Having Drinks With a Google Programmer - What I Learned

Last Update: April 23, 2020

A little more than a year ago I wrote a couple of WA blog posts about having dinner with Google. This was actually a friend and former co-worker who is now a Senior Programmer at Google. I hadn't seen him for many years prior to our meeting so I restricted my conversation from being about SEO and how Google ranks our content.


If you were me, would you lead right into questions about how you could get better, quicker and higher rankings for your website content? I hadn't seen the guy in almost 20 years. I didn't want to scare him from wanting to meet up with me again in the future because who knows, I may just have some legitimate SEO questions to ask him.

If your friend was one of the programmers working on the Google search results and ranking algorithm, could you contain yourself and not talk SEO? It was hard for me not to but I did have help because out of the group of a dozen of us, I was the only one with a website who would find his answers revealing and beneficial.

So I didn't get too much information in my first two meet ups with my friend David. He was never much of a talker about his job, even when he and I were in the same video game design company. He would rather talk about living in California, computers, online video games, and board games like Dungeons & Dragons, he's a BIG D&D FAN!

However, I wanted to know some answers to questions I had about SEO and clues into the hidden nuggets of information that Google does not broadcast to a majority of the online world. I was determined to get at least some info that I could share with all of you, seeing how we all rely on Google for the ranking and traffic to our website content.


Long story short, David flew back to New Jersey the Friday after New Years Day for some yearly D&D tournament that normally happens in Texas at the home of another friend and ex co-worker. One of the people from New Jersey who normally attends fractured his foot and could not travel so the D&D tournament was held in NJ. Afterwards we got together for drinks.

I totally forgot that David rarely drinks liquor. He drinks mostly beer like I do, but I will never turn down a shot or two of agave tequila, my favorite is Patron Silver. Someone asked, who wants to do shots of tequila? Seeing how I was able to walk to this pub from my home I knew I didn't have to drive so I said, I'll do a shot!

David said NO WAY! How can you drink that stuff? It burns, plus the lemon and salt? Then he had seen that I was the only one that didn't get a shot of Cuervo tequila and that mine looked more like vodka, and I didn't need a lemon or salt. He asked, is that vodka? I said no, it's really smooth tequila, no lemon or salt required. Do you want to try it?

Well he did and he enjoyed it enough to have a second shot with me about 30-45 minutes later. Then I learned how much more talkative David becomes under the influence of alcohol, at least with tequila. So I took advantage of that to see if he would share some new Google info that I had not received from our previous visits.


Yes, Google has changed how they look at SEO and rank websites. When I started back in 2013 it was still relevant to take your target keyword, place it a certain amount of times in your content, and this would indicate to Google what your content was about and what you wanted to be ranked for. In essence this was called Keyword Density.

Unknown to many, except SEO experts at Google and those few with direct connection to the search engine giant, Keyword Density as it was known was being killed off. David says that both the Google ranking algorithm and thus SEO is constantly evolving. This in turn meant that Keyword Density in its present form had to die and be transformed.

The way people search online was drastically changing by way of voice search, and because of this SEO had to change as well. The major search algorithm core update called Hummingbird was the final nail in the Keyword Density coffin. No longer was the old way needed for ranking a website. Google was no longer looking at one specific keyword.

The concept of using multiple keywords was still going to continue but the process was going to be totally different. It is pretty well-known to those who pay attention to SEO that there is still a ton of OLD information being shared online. David says that Google is still ranking you for multiple uses of keywords but NOT the same specific keyword.


Are you asking yourself, what is Rank Brain? First off Google says that it is the 3rd most important ranking factor in the ranking algorithm behind content and links. My friend David says it is a very important aspect of the entire search results process which constantly gets updated. Not only does he and others update it but Rank Brain teaches itself.

Rank Brain is a machine-learning artificial intelligence system that is a major component of the Hummingbird core algorithm. It is used to help process the search results based on the keyword query that a person types or speaks into Google. If you are wondering what machine-learning means, in simple terms Rank Brain can teach itself instead of being programmed.

The reason why it is important to optimize your content for Rank Brain, which technically is not directly possible, is because Rank Brain is responsible for ranking your content in the SERPs as soon as someone types/speaks in a RELEVANT keyword query. Notice I emphasized relevant. Rank Brain does not look for multiple uses of the same target keyword.

Instead, Rank Brain is looking for other relevant keywords that best answer the more complex search queries that people are now using when going up on Google. Voice Search makes up at least 50% of how people search online in 2020 and this trend will continue to grow and eventually replace typed in search queries. This will make queries more complex.


Back in 2013 shortly after the new Google core algorithm Hummingbird was activated I did a tutorial about Long Tail Keywords. In it I stated some SEO facts, one of them being that 70% of all search queries in the search engines are Long Tail Keywords. This is mainly because long tail keywords tend to be more "natural speaking" terms other than just words.

