly impressive. You can even see that over the years we quoted him several times on this site, some as early as 2006. I was just on his show about a year ago – this is so sad.
Here is some of the shock and sadness expressed from the SEO industry:
Horrible news. so sorry.❤️💔
— Jeff Coyle – Content Strategy and SEO (@jeffrey_coyle) November 8, 2021
I’m so sorry to hear this, he was such a great guy.
— Eric Enge (@stonetemple) November 8, 2021
I’m sorry to hear that. I’d always enjoyed my interactions with John – he was one of the industry OGs. Condolences to his family.
— Nick Wilsdon (@nickwilsdon) November 8, 2021
This is staggering. 💔💔💔 John was a gem. #shattered
— duane forrester (@DuaneForrester) November 8, 2021
I’m so sad. I was just talking to him on FB last week. 😭
— Angie 🖤🦄 (@radkitten) November 8, 2021
So very sad. I have known him a long time. One of the great SEO’s.
— David Ogletree (@ogletree) November 8, 2021
Horrible news. so sorry.❤️💔
— Jeff Coyle – Content Strategy and SEO (@jeffrey_coyle) November 8, 2021
This is devastating news. John was a rockstar and all around amazing guy.
— Tamar Weinberg (@tamar) November 8, 2021
This is terrible. 🙁
— Keith Goode (@keithgoode) November 8, 2021
Whoa, that’s terrible news. I’m really sorry to hear that…
— Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe) November 8, 2021
I’m sorry to hear that. I’d always enjoyed my interactions with John – he was one of the industry OGs. Condolences to his family.
— Nick Wilsdon (@nickwilsdon) November 8, 2021
This is devastating. John was a man of great talent and incredible kindness. We’ve lost so many people. https://t.co/9bP6IwzcHN
— Lisa Barone (@LisaBarone) November 8, 2021
Heartbreaking news for the SEO community today.
Great guy, super smart, always helpful. Ran the SEO101 show for over a decade.
My heart goes out to the Calcutt family. https://t.co/1Ioh1rj7w7
— Jeff Ferguson (@CountXero) November 8, 2021
As soon as I hear of a GoFund me or something where we can help the Carcutt family, I will update this story, so check back in a couple of days.
RIP John Carcutt.
Forum discussion at Twitter.
Source link : Seroundtable.com
The In Search SEO Podcast
The In Search SEO Podcast ‘Tip Share’ of the Week!
When it comes to getting the most out of your Google Posts, what’s important to think about?
Summary of Episode 23: The In Search SEO Podcast
- What to consider when creating Google Posts
- What local features are we all forgetting about & how can you capitalize on them?
- Where we stand in tracking local SERP feature progress
Plus, we take a hard look at how advantageous it is for multinational companies to focus on voice search.
Should Multinational Brands Really Be Focused on Voice Search? [2:11 – 10:07]
Search Engine Land recently published an article citing an
Let us pose a radical thought. These multinational companies are not dumb and if they’re not focusing on voice search it’s because it would not be efficient and purposeful at this point.
Heretical… perhaps, but let’s explore this idea.
Why would a company not think voice search is important? Maybe because outside of local, which again, we think is super relevant to voice search… voice search is a novelty.
Just think of it. Do we really need a $75 device to tell us what the weather is outside?
Voice devices, voice search, and responses, as it exists now outside of local, are a novelty. It’s no wonder voice search is off the radar of big-time companies!
Google backs us up on this. For example, the search engine pushed to have news publishers optimize their content for voice search. It created a great new way to act as an interpreter via Google Hub. It even partnered with Walmart (did you know that?) to offer a shopping experience.
We could go on and on. The reason why Google is doing all of these things is not that it wants to “be better and offer more.” Rather, we believe it’s because Google knows it has to offer something deeper than just the weather. It has to become integrated into your life. You need to need it. You need to be able to shop with voice devices. You need to be able to get deep answers, deep content, deep exploration. You need to be able to follow a recipe step by step with your Google Hub. You need to be able to turn the lights on and off, and so on and so forth.
Whatever it is, so long as Google’s voice devices offer a deep level of engagement and personal integration! Only then do these devices become a need and not a novelty.
By the way, we think this is why Google will win this war over Amazon. Amazon figures they have the “need niche” down via the shopping experience. Google is forced to look beyond the shopping experience (and to it as well). This will ultimately form a more profound product for Google.
In terms of the here and now… If we were a big brand we’d much sooner focus on audio content. We think big things are coming for audio on the SERP. With Google auto transcribing content we think this is the next undiscovered country. But that’s just us…
What Are You Overlooking When Optimizing Your Business Listing?: A Conversation with Niki Mosier [10:28 – 34:45]
[This is a general summary of the interview and not a word for word transcript. You can listen to the podcast for the full interview.]
By the way, I did not forget you’re a Packers fan! As a fan of a team who is also draining a ton of their talent and who also employs a Hall of Fame quarterback who’s a bit of… well, a bit of a brat… I feel you’re a kindred spirit… despite
Niki: Yeah, well, I also learned last ***** that Rand Fishkin is also a Packer fan.
M: Really? And I really held him in high esteem. Well, we’re not here to talk Steelers football… as tempting as that is… actually, it’s not… it’s been pretty frustrating lately… so let’s move on to local SEO!
There’s a lot of talk about Google Posts… and I’m guilty of this myself… we talk the feature up but then don’t offer much by way of tips. Which is why I’m so glad you’re here. What are some concrete things businesses should be doing when creating Google Posts?
