Relax. Unlike a lot of what you’ll read about Trump and Google, this won’t be political discourse or mind-numbing jargon. The tweet to any SEO knowledgeable person cries out for a response because a lot of businesses think this is also why THEIR business doesn’t show up.

There is much to unpack and the purpose of this response is strictly from an SEO perspective and not a social media or a “has Google gotten too big” viewpoint. All valid discussions, perfectly outlined in other articles from the past week which you can find yourself online. This one will be how search engines, specifically how Google works and what you can do online for your own business once you realize it.

So who am I?

I am an SEO Scientist. I don’t work for Google but my team and I work to understand, assimilate and imitate what works to bring local businesses up organically and within the local map pack that all of us as consumers rely on when we search for what we need.

Each month several tests are devised and run within Google search results and I share with other SEO professionals also running their own tests. These projects are devised as single-variable tests with control pages to determine if a particular characteristic is or is not a ranking factor for Google.

If you read that and think it’s what you did in high school in science lab then, yes, you are correct. And if your next thought is what is an SEO variable, your science teacher would be proud.

Variables encompass aspects that are ON a website as well as things OFF that website that may point to the website (includes things like backlinks and references on other sites using your brand name for instance).

There is a visually hidden code called hypertext markup language (or HTML) which uses a system of symbols and letters to tell the computer how to treat a word. This is what your developer codes with so that the pages look and respond the way you want them to do.

If you want to make a word stand out on a page and make it appear darker there is a way to mark that word using the HTML universal codes either as <bold> or <strong> within the text on a page.

Hang with me for a little bit, sharing that information is just to help you understand, not teach you how to code or make you think you’re not smart if you can’t.

The symbols surrounding the word to make it bold or strong are a variable.

Good to know that to your eye or that of your website visitor, the word appears bolded (just like this one) but behind the scenes to the Google bots, the symbols and letters communicate something to the bots.

We have completed tests that tell us which option helps. (If you want to get some of my test results, provide your name and email below and I’ll send you the results.)

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One of the questions the SEO professional community asks is how does Google know what a page is about? Ultimately that question in distills into a normal person’s question to ask plainly, does Google read your content?

If you’re running your own site on WordPress software you may be aware of what I’m about to say on this, if you don’t, hang in there.

There’s a common plugin for WordPress called Yoast SEO used by many organizations. I can’t tell you how many instances in which clients were losing their minds over how to get the little green checkmark which Yoast SEO assesses itself, not Google if your content is readable.  It’s so annoying that even the developer has made the readability score option optional

Why am I bringing this up?

For years all of us have been told to write high-quality content so that it actually ranks. And if it’s not readable according to the Fleisch-Kincaid Scale then Google is going to lower the ranking of your page.

And in previous times this was considered sage SEO wisdom, repeated over and over until it was accepted as fact and every website developer now tells you that you need to have content within a certain readability scale for Google to rank successfully.

I’m about to commit blasphemy. A test was run on this.

Imagine the surprise when it was discovered that by placing keywords and related keywords ONLY in the various places on a web-page and leaving the rest of the page as placeholder text (specifically lorem ipsum, nothing that related to content, just filler) that a page could compete within live Google results.

If you’d like information on my test on this – let me know. I’m in an advanced stage on this test and should have some fresh results shortly.

And yes, if you glean from that test analysis that I’m saying that Google does not read your full content, you are correct.

[Important] I am not saying that because Google doesn’t read the full content that you SHOULDN’T write good, full content.

You should because when real people come to your site you want them to see more than keywords sprinkled in a sea of lorem ipsum.

The takeaway from this is mindful and deliberate in the placement of those keywords on your page is key. This activity is NOT optional if you want to compete in search results.

You will rank better by changing – “if you need help, give us a call” to read “if you need help writing your will, give us a call.”

See the difference?

You know you’re an attorney but Google Search algorithms need your help to fully understand and know where to place or rank your site in comparison with all the others in your area. The result is without your extra effort, you’re going to find your site on page 3 or further back in search results for what service or product you provide.

If you know even just a little bit about SEO, you know keywords are the words you want to show up in results for, specifically page 1 of Google.

And keywords are simply words and the words that relate to them. 

For an attorney, they typically want to rank for family law and you’d expect to see related items such as wills, divorce, child custody etc within the page or website.

On any given page, there are over a dozen places where keywords can be inserted into content and there are some places which, according to other tests, are more important.

