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Ever notice how you have to go back and make changes to your website each time Google makes an algorithm change or adds a new algorithm? Some of the most significant changes since 2008 impacted not only websites, but how a business markets itself on the Internet.

Google makes many changes over the course of a year, and trying to address each and every one of them is not necessary. Many of the changes are designed to hinder cheaters and fraud websites from abusing the system and getting to the top of the search results.

Conceptually, it is important to understand the impact on your business when these changes are made.

It is equally important to understand that web marketing has no endpoint and change is inevitable. “Expect change and accept change” is something I have presented in years past. Trying to fight the dynamic and fluid environment of the web is not logical for your business, nor is it fruitful use of your time. Keep emotion out of it, press forward and adapt to the changing environment.

We will review a few of the more prominent algorithm changes by Google and what organic marketing impact it has had on business. Advertising related topics are not being covered in this discussion.

Google Algorithm: Content Relevancy

The Change: Around 2008 it started with the Content Relevancy algorithm bringing upon per-page optimization. The time of optimizing an entire website using the same meta descriptions, meta keywords, and titles for every page becomes obsolete.

This particular change is not something a technical web developer or even a creative designer would have picked up on. Rather, a marketer is necessary to understand how to interpret these changes and lead the business in the right direction.

Google Algorithm on Notable and Trusted Brands

The Change: In 2009, Google released a lesser-known algorithm called Vince. This algorithm is about brand validation to determine if a brand can be trusted. While this algorithm was designed to weed out cheaters and fraudulent websites, it imposes labor intensive marketing work for all businesses. Let’s first take a look at Wikipedia, because their editors follow a very similar process if you want a web page article on Wikipedia about your company. On Wikipedia, “notability” is a benchmark used by editors to decide whether a topic can have its own page in Wikipedia. Information on a Wikipedia topic must be verifiable along with reliable third-party sources. Wikipedia’s idea of notability uses this standard to avoid in-discrimination of topics. We have to understand that determining notability does not necessarily depend on things such as fame, importance, or popularity. Although, fame, importance, and popularity do tend to have more reliable third-party sources to verify and validate the information. As you can imagine, anyone taking notice of the Vince algorithm immediately cried foul play. Many people took this algorithm to favor big brands and to their benefit, yes, larger brands started to show up more in the search results over smaller brands. However, this was not Google’s intent. Rather, it meant smaller brands needed to do more to validate themselves in verifiable and trusted methods.

The Marketing Impact: When it comes to Penguin, it is about having quality websites with links back to your website. This does mean someone has to have a good idea on how to determine quality websites based on the website’s metric such as Google Page Rank, Alexa Traffic Rank, volume of pages indexed, and volume of links on the web. Having more quality will be more valuable and thus means someone actually has to research the information. When it comes to Panda, the recommendation is about the web page’s Readability Score. The more the web page can cater to the general public, the more likely it will meet a quality level based on a mathematical equation. When it comes to Hummingbird, this is essentially a new search engine for Google. It does mean your web pages need to be optimized around conversational search. As people continue to search based on a longer sentences, particularly with mobile devices, the more your web pages need to be revised based on entire sentences instead of individual keywords or key phrases.

What To Do About Google Algorithm Changes

The bottom line is businesses need professional help to manage their website, the marketability of the website, and businesses brand marketing.

While internal staff is capable of executing the tasks of the process, they do not have the experience a professional firm can provide working across multiple customers and industries. Internal staff tend to become stagnant in their knowledge as they are single focused.

A financial factor comes from businesses using their financial resource inefficiently because they are either under or over reacting to the changes they don’t really understand. The reactions, absent proper knowledge and objectivity, are focused on wanting maintain revenue. In fact, they are making their situation worse.

The environment of change is rapid. Someone has to be able to interpret how these changes are affecting the short-term, while planning how things need to move for the long-term. Understanding the history becomes very important while expecting change, accepting change, and becoming an early adopter of new ideas. There is no room for the status quo when it comes to Internet marketing and adopting changes early is important.

