Fortunately for those of us who look to Google to provide answers to our questions, Google does it’s best to give us the most relevant and helpful answers possible. They accomplish this rather gigantic feat through a lot of techy stuff – robots and spiders.
Google crawls published websites with robots and spiders who bring back information for the search engines to process and serve as answers to search queries. Algorithms make it possible for Google to interpret the data collected by spiders and bots in a way that provides helpful answers.
Most may think this is considered Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is a valid statement. However, in one of the Webmaster Central Office-Hour Hangouts, the host said that Google’s search engines are programmed to find true authentic answers, rather than artificially created content (i.e. if a blog is stuffed with keywords).
Side note: the host of the particular hangout mentioned above is Google’s very own Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Muller. John, along with the other Webmasters with Google, is proactive within the SEO community when it comes to educating those who want to learn. If you’re interested in learning more about John, check out his (very entertaining) Twitter page.
Google wants to provide users with the most relevant answers to their users questions.
The question then becomes: How can we (as publishers, website managers, small business owners, etc.) get the answers we know, like, have, trust, and use, on page one of Google for others to find and consume?
Why not learn directly from the source?
On the hangout streamed April 5th, 2019, John Muller gave very helpful recommendations and SEO tips.
SEO Tips from Google Webmasters
Better watch out when these bots come to crawl your website, in search of high-quality content… https://t.co/or10C4oouq
— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) April 16, 2019
Question: “Does Google consider comments as a part of the content on a page? And does it hurt SEO rankings if the comment functionality is turned off?”
John’s Answer in short: Comments are considered content on a page so they have the potential to help SEO. And no, if the functionality is turned off it will not hurt SEO rankings.
Muller went on to explain how comments can produce a lot of value for searchers, and they could also contain keywords. A website with active comment sections shows Google that this site is building a community, which means people are coming back to that website because they find it helpful in some way. John shared he thinks this is a really good thing, and that comments can indirectly affect SEO rankings.
On the flip side, John acknowledged that comment management can be very time-consuming. In fact, at the end of 2018, Google Webmasters turned off the commenting feature on their blog for that very reason.
His recommendation: Analyze your sites comment section, and see if you have the bandwidth to cultivate a resourceful community through that function. Most importantly, the page should provide helpful, relevant content for the users with keywords used appropriately for the crawlers on your page.
Question: “Is there a way to see voice search queries?”
Voice queries are on the rise.
John’s answer: No, there is no way to directly know the data on voice search queries. But it is important to try to know exactly what you’re looking for from that data.
He brought up the point that someone can go to Google and instead of typing the phrase they would’ve otherwise typed, they speak the phrase after clicking the microphone on their phone. Which poses the question, is that a voice search query? John considers that to be a normal search query, the user just used a different type of keyboard.
John shared that the assistant devices, such as the Google Home, Alexa, Echo, etc., provide answers to voice search queries. If the devices do not know the answer, they will offer websites that they deem the closest fit to the query, sort of like a featured snippet, but they is not counted specifically by Google as a result.
His recommendation: if you feel like voice search queries are valuable to your users and website, John advises getting an assistant device and test for yourself. This could help you understand the limits of the technology and see how your business would fit with voice searches.
Question: “Google doesn’t rank thin websites but my site has 40 posts with high-quality content that is well optimized. What can I do to rank well?”
John’s answer: the question made the Webmaster feel like the person is trying to create a quantity of content rather than a quality of content.
Google cares about quality – something that they want to recommend to their users. There is not an algorithm that rewards a certain number of posts (40 in this example) and says this site deserves high rankings. The algorithms look at the content and website overall to consider the quality of content the website contains.
His recommendation: Focus on the content. Think less in terms of numbers and quantity, and more in alignment with what information do you have that users are interested in searching for; and how can you provide it in a way that answers their needs and helps them move forward. Ideally, in a way that encourages them to come back to your site.
Question: “Google rolls out a lot of updates to display search results in different ways. Will things evolve to where SEO is no longer necessary? What is the future for SEO agencies?”
The person asking the question was concerned that the algorithms and Google are advancing so much to where SEO agencies will no longer be needed. Like the map pack and featured snippets just to name a few.
John’s answer: what’s happening is a natural progression because the web ecosystem is growing up. For a small business, pages views don’t matter as much as how much traffic its site is getting. The new features Google creates are to help the users get their answers sooner rather than later. John explains that when someone searches for the hours of a business, they want to go to the business, not to the business’ website.
Therefore, the additional ways Google displays information will not cut out the need for SEO efforts, because how will Google know to find the information in the first place?
His recommendation: Focus less on page views, and what is it you want to convey on your website. And create visible content that works well for users and search engines.
Question: “My home page is getting ranked higher than one of my blog posts for a specific keyword phrase. How can I fix this to where the blog post shows up first before my home page?”
John’s answer: make sure the content on your page directly speaks to what you want it to speak to, and directly away from what you don’t want it to speak to. There might be some keywords on there that do not clearly communicate that the blog post has more valuable content than your home page. Use keywords but Avoid Keyword Stuffing!!
Google has algorithms coded to see if keywords were used in excessive amounts (John threw out the number 500). He explained that keyword stuffing is a way to artificially promote a page, and Google will ignore the page completely for those keywords.
His recommendation: be reasonable when using keywords. Put the users before search engines. Write something helpful in a way that includes the keywords.
All in all, Google is focused on showing helpful content. The SEO focus is shifting away from quantity and towards quality.
Here’s a link to the recorded Webmaster Central Office-Hours Hangout if you’d like to give it a listen yourself.
Thank you for reading we hope these tips help you as much as they help us!
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