Your AI and ML primer — and why it matters for search; Friday’s daily brief
Plus, the latest trends in local search: personalization and depth of content
Search Engine Land’s daily brief features daily insights, news, tips, and essential bits of wisdom for today’s search marketer. If you would like to read this before the rest of the internet does, sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox daily.
Good morning, Marketers, and a lot can happen in a year.
This past Sunday we had one-year photos taken to commemorate my daughter hitting that first birthday milestone next week. Getting the photo gallery yesterday morning sent me down memory lane thinking about how much has changed in 365 days. Babies grow and learn at such a rapid pace during their first years. A little potato human that couldn’t lift her head can now walk, communicate, and sleep through the night (mostly, thank goodness).
The same is true for us as search marketers. Think about where you were in your career a year ago. Probably stuck at home trying to weather a pandemic. But in the meantime, you may have started your own business, started a new job, learned new skills, executed a stupendous campaign and more.
As you’re prepping for Q4 of this year, keep that momentum going (or start it back up if you’ve felt stagnant recently). Plan your goals and create a blueprint to execute them. I remember reading a story about someone who wanted to go back to school in their 50s and they were worried that it was too late in life to “start over” and go to a four-year college.
The motivational part was this: Those years will pass by whether you work toward your goals or not. So you might as well get started on them now.
Director of Search Content
Ask the expert: Demystifying AI and machine learning in search
The world of AI and machine learning has many layers and can be quite complex to learn. Many terms are out there and unless you have a basic understanding of the landscape it can be quite confusing. In this article, expert Eric Enge will introduce the basic concepts and try to demystify it all for you.
There are so many different terms that it can be hard to sort out what they all mean. So, let’s start with some definitions:
- Artificial Intelligence – This refers to intelligence possessed/demonstrated by machines, as opposed to natural intelligence, which is what we see in humans and other animals.
- Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) – This is a level of intelligence where machines are able to address any task that a human can. It does not exist yet, but many are striving to create it.
- Machine Learning – This is a subset of AI that uses data and iterative testing to learn how to perform specific tasks.
- Deep Learning – This is a subset of machine learning that leverages highly complex neural networks to solve more complex machine learning problems.
- Natural Language Processing (NLP) – This is the field of AI-focused specifically on processing and understanding language.
- Neural Networks – This is one of the more popular types of machine learning algorithms which attempts to model the way that neurons interact in the brain.
Search marketers should remember their power in the Google-SEO relationship
Google has essentially said that SEOs (or those attempting SEO) have not always used page titles how they should be for a while (since 2012). “Title tags can sometimes be very long or ‘stuffed’ with keywords because creators mistakenly think adding a bunch of words will increase the chances that a page will rank better,” according to the Search Central blog. Or, in the opposite case, the title tag hasn’t been optimized at all: “Home pages might simply be called ‘Home’. In other cases, all pages in a site might be called ‘Untitled’ or simply have the name of the site.” And so the change is “designed to produce more readable and accessible titles for pages.”
This title tag system change seems to be another one of those that maybe worked fine in a lab, but is not performing well in the wild. The intention was to help searchers better understand what a page or site is about from the title, but many examples we’ve seen have shown the exact opposite.
The power dynamic is heavily weighted to Google’s side, and they know it. But the key is to remember that we’re not completely powerless in this relationship. Google’s search engine, as a business, relies on us (in both SEO and PPC) participating in its business model.
Search Shorts: YouTube on misinformation, improving ROAS in Shopping and why it’s time to get responsive
YouTube outlines its approach to policing misinformation and the challenges in effective action. “When people now search for news or information, they get results optimized for quality, not for how sensational the content might be,” wrote Neal Mohan, chief product officer at YouTube.
How to improve Google Shopping Ads ROAS with Priority Bidding. “If you feel more comfortable with Search and Display PPC campaigns, manual is a safe bet as you dip your toes into Shopping,” wrote Susie Marino for WordStream.
Forget mobile-first or mobile-only — It’s time to get truly responsive. “If you’re thinking about your website in terms of the desktop site, welcome to the 2010s. If you’re thinking about it mobile-first, welcome to the 2020s. But it’s 2021. It’s time to think about your site the way Good Designers do- it’s time to get responsive,” said Jess Peck in her latest post.
What We’re Reading: Google’s local search trends: From saturation to depth of content and personalization
The focus of GMB has shifted in recent years from getting more businesses to sign up for the listing service to getting business owners or managers to add even more information about their companies on the platform.
“The new GMB mission is to have businesses provide as much relevant information for as many content areas as possible. Beyond basic contact info, these opportunities include photos, action links, secondary hours, attributes, service details, and several other features. The intent is to make GMB as replete with primary data as possible, so that any pertinent detail a consumer might need to know before choosing a local business is provided in-platform, without the need to click through to other sources,” wrote Damian Rollison for StreetFight.
The local