N: The number one thing is consistency. What a lot of people may not know is that they disappear after 7 days within the Knowledge Panel. They still exist but you have to click deeper to get to them. So we suggest to our clients that every 7 days to put up a post whether being a blog post, or an event, or something going on so no matter when they’re looking at your listing they will see that post.
Especially now with posts being moved down in the Knowledge Panel. I just noticed now that on mobile that posts are showing on that scrolling menu at the top of the listing. So it is getting a little more visibility, but yeah, consistency is key. You want your posts to be promotional.
You want people to click on them, engage with them. Obviously, Google hasn’t said they’re a ranking factor, but like with anything else like search engine results and clickthrough rate, if people are engaging with those and clicking to your website then it can’t hurt.
Another thing to think about is the clickthrough rate. Look at your AdWord copy. If you’re doing both Google Ads and Google Posts then play around with it and see what kind of impact you’ll get. That’s really the best advice I can give. Just test things out and see what happens.
M: That’s some good advice! I saw on mobile that Google Posts moved up, but weren’t desktop Google Posts always on the bottom?
N: Yes, they were a little further on desktop but then they pushed them down again.
M: What’s really great about Posts is that it’s one of the only places on the SERP where you can add your own content onto the SERP. I mean, once your brand is showing in the Knowledge Panel, your brand is there, your information is there, and now your content is also there which is great for brand awareness. Even if no one clicks it’s a great way to show you’re alive on the SERP.
Let’s go in the opposite direction by discussing a feature that no one seems to talk about… the Q&A feature in the Local Panel. For the audience, if you don’t know what it is, it’s a way to create an FAQ on the SERP for your business. Strategically, what should brands do here with this feature (outside of just asking some of the most basic questions related to the business)?
N: Yeah, it’s actually something I try to get my clients to use more. We have a Google Form that we sent to our clients asking what are the top questions they get asked on the phone or when customers walk through the door and then we’re populating that for clients.
I think that’s the biggest mystery for people – that you can go in as a business owner and actually populate both the question and the answer yourself.
And the voting thumbs up icon you can do yourself and you can get your friends to help too. Just be strategic about it because the three questions that have the most thumbs up will be displayed in the Knowledge Panel without having to click through to all of the questions. Think about what you want your customers to see from that Knowledge Panel about your business and then be that yourself. Google hasn’t taken this away from us yet so take advantage of it.
M: Wow, I did not know that. Besides from answering the top questions that people ask are there any specific questions that you try to get in there?
N: I think there’s value in matching it up with questions on the Q&A page on your website. Q&A pages are tricky though in figuring out the nuances of configuring Q&A schema, but having that consistency I believe is worth it and very beneficial.
Another point on Q&A pages: they can be a very good lead generation source. If someone is asking if your business offers X service then they probably are interested in getting that service. It’s important to keep an eye on it. I know a review generation platform, GatherUp, that has a package that includes Q&A monitoring where you can be notified when someone asks a question.
M: Many businesses list a lot of different “departments” within their business listing. For example, I was looking at a local listing for the Home Depot store in Baltimore that I used to frequent back when I lived there and they had about a dozen different departments listed, each being a link to another Google SERP where a Local Panel for that department appears. What’s the value in optimizing your listing as such? Is this really something that businesses overlook or is it a non-issue and if you list a lot of departments great… if not… not?
N: So I think in a situation like Home Depot or Lowe’s where they have a ton of locations I don’t think it hurts to have that information in the Knowledge Panel so if you wanted to call the Flooring department immediately and didn’t want to sit through all the prompts on the phone then that would be beneficial. So if Google has that feature then take advantage of it if it makes sense for your business. Obviously, do not create fake departments for your business.
M: Can you share another element within Google’s local SERP features that businesses fail to capitalize on? For example, one that stands out to me is events. Department stores like Macy’s do a great job here: if they have a makeup artist coming in they list it as an event or if they’re having a cologne sampling they are listed as events.
Because there are so many different elements within the local features what are businesses missing the boat on?
N: Yeah, you really hit the nail on the head with events. I and some other people on Twitter had trouble with events getting to populate with event schema just because there are so many nuances to it. I’m definitely finding that things like Eventbrite and MeetUp are pulling into the listing pretty automatically which is nice. And there’s been a recent post on Search Engine Land that anyone can post an event to a Google My Business listing from the Contributor Dashboard (Android only) and that’s a little scary.
Videos are definitely underused in Google My Business and Google loves videos being displayed in the SERP especially videos from YouTube showing up in the search results. Putting video on your Google My Business Listing is a great way to give users a full idea of what they’re going to experience when they walk through your door so it’s a great win-win.
And the Products and Services Menu I think that’s pretty underused. Companies like Home Depot and REI do a really great job of adding in their product feed which I believe can come in through the API and pull in their products into the Google My Business listing on mobile. But looking at Home Service businesses and I think there’s a real opportunity to get more of that information out in front of users. Obviously, restaurants do a good job having their menu In the listing, but for service
M: Yeah and it is pretty surprising how not enough people take advantage of these tools. Do you think it’s because people just don’t know or it’s just tricky? People are doing SEO for these sites so it can’t be because of total ignorance.
N: Yeah, I think it’s because people don’t spend enough time on the SERP. I can say even for myself that I’m guilty of that both with the clients I work with and in general, you can be so much in the zone of working on things like the backend or coding and then not realize that you have control over some of these features. So just spending some time in the SERP is important in all aspects.
