Episode 22 - How the AI Algorithms of Google Search Work

Where queries are weird, advice is controversial, and everything depends.

The AI algorithms behind search, SEO Accessibility, and a publisher’s best practices for URLs.

In this week’s episode, we also cover a Slack App for keyword search volume, Bing Webmaster Tools, and designing eCommerce product subcategories with AI.


Host: Garrett Sussman | Demand Generation Manager 

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Show notes / References:

Google/SERP Updates:

How AI Powers Great Search Results

Pandu Nayak provided a brief overview of how Google is currently building technologies to enhance the search experience. Current algorithms like RankBrain, BERT, and neural matching are used to provide the best authoritative results in the desired context with the appropriate intent using as little information as possible. The newest algorithm MUM will enhance the connection with more visual content like videos and images, but currently is only being used in COVID-related searches.

Google is testing Buying Guides in the SERPs

Google has been testing a buyer’s guide layout in the SERPs that seems to pull from affiliate sites that highlight a variety of attributes about certain products and where you can purchase them. It’s a combination of visual enhancement and more granular information with an eCommerce component.

Why should developers learn SEO? – Martin Splitt – Google Search Team

Monica Lent joins Martin Splitt’s YouTube series SEOs and Devs to explain why devs should learn SEO, where to learn SEO, and how SEOs can make SEO appealing to devs.

CTAs Above The Fold Is Not Bad For Google Search Or SEO

John Mueller responded to a Reddit thread asking whether including CTAs above the fold were bad for search. John responded that “Google Search doesn’t say anything about CTA buttons” at all. Barry Schwartz believes this myth may have stemmed from an office hour in Sept of last year where John explains that Google could misinterpret a CTA as an ad.

Twitter Threads/Tweets:

Content Strategy Rabbit Hole – Shelley Walsh and Content Strategy – Crawling Mondays – Aleyda Solis (guest Himani Kankaria and Shelley Walsh)

Shelley Walsh joined Himani Kankaria on Aleyda Solis’ Crawling Mondays to talk all about Content Strategy. They discussed what content strategy is in terms of production mapped to the buyer’s journey. Shelley touched on what content strategy is NOT: a random content calendar. And she shared some tools that she uses to design an effective content strategy. She went on to explain how to implement SEO with your content strategy in a Twitter thread.

The Secrets of Bing’s Webmaster Tools – Mufaddal Sadriwala

Mufaddal breaks down a variety of features available within Bing’s Webmaster Tools that are really effective for any SEO with a small budget. 

All these reports are downloadable in Excel/CSV format.

The 5 FREE & Useful reports for SEOs in BWT:

  • Site Scan
  • SEO Reports
  • Backlinks Comparison
  • Keyword Research
  • Site Explorer

General SEO:

SEO Accessibility Resource – Christina LaVasseur – Media Sesh

Christina has always been a strong advocate for accessibility. She’s curated an excellent list of resources for SEOs and web developers to improve their sites and be better allies to the community. She’s put together newsletters, blog posts, conferences, podcasts, tools, and more to help improve, hire, and educate on accessibility.

How To Update & Refresh Old Website Content (And Why) Osman Husain and Kane Jamison – Content Harmony

Osman and Kane put together a variety of strategies and processes for updating and refreshing your content depending. From an SEO perspective, they explain what to take into consideration to improve the rankings of your old content:

  • Step 1 – Make sure the content still matches search intent
  • Step 2 – Cover the topic more comprehensively
  • Step 3 – Look for opportunities to make the content stand out
  • Step 4 – Update anything that is out of date
  • Step 5 – Publish and promote like new

SEO Experiments – 28 ideas to move stuck rankings – Nick Swan – SEO Testing

Nick put together a list of 28 elements and ideas for improving your SEO that you can test on your site. The nice thing about this article is that it starts from beginners and moves to advanced. He also provides some specific actionable tactics that you can use as opposed to only relying on theory. A few interesting ones to test include:

  • Check search intent
  • Table of contents
  • Expand content with FAQs
  • Run content through a grammar checker

Top Stories 7-Pack Tops the SERPs – Dr. Pete Meyers – Moz

With Google’s continued testing of the News Pack at the top or topical news queries this past December, Dr. Pete Myers started to notice up to 7 top stories appearing in the news pack. It was rare, but he did the research looking at 10,000 keywords. He found that 44% had 4 stories and < 1% had 7. So it’s not common by any means, but interesting to watch for new publishers.

Product Led SEO ft Eli Schwartz on the Edge of the Web Podcast with Erin Sparks

Erin interviewed Eli about his book Product Led SEO and discussed a range of interesting topics including why you need to help people in your industry and always pay it forward.

Technical SEO Articles:

Everything Publishers Need to Know About URLs – Barry Adams

Barry Adams, who has a lot of experience with Google News and working with publishers put together a comprehensive guide on everything SEOs need to know about the URL for a media site. He tackles what URLs are, HTTP vs. HTTPS and HTTP/2, and different URL structures. He addresses how he believes URLs impact rankings and the risks and rewards of changing your URLs.

  • Should article URLs have a folder structure?
  • Do article URLs need dates in them? – No
  • Can the URL be different from the headline? – Yes
  • Can you use special characters in a URL? – Yes, but you shouldn’t

E-commerce SEO for Product Category Pages with the help of AI – Andrew Volpini – WordLift

Andrea Volpini gets technical with topic modeling for eCommerce sites, by building product sub-category taxonomies using keyword extraction. He’s created a process to help influence content creation and internal link building to create and optimize these sub-categories.

  1. Analyzing search demand
  2. Clustering queries using Topic Modeling (optional)
  3. Extract keywords
  4. Analyze the list of products 

New Tech SEO Course from Blue Array

This course includes 14 modules, 70+ videos and covers a range of tech SEO topics like structured data, internal linking, and more.


Semrush for Education

Students can get 3 months of Semrush free as they pursue their digital marketing and SEO careers.

Google Search URL Inspection Explorer – Lazarina Stoy

Lazarina Stoy created a beautifully designed Google Data Studio Report that leverages the new Google Search Console URL Inspection API. Connect your own Google Search Console account and investigate your own Indexing Status, Rich Snippet issues, Canonicals, and more.

Create a Slack App: Lookup Search Volume and CPC for a Keyword – John Murch – iPullRank

John Murch created this step-by-step tutorial that uses GrepWords Keyword database to create a Slack App. When you use the designated slash command, you can serve up keyword volume and CPC data right in a Slack channel as you’re discussing keyword research with a colleague. 


Ep 69. Under the Hood of the SERPs ft John Murch



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