In part one of this series, we looked at how this update helped Google to be able to better identify “fact” from opinion or even outright nonsense. The second part talked about the other end of the spectrum where these same types of mappings between entities can help Google better understand the searcher’s intent (i.e. what they are really looking for with a given query) and how to provide answers to those questions directly.
It’s important to keep in mind that my explanation of these things was a highly simplified version of the whole inner workings. This isn’t so much a post for SEO professionals as it is a quick primer for small business owners to be able to understand what your SEO team is trying to do for you and how it all works. I tried to touch on a few technical terms, but most of these were translated into something that non technical folks can understand.
In this third and final installment, I want to look more at where Google is going with all this stuff, give you a few more resources on where to learn more, and finally give you some tips on how you can apply this. When you take what you’ve learned in this series (and hopefully, many of the other growing set of resources here at Equestics) you can discuss it with your marketing and development teams. From there, you’ll have some fundamentals of the new face of search in hand. I want you to be able to take part in the discussion and help guide and participate in the process to best suit your needs.
We tech and marketing nerds understand tech and marketing, but you best understand your business. It’s in the carefully planned melding of that knowledge that your online business will grow.
How to Recover from the June 2019 Google Update
Since the update began, the talking heads over at Google have said that there’s nothing to fix, but for those of you affected, you really must beg to differ. There may be nothing to “fix,” so to speak, but there is definitely a new or different strategy to take. The whole concept here can ultimately be described in one sentence:
To recover or move forward into the future of search engine marketing and optimization, you need to help Google make sense of chaos.
The following video is about 30 minutes long. I highly recommend that everyone who has anything at all to do with a web site watch it. Not only does Jason Barnard (Twitter) reiterate some of the concepts I’ve been talking about here (and perhaps he does a much better job of it in some areas) but it gives us some context in how we might accomplish the feat of helping Google to understand.
Watch it. Really. If you don’t have time now, come back to this post when you have a half hour.
A lot of the things described in here like structured data, schema, semantic HTML elements are things that most small business web site owners will need to talk to a professional technical SEO expert to implement. A lot of you, though, do create a lot of your own content, write blog posts, create product descriptions and otherwise do a lot of your own legwork on your site.
If that is the case, then pay close attention to the “Free Texts” segment of Jason’s seminar, above. It starts at 20:08. In there he discusses the types of ways you can optimize your site when using natural language by considering context clouds, relatedness and semantic triples. I want to touch a bit on the latter one of these here because it’s rather important when writing copy for the web today.
Writing for the Web: Semantic Triples
For organic SEO we need to think less about keywords and more about attaching meaning to the entities those keywords represent. If we can successfully do that, we can rank for things we haven’t really even thought of – but that searchers may have.
The example I’m going to present here would likely never actually happen in real life. It’s merely designed to show how the modern Google Answer Engine can extrapolate facts once it understands things. Let’s take one of the examples from the video and extend it a bit.
Bananas > are > yellow Bananas > are > fruit School buses > are >yellow
If Google understands these facts, even if it is in the knowledge graph from other sources, a page about “Bananas” could potentially rank for the search term “School Bus Colored Fruit” (Again, highly unlikely example and knowledge graph also would need some context of the search term to guess if your intent was to really find a page about bananas – but the concept is clear, I hope).
By using some of the techniques that Mr. Barnard describes, we can help Google make sense of things. If we’re the ones that are helping them make sense of these things, then we’re the ones that are going to be rewarded most by having our pages rising to the top. And the best thing about all of this is that by writing like this, we’re not only helping computers understand, but your human readers will make sense of it more easily, too.
Google Now and Google Future
We’ve talked about the ideas of what this June 2019 update allows them to do. Now, roughly a week after the update finished rolling out, Google is already starting to make use of it in new and exciting ways. These semantic frames around entities and relationships have brought out a whole new bunch of user interface updates and new features.
Shopping comparison web sites were once feeling left out because Google was showing products and allowing people to compare right in the interface. Now Google is experimenting with not only showing comparison web sites in their sliders, but showing exactly how those sites are comparing these things. Granted, it’s up to you as a comparison shopping web site to help Google understand your site so they can show it.
Branded Local Packs are getting a new bunch of functionality, too. Want a restaurant you’ve never been to before? (Yeah, scary right?) A search for “Volvo” can bring up a list of dealers, but the “Also Searched For” tab can lead people to search results such as “Volvo Repairs” which can drive them to your auto repair shop that specializes in this type of work.
These are just the things Google has done in the first week of updating their algorithm to leverage it’s understanding of things. In a patent granted on the 11th of June, Google talks about being able to come up with estimated answers to questions where it doesn’t yet have the exact fact in its knowledge graph.
The future of optimizing your web site isn’t about keywords – it is about clearly and (most importantly) consistently explaining exactly what you mean to both human and machine. It’s no longer about the quantity of words on a page (which many SEO experts still fixate on) but about the clarity of the words. If what you need to say takes 2,000 words to explain – then fine. But if you can explain it in 2 sentences, then that is the way to go.
As always, if you have questions, comments, suggestions, or simply want to blame me for something – feel free to leave a message below.