M: That’s interesting because Google has reasons for all of these features. For example, and this is my speculation, the reason why there are so many product offerings and ways that you can push your product in the local features is that it’s a great opportunity for Google to build that association that it, and not Amazon, is a place where you can learn about, find, and buy products. You would think Google would want everyone to know about these features but it doesn’t seem as though that’s the case.
N: Yeah, they definitely seem to be contradicting themselves there.
M: Let’s talk about tracking your progress in these areas. Obviously, judging the impact of how well you’ve gone about capitalizing on the Q&A element in the Local Panel might entail getting a bit “creative”- that said, what can you do to monitor your progress so you can either adjust or replicate it? Of course, now you can no longer use UTM codes to track GMB data within
N: Yeah, so in early February, Google announced they will be changing how the Search Console Performance Report counts metrics so instead of looking at the exact URLs they will be transitioning to the canonical URL. This is a definite challenge when putting UTM codes on specific URLs when it’s going to go to the canonical version. One way to get around this is to track those UTM codes in Google Analytics instead of Search Console. I know there’s a controversy on to which one has more accurate data, but that is one way how to get access to that data.
There is also post metrics. If you’re doing the Google My Business posts you can keep an eye on those as well by putting UTM codes and campaign codes on all Google My Business posts and tracking those metrics on Analytics to get those insights as well.
M: I wanted to ask you earlier and I forgot. With Google Posts there’s this story format. I’ve seen the NHL use this. New York City is the only city I’ve found that uses Google Posts and they use the Story format. It’s like an AMP Story but within Google Posts. You have to have special access to that correct?
N: Yeah, I haven’t seen that outside New York City either. I think it’s some sort of special localized feature. I know there are more options for that type of content as that is content that Google wants to see so I think they’re trying to roll that out on a case by case basis.
M: I would imagine it should come out full force. Why do you think Google will roll out these cool and engaging features where it tests the feature with some people only for it to fall on its face because there was no real roll-out (at least not right away)?
N: Right and I’m wondering if it has something to with why aren’t Google Posts being monetized like Google Ads and if there’s a connection to the NHL spending money on Google Ads to it having this special feature.
M: With Google Posts, why do you think they rolled them out? Do you think it’s just to get a social media foothold or it goes beyond that?
N: Well, they kind of rolled it out around the same time they got rid of the G+ listings. It may have been connected to that. And it gave another way for businesses to promote themselves more. It gives Google an opportunity to perhaps monetize it just like Boosted Facebook ads. I’m assuming there is some sort of grand plan there.
M: And it does keep the user in the Google universe.
N: Yeah, this has been talked about a lot in the local community lately with Google making the Google My Business page take the place of the website. Now the user doesn’t have to go to the actual website to get the information they’re looking for.
M: Right because I understand why Google would at times want to put on the SERP a Featured Snippet, a Direct Answer, a Local Pack, or even a Local Panel. But why does Google want to keep the user off a site?
N: Well, if I was Google and I could keep someone in a search result enough that they will find a little bit of what they’re looking for and from there go to another search result.
M: And it definitely creates the association of Google as the source of all things, information content, and immediate gratification.
Optimize It or Disavow It
M: If you could choose one… if you could focus on just one… would you create Google Posts or set up your own Q&A within the Local Panel.
N: That’s a tough question. I think I’ll stick to Google Posts. I think they have a lot of value. You have all the different options: you have the event posts, the product posts, etc. There’s a little more value with Google Posts just in the many ways people can interact with them. And with the Q&A they might read it, but not necessarily react to it, but with Google
M: Niki, thank you so much for coming on the show!
N: Thanks for having me, Mordy.
SEO News [36:20 – 38:53]
Google Indexing Bug Cleaned Up: The bug that caused a substantial number of pages to be deindexed has been mostly resolved according to Google. Although, even after Google made the announcement we did hear a few people on Twitter say that their pages are still not back. By now, however, it seems all is in order (outside of some gaps in Search Console data).
Google Assistant Gets Ads: The new design of Google Assistant results also includes ads! These
New Look For GMB: Google tested a more icon oriented Google My Business Dashboard. The test was not widespread, but keep your eyes open for it!
Two Thumbs Up for Music Reviews: As reported by SERoundtable and as found by Mordy, Google has added audience reviews for music. Previously, the element showed for TV and movie content only.
Fun SEO Send-Off [38:53 – 42:42]
If Google were a person, what would it search for on its Google Home or Google Hub device?
Kim thought Google would ask, “What am I doing today?” because Google would already be accustomed to not remembering anything on its own (much the way we no longer remember anyone’s phone number).
Mordy answered with, “How do I rank on Google?” That
Thank you for joining us and be sure to check out the next episode on The In Search SEO Podcast on April 30th!
Related Questions, or as most of us know them, People Also Ask (PAA), has developed into one of the more intriguing features on the Google SERP. The feature is both prominent and powerful. This dynamically loading set of what are all but Featured Snippets has the potential to seriously alter a user’s search process or search ‘journey’ if you will.
I wanted to qualify that potential a bit by analyzing what intent looks like inside the PAA box.
- How many intents are represented by the initial four PAA questions?
- Does Google prefer to dig deep into one specific topic or does Google prefer to offer a broader topical look with its PAA questions?