Featured image created by author’s team.

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Seo 101: The Only Algorithm That Matters (For Writers & Publishers)

Google changes its search engine’s ranking algorithm over 500 times a year according to Moz, and keeping up with each change can be an exhausting task — unless you understand the purpose behind the changes and implement a more holistic approach to your search strategy. Understanding Google’s intentions with these updates will better equip you to create a long-term search acquisition strategy that is progressive instead of reactionary. This approach will work for 99% of publishers and businesses and is meant to specifically cover “on-page factors” for a content-based search acquisition strategy.

Google Search in 2013

In 2013, Google Search became better at understanding queries in the form of questions – instead of responding to them by parsing words individually, it can now understand questions in their entirety and respond to them accordingly. There was a continued focus on devaluation of low-quality content and rewarding high-quality content. It became more important to not just have high-quality content, but content that demonstrates industry-specific or subject-specific thought leadership and authority. Finally, Google released a new feature that allows for better indexing and resurfacing of long-form, in-depth content when relevant.

Google Search in 2012

In 2012, Google Search focused on strongly refining signals that indicate authority and fighting those actively trying to manipulate these signals. This included common tactics such as inorganically obtained external links, over optimization through keyword stuffing, relying on exact-match domains for ranking (as opposed to high-quality content), as well as websites that prioritize monetization over searcher utility. On the flip side, Google rewarded sites with high-quality and original content (and an added emphasis on content freshness) and good site design and architecture.

What This Means For You

Search engine optimization and marketing as an industry is both deep and broad but the fact is, most writers and publishers do not need to worry about a majority of the changes and nuances of search engine algorithm updates as long as you have a good grasp of the basics and are using a modern CMS (such as WordPress with Thesis or Genesis – which will take care of a lot of HTML and site architecture optimization for you).

Additionally, make the user your number one priority and do not get bogged down by the minutiae of things like domain names, keywords, and links at the onset. Instead focus on branding, research the needs and wants of your audience, and answer the questions most important to them. The following will help you focus on content quality and become the subject authority.

4 Core Content Types To Concentrate On

First and foremost, make sure all the content you write is original content. Generate your own ideas, augment them with substantial amount of research, unique insights,  and analysis that showcases your authority and thought leadership. Aim to educate, enlighten, entertain, and delight your readers. These rules apply to all four content types listed below.

Resources – Think of everything you write in terms of uniqueness (can the same content be gotten elsewhere?), comprehensiveness (does the reader need to do further research or go elsewhere to be fully informed?) and longevity (will the content retain relevancy over time?). Another way to put it is, think of your website as a Wikipedia focused on a specific niche and informed by your unique insight and authority.

Data and analysis – There is arguably no better way to build an audience and demonstrate your authority than to acquire data that is unique to your site and provide analysis exclusive to your audience. Turn this data into case studies, white papers, e-books, and either offer this content for free to readers and other publishers, or use it as an incentive.

Tutorials & How-to’s – I recently came across a great interview with Alex and Mimi from Luxy Hair on the Shopify blog. The couple built a 7-figure e-commerce business predominantly through creating how-to guides and tutorial videos on YouTube. This should not come as a surprise since this falls squarely under the category of content that provides maximum utility for your readers or viewers while demonstrating your expertise in a specific industry. Publishing this content through YouTube provides the added benefit of traffic from YouTube and Google Universal Search.

Frequently Asked Questions – This brings us back to writing for your readers and responding to their specific needs and wants. Respond to questions you know your readers want the answers to and provide maximum utility through thorough responses that make your website the best destination for this kind of content and demonstrate your leadership as an educator.

4 Content Types to Avoid

Viral content – Content that propagates because it is of such high quality is great but content that is designed first and foremost to be viral (over any kind of utility or relevance) should be avoided. I wrote about this in a recent article at VentureBeat and as a writer, publisher, or content marketer you should read it and avoid the pitfalls highlighted therein. This kind of content includes image-dumps, link lists, infographics, and more. The implications for this go beyond search and even Facebook devaluing this low quality content.

