July’s edition of Conductor 30|30 (which is 30 minutes on the last 30 days in search, social, and content) brings many changes to SEO. With Google moving to close variants and relinquishing control to RankBrain, SEOs have many things to consider in their strategy moving forward.
Read our recap below that includes:
- Google RankBrain Takes over 100% of all Queries
- Keyword Planner Uses Close Variants Rather Than Exact Match
- eBay Uses Amp Pages on Transactional Pages
- Do Rankings Matter Anymore?
- Was There a June Quality Update
Our recap below includes the best hits, but get more details in the full webinar recording.
Google RankBrain Takes Over 100% of all Queries
What does this mean? Google launched RankBrain to help parse through all websites and serve the most useful listing on its search engine result page. At RankBrain’s launch, it affected around 15% of all queries. As time went on, this number steadily rose. Google even went as far as revealing that RankBrain was the third most importing search engine ranking factor — only behind backlinks and content which compete for the first two spots.
This of course leads to the question: How do you optimize for it? The truth is, there is no way to do it. This is just the next step in Google’s semantic search and their algorithm getting better at understanding us.
This furthers our message to not focus on algorithm changes: if you create great content for users, you’ll be successful.
Keyword Planner Uses Close Variants Rather Than Exact Match
Originally, keyword volume was only reported on an exact variation of a keyword. Now, Google is grouping all the variants into one single search volume.
This inflates the topical search volume just like how “phrase match” used to work in the planner a few years ago.
Content Map: 320 Monthly Search Volume
Content Mapping: 210 Monthly Search Volume
Website Content Map: 140 Monthly Search Volume
Is now bucketed under the same value:
Content Map: 690 Monthly Search Volume
This is affecting many marketers as they put too much emphasis on the actual search volumes. Keywords should be used directionally rather than as a tool for hard optimization.
eBay Uses AMP Pages on Transactional Pages
Google initially wanted to reserve AMP pages for publishing sites and news-type content only.
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But, a few months ago, a representative from Google said they would like all content to be AMP-enabled. This is the first time we are seeing non news, recipe, or blog type content using the technology.
eBay is the guinea pig on this massive test and it will be interesting to see how they handle it on 8 Million+ pages. This is huge news for E-commerce sites because if this test fares well, all of the other major retailers will follow. eBay’s forward-thinking benefits all digital marketers alike.
I Still Care About Keyword Rankings, You Should Too
Especially with the changes from Google’s RankBrain and algorithm changes, plenty of “experts” online talk about how search engine rankings don’t matter anymore. We at Conductor still think they do.
But not for the reasons you may think:
- We don’t think that keyword rankings are a make or break metric
- Not because too many people have said “SEO is dead” and “Content is King”
- Or because we are stuck in the past
We like keyword rankings because:
- They are a great directional metric
- They are a sign of success and potentially a sign of a problem
- Good rankings make you feel good, and we all need more of that
June Quality Update
There has been a lot of chatter about another phantom update that occurred in June. Most signs are pointing towards Panda-related signals but with Conductor’s data, it looks more like RankBrain is part of the problem.
Whatever happened in June seems to be a mix of RankBrain taking over 100% of searches and a phantom update.