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Google RankBrain Finally Takes Over, Keyword Planner Changes, and More

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

SEO Monthly Recap through Conductor's 30|30 Webinar
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.

keyword planner results

This inflates the topical search volume just like how “phrase match” used to work in the planner a few years ago.

For example:

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.

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.

seo platform quality update dips

Most of our customers are seeing dips between June 18th and July 9th.

Whatever happened in June seems to be a mix of RankBrain taking over 100% of searches and a phantom update.

Glenn Gabe at G-Squared Interactive did a nice deep dive into factors he saw that led to the decline. You can find his article and the factors here.

Want to make sure you’re always up-to-date? Make sure to sign up for the next Conductor 30|30 on August 11th.

4 Responses to Google RankBrain Finally Takes Over, Keyword Planner Changes, and More

  1. Adam Dince says:

    Hi Conductor. I didn’t get a chance to watch the Webinar. Is there a source on RankBrain taking over 100% of the queries? At SMX Advanced, the conversation between Danny and Gary made it sound like RankBrain wasn’t having much of an effect yet.

    • Hey Adam,

      There were a few sources, but here is the one from SELand:

      I was at SMX too, but I can tell you that we have seen a lot of things happening since the end of June that correlated with this “announcement”, big ranking shifts, keyword planner shifting to close variants, etc.

      Either way, it’s definitely having a noticeable impact on search results in my opinion. Even they have said they don’t know exactly what it’s doing, so maybe they were surprised by these happenings as well.

  2. umer waleed says:

    kindly upload the new average monthly searches strategy of google keywod planner. I want to know old strategy like keyword shows 33000 average monthly searches not 10k-1m

  3. hema says:

    Great info thank you……