Repurposed or duplicated content – This is the kind of content you write because you’re jumping on the bandwagon. Everyone else writes about a news story or popular topic of the day and you want to ‘get in on the action’ so you write about it too. The problem with this kind of content is that it generally does not provided significant value, does not distinguish you from everyone else covering the story, and for all intents and purposes is thin content. Overall this devalues the quality of your site and gives readers less of an incentive to visit daily.

Automated or mass-produced content – Remember Demand Media? It is a company that used a purely SEO/SEM based content development and marketing strategy and used cheap writing labor and content farms to mass produce (in some cases machine generated) content to capitalize on search trends and specifically target Google AdWords for monetization. The company peaked sometime in April, 2011, and has been foundering since then, hitting a new historical low earlier this year. Learn from their huge and very public mistakes.

A Note on Quality

Google not only gives us comprehensive technical and design guidelines but also gives us guidelines for high-quality content. There is no deceit in the simplicity of these guidelines which boil down to the following:

Do not try to manipulate any search engine ranking signals

Write for your readers instead of search engines

If you follow these guidelines, you shouldn’t have to obsess over every tweak and update to Google Search’s algorithm because as we’ve shown, the intention behind all of these changes is the same: emphasize quality and devalue any content that tries to abuse or manipulate the system.

One last thing to reiterate is the point of this article: get started with “on page factors” for Google Search and specifically those on page factors that are tied to content and under the direct control of a writer or publisher. Your next steps should be to learn about other on page factors such as HTML and site architecture, as well as off-page factors and the potential they have to impact your site and audience growth.

Digital Marketing Report 101: What Are Your Key Performance Questions?

3 steps to creating an insight-driven digital marketing report

Monitoring, tracking and reporting on marketing campaigns is both an essential and valuable process that enables marketers to understand what works, what could be improved, and the overall impact on the business. What are the key performance questions in your digital marketing report that you need to drive your data-driven marketing strategy?

Introducing key performance questions

In 2014, marketing consultant Bernard Marr felt that organizations were often jumping straight into designing indicators before being clear about what they really needed to know. As a response to this ongoing challenge, he introduced the concept of key performance questions (KPQs) to bridge the gap between strategic objectives and KPIs.

According to Marr:

“Formed as a short, forward-looking and open question that directly relates to a strategic objective, a KPQ enables senior leaders to fully understand what data and information they need in order to assess performance to that objective.”

Key performance questions allow you to take a step back and reflect on the overall goals and objectives you’re seeking to accomplish as part of your analytics reporting.

Our popular RACE Framework structure empowers marketers and managers to manipulate data and customer insights to understand and prioritize key customer journeys within their marketing strategies.

Integrated across reach, act, convert, and engage, you can use the RACE Framework to plan, manage, and optimize your marketing funnel.

If you’re looking for a winning marketing strategy to acquire and retain more customers, why not book a free 1-2-1 consultation call? Book to speak with a RACE Framework expert today and take the opportunity to discuss your marketing strategy within the context of RACE.

Identify strengths and weaknesses in your marketing funnel, and discover opportunities to grow your business through RACE. Book your call to get started today.

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By starting with a KPQ, you can develop a very useful framework to structure your campaign measurement reports. There are three steps to producing a KPQ-based measurement report, which we will discover today.

Step 1 – Key performance questions

From the beginning of the campaign process, bring together the core group of stakeholders involved to agree on what you’re looking to achieve. This exercise is useful as it will help you form a joined-up vision for the campaign and will inform your approach to measurement and reporting.

