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Google is encouraging brands to ensure content is properly dated in search engines by using multiple date indicators on each page. 

The recommendation came in the wake of an issue with Google News where the wrong dates were being shown.

In the response, Google’s Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, emphasized that while many factors may have contributed in this specific situation, the lack of proper date signals made it difficult to show correct info in the search results. 

“That page is a particular challenge since the main story lacks a visible date (it only has a time), and the page contains multiple stories which do contain full dates. Our guidance warns about this.”

To prevent situations like this from arising, Sullivan says it is important to use several signals to clarify the date content is published:

“Understand that ideally, the meta data alone would seem to some to be enough, and we’ll keep working to improve. But there are good reasons why we like multiple date signals present.”

Why Does This Matter?

It may not seem like a big deal for the wrong date to occasionally get shown with content in the search results. However, these can undermine your authority, lead to confusion, and create a poor user experience. All of these can lead to decreased page performance and even demotions in Google’s search results.

On the other hand, situations like this also highlight the need for Google to deliver more consistent ways to signal a page’s publishing date. 

For now, the best recommendation Google has is to use a scattershot approach for the best chance of having your page correctly dated:

“Google doesn’t depend on a single date factor because all factors can be prone to issues. That’s why our systems look at several factors to determine our best estimate of when a page was published or significantly updated.”

In recent weeks, LinkedIn has been updating its algorithm it uses to rank content with new signals like “dwell time” or how long users spend with each piece of content. 

Even more, the company has also revealed its secret ranking recipe by using a blog post to dig deep into exactly how it ranks content. 

How LinkedIn Ranks Content

Similar to other major algorithms like those used by Facebook, YouTube, and Google, LinkedIn tries to tailor users’ feeds to their specific interests and niches. To do this, LinkedIn follows a specific process.

When a user logs on, there tend to be tens of thousands of potential posts the social network could choose to show you. To filter these down, the algorithm first applies a lightweight ranking algorithm referred to as a “first-pass candidate generation layer”. This helps choose specifically which posts you might see based on a number of factors including connections and keywords. 

From here, the algorithm now has to determine what order these posts will be shown in. 

As the company describes, “If Alice’s connection Bob recently shared an interesting article, what determines where Bob’s post will appear in Alice’s feed?”

For this, LinkedIn looks at what it calls “viral actions” which include:

  • Reacts
  • Shares
  • Comments

Based on individual users’ actions, the algorithm weighs these interactions with content to determine which content is most likely to create user engagement.

How Dwell Time Fits Into This

While LinkedIn’s algorithm has largely been successful at curating a feed with content most likely to generate user actions, the company says it has noticed some downsides to this approach. 

Specifically, actions like clicks and shares are relatively rare when compared to the total number of people seeing each piece of content. In the grand scheme, focusing on some binary metrics like clicks may miss out on other more passive forms of engagement which may reflect quality content. 

In other words, LinkedIn’s old system could see simple measures like whether someone clicked a post, but it wasn’t factoring in more complex metrics like how long a person was spending with a piece of content after taking action. 

This creates problems when content simply doesn’t live up to its promise or users could potentially share misleading posts to drive clicks.

When this happens, people might click on a post and almost immediately return to their feed.

With the old system, these posts would get rewarded for the number of clicks made, despite the content being unsatisfying. 

Because of these issues, LinkedIn says accounting for dwell time provides numerous advantages for its algorithm:

LinkedIn Dwell Time Benefits

How This Affects You

Overall, this update should have very little negative impact on those already creating informative and engaging content on the professional social network. If anything, you may benefit as the new algorithm punishes those sharing clickbait.

However, it is unclear if LinkedIn’s latest system also accounts for the overall length of content. This could potentially create issues where shorter updates might be downplayed over more in-depth content simply because people spend less time with each individual post. This may be something to keep in mind as the impact of this update takes effect.

Google Logo

While loading speed is a crucial issue for most mobile internet users, Google’s “Mobile-Friendly Algorithm” isn’t currently using it as a ranking factor for mobile pages. However, that is likely to change when Google releases their next mobile-friendly update.

According to reports from the recent Search Marketing Summit in Sydney this week, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes confirmed Google would be including page speed as a factor in the next mobile update. But, it may be months until that update arrives.

The inclusion of page speed seems like common sense. The majority of mobile users are likely to leave a page if it doesn’t load within five seconds, and some are even more impatient. From Google’s perspective, including page speed as a factor means they are more likely to help users find a site they will be happy with on the first click as often as possible.

It also makes sense considering Google introduced their version of Accelerated Mobile Pages recently.

Want to know how your site stacks up in terms of page speed or other mobile friendly factors? Google has also released updated versions of their mobile-friendliness and page speed tests for both desktop and mobile in one place.

The new tool, available here, combines all the free site evaluation tools Google offers in one easy-to-read report. You can also get a more extensive report emailed to you for deeper analysis.

google-rankbrain-algorithm

Google has always kept it search engine ranking algorithm a closely guarded secret, but it is finally letting webmasters and online marketers in on the three most important factors for ranking well. Google has confirmed the top three ranking factors are links, content, and RankBrain.

The news isn’t much of a surprise. Links have long been one of the most important signals for websites, and content has become an essential cornerstone of SEO in recent years.

Google said RankBrain was the third most important ranking signal last year, but its inclusion is still a little puzzling. RankBrain is technically a part of the Google algorithm, but it is hard to call it a search signal so much as an artificial intelligence system which informs Google’s main search algorithm.

Andrey Lipattsev, a Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google, confirmed the top two are links and content during a Google hangout yesterday. Lipattsev was asked what the top search signals are, to which he told SEOs:

I can tell you what they are. It is content and links pointing to your site.

Of course, there are over 200 search signals and Lipattsev suggested “there is no order” to the most important search signals, so don’t expect a complete ordered list of search factors anytime soon.

You can see the video of the Google hangout below, with Lipattsev responding to the question around the 30:20 point.

 

google-rankbrain-algorithm

Move over Penguin and Panda, Google’s newest search signal doesn’t rely on engineers to keep it updated and refreshed. RankBrain, a new artificial intelligence system, is already processing a “very large fraction” of searches on Google every day.

RankBrain was announced in an exclusive report from Bloomberg and has already been implemented to help Google address and better understand the large number of ambiguous queries made on the search engine every day.

RankBrain isn’t a complete algorithm, but instead acts as one of the “hundreds” of signals Google uses to rank sites and content for users. Reports estimate Google uses over 10,000 signals and sub-signals, but RankBrain isn’t your average signal.

According to Greg Corrado, Google senior research scientist, RankBrain is now the third most important signal in matching results to a search query. He would not say what the other two more important signals were.

RankBrain basically extends Google’s ability to understand associations between words and use those associations to provide better results. For example, in the past a search for “Barack” would pull results from pages and content that contain that specific word. Now, the same search might also include results which include information related to “US President,” “Barack Obama,” or even possibly “Michelle Obama’s husband.”

As Bloomberg explains in the report:

RankBrain uses artificial intelligence to embed vast amounts of written language into mathematical entities — called vectors — that the computer can understand. If RankBrain sees a word or phrase it isn’t familiar with, the machine can make a guess as to what words or phrases might have a similar meaning and filter the result accordingly, making it more effective at handling never-before-seen search queries.

It may not seem like a huge revelation for the search engine, but RankBrain plays an important role in filtering the results users see. It is still unclear just how far RankBrain extends and how it processes signals such as links or photos on pages, but chances are RankBrain has already had an impact on your results you are seeing when you perform a search.

The amount of talk about SEO coming from blogs and experts help make SEO one of the more discussed aspects of the internet behind the scenes. You won’t see search engine optimization coming up on the news, but just one search can lead to dozens of resources filled with writers offering their opinions and ideas.

In many ways, this is great because it keeps the community up to date with continuous changes, and delivers a wealth of free knowledge to anyone trying to get involved. However, it also creates an echo chamber where misconceptions run rampant, and there is always a need to clear up the bad information out there.

This time around, it was Eric Ward over at Search Engine Land who took it upon himself to dispel the rumors and lies surrounding linking. Links are a hugely important part of SEO, and many don’t understand exactly how they are used and evaluated. Add to this the never-ending changes to search rank signals, and bad ideas grow into monsters.

Many of these bad ideas come in the form of absolute statements, such as “anchor text will stop being used as a ranking signal altogether” in the next year. Google has done work to spot people misusing anchor texts, especially those attached to purchased links that say anything you want. But, as with most Google changes, they haven’t disavowed the practice altogether, they have only tried to punish those who take advantage and misuse the practice.

As Ward puts it, “Are you really going to tell me that if the Library Of Congress site links to Consumer Reports magazine’s site using the words “Consumer Product Reviews” that this would be a useless signal? No way.”

Another preposterous statement is that linking will no longer be the most important ranking signal, dethroned by social media signals. This concept ignores the number of Google searches done without being signed in, and not only that, Google uses tons of signals, and social media is one of them. But, relying on one user generated signal to return results to that one user doesn’t make any sense, when Google considers tons of signals as of now to return results.

The reason social signals will never be the primary signal for search engines is, quite simply, people like to do some things anonymously. They don’t want questions about body hygiene, marital issues, or personal problems being associated with their Facebook.

While linking may not be the clear-cut MVP it once was for SERPs, claiming that it is going away altogether doesn’t make any sense. It is this type of misinformation that leads to confused clients and well-intentioned but misinformed bloggers spreading the information far and wide.