For instance, until recently the tag designated as an H1, a Header 1 tag, was considered of primary importance. (Yes, we even run tests to confirm which keyword placement has the strongest influence on ranking.)

Now that you have a little background on how useful the tests are in confirming ranking factors, what does this have to do with Trump’s tweet?

When you type in words, even your name, it’s going to pull up in seconds, the content that Google thinks would best suit your search. So let’s take a look at what Donald saw.

Yes, that’s 651 MILLION results in Google’s index for Donald J Trump.

So let’s recap. There are 651 MILLION results in Google’s collection of website pages and Google doesn’t read full content according to our testing.

At first glance, I doubted any of the stories on page 1 were highly optimized as website content for his name.

By the way, non-optimization is untypical of any local business. You as a business are competing in a much more competitive market whether you’re a law firm or HVAC company. That means that the header tags, descriptions 

And my initial thought appears to be true of these results.

This is screenshot of an analysis of the pages on page 1 of the search. The three (3) at the top are news stories which are in their own carousel. I won’t bore you with an explanation of each column but you can see if there is GREEN that means that something is missing in the optimization for the search terms so there might be an opening to rank for it. Likewise, in red it means something is competitive.

Again, it would appear that like the pages below them, none of these stories are deliberately optimized for his name when looking at the on-page items like the meta-title, the URL itself, the meta-description or header tag.

But they are all sites of 10 years or more who have been pushing out content about public figures. So they clearly have some authority.

As for the news stories that appear at the top is what we call the news carousel, there is little indication from Google on how Google chooses those stories.

However, a Google hangout was held in 2017 with John Mueller, the head of the Google Search Team in which he admitted that the choice is completely algorithmic (meaning no humans, just math) and that they favored AMP (Advanced Mobile Pages).  

Since mobile search volume is higher than desktop volume, that makes sense. AMP pages are designed to load quickly because they are stripped down to the least amount of data to make them quickly load up for viewing.

By checking the three stories that were displayed – we have confirmed that all are also set up as Accelerated Mobile Pages or AMP pages.

To put this all together, a review.

You have a search engine that is tasked with quickness. Think again of the 651 million results for Trump’s name alone.

Google cares how quickly it can render the display of results on your phone for a specific reason, our tolerance or lack of patience while a page loads .

And to make results more targeted, so you get exactly the type of results you’re looking for, Google uses artificial intelligence to refine it’s search.  Why would they pay real people to slowly learn over time (think salary and employer taxes and this will make sense) when they can program and refine a bit of code to figure all that out and adjust results based on customer behavior towards the content?

Those real people that visit and play videos and scroll down send signals to Google that this content is satisfying their search.

The number of people that went to that page and what they did on those pages is counted into whether or not the content satisfied the searcher automatically and without human guidance. And this automatic assessment is what can get Google in trouble when it reflects human bias. But that’s an article for another day.

Google doesn’t get into your mind but they do notice if you stay on the page (or exit immediately) if you scroll down and even if you close your browser after reading.

Those that leave the page immediately send signals to Google that the results were not right.

It’s this collection of actions that are feed into the artificial intelligence behind the search engine. It’s not people doing this because all of it happens in seconds. It’s little math things that assign positive signals or negative signals so Google learns over time if a particular sorting of content satisfies a group of searchers.

And so that’s how over time Google learns not only WHAT people mean when they search but if what Google THINKS THEY MEANT matches successfully with what was found in their particular search.

In short, did that searcher find what they wanted.

Why does understanding this matter?

Because Google Search is the loss leader for Google the international company.

You know the milk in the back of the store to make you walk down the aisles? In this case, the product in the middle are the Google ads you see. Usually at the top or the bottom because now mobile drives everything.

We all hate to pinch and zoom, we must prefer to swipe down (or left!) so Google wants happy satisfied searchers who find what they want and come back. It is the reason they can command the higher and higher advertising fees per click or call because businesses want to be where people are.

The only way Google makes money is to keep consumers of news or services happy with what they find.

Google is not able to discern from content or source alone if a collection of results is good or bad other than by behavior.

So how can knowing all this help your enterprise?

Here’s what I hope you’re taking away from this.

  1. Keyword placement matters if you want to glean new prospects from search
  2. Google looks to more than your website to understand your business

Any questions about this information, please feel free to reach out using our contact page.

If you’re wanting to compete in search results and you’re frustrating about why you’re not being found or in the local map results, American Way Media can help you with analysis and/or implementation.

Contact us today to schedule a short phone consultation.