Cyril Vu Xuan

The SEO Show: Google, YouTube and Pinterest Search Insights

The SEO Show – 8th December 2015

Google changes ranking algorithm with RankBrain update

Google has altered its ranking algorithm with an update called RankBrain.

RankBrain is a machine learning algorithm that will look for patterns between what terms users search for and the links they click on.

It will gradually learn that intentions that lie behind search terms and sort of content that users commonly click on, meaning that over time it will be able to adapt search results to better reflect user intent.

This will be especially useful when the algorithm has to deal with unusual search terms, new vocabulary and slang.

Google has said that RankBrain is the third most important part of its overall ranking algorithm Hummingbird, although it has refused to disclose what the top two factors are.

For SEOs wanting to optimise their websites, the RankBrain update does not change much. It is an update focussed on refining the search results to provide users with more appropriate and relevant results.

It will help white-hat SEOs who focus on producing high quality content and disadvantage black-hat SEOs who use dishonest tactics to artificially boost their rankings and lure in users but provide little relevant content.

YouTube tests new search results format

It appears that YouTube is testing a new format for its search results.

A small proportion of users reported that when they searched for the term “halloween makeup tutorial” they were presented with a segmented search results page.

The page contained 17 results for the actual search term, as well as 4 results for the term “halloween doll makeup tutorial” and 2 results each for the search terms “halloween makeup tutorial for teenagers” and “halloween makeup tutorial scary”.

Only a minority of seemingly random users saw these segmented search results, suggesting that it formed part of a beta test prior to a potential site-wide rollout.

If the segmented search results page were to be rolled out to all users, it would expand the discovery of videos on the site by allowing users to find related videos that they may not otherwise have been able to find.

This could be good news for video marketers on YouTube who may find themselves being discovered by new users searching for related search terms.

Google to penalise mobile-unfriendly websites

Google has updated its mobile-friendliness ranking algorithm to penalise websites that have giant interstitial adverts for apps.

Interstitial adverts are those which pop up after a user has clicked on a link in the search results but before the page loads.

Large interstitial adverts for apps, which cover a significant amount of content on the page, will now be deemed mobile-unfriendly and result in the website having a lower ranking in the search results.

Google has given advice to webmasters worried about large interstitial adverts on their sites, saying: “Instead of full page interstitials, we recommend that webmasters use more user-friendly formats such as app install banners. We hope that this change will make it easier for searchers to see the content of the pages they are looking for.”

Pinterest launches discovery engine

Pinterest has launched a so-called “discovery engine” that allows users to search the image-based social network to find visually similar images.

To use the feature, users simply have to zoom in to one part of an image, called a Pin, and then click the “search” icon.

The discovery engine will then compare the image to other Pins to come up with a similarity score, with Pins with a high similarity score being displayed.

Pinterest has said that the discovery engine uses machine learning and that it has indexed around a billion Pins so far.

The feature will be useful to users who want see an item in an image and want to buy it but don’t know the brand or model name.

Cyril Vu Xuan

Cyril Vu Xuan

SEO Strategist at Webcertain
Cyril is an SEO Strategist at Webcertain. Cyril has been working in digital marketing for the past 5 years for various B2B and B2C companies. He now specialises in providing SEO audits for global companies to improve their online visibility.

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