SEO in 2020 will be a game changer. Google’s algorithm is changing in real-time and will push back on what worked in 2019.
Here’s what’s happening for 2020:
1. RankBrain: The Machines are Taking Over
“Machine learning is a core transformative way by which we are rethinking everything we are doing,” said Google’s Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai on the company’s earnings call.
RankBrain was used initially to answer about 15% of the searches where the website pages didn’t have the exact phrase or words searched for.
Since RankBrain was added to the algorithm in 2019 it is now used in every search, not just the unique 15%.
2. Bad Links: Real-Time Penguin Update
Google’s Penguin Update, punishing websites for bad links, has gone real-time.
Previously, that information was rolled into the next update, but now it’s immediate.
This means that if you are involved in any sketchy backlink scheme Google will hit your site as soon as it’s detected.
3. Secure Web: HTTPS as a Ranking Signal
One of the first questions Google asks when evaluating the quality of its search results is: “Can I trust this website?”
HTTPS secures the connection between the browser and the website. This has become a very important ranking factor for Google
4. Aligning “Google Business Profile” and Local Results
Google has indicated that local searches lead 50% of mobile visitors to visit stores within one day. Google looks at your “Google Business Profile” to rank you in the local results.
5. Voice Search
Voice search via “OK Google”, Apple’s Siri, Amazon Echo, etc. Google reports that currently, 55% of teenagers and 40% of adults use voice search every day.
This is a game-changer for keyword research and optimization. We’ll need to find and use the phrases customers use to describe what they’re searching for.
Google says that synonyms now play a role in 70% of searches. Google has a (constantly growing) record of complex synonyms, accumulated over 10 years of research.
Interestingly, Google also pulls synonyms from the anchor text from the backlinks on the page.
Google narrows down a page’s broad topic to a more specific focus with “co-occurrence” – relating synonyms and related terms to the page focus keyword. It also helps solve the problem of searches where the same keyword can mean more than one thing.
The actual distance between keywords on your page can also indicate how related they are and can strengthen (or weaken) your focus keyword.
What is the context of your search? Google knows a lot about you and will look at that information specifically to understand the meaning of the search by the who the searcher is.
I left this one for last. It’s a good demonstration of the nuts and bolts of how Google’s Algorithm (just a big math problem really) actually works.
TF*IDF stands for “term frequency–inverse document frequency”. It’s used to index web pages. This metric measures the importance of a specific keyword or key phrase in a specific piece of content.
The term frequency is exactly what the name says — the number of times a given word appears on a page, divided by the total number of words on the page.
For example, the TF for “AI” and “part” is calculated like this:
IDF(“AI”) = ln (1,000,000 / 3) ≈ 12.71689827
IDF(“part”) = ln (1,000,000 / 400) ≈ 7.82404601
Now, let’s find the TF*IDF for both terms.
(TF*IDF)(“AI”) = 0.00170898 * 12.71689827 ≈ 0.02173292
(TF*IDF)(“part”) = 0.00244141 * 7.82404601 ≈ 0.0191017
What does this mean?
Even though the word “part” appears more in the content of the page, the word “AI” is more important because it’s used more on your page than on other pages.
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