The majority of people when doing a search whether it be typing it or more so speaking it nowadays, are asking queries in a natural speaking way. "Where to stay when visiting Mount Rushmore," " the cheapest hotels on the Las Vegas Strip," "how to do keyword research for SEO ranking on Google." These are specific queries in a natural tone.

By using long tail keywords you get to target a more human audience that are looking for specific things and in a more natural speaking tone. David says that Google search wants to be as naturally human as possible and mainly get away from those short three or four word keywords because natural speaking is how the majority of people search Google.

This is becoming more evident with "Smart Voice Search" devices like Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple HomePod, and many others. Google knows that voice search is rapidly becoming the normal way to doing search and needs a way to rank content that is optimized for this type of search. Rank Brain is a major step in that direction.


Another important ranking factor in Google's algorithm is User Experience (UX). When people read your website content they want lots of information that is unique, fresh (not rehashed content), and written in a conversational tone that is not repeating the same thing over and over. This is the type of content Google will highly rank, especially when it is long-form.

I created a tutorial a few weeks prior to this post that shows you how you need to be using your keywords in this current age of Hummingbird and Rank Brain for a good SEO and UX. You can read it here at What Does Keyord Rich Content Mean in SEO. Like the terms Keyword Density and LSI Keywords, Keyword Rich Content means something different.

David says that processes like these still get used but in a totally different way to reflect the constant evolution of how Google ranks content. Keyword Density has merged with LSI Keywords and Google calls it internally as Word Vector Approach. This becomes the new meaning of Keyword Rich Content. It is really interesting learning this stuff from David.

He says that with each future update to the core algorithm, Rank Brain is going to start lowering the rankings of content that is now ranking high if it is not properly optimized. So if you see a significant drop in your rankings, this could be a major reason why. Rank Brain is now going through more and more already indexed content looking to re-rank it accordingly.


David gave me some information to reference for helping webmasters like ourselves to better protect our rankings against all future Google updates going forward. These guidelines come directly from Google and though they do not give 100% protection, they can prevent huge drops in your rankings as Rank Brain continues to go through already indexed content.

By incorporating the keyword techniques I describe in the tutorial I linked to above and write your content using both long tail keywords and long form content, you will give Google better optimized content for it to index and rank. The days of writing content based solely on one keyword repeated often are dead. Out with the old and in with the new conversational SEO.

The Google guidelines I showcase in the tutorial at the link below, high quality SEO content, good UX and expertise in your niche are what Google wants to see and rank you for. In the comments of my previous tutorial I was challenged that my information was wrong because the Yoast plugin has a green light when a target keyword is used a certain amount of time.

My response was that those red and green lights are only recommendations. Yoast even says in their own blog that content can still highly rank without getting all lights to green. Using a target keyword multiple times is not current SEO, using multiple synonym keywords along with relevant thorough content is what will get you long-lasting higher rankings.

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Palatia Premium
Oh my gosh. This is great information. The biggest thing I got out of this was using synonyms. I've been longing to do more synonyms to keep the article from being boring and helping more people grasp the concepts using different words. As always, Rob, you bring some great information. Thanks so much.

boomergp08 Premium
You are welcome Paula and YES, using synonyms are a great way to increase your SEO. This is/was the basis of what LSI keywords are all about.
Mark1957 Premium
Another excellent and informative piece Robert.

It seems that, in future, with searches becoming increasingly voice based, it is even more important to factor in all of the points you make in order to achieve that coveted number one spot.....especially if your chosen assistant (Hey Google, Alexa etc) will only give you one result and not a whole page full.

Thanks again Robert.

boomergp08 Premium
Voice Search SEO which hasn't been taught here yet, is not much different than the SEO we now do. I have learned there are a few specific things that need to be added to achieve that top spot so your post gets picked by the smart voice search devices. I may do a training on this later this year once I get a better understanding of it, unless Jay beats me to it. :-)
Mark1957 Premium
Would look forward to that Robert👍
Wilde Premium
Thanks for the info and knowledge!

I think you did a great job. I agree with you and would just keep the conversation light at first. Catching up to ask better questions later. After all, if the tables were turned, how would you feel? I mention this because I've been a Cop for almost ten years. I hate meeting new people when they find out what I do (yes, I hear all the stories on how Police suck, the last speeding ticket received, or something "their friend did," questions like have you shot anyone, what's your craziest story, etc.) But I digress.

So, taking the first meeting or two with your friend slow is better than jumping in. I'm sure that is why he was more willing to share some great and useful tips.

And, the sweet nectar of the Gods always helps with opening up people as well :-)
boomergp08 Premium
You are welcome and I am sort of getting the attention I am not seeking from people during this current pandemic times. I am a medical transport driver and I get people asking how can deal with being up close with sick people?

Like me you are just doing your job. I have a few friends in law enforcement and have heard others ask those same comments and questions you get. I really do not want to talk about my job unless it is with my coworkers because they can relate.

