Several weeks ago marked the 12 year anniversary of Google’s IPO. It was valued at some 30 billion dollars then and today sits on top of the world at over 500 billion dollars. It’s no accident that Google has optimized its network to achieve this level of success when you consider the company’s historical past. Google has done a tremendous job monetizing its platform over the years and keeping webmasters on their toes with Google rankings.
I have attempted to document my take on key Google algorithm changes over the years and internal insights that I have garnered from working in the competitive SEO industry since 2005.
You might be saying, “But Brian, there are 185 posts already documenting Google’s supposed History. What’s new with yours?” Well most, if not all of them outside of a few, are devoid of any sort of filter/analysis from industry experts.
Machine learning at Google and it’s applications to search rankings and other product innovations isn’t something that is talked about much in the marketing blogosphere. It’s critical, however, to understand that Google is pushing this type of technology throughout it’s enterprise.
One strong sign that Google is years into machine learning is an open source software library they created for Machine Intelligence called TensorFlow, which they have given to the world to iterate on top of.
They have openly admitted they use TensorFlow in assisting with search results. Jeff Dean calls attention to it in this video at the 27 second mark.
Aki Balogh, the Founder of MarketMuse, helps define it further.
“Machine learning and artificial intelligence are technologies that rely on computers to notice patterns in data. When you combine this with large volumes of data (‘Big Data’), you get systems that are really good at specific tasks, because they can pick up on patterns millions of times faster than a human. Often purpose-built systems like MarketMuse or what Brian calls attention to below that Google might use, are called Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI). Combining the pattern recognition of an ANI system with the creativity of a human being is a winning combination.”
If not, you better fake it tell you make it. Most smaller operations, folks running websites out of their house, do not send the signals to Google that they will be looking for over the next few years as they squeeze out smaller/non branded players. We are seeing an increase in leads just on our Agency front where smaller websites that have long standed rankings/traffic are getting pummeled by recent (last 6 months) in changes to the algorithm.
The latest round of concern comes from the US Govt, and I will emphasize this is hypothetical theory, but if Google is getting pressured by the higher powers to take a closer look at lead gen websites that might be serving nefarious purposes, whats to stop them from turning up the brand dial even more to try and solve this problem in scale?
Just because you feel like you have a solid offering, you are a legitimate business etc, doesnt mean you wont get caught in the fire.
Brand signals are something I will be talking about more and more over time but a few things to consider on that front:
Do you have a physical business address tied to your website?
Do you have any trademarks registered?
Do people talk about you in social? (think social mentions and share of voice here)
Are you getting cited by the press in any capacity, and I am not talking about throwing a BS press release through PRWeb?
Are people Googling your website name? (brand name)
Do people talk about your website in Gmail or other email services?
[dropcap color=”black”]C[/dropcap]ompetition is a good thing. Unfortunately over the years Google has been able to retain absolute worldwide dominance over the Search market. Many updates and changes to their search engine wouldn’t have taken place if there were other players in the market pushing the boundaries in my opinion.
Here are a few what ifs that I could think of:
Many successful websites would be able to sell advertising without worrying about losing 65% of their traffic
Google wouldn’t make updates like domain crowding
SEOs wouldn’t feel as inclined to have to add G+ buttons to their content
GWT warning messages wouldn’t exist
Webmasters might consider blocking GBOT via robots.txt
You would be able to buy links on relevant sites because it actually generated sales and not worry about the rel tagging game.
You wouldn’t have to hear industry experts always talk about Google at conferences
PPC would be reasonably affordable for high traffic verticals
Search quality would be more important again, not just “good enough”
“Not provided” would have never started
As someone who owns small businesses, is invested in large businesses, and help clients make more money online, I can only hope that something comes along that gives Google a run for its money in the coming years to alleviate problems like this, and this.
Competition is healthy. Users need it and businesses need it.
If you are not up to speed on domain crowding hop on over here and read up on it, then come back to read through my take.
We know the following:
Google doesnt make much money off of the long tail
Long tail queries and sub 20+ rankings sometimes brings to the surface sites that otherwise shouldn’t even really be listed for the query
My personal opinions on the matter:
Many times I have seen domain crowding, albeit not all instances, its on the back of the index (20+ rankings) or when a domain name is inside of a long tail query
If Google sees your website portraying the query on your site repetitively, on many different pages, you might get the crowding effect
Engineers are always looking for scalable solutions. So instead of having to fight spam piece by piece this could be an easy way to push ‘mediocre’ sites out of users clicks. Googles take is this could help quality at the same time getting users to search more and click on more ads (maybe that was the intention but that might be too much conspiracy theory). If a user sees the same site 10 times listed they are more than likely going to search again, and possibly get off the long tail query that got them to the domain crowded results set.
It wouldnt surprise me if this gets tweaked back a bit (as Getstat points out overall its a bad user experience) but I expect to see this line of thought going forward as Google continues the push against spam and ramping up brands frequency in their index.
If you rely on traffic from queries that have other people and or companies names in them you might want to rethink that model