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Google Shares What Factors Impact Specific Rankings

Jul 26, 2021
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When you visit an "About This Result panel" (the three dots next to most results) you’ll get even more information about the search results. Google is now telling searchers what information impacted their results for a specific query. It also provides tips on how to get more out of Google Search. In this video, we will cover how SEOs and Digital Marketers can leverage this important information.

 

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Video Transcript: 

As I said in the opener, we're going to be looking at a brand new SERP feature that Google just unveiled. Now, this is designed for the end-user, but looking at this, SEOs and marketers can also find some powerful information behind why Google is ranking certain sites within their respective positions right within the SERP results. All right, let's get into it.

When I see a title like this, I usually ignore the video, but I promise you, you should not ignore this one because Google is actually now sharing, at a very high level, what factors are impacting specific search rankings. Years ago, they placed content, links, and rank brain at a very high level. It was a big deal, and everybody thought, "See, Google likes links" - which we knew because it had a big factor when it comes to page rank.

We also knew that content played a role. Because without it, we don't really have anything to show people. But today, Google is actually giving ranking factors or reasons for why a specific search result is in that listing.

Key Information in Google Search Result Box.

So, this just came out a couple of days ago, and this is an expansion of the box that they launched back in February of 2021. It is an article that Barry Schwartz did. He's usually pretty good at keeping up with the info over at Google. So, I highly recommend that you follow him, and read his articles. As I said, Google is now giving us more information within the "about this" results box.

This is straight from Google. They're saying; "Now, we have a quick and easy way to see the context about how Google returned a specific query." (source)

There is a three-dots icon that you can click next to a link, and it'll give you some information. The first is typically a source box, which shows you a Wikipedia article or information about the company, as a way to verify the legitimacy of the company.

A lot of times, you'll see something like, "This site was first indexed in X." and it gives you more information around that. That's pretty interesting because they're showing you that they're linking out to the Linked Open Data Graph, which really shows us that connection between these boxes and everything that they're doing with Linked Open Data.

But now what they're doing is shown on the bottom as "your search and this result" box. So, let's say you're looking and wanting to learn how to cook fish in the oven. When you click on the three dots, the box will expand, and Google shows the reasons, or which words used in the query led to the result. In this case, Google is showing that particular site because the terms how, cook, fish, and oven appeared in the text.

So, we know that using the right terms is important. We know that those concepts are really important because now it's going to talk about related terms. For example, ingredients for recipes baked in the oven are contextually related. Ingredients are important to cooking, right? A query, like how to cook or how to cook fish, implies that you may need a recipe as well.

Google is really understanding the topic at a very deep level here. They're not only showing you the words that match when they're looking at the content, but they're also showing you the terms and the concepts that are related as well. Now, they're showing you why they're choosing this page.

They're also saying that the results are in English. That's important. They understand the locality of the person making the search. Based on that, they assume that that person speaks English. Therefore, they're going to show them English content that covers the search terms and related topics that are best associated with the query that they're making. That's pretty deep.

This is stuff that we can try to pull. We've done a lot of SEO tools out there that try to extract this information for us, but now Google themselves is giving it to the searcher. And this is a really cool thing that we can now leverage really to make our strategies better.

Why is Google Sharing This Information?

They said they're already giving some visual indications of why something might be relevant in the search. And that's absolutely true. If you look at search results today, we've got the knowledge panel, knowledge box people also ask for. They usually have entities right up at the top as well. But now they're bringing context into the "about this" search results panel. This is to help people to evaluate whether the result that they're looking for is the correct one.

So, in this case, the query was, "get the shot", and the source was the Vermont Department of Health. It shows a Wikipedia article again, which shows the validity of the link that that's talking about it. It also shows healthvermont.gov, and below, it shows the search terms. It shows get, the, and shot. But Google also understood that as getting.

It shows Google's understanding of the verbs and the actions taking place, the sequences of the sentences, and that the word shot may pertain to the vaccine based on what's happening today. This is also showing that Google is looking at things in real-time.

Something like how to cook a fish. You could have a really good recipe from 10 years ago that could rank, right. If it's a really good piece and it meets all those requirements, but in the case of what's happening in our world today, this is very timely. So, they might understand that would be a vaccine shot.

They also are showing us this factor here, that websites with search terms link to this result as well. So, what they're saying is that other websites actually are linking to this and those other websites are also relevant and contextually relevant. They're talking about the same things. They have some authority to talk about those things, and they're linking to this source as a credible source as well. That's very important to understand from a link perspective. We know that links are important, and we know that not all links are created equal. So, we really have got to understand that Google is showing us that links matter. These other sources matter, but they need to be credible.

They also need to be topical. They need to be related. They need to make sense. Links, for link's sake, aren't going to give value. But Google is clearly saying here that contextual links that are related to the search terms that we're using and to the topics that we're trying to find are a pretty big deal.

Furthermore, the reason that they're giving you a Vermont result here, is because the user was in Vermont, and they speak English based on assuming that they're in the United States. Again, that's a ton of information from just one query. And especially if you're trying to optimize for this.

Key Factors Impacting Your Search Result

We know that there are hundreds of factors that are at play when it comes to a search result, but let's take a look at a few of these. And most of this, I've pulled straight from this Learn More and Get More from Search Google blog. So you can go and read them yourselves, but we're going to go through some of these. In the last one, I just kind of pulled out on my own.

1. Matching Keywords

The first is matching keywords. This is very simple, and it's an important factor, but Google uses them to determine whether or not the information is relevant. So it's not about keyword stuffing, or overusing keywords, but there are some terms that they expect to see within certain content.

