At SMX Seattle’s keynote conversation last weekend, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes explained some of Google’s updates and future plans. From Google’s evolving algorithms to their “unofficial suite” of new products, 2016 is sure to see some significant changes in how search works. Let’s take a look at how these updates might impact your marketing strategy in the coming months.
Rankbrain can be conquered
Amidst the non-news about future updates for Penguin and Panda (“I won’t say a date because I was wrong too many times, and it’s not good for business, I’ve heard,” said Illyes.), came one dramatic statement: When it comes to optimizing for RankBrain, Illyes said simply “you don’t.”
The best way to work with RankBrain is to understand it. RankBrain is a ranking factor, and while Google says you can’t officially optimize for it, we think there are some ways to make the most out of it. The important thing to recognize is that it’s not an algorithm in and of itself – it’s a machine learning system that makes Google’s actual algorithms smarter. RankBrain evolves based on what users are looking for, and it knows good content when it sees it.
RankBrain does not signify the end of keywords and links – it just means that you should make your content as creative and appealing as possible. Show Google that your content and pages do a better job of satisfying your target audience’s queries than your competitors. If people like you, Google will like you, and they’ll show you to more people… who will like you.
Google’s new search products are going to be game changers
Illyes also mentioned three areas that marketers will need to incorporate into their plans immediately.
1. ‘Pay attention to AMP. It’s going to be really big.’
AMP recently came to the Google iOS app, and since its release has been showing up in the results of most news-related mobile queries. Readers are using AMPs whether they realize it or not, and publishers are already reaping the benefits. AMPing up your site’s content gives your audience a better UX with faster performance and a cleaner layout. It also displays your links more prominently, keeps users engaged and lowers page abandonment from slow load times.
2. Assistants and bots could be at ‘Her’ levels soon.
Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and Google now have competing digital assistant bots. At Google I/O 2016, Google also unveiled Allo and Google Home to supplement their existing AI, Google Now. These artificially intelligent assistants use advanced machine learning to provide personalized and contextual answers to natural, conversational questions. The more internet Google indexes and the more people search, the more accurate results will be and the better you’ll be able to put your content in front of eager readers.
3. Take advantage of (and optimize for) Google’s upcoming mobile-only indexing.
Google is developing a mobile-only index, as their current results are coming from desktop indexing. This might shake some strategies up.
First, it’s reported that responsive design won’t have a ranking benefit in the new mobile index. You won’t be able to rely solely on good mobile design to boost your rank.
Finally, mobile-friendliness will be indexed page-by-page, so you won’t have to optimize your whole site to have one desired page pass. This way, you can choose exactly how to market your content on a case-by-case level.