It’s useful to have five or six KPQs in total, so the kick-off session should be used to understand the questions stakeholders will be asking in order to judge the success of the campaign. For this type of meeting, ask people to bring along the following type of information:

Business objectives (business group or division)

e.g. revenue target

Marketing objectives

e.g. educate on product usage

Campaign objectives

e.g. promote webinar to educate prospects

Questions should be clear, simple and in plain language so everyone can understand. If you can get everyone on board and achieve consensus, you’ll have an aligned vision going forward.

Once all your objectives have been agreed, make a list of your KPQs against the different areas of activity you will be executing as part of the campaign.

Step 2 – Key performance indicators

The KPQs will provide an overarching view of what you’re looking to achieve. The next step is to consider what key performance indicators (KPIs) you believe relate best to each of the questions.

In the context of this report structure, a KPI is an indicator of the success of a question. As with objectives, KPQs have to be SMART and cannot be vague, and a strong set of KPIs will help keep you on track.

It’s common to see a whole host of different KPIs being used within a campaign report but, as with the KPQs, it’s much more effective to be selective about which KPIs you use. Go with those that you feel will give you the best opportunity to communicate how aspects of the campaign have performed.

In our example above we’ve gone with one KPI to ensure we really concentrate on delivering performance related to the KPQ. It may be that more KPIs should be added to the digital marketing report at a later stage but for now, this one will focus the mind.

Plan, manage and optimize digital marketing KPIs to achieve your marketing goals

Use the RACE Framework to track your customers’ omnichannel journeys. You need a marketing strategy that streamlines your marketing activities so you can focus on efficient, effective, customer-centric marketing.

As you can see in the customer lifecycle below, tracking your customers’ experiences of your brand across reach, act, convert, and engage, means you can use data and analytics to improve your omnichannel marketing strategy and win more customers.

If you’re looking to optimize your marketing strategy, integrate your digital activities, or just need some help prioritizing next steps to grow your business, there is no better time to get your consultation call booked in with a member of the customer team.

Our free 1-2- consultation calls are designed to put you in the driver’s seat and talk through your opportunities using the RACE Framework, so you can make an informed decision about the best strategy for your business. Book your call to find out more.

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Step 3 – Success benchmarks

The final stage in the process is to consider what ‘good’ looks like. Digital marketing report success benchmarks help put the campaign’s performance into perspective and provide a meaningful target.

Bringing it all together

Once all three areas are complete, the final one-page digital marketing report can come together, showing a clear link between the KPQs, KPIs and success benchmarks.

To provide additional clarity and information, consider adding in graphs/ tables to visually represent how different channels are performing/ have performed against your targets. This one-page dashboard should be able to summarise the campaign all on its own, with the rest of the report breaking these sections down into more detail.

How to use your digital marketing report to improve your marketing strategy

The KPQ framework provides a useful structure in which to set a digital marketing report. The simplicity of the approach helps keep things simple and present data that can generate actionable insights and purposeful conversations about performance and next steps.

Our example provides a top-level overview, a dashboard to summarise the overall performance on one page. Commentary about each of the areas can be explored in more detail later in the report, however, this is also something that could be included within the one-pager, too. The example we’ve provided is only a template and there is scope to develop and refine this further based on your own brand and campaign objectives.

Book your free 1-2-1 consultation call today to discuss your marketing strategy, find opportunities and solutions, and put your plans in place to win more customers, in the context of the RACE Framework. Find out more.

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How Does Google Multisearch Affect Seo?

Google’s John Mueller answered the question of how Google’s new Google Lens multisearch affects SEO. How Google Lens multisearch affects the practice of optimizing for search engines is a good question and John provided a thoughtful answer.

John Mueller Discussing SEO and Multisearch

Google Multisearch

Google Lens is an app that’s available for both Android and Apple iOS devices.

The Google Lens app (available for both Android and Apple iOS devices) offers a way to search using the camera and accomplish tasks such as translating text, identify plants, bugs and animals, and find information about places, and other similar functions.

Google Multisearch is a new way to search with the Google Lens app, using text and images at the same time.