So again, if you're running a business, let's say, my site. If I never used the term SEO or search engine optimization or search marketing, that would be a really bad move because those are terms that are expected when talking about the types of things that I talk about. Having keywords that match are important, and understanding the terms and the queries that people are using in order to find certain pieces of content is important. You need to make sure that you have that in your content.

2. Related Terms

They're also showing us the importance of related terms. That their system can now determine related keywords and understanding that again, the "how to cook a fish" example. They're also looking at things like bake, recipe, and other things that are related to that query as well.

So again, when you're looking at your site, understanding context, understanding related terms, related concepts, things that you could use to maybe extend your content or create better content or go deeper in your content. They're really going deeper within each query.

3. Links

Google's also looking at links, and they're showing us right here that they look at links as an indicator of whether online content creators regard that this page is useful for the topic. They're looking at those. They're looking at the content that's linking to it. They're trying to understand the context of it all and make a determination of whether or not it's relevant to the search. So. links are still playing a role today.

4. Local Relevance

Location is also something big. Google's looking at localizing search because obviously, most people are doing it on mobile devices, at least from a B2C standpoint. And they want to know where you are because that's going to change what you're looking for. They're looking at location factors like country, city, township in order to deliver more contextual, relevant content within your area.

As an example, f you're looking for trash day pickup like they're showing here, they need to show you something that's applicable for your city and state. Because I'm in Florida, if they're telling me about the trash days in New York City, I don't care. It has nothing to do with me. I'm not going to be there. So it doesn't impact my life, but if they need to show it for my city, my municipality, my town.

The other thing I play here if they were showing me that that result in Portuguese, well, I might speak Portuguese, but the chances that I probably don't. I speak English, or in Florida, maybe Spanish as well would be a more likely case here.

When looking at my past search history, if Google said, "Okay, they use Spanish more than English. Then I need to show them this result on a Spanish website".

So, local relevance is playing a big role. And this isn't just the case for local businesses. This is for regional businesses. This is for national, international businesses. Understanding where people are searching from is a big role within the relevancy and the rank placement.

5. Relevant Images

The other thing that you'll see in the next slide is the importance of images. Images that are relevant to the search query can also impact that search result. They're looking at image alt texts. They're looking at probably files and titles. But also using artificial intelligence to understand what that image truly is.

Google Search Tips for Searchers

So, as we talked about, this is really for the searcher, and they're looking to give the searcher more information and more tips. Now, as you can see over here, this is a gif that Google put out, and you click on that three little boxes, and they'll pop up this result in some cases and show you that search terms. People can actually highlight this, and they could find exact matches for those terms that they're interested in learning more about or the related terms.

It also shows that the image was related to it. And then, we see the localized information here. They're giving tips on how to search for specific queries in this as well, so you can go a lot deeper and learn even more about what Google is looking for, and how to use advanced search operators. Maybe people didn't understand that you could put "like this" in quotation marks, and it would search for just "like this".

So, whatever you put in those quotes, it's going to make it look very specific for whatever those words are.

Why this Matters to SEO

1. Drives Deeper the Importance of Intent and Context

Well, first off, it drives deeper the importance of intent and context. We need to make sure that as we're creating content pages, they're going to match the intent, and within the right context. Whether it's a webpage or we're linking to other sites. It's got to have high intent, and it's going to match context. That's extremely important.

2. Optimize around Google's Expectations

This is also important because we can use this information to help us further optimize around Google's expectations. This should have a play on on-page factors like our title tags, in our meta-description, in our site copy, in our headers, whether we're using the right terms in the topics, and the related queries.

This has a huge, huge play when it comes to semantic SEO. We see a number of connections, both to Linked Open Data sources, to other entities, and further ways for us to leverage structured data to help disambiguate that information for the search engines so that they better understand what it is we're talking about.

In links, if you're link building or you're looking to acquire links, you need to do them from sites that are very highly credible in your space. That talk about the things that you talk about. That are semantically related. That have relevant concepts and topics. And also, creating content that's just going to naturally generate those links on themselves is extremely important. And we can get all this information from looking right within these boxes from Google.

3. Shows off Expansiveness of Their Knowledge Graph and NLP Capabilities

Finally, this also shows off the expansiveness of their knowledge graph and their natural language capabilities.

As I mentioned earlier, you could see links to Wikipedia in there. You could see links to other entities. You could see how Google's algorithm now can break down the site very quickly and look at a number of factors, whether it's related to keywords, related terms with semantically related to terms, looking at images and understanding the context of that image, looking at other people's websites and breaking that down really quickly, and understanding the links that are pointing back to this site.

This is all happening in fractions of a second. And it's a ton of information. And as SEOs, we need to understand how to leverage this information to provide better content and a better experience for our end-users. When you focus on your end-users and develop a strategy around them, you're going to drive more qualified traffic.

Now you may not get larger numbers than some sites, but your traffic is going to be better. And that's really what search is all about. It's not necessarily having the most traffic. It's having the right traffic and making sure that those people are coming to your site. And those are the ones who are actually going to help take you further and help you reach your goals in the end run.

How to Optimize for Search Semantic Search

If you want to learn more about semantic search and how knowledge graphs work and building entities, and the power of link data and structured data, I've got a simple course that helps you understand this, and you can check it out at learn.simplifiedsearch.net. I'm going to walk you through how to optimize for semantic search and how we can do that in a way that's actually practical and simple that you can start putting these into practice. If you've got any questions, whether it be on the course or anything we talked about today, please comment below. And until next time, happy marketing.

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Ryan Shelley, CPBI

By Ryan Shelley, CPBI

Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works have also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

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