I tend to not really get into the details of other people job, unless they are forthcoming, my friend is not one of those types. But then again that tequila was definitely an effective ice breaker. Was able to get some great info.
Wilde Premium
Then you totally get it! I think it's interesting how many don't. But then again, I try to answer questions quickly and then move on. It's entertaining when you find someone in the same or similar field that gets it...then you just give the "look." Haha, I hope it gets better soon for you.
boomergp08 Premium
LOL, yeah I get it. I think this happens when anyone has an interesting job. Depending on the job will determine the response. Even back in the days when I used to design and develop video games, when people found what I did they treated me like a rock star and thought it was so cool.

I used to roll my eyes and say, yeah it's a cool job but it is not all fun and games (pun intended). As for your job, everyday while driving around I will see cop vehicles in empty parking lots, side streets and think, damn they must be bored with everyone self quarantined indoors. I hope it gets better for both of us soon!
Wilde Premium
Haha, that's awesome. I had a job back in the day that tested software (games included), and after a bit, it was a job. But people thought it was so cool. That's funny, and looking back at it, I should have kept doing it (even part-time).

Honestly, it's not dull at all. Most parking lots (or in my case areas I can back into, so I only have to watch my sides) is excellent to catch up on paperwork. Not to mention continually checking out businesses to make sure nobody is breaking in.

It's never a dull moment.
boomergp08 Premium
Which state do you live?
Wilde Premium
California (northern)
boomergp08 Premium
I'm in New Jersey, 2nd worst Covid-19 state and live in the epicenter of the state because many who live here work in NYC only 15 minutes away.

I know California is also like in the top 5 and have both family and many friends who live there, mainly in the San Francisco silicon Valley area.

Stay safe and wear whatever PPE they may give you.
Wilde Premium
Thanks and back at you. SF is super crazy, and I read recently that the coyotes are starting to take over. Haha, got to love that. We have a few cases as well but not that bad (I'm in the Napa area).

We still have PPE, and I have my supply I purchased a few years ago (fires have been pretty bad). You stay safe as well!
DerekMarshal Premium
Thanks Boomer,

This is a great article and a great example of what I have been saying of ages. SEO is easy!

Mostly I think SEO is overcomplicated (in a +ive sense) with a whole cottage industry around it over complicating things unnecessary to create a need for their services.

*(ya know, Exact match anchor text, partial match, branded, naked, mix of them, ratios from hi or low DA sites, related sites or unrelated, Contributor attribute follow/no-follow from high traffic/low traffic sites, Editorial, authorbox......uggh! puh-lease!).

Everything you have put in this article is very straight forward, uncomplicated and pretty obvious to anyone that has been blogging for at least a year.

Sure somethings require a basic knowledge and a bit thought, like readablilty, user-experience but that is it. (note these are related to the content not specific/uniquely SEO related!)

This is exactly why Wealthy Affiliate and members here excel in the rankings - no need at all to over complicate things.

I bet you had a lot of "Dang!" moments and thought everything your friend was telling you was so obvious! Elusively obvious!.

Thanks for Posting this Robert. It is going to help a lot of folks see just how simple SEO is.
boomergp08 Premium
Yes Derek, SEO is a lot simpler than many people think it is and those who market and promote various SEO services, are muddying the waters just so they can make money off the mud they are slinging.

It reminds me of an analogy from a blogger on his video channel. He was talking about high ticket funnel systems compared to simple low cost funnels. He is from the area of California where the Gold Rush happened.

He said that the only people who made a lot of money in the Gold Rush were the ones who sold the tools to do the gold mining. He said that these people were mining the miners and equated that to people selling funnel tools.

The same holds true for those selling and promoting SEO services for the sake of money. Make SEO seem complicated and then sell a solution, when in reality SEO is not as complicated as it seems. The Google advances are making it easier.

That is why I cringe when I see WA members going outside of WA to learn about SEO when everything they need to know is already here. Don't complicate matters by either following old advice or those mining the SEO novices.
DerekMarshal Premium
That is a fantastic analogy!

I was actually sh*t scare of SEO before I joined, 'cos of these guys.

My first article?

6th place...above Harvard! lol!.

Which tells its own story really!

I am thankful for my mentor here telling me SEO taught here is simple and easy! (and that he had my back for any help!).

Thanks Robert.
boomergp08 Premium
I too was afraid of SEO before coming here. Then once I started doing it as is taught here I was like. Oh Wow! That's not as hard as I thought it would be.
EdwinBernard Premium
Hi Robert,

I found your Patron conversation with your Google friend fascinating. Your information validates how Jay teaches writing content in his SEO webinars.

He's demonstrated this concept by writing content during the webinar, getting it indexed using Search Console. Before the webinar is over, his article appears in the 1st page and often at position #1.

To be fair to Jay, he acknowledged that being an established authority helps. But if we follow the process we will get to the Holy Land too.

By the way, Jay always has Google Juice to drink during these sessions. He tells us so lol!


boomergp08 Premium
Thank you Edwin. I am pleased you liked my post. Jay is absolutely correct!

Writing quality content for the reader and then using Google Search Console right after publishing is what I do too.

We all should! Jays Google Juice comes from his authority as a website / content writer.