The official Google Lens page on Google Play lists these functions for the app:

Translate words you see, save a business card to your contacts, add events to your calendar from a poster, and copy and paste complicated codes or long paragraphs into your phone to save time.

Find out what that plant is in your friend’s apartment, or what kind of dog you saw in the park.

Identify and learn about landmarks, restaurants, and storefronts. See ratings, hours of operation, historical facts, and more.

See an outfit that catches your eye? Or a chair that’s perfect for your living room? Find similar clothes, furniture, and home decor to the one you like.

See popular dishes on a restaurant menu based on reviews from Google Maps.

Quickly scan QR codes and barcodes.”

The multisearch feature was announced on April 7, 2023 as a beta feature. Beta generally means that something is still being developed and tested but that it’s reached a point where it is stable enough to be used.

Google stated that the multisearch function uses AI and that they are still exploring integrating the MUM algorithm.

The Google MUM algorithm is a powerful technology that answers complex questions with the ability to use audio, video, images, and text, plus return the answer using information regardless of language.

Screenshot of Google Lens in Multisearch Mode

Searching with an image can be thought of like a search for exactly what is in the image, like an exact search.

Searching with an image plus text allows the user to refine their search, such as to search for what’s in the image but with a different color.

Google’s announcement of the new multisearch used the following examples of a search refinements:

“Screenshot a stylish orange dress and add the query “green” to find it in another color

Snap a photo of your dining set and add the query “coffee table” to find a matching table

Take a picture of your rosemary plant and add the query “care instructions””

How Does Multisearch Affect SEO?

John Mueller read the question in the Google SEO office hours hangout.

This is the question that Mueller read:

“How does multisearch in Google Lens… can that affect SEO?”

John Mueller answered by first explaining how Google Lens multisearch is still a new thing.

“So… this is something I think that is still fairly new and how multisearch works.

We recently did a blog post about this. And you can do it in Chrome for example and on different types of phones.

Essentially what happens is you can take a photo of any image from a website and you can search using that image.

For example, if you find a specific …piece of clothing or …anything basically, that you would like to find more information on, you can kind of like highlight that section of the image and then search for more things that are similar.”

SEO and Multisearch

Mueller next discussed SEO in the context of multisearch:

“And from an SEO point of view that’s not really something that you would do …manually to make that work.

But rather, if your images are indexed then we can find your images and we can highlight them to people when they’re searching in this way.

So it’s not that there’s …like a direct effect on SEO or anything like that.

But it’s kind of like if you’re doing everything right, if your content is findable in search, if you have images on your content and those images are relevant, then we can guide people to those images or to your content using multiple ways.”

SEO and Multisearch

John Mueller said that there’s not any new for SEO that is related specifically multisearch. SEO best practices for content and images SEO are recommended.

However, in my opinion, Google multisearch may require taking new actions related to SEO, including reconsidering content and image strategy now that Google Lens is a part of the mix.

In terms of SEO, it may be prudent to use the Google Lens app and check if your images actually appear for relevant queries.

Another thing to investigate is to check what competitors are ranked in Google Lens.

Citations Read the Google Multisearch Announcements

Go beyond the search box: Introducing multisearch

Read More About the Google Lens App

Google Lens at the Google Play Store

Watch the Google Office Hours Video

John Mueller answers the question of SEO and multisearch at the 17:39 minute mark

How To Use Google Trends For Seo

What is one of the most underutilized and powerful tools for SEO?

Google Trends.

Google Trends an invaluable tool for any serious marketer.

Because of its power, it’s important that you understand how to use it properly and not to “discover trends” where none exists.

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about Google Trends, plus 12 ways to use it for SEO.

What Is Google Trends?

Google Trends is a free tool that provides data and graphs on the popularity of specific search terms used on Google and YouTube.

It was originally introduced in 2006 and the latest version was released in May 2023.

You can use Google Trends to:

Find out what’s recently trending.

Identify trending topics or subtopics within an industry or overarching theme.

Discover geographic search trends local to your area.

