I Had Dinner With Google Again - Info on Rankings
As many of you probably have read my WA blog post from two weeks ago, I got to sit down to a fun dinner outing with my friend David who happens to be a senior programmer at Google. If you haven't read that entertaining blog, just click the link below. At that dinner it was more of a trip down memory lane when we used to develop video games.
INFO ON RANKINGS
Fortunately, as I stated in the previous blog, much of what is taught here at WA falls into line with what Google expects of us who create content. However the problem is that there is still a lot of old SEO recommendations still floating around on the internet that Google doesn't even use anymore, like the keywords meta tag on pages and posts.
Things like keyword density = old and out-dated advice. If your target keyword appears in your page or post title and once more in the first or second paragraph of your content, you do not need to use it again to be ranked for that keyword. However, Google will not only use that keyword to rank you.
As I have stated many times before, your post/pages can get ranked on the first page of Google for keywords that you never even consciously used in your content. Why? The answer is in the last sentence of the above paragraph. I even created a tutorial a while back showing you how I was able to get on page 1 for keywords I never used, see below link.
When I had dinner with David last night, unlike the first time, I did ask him some specific questions about SEO and rankings. What he told me, some I had already known thanks to Kyle's training and some things were news to me. I am not going to go into detail here, but I will be creating two tutorials really soon.
What I will say now will address the confusion many have when they see their newly posted content ranking high in Google, only to have it drop like a rock several days later. In short, when this happens do not panick, this is normal. Those high Google rankings you saw just after posting in most cases are not your true rankings. Those come later.
IS IT THE GOOGLE DANCE?
When I mentioned the Google Dance to David last night, he laughed. He said if you are going to dance with Google you have to let it lead. As we all should know by now Google is a search engine and its job is to offer the best results to the queries typed into its search bar. Google is always looking for fresh new content to index.
When you post a new post or page and it gets indexed, if it is well written and has a low competition keyword in its title and URL, Google will rank it highly because it is fresh new content related to that one particular keyword. But Google does not rank your content based only on your target keyword.
There are over 200 ranking factors that Google uses and one key component is called RankBrain, which uses machine learning. This is the ability for RankBrain to teach itself from data fed to it from the ranking algorithm. Prior to RankBrain you were ranked solely on the competition of your keyword. Now it is more complex.
In short RankBrain will take your target keyword query and interpret it to determine the true intent of the person using the search query. It is through this "true intent" that Google will use to determine your true rankings in the SERPs. How does RankBrain do this? By reading your entire content and match the query to relevant information.
CONTENT, CONTENT, CONTENT
We have all heard that Content is King and this is still true today. It is your entire content that not only will determine how much traffic you will get, but how high you will rank. Did you tthink it was your target keyword that determines your rank? Nope! Your keyword only determines the rank for that specific keyword.
When RankBrain is determining your true rankings in the SERPs it is using your entire content and how well that content is relevant to any given search query, including your target keyword. So when you post new content, within the first few days your rankings are based on Pre-RankBrain determinations.
Once RankBrain has been able to determine the true rankings, this is when you see your rankings drop. If your content is well written and answers your keyword query the best, your ranking may stay the same or even go up. But why does the ranking in most cases bounce back up eventually? Because of engagement metrics from click data.
I found a quote from Udi Manber, Google's former head of Search Quality that says, "The ranking itself is affected by click data. If we discover that, for a particular query, 80% of people click on #2 and only 10% click on #1, after a while we figure out probably, #2 is the one people want, so we will switch it."
Simply put, the more engagement your content gets from people clicking on it and even moreso by leaving comments, Google's ranking algorithm with the help of RankBrain can determine how popular your content is compared to other similar articles. The more engagement you get, the higher your rank will go.
MORE TO COME
David clued me into some other SEO information that we all should know about going forward. I have searched the WA platform for information on or similar to what David mentioned and I couldn't find any training on it, just a few blogs or mentions. This SEO advice is for upcoming changes that Google is already developing.
Much of it is already functional but as David said, a lot more needs to be rolled out after certain procedures are refined. But it is coming quickly and it has and will change SEO as we know it today. Fortunately the change will not erase what we already know but it will add to what we need to know if we want to get higher rankings.
UPDATE - Below is the link to the first of the two tutorials that I mentioned above. I just published this today July 29, 2018.