- Does Google give one intent more attention than another?
- Does Google treat one keyword category and type differently than another in regards to the PAA?
I think I’ve made my point…. I want to know how Google goes about meeting intent via the PAA!
Summary of ‘People Also Ask’ Intent Analysis and Method Used
Let me quickly outline what I did here. I took 250 keywords and analyzed the first four (well, usually four) questions within the PAA box… the four that Google initially shows a user on the SERP… and I analyzed the intents reflected in those questions. In doing so I determined the number of unique intents reflected by the four questions so as to calculate the average number of intents within the initial PAA questions shown on the SERP. (For more on the process of how I made this determination see the section below).
Out of these 250 keywords I created data subsets. That is, I compared the overall data set to subsets (each subset contained 30 keywords) such as long tail keywords, opinion-based keywords, etc. I then did the exact same thing but according to niche industry (i.e., finance, health, etc.).
‘People Also Ask’ Intent Data Analysis Summary
Before we start getting into nitty-gritty details… here’s a quick summary of what I found.
- On average there are 2.8 intents represented by the initial four PAA questions
- The initial PAA intent is usually reflected in two of the four initial questions
- Only 7% of initial PAA questions are unaligned to the original query
- 10% of PAA boxes contain an irrelevant question
Check out our guide to SERP feature rank tracking.
The Difficulty in Analyzing Intent within ‘People Also Ask’
Before I get into the heart of the data and analysis we need to talk about the difficulty in classifying intents within PAA. There
is no purely objective criteria by which to determine whether or not a specific PAA question reflects a unique intent or is part of the same “intent landscape” that is reflected in another PAA question within the same box. Fundamentally, this is a subjective process that is made particularly hard by questions that are not always light years apart from each other. Obviously, within any PAA box, some questions are of a distinct nature compared to the others. However, and more often than you would think, the questions are merely slight variations of each other. The problem is, even a slight variation can reflect a unique intent.
Let me show you.
Here’s the PAA for the keyword chocolate cake recipes:
Have a look at the 3rd question; How do you make chocolate cake moist? Is that the same thing as asking how do you make chocolate cake per se? In a way, yeah. In a way, it’s a bit more specific than that. In this instance, I decided it was a separate intent. Could you have gone the other way with it? Sure. Now, this case was a bit easier than others. If we look at the 4th question, we see that Google is predisposed towards catering to users worried about their chocolate cake’s moistness. That supports the thinking that the question How do you make your chocolate cake moist? goes beyond the intent of finding a good chocolate cake recipe.
This, in a way, highlights my method of parsing intents. When I had two questions that I thought might or might not reflect the same user intent, to differentiate in these cases, I asked myself, “Could the same user be satisfied with the answer to either of these questions?” If the answer was more or less “yes” then the questions reflected the same user intent and vice versa.
Let me show you another case. This is the PAA box I saw for the keyword
The first question wants to know if Corelle plates are oven safe while the second question does not even mention the brand! However, I considered them both to be reflections of the same user intent. The same user who wants to know if Corelle is oven safe may very well be on a quest to find dinnerware that can take a beating. I considered these two questions to be subsets of the same intent… finding long lasting and versatile dinnerware. Could you make the case that they should not be categorized together? I think it would be hard, but you could.
Since this process can quickly turn into a ‘splitting of hairs “I asked one unfortunate fellow on our team to review my determinations and offer their thoughts. We then went through a back and forth exercise until we hashed out the intent parsing we both saw as being the most correct. At a minimum, the data reflected in this study is consistent.
How Diverse is Intent within ‘People Also Ask’?
How many intents, how many different users, are targeted within the initial four questions shown in your average PAA box?
The average PAA box is pretty diverse with nearly three intents being reflected within its initial four questions. The average box contains nearly three unique intents. In real terms, that means close to 3 out of the 4 initial PAA questions target unique users. This, of course, needs to be qualified. How wide is the intent spectrum here? In what manner is Google showing diverse intents? Is Google trying to go deeper into one topic or offer a wider range of topics altogether?
For right now let’s break the overall average down a bit. To do that let’s look at two different keyword datasets. The first I’m calling “Keyword Category.” Meaning, the dataset contains various industry categories/niches. I could continue to poorly explain this or I could just show you the data:
There’s really not much deviation between any of the niches shown within the Keyword Category dataset as compared to the baseline or overall average (which, again, stood at 2.8 intents). At most, we’re looking at a .3 percentage point increase when looking at keywords for Products & Brands and .3 percentage point decrease for Recipe keywords. All things considered, that’s pretty darn consistent with the overall average and reflects just a 12% increase or decrease from the “baseline.”
I also looked at different types of keywords, long tail keywords for example. Here too, the data was relatively consistent with the overall average:
The data for some of the subcategories here is slightly more divergent from the overall average compared to some of the niche keywords. Both long tail and how to keywords reflected 3.2 average intents within the PAA box, that’s a .4 increase compared to the overall average.
The jump seen in the average number of intents in the PAA box for long tail keywords can be at least partially explained by the increased difficulty in interpreting the query type in general.
For example, the keyword why did
luke not kill
vader at the end of return of the
jedi seemed to be very tricky for Google. Here, Google shows a PAA with four unique intents:
As any good Star Wars fan can see, the questions seem loosely related to the query. That is, they are not a natural extension of the original query as most PAA boxes tend to be.