For example, the first U.S. Presidential debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump started at 9 p.m. ET on September 29, 2023.

“Coincidentally,” the United States, the seven-day Google trend for “moving to Canada” peaked at 10 p.m. the same day:

Ready to dive into Google Trends?

1. Keyword Research

You can conduct free keyword research on Google Trends by entering a specific search term in the search box on the homepage.

By default, this runs a search of Google’s most popular keywords – but you can also change it to scour YouTube search data instead.

Google Trends will return a graph of the search term’s popularity over the past year. You can also change the timeframe by expanding the date range.

The keyword research feature helps to identify keywords that are growing in popularity and to avoid keywords that are becoming less popular over time.

2. Finding Related Keywords

What makes Google Trends unique is its ability to recommend related keywords that are currently growing in popularity.

This feature is powerful in that it allows you to identify better, more relevant keywords based on your core search term.

When you type a search term into the homepage, the site returns a list of keywords it considers as closely related to your search.

Google Trends shows you these keywords in order of popularity, and will even provide you with the exact % search volume increase for each one.

Sometimes, it will replace the % search volume with the word “Breakout.”

This means the keyword has increased by over 5,000%.

In my experience, these trends are some of the most important ones to hop on, because they haven’t become competitive yet – meaning you can land the #1 slot on Google’s search page before the keyword becomes mainstream.

Unlike evergreen content, the content you build around these trending search terms may eventually go stale.

3. Discover Related Topics

In addition to using Google Trends to discover related search terms, you can also use it to uncover related topics for future content.

In the table to the left of Related Queries, there’s another table called Related Topics.

Instead of showing you specific search terms, this table provides you with insight into broader topics that people are searching for.

You’ll still need to hone in on specific keywords for every topic you choose to write about – but these recommendations can help you find new and trending ideas for future content.

Now, let’s get into some more specific tips for using Google Trends to improve your SEO strategy.

4. Start Big & Whittle Down

A great way to start big?

Enter a big-time keyword for your topic and press Enter.

From there, Google Trends invites you to drill down in the following ways:

Using Worldwide helps you target a specific market geographically. For example, you’ll see the word “umbrella” peak at different times across different hemispheres.

Time selection ranges from “2004 – present,” all the way down to the “past 4 hours.”

Pro tip: Use multiple time selections to get an idea of the long-term trends vs. the short-term trends. More on that later.

Filtering by category is essential. At least if you’re running a search on “Celtic Thunder” and don’t want to read about Irish weather patterns.

Web Search Type (including web, image, news, Google Shopping, and YouTube) is another vital category, but more on that in item #3.

With an estimated 6.3 billion searches per day and approximately 2.3 trillion global searches per year, the key takeaway here is to start big, and then filter to get the most relevant information.

5. Context, Context, Context

Google Trends works in a highly relativistic fashion.

The results of today aren’t compared to the overall popularity of all trends, but rather the previous heights of the keywords you entered.

Take the phrase “Caribbean cruise” – pre-COVID-19, a very popular search term.

Here’s what you’ll see in the default settings, which include “Past 12 months.”

It probably comes as no surprise, the popularity of Caribbean cruises has tanked.

But what if we change the date to “2004-present”?

The overall trend looks much more stable. This familiar “heartbeat” pattern is characteristic of seasonal search terms like the Caribbean cruise.

The takeaway: never ignore context.

Try to get rid of your own blind spots before you believe you’ve discovered an insight that no one else has.

Other ways of adding context include:

Using the + Compare tool to add new keywords.

Filter by country or category.

Web searches.

6. Get More Advanced with Specific Search Options

Using “related queries” and other specific search options can help you find new keyword ideas – and even steal business from your competitors.

Here’s how.

You’ll notice five options – many of which even frequent Google Trend users don’t always use:

Web search (Default).

Image Search.

News Search.

Google Shopping.

YouTube Search.

You’ll also notice even more options here for sorting popular topics and queries:

Note this is set to certain defaults: it’s showing you the rising trends.

