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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.

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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.

 

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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.