A clear instance of long tail keywords presenting Google with a harder time with their interpretation is did
elvis die on the toilet or was he abducted by aliens:
Aside for being the most bizarre if not downright fun keyword I’ve ever used in an SEO study, the intents reflected in the PAA box are a bit all over the place with one question asking how a monarch died and another asking about Elvis’ manager.
I would argue that the opposite is the case for how-to keywords. That is, for this keyword subset Google does such a good job interpreting the query that it can offer more highly relevant intent instances than it usually can.
The PAA box for how to inspect for black mold manifests this well:
I mean it’s almost perfect. Google targets all of the main areas of concern when it comes to ‘mold’. All of the top concerns someone could have about ‘mold’ are addressed in the first four questions of the PAA box.
What Intent Patterns Does Google Display within ‘People Also Ask’?
How does the data look from a per question perspective? Obviously, not every question reflects a unique intent, otherwise, the average showed earlier would be 4, not 2.8. Google is doubling up intent somewhere within the average PAA box. The question is, where? Is there a consistent pattern to it?
Analyzing this is a bit tricky. So what I did was break down the number of questions each intent inside the PAA boxes received. In other words, let’s say the first question shown in the PAA box indicated intent “X.” Now imagine if question #2 reflected intent “Y.” Lastly, let us suppose that questions #3 and #4 also reflected intent “Y.” In this instance, the first intent
seen within the PAA Box here (i.e., the intent manifested by the very first question in the PAA box) has but one question that aligns to it, question #1. At the same time, intent “Y,” or the second intent shown in the PAA box, has three questions that align to it.
It’s a bit of an interesting way to break it down, but it’s the best I’ve got. Let’s take a look a real example before I present the data itself.
Below is a PAA box for the keyword penny stocks to buy:
The first three questions, to varying degrees, all deal with the viability of buying penny stocks while the last question reflects a separate intent (i.e., how to go about buying penny stocks). According to how I’ve constructed this, intent #1 (the first intent shown by the PAA box, which obviously happens with the very first question) has three questions that align to it while intent #2 is only shown in the last question.
For the entire keyword set studied the data looks like the following:
What’s genuinely interesting here is that Google seems to have an intent hierarchy within the PAA box. The first intent, which is synonymous with the first PAA question, is the most prevalent. That is, the intent embodied by the first PAA question accounts for nearly two of the initial four PAA questions!
Now, obviously, the fourth intent (should there be one) can only be present within one question, the fourth, because there is no initial fifth question. Still, the combination of the 3rd and 4th question into the PAA box’s third intent is a marginal occurrence. On average, the third intent encompasses just 1.1 PAA questions.
Here’s where things get interesting, however. When I looked at how Google “chunks” intent within the PAA box by keyword type the data pretty much matched that seen in the dataset overall:
However, when we started looking at different keyword categories/niches a different narrative emerges:
PAA boxes within both the Health and Recipe categories had the initial intent embedded within two questions. Recipes reflected a .4 point increase in the average number of questions that represented the PAA
box’s initial intent. While that is not an enormous difference by any stretch, it does stand in sharp distinction to the other subcategories studied. (I will remind you, each of the data subsets analyzed contained just 30 keywords. However, the trends across all subsets are exactly alike).
The bottom line is, Google gives the first intent extra opportunity within the PAA box. This naturally lends itself to indicating that Google believes the first intent within the PAA box to be more relevant to users. As otherwise why would it offer the user more opportunities to engage with the intent?
Qualifying Google’s Intent Practices within ‘People Also Ask’
Translating the data shown above into a qualitative analysis of Google’s intent practices is a complex matter. The main question I was faced with having seen the results has to do with why Google offers such a diverse set of intents within the initial PAA questions. Is it because Google is so good at understanding user intent that it can offer access to so many related topics or is it because Google is a bit baffled at what users want (and is subsequently trying to cover all bases by offering a diverse set of intents)?
To help answer this I analyzed the PAA boxes I came across to determine if the first question presented was highly relevant to the initial query. Having seen that the first PAA question reflects an intent that generally speaking appears within a second PAA question made knowing this all the more important.
Just 7% of all the initial PAA questions I analyzed were not aligned to the query’s intent. That’s not a lot at all. Just so you understand what I’m referring to when I say the first PAA question is unaligned, here’s what I saw for the keyword how to shop online:
Obviously, the user is not intending on ordering an online shop… I’m not even sure how one would order an online shop being that a digital entity is hard to send in the mail. What’s interesting here is that the questions that follow are right on target. Peculiar.
Forget the first question… how accurate is the PAA box overall? Meaning, what percent of PAA boxes contain intents that are entirely aligned to the initial query?
Looking at the relevancy of all of the questions in a PAA box, not just the first, gives us a slight increase of three percentage points. Just to be clear, this stat doesn’t mean all of the questions were off the mark. Rather, it reflects that at least one question was unaligned to the original search query.
The point is… the PAA is highly accurate. To think then that Google is offering a diverse set of intents so as to deal with a comprehensive inadequacy doesn’t fit. That is not to say Google doesn’t do that from time to time. As mentioned earlier, long tail keywords seem a bit more difficult for Google (which is reasonable).
The clearest example of Google struggling with
intent that I came across was for the keyword ways FDR compensated for having polio as president:
The first question is on the mark. However, for the record, FDR was Franklin Delano Roosevelt… Teddy Roosevelt was a different American president who had no disabilities (see question #3). For some reason, for the second question, Google harped on the connection (or lack thereof – they were 5th cousins) between the two Roosevelts which has no connection to the query’s intent (i.e., learning more about FDR in relation to his disabilities that resulted from contracting Polio).