Usually, Rising is a better option if you want to identify the hot trends.

These suggestions are highly useful for SEO because they can help inspire new content that embraces new trends.

Don’t be afraid to dig down into the queries, either – there’s a good chance that you can hop on a new trend before it becomes a “breakout” and secure a top position for your latest post.

7. Target by Location

The most cursory use of Google Trends will focus exclusively on keywords.

For the best results, you’ll also need to incorporate location into the mix.

Using local keyword trends, you can see exactly which regions and subregions need your products or services, allowing you to get laser-targeted with your SEO strategy.

Location filtering allows you to hone in on the geographic areas with the highest demand for your products or services.

Using our “Caribbean cruise” trends from earlier, you’ll find that Floridians – or at least, people already in Florida – are the most interested:

8. Trend Predictions

It’s the easiest thing in the world to log on to Google Trends and identify those trends that already leave a trail of breadcrumbs.

The problem?

Every other marketer is using the same data.

If you want additional insights, try using the available data to predict trends.

In order to hop on the latest trends before no one else does, you need to keep a finger on the pulse of seasonal and local trends at all times.

With the help of Google Trends, you can find relevant topics that are trending right now…. and create content about them before no one else does.

Not long ago, the practice of “newsjacking” was a sure way to capitalize on current hot stories. Google Trends can indeed show you exactly which news trends of the day are the hottest.

There are a few ways to do this:

Identify trends with filtering by specific categories or countries. Today’s top health story might not make major headlines in Google Trends, but it can help you identify topics to watch.

Compare two key phrases in a single trend. For example, Both “Vote for Trump” (Red) and “Vote for Biden” (Blue) have experienced an upward trend over the past 30 days. What does that mean? That’s s great question to get the conversation started (i.e., boost engagement)

9. Use Long-Tail Key Phrases to Inspire Content

Ranking at the top of the SERPs for “Caribbean Cruise” is still quite an undertaking, but there’s no reason you can’t get to the top of Google search results for a long-tail variation of a trophy phrase.

Switching gears, let’s say you’re writing a music blog and you want to leverage an upcoming event; the Grammy awards.

But you want to go deeper and find content that’s truly insightful.

Try using tip #3 to find the associated queries making Google Trends — but don’t stop there.

Cross-reference those queries with each other (ala tip #2) to get a proper context and find out what’s at the core of customer curiosity.

10. Use Data for Video Optimization

Viewing related topics – not just related queries – can help you better optimize your video content for search.

Enter in your search term.

Switch from Web Search to YouTube Search.

Check out Related Queries and Related Topics.

Sort by Top or Rising — if you prefer.

From here, you’ll find that people search cruises based on ship classes, not just by searching the ships themselves.

Armed with this knowledge, you are in a better position to write relevant titles and descriptions.

This improves your opportunity to capture YouTube traffic, as cruise season rolls around.

You may even decide to create a series of videos (or blog content) explaining the different ship classes available on your cruise line.

11. Use Cyclical Trends for Brand Positioning

Let’s say you’re optimizing for a wedding boutique.

Has interest in weddings been impacted by COVID-19?

A simple search for “wedding” over the past 5 years reveals that interest in weddings slipped in mid-2023, but has rebounded.

Historically, the interest in weddings is pretty even, year-round.

From this, you can glean that wedding plans are back on track, regardless of the pandemic, and historically don’t compete with holidays.

That doesn’t mean that weddings, themselves, are the same as a year ago. That will require some additional research.

12. Identify Blind Spots & Don’t Misread the Trends

Advanced use of Google Trends means you’ll go a step beyond whatever you think your current insight is to see if you have blind spots.

For example:

Don’t ever trust a single snapshot. Always get a broader view of a timeline to see what else is happening.

Is an increased trend in one key phrase still dwarfed by more important ones? Always look for context.

Researching weddings for #8, I encountered a drastic increase in YouTube trends for weddings during the summer of 2023 – far greater than in previous summers – which almost quadrupled previous interest. Further research couldn’t identify a specific keyword, except to show a drastic increase in wedding interest in South Asia. This geographically-driven trend is a great example of a unique insight that comes from the never-ending search for understanding context.

Knowing what you now do, you can use Google Trends to plan your content calendar.

Because you’re aware of your blind spots (while your competition may not be), you can delve deeper into the search results for more sophisticated data to inform your SEO strategy.


Google Trends data is more important and valuable than ever.

There are unique insights to be gleaned for those willing to go beyond a basic search.

The key is sticking with your queries until you find the insights – even if they aren’t always obvious.

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Image Credits

All screenshots by author, October 2023

What Is The Google Rankbrain Algorithm Update All About?

What is Google RankBrain AI

AI stands for Artificial Intelligence, and I will be using the acronym here to keep it easy. Before proceeding to the part where we will talk about Google not being able to understand what its own creation is doing, this section introduces BrainRank AI Search to readers who don’t know about search engine algorithms.

Search Engines like Google depend on hundreds of factors to bring the best possible results to anything you enter in the search box. Earlier they were dumb and focused just on keywords. But the keywords could also be dumb. For example, people can search for “explain top of the food chain”. This can easily confuse a search engine into assuming that maybe the person searching is asking something about food chains like restaurants so give him a list of top restaurants in the area

But the person is actually searching for the name of which, the top carnivore. The food chain starts with single cell animals, goes on to herbs, then herbivorous animals, carnivorous animals, humans and ends with a predator on the top.

Google and other search engines store plenty of information on their servers so that they can provide you with the results you want. For that, they check out many factors. So far, no artificial intelligence was involved. Among the hundreds of factors, it was ‘items in bold’, ‘headings’, ‘subheadings’, ‘repetition of a word or phrase’ and many such things.

If the person who is searching on Google, types in irrelevant things into the search box, the results were always garbage. The first principle of machines is if you feed garbage to machines, they’ll give out the garbage. You may search GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) for examples of this principle.

To tackle such situations, Google kept on making changes to its search algorithms and then secretly included BrainRank into it somewhere in 2023. It kept it a secret until recently. An event was held in March, and that is when they acknowledged that their engineers do not know how the thing works. It does send out wrong signals.

RankBrain is part of Google’s Hummingbird search algorithm, and is said to be the third-most important signal – the first probably being the quality of back-links. It will soon change the way SEO works.

Here is what Google RankBrain AI search algorithm does according to what I could grasp from my research. Instead of focusing on each search initiated, it focusses on the entire search session. Normally, to get proper results and to narrow down, many researchers use synonyms and words related to what they are searching. Like in the above example, one may use “topmost consumer in the food chain” and “what’s the highest level of food chain called”. He or she may use more keywords depending upon what the person wants to know.

So as the searches progress in the session, from the first search to nth search, Google RankBrain AI will start presenting more and more relevant pages to the researcher. This may include pages that do not even include the keyword but provides more related information about the same.

How does Google RankBrain work

Here comes the problem. The creators of the RankBrain AI themselves do not understand how it works. Since it is limited to search, it is not a scary situation. But imagine creating a similar thing in a domain that is related to weapons? What are the odds against a machine growing mature enough to take its own stand against the creators? What if we create AI-based robots for the army, mass produce them and some things go wrong to make them turn against their own generals? It doesn’t look right. The chances are 50:50 – a good amount of risk.

In an event called SMX, Google’s Paul Haahr, who goes by the handle @haahr on Twitter told many interesting things about the algorithm and acknowledged that Google engineers who work on RankBrain don’t know how it works. Either Haahr was not willing to share information or the creators really don’t know much about their creation.

If later is the case, it should ring some alarm bells. Already many scholars have raised their fears on AI and the fast growing research in the domain. They petitioned governments to stop funding projects leading to strong and super AI.

Google RankBrain AI is just the beginning!

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