However, while Google’s PAA might not be perfect, they do seem to be highly refined and well-tuned.
Intent Target and ‘People Also Ask’ – Takeaways
Time to regroup and take stock of where we stand with the PAA feature after having had a good look at a lot of data. That is, what does the above PAA data indicate and what can you take away from it on a more practical level?
‘People Also Ask’ Intent is Diverse
The most notable outcome of the data is that it paints a clear picture of PAA intent. Google presents a diverse set of intents within the initial four PAA questions. Having seen that the quality of the questions
are very much in sync with the original query, the PAA box speaks well of Google’s ability to understand
Practically speaking, with more a more diverse intent showing comes, all things being equal, a more diverse set of sites. Meaning, in a general sense there are more opportunities for all sorts of sites within a given PAA box. That is, rather than drilling down into one topic, Google tends to offer users a broader set of subject matter within the PAA feature. The result is a broader range of sites becoming relevant to a given PAA box.
The First ‘People Also Ask’ Question Gets Special Treatment
Google seems to have an intent hierarchy. Meaning, the first question in the PAA box is there because it is highly aligned to the initial query. As shown, Google tends to double up on the intent reflected within the first PAA question. This doubling up of intent at the first PAA position clearly shows Google’s inclination to consider one intent more relevant than another.
Aside from pointing towards the complexity in how Google goes about inserting the questions that it does into a given PAA box, there are some real-world implications. With more than one relevant question a user has what to choose from. While that might mean more opportunity, it also means more competition at the same time. Though I have not specifically studied it, I would imagine being the first question shown for a specific intent is better than being the second question aligned to that intent… not hard to fathom.
With that, it may be worth your while to target the PAA boxes you want to show within. That would mean studying the intents within the PAA boxes you so desire and identifying that “doubled up” intent and targeting it like there’s no tomorrow!
Google Treats ‘People Also Ask’ Boxes Equally Across the Board
All things considered, the PAA box is quite consistent. The average number of intents within the PAA box hardly moves no matter the niche and no matter the type of keyword. That means, generally speaking, you don’t really need to consider any special conditions for your industry when targeting the PAA box. Google’s approach to the PAA appears to apply equally across the board. That makes a great deal of sense since the SERP feature aims at meeting a user’s ancillary needs, which are a universal (as opposed to local SERP features that only apply to a locally minded user).
Relating Questions to the People – The Creation of a Monster!
If you think Related Questions (the formal name of People Also Ask) is big now, this is just the beginning! Our SERP Feature Tracker shows that Related Questions reside on nearly 30% of all SERPs (desktop US) and that’s for a normalized dataset! For the most common queries out there, that number jumps exponentially!
People Also Ask is an easy way for Google to offer access to multiple intents on the SERP… which has very much become the search engine’s mantra. As time goes on the feature is sure to get some “upgrades” and will surely become a source of a serious amount of chatter within the SEO industry. We’re literally seeing the very beginnings of Related Questions becoming a major part of a sound SEO strategy.
If I had to pick to a SERP feature that has gone a bit under the radar but will make a splash soon enough it would have to be People Also Ask. Should be interesting to see how things develop in the very near future!
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Local SEO is having a moment, with more and more small businesses claiming their local listings, keeping their information up to **** and fighting for a coveted Local Pack position on search engine results pages (SERPs). Search engines like Google have proven that the best way to attract physical visitors to a brick-and-mortar business is by targeting potential customers online. And all this has been possible through Google My Business (GMB), the company’s tool that enables businesses to manage their online presence across Google Search and Maps.
GMB has been invaluable for countless businesses. It feels like we barely got to know her; we had so much more to learn – and yet, GMB is retiring. That’s right. Soon, GMB will be no more, replaced by a successor, Google Business Profile.
In an announcement posted on its Ads & Commerce Blog, Google said it would be migrating all GMB features to Maps and Search and rolling out new ways for businesses to manage their profile directly on Google Search and the Google Maps app. These new features come with a new name. In its blog, Google said:
“Moving forward, we recommend small businesses manage their profiles directly on Search or Maps. To keep things simple, ‘Google My Business’ is being renamed ‘Google Business Profile.’ And in 2022, we’ll retire the Google My Business app so more merchants can take advantage of the upgraded experience on Search and Maps.”
With the GMB app soon to be defunct, the update will mean a couple of things. Firstly, single-location businesses are being encouraged to manage their listings directly on Google Search or Maps rather than the GMB console. Meanwhile, the existing GMB web experience, which has proven invaluable for multi-location businesses, will be renamed Business Profile Manager and will exist primarily to support franchise businesses.
There’s no need for any major concern among business owners and SEOs. Business Profile Manager should retain all the features and functionality you’ve learned to **** about GMB, although we can expect some additional capabilities to be introduced when the time comes. Many of these changes will only be live next year, but it’s definitely not too early to read up on how to claim your Google Business Profile and get familiar with what will soon be your new and improved local SEO lifeline.
More SEO News You Can Use
Page Experience Is Coming to Desktop: Just as conversations in the SEO community are swirling that optimizing for Google Page Experience has been a waste of time, Google announced that the update is coming to desktop results. By March 2022, Core Web Vitals, along with other page experience ranking signals, will affect desktop search results (or not affect them, depending on your experience with the algorithm thus far). Naturally, the only difference will be that mobile-friendliness will not apply to desktop, so this update could potentially prove beneficial for websites whose mobile responsiveness could use a little work. Interestingly, though, Google has made the announcement of the desktop rollout three months before its launch, meaning the search engine is again allowing ample time to optimize. Clearly, Google still believes preparing for Page Experience is important, even if many SEOs have all but given up.
Google Rolls Out the November 2021 Spam Update: Google’s war on spam continues, and its latest battle is in the form of a Google spam update that started rolling out on Wednesday and will be completed a little later this week. Spam updates have become a regular fixture of 2021, the unofficial Year of Updates, which has, so far, seen a link spam update and a two-part spam update. Thanks to these updates, Google’s systems are able to keep almost 100 percent of site visits from search results spam-free, blocking billions of spammy pages from being indexed. If you’ve been through all of them unscathed, the November 2021 Spam Update should prove no different. While Google’s Danny Sullivan announced the news on Twitter, he didn’t say whether it would target content spam, link spam or something else. But he did remind all site owners to follow Google’s webmaster guidelines as a way to maintain their position on SERPs.
Here’s Why You Should Stop Trying To Build Trust With Google: In a recent Search Central office-hours hangout, Google’s John Mueller addressed the concept of trust – specifically, Google’s trust (or lack thereof) in a website. A viewer asked Mueller about the best content for building trust, but Mueller played down the importance of seeking trust from Google. Instead, he said, site owners should first and foremost be concerned with producing the best content possible. Mueller says Google doesn’t factor trust metrics into its algorithm. Although there’s an idea that if Google doesn’t rank your site, it’s because it doesn’t trust it, this is not necessarily true. So, what can you do to make sure Google ranks your content? According to Mueller, you should be building trust with users, not Google – producing content that speaks to your audience in their language and matches their search intent.
Title Tags Are a Ranking Factor – But Controlling Them Is Possible: In an office-hours hangout, Mueller confirmed that title tags are a “tiny” ranking factor, which (yikes!) means that Google’s algorithm rewrites your title tags could potentially impact your rankings. A viewer was concerned because Google was shortening their titles and adding the company name, limiting how much information the title could convey. Mueller’s response revealed that Google touching your titles could affect your SEO. But luckily, in the same hangout, Mueller answered a different question about how to fix title tag rewrites. Google has previously released documentation to help SEOs control their SERP presence, but the viewer claimed following the advice wasn’t working. The viewer’s issue was likely boilerplate text repeated across category pages, but Mueller also went into some helpful troubleshooting tips. Check out the video for more insights into this tricky update.
A New Version of PageSpeed Insights Is Launching Soon: With Google’s focus on user experience (UX), few tools are as useful for site owners as PageSpeed Insights (PSI), an SEO staple. Google announced in a blog on Tuesday that a new version of the tool is in the works, and it will address a number of issues and challenges posed by the existing version. So, what’s new? Any regular user of PSI knows that its data isn’t presented in the most easily digestible way, so a new, “more intuitive” user interface (UI) is one of the most exciting updates. The new UI includes a clear separation between lab and field data and Core Web Vitals assessment results are highlighted in a separate subsection. Aside from these, some additional details and information are also being introduced to reports – data collection period, visit durations and devices, to name a few. As yet, no release **** has been announced, but watch this space for an update.
Editor’s Note: “SEO News You Can Use” is a weekly blog post posted every Monday morning only on SEOblog.com, rounding up all the top SEO news from around the world. Our goal is to make SEOblog.com a one-stop-shop for everyone looking for SEO news, education and for hiring an SEO expert with our comprehensive SEO agency directory.
Google recently released a spam update. Judging by how Google released several spam updates in a row followed by a core update this past summer, it would not be surprising if a core update is in the works, especially since the holiday shopping season is around the corner and Google has a history of releasing updates around that time of year. After experiencing Google updates for over twenty years, one advice is still the same and that’s to wait a bit before panicking. These are the reasons why.
Life Cycle of a Google Update
A life cycle for a Google update could be said to be the introduction of a new algorithm, modifications to improve it, eventual obsolescence and then replacement.
The improvements to the update usually begin shortly after the update is released and issues are identified. This article links to a Google video to confirm that algorithms have been updated.
This article is mostly concerned with what happens after the update launches and a website loses rankings.
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Waiting for the Update to Settle Down
It seems that almost every Google update gets rolled back a little bit, sometimes within the space of days as if the different parts are added in unevenly across data centers.
Sometimes the search results immediately after an update announcement is rolled back within a few days for some sectors of the web while they stay the same in others.
There are some algorithm updates that affect the search results in a profound way, like the Medic update from 2018 and the BERT update most recently.
Those updates had a strong impact in how Google understands search queries and website content.
John Mueller recently said that core updates in general are about relevance and overall quality and those could be the introduction of new algorithms or the same algorithms but faster or improved.
There are many Google research papers that are about relevance but also about new ways for machines to learn and to improve (relatively) older algorithms like BERT.
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But every time something new is introduced, that no matter how much testing is done that there will be unintended consequences when sites that should not have lost rankings regain their rankings.
Sometimes this happens sooner. Sometimes a site has to wait until the next Google core update.
Sites that should not have lost rankings are called false positives and sometimes also referred to as collateral damage.
Google Dance History
In Google’s early days the search index was updated on a monthly basis. Each month Google would add in the data from the previous months crawl and recalculate the rankings.
This is when publishers would find out if the changes to title tags, links and content helped their rankings.
It was actually kind of fun to share notes with other publishers about what seemingly worked.
Google’s monthly updates were called The Google Dance because during the update the search results would cause web pages to gain and lose positions in the search results.
Here’s a WebmasterWorld monthly Google update post from 2002 where I comment about a poorly designed website that had popped to the top of the search results and then mentioned about how the search results will settle down in a short time.
My forum post:
“The number one serp for a term I follow is so far dominated by an awful FP 4.0 page that isn’t in dmoz, and has no PR.
I’ve never seen it before. This is a poor result (Goodness, this is an awful amateur web site) that makes the serp look shameful.
I will, however, wait until the dance is over before I start to foam at the mouth. These things usually look weird until they’re settled.”
This pattern of Google updates settling down has been a feature since pretty much the beginning of Google updates.
There is a long history of Google dialing back whatever was changed.
A Hypothetical Example of Collateral Damage in Search
Let’s say they make a change to better identify what users mean when they make an ambiguous search query, and they do that with natural language processing that understands what context means from various external documents (a hypothetical thought experiment).
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They test it and it works. The quality raters give it a thumbs up and the various algorithms are queued up for release.
So then they roll that out in a core update.
And then the false positives happen where some high quality sites will be pushed down in the search results because other less deserving sites got pushed up.
It’s not that the high quality sites were demoted. It was that other sites were promoted unintentionally.
This viewpoint about not being demoted is super important to remember.
Just because a site lost rankings does not mean it was demoted or targeted.
Post-update Fine Tuning
In the past Google engineers took reports of quality sites that lost rankings that should not have suffered.
For example, in a YouTube video Google engineer Matt Cutts in 2013 offered a rare look behind the scenes about how an update is refined and tuned after it rolls out.
Video of Google Engineer Matt Cutts
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In this case he was remarking on the ongoing refinement of the Panda algorithm after reports of collateral damage where high quality sites were affected by the Panda algorithm.
Matt also remarks in the video about side effects caused by the recently released algorithm and how they were going to take steps to fix those as well.
Matt Cutts explained:
“We’ve also been looking at Panda and seeing if we can find some additional signals (and we think we got some) to help refine things for the sites that are kind of in the border zone, in the gray area a little bit.
And so if we can soften the effect a little bit for those sites that we believe have got some additional signals of quality, then that will help sites that might have previously been affected to some degree by Panda.
We also heard a lot of feedback from people about Okay if I go down three pages deep I’ll see a cluster of several results all from one domain.
And we’ve actually made things better in terms of you would be less likely to see that on the first page, but more likely to see that on the following pages.
And we’re looking at a change which might deploy which would basically say, once you’ve seen a cluster of results from one site then you’d be less likely to see more results from that site as you go deeper into the next pages of Google search results.”
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Going back to the hypothetical example, maybe Google figures out that the new natural language processing they added might favor a certain kind of low quality site and when they add an additional signal this fixes the search results.
AI Makes Mistakes
Mistakes in Artificial Intelligence (AI) happen. Facebook had to apologize in September 2021 when their AI labeled black men as apes.
According the news report:
“Facebook users who watched a newspaper video featuring black men were asked if they wanted to “keep seeing videos about primates” by an artificial-intelligence recommendation system.”
Algorithms are not perfect and it shouldn’t be a surprise if any core update or spam update makes a mistake and Google has to dial it back. It’s almost a given, in my opinion.
Always take what people say online with a grain of salt. Coincidences are sometimes mistaken for proof.
For example, one SEO told me that they filed a disavow for a customer hit by a core update and that within days their site recovered.
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But that was a coincidence, the disavow file had nothing to do with the site recovery. I know that because Google’s John Mueller recently said that disavow files take months before they have any effect in the algorithm and that’s IF they have an effect (because Google’s algorithm is good at catching random spam links).
So don’t automatically believe what people say is happening after a core update, especially if it cannot be cross-referenced as a significant trend.
Google Core Updates Don’t Target Niches
In general, Google updates don’t specifically target niches. There are exceptions of course, like the 2021 Product Reviews Update.
But in general, targeting specific niches isn’t how core updates work.
And even when a trend is identified, like when health related sites seemed to be suffering the most from an update, do not ever take that to mean that Google is “targeting” a specific niche, that’s not how updates work.
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In the medic case, Google had updated how it understands queries and content and that profound change was most visible in medical search queries more than other areas.
So rather than incorrectly deduce that Google was “targeting” a niche the better way to examine that particular update was to ask, why is it that medical sites are more sensitive to what was changed?
John Mueller recently said that a site whose rankings were impacted by a core update won’t find a solution by disavowing random links or fixing technical issues like 404 errors.
He said that was the case because core updates revolve around relevance and overall site quality.
The way I generally approach solving a core update ranking issue is thinking about how relevance or quality might play a role.
What do people mean when they ask a query? That’s something that tends to change in an update.
Rankings Dropped. What Next?
I’m going to circle back to where we started, which is that updates seem to be dialed back sometimes. Sometimes they are dialed back a little bit within days, perhaps while they’re tuning it to fix mistakes. Sometimes it’s dialed back in the next update.
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Google has begun announcing when an update has finished rolling out. If the rankings have changed and not returned then that’s a good time to take a hard look at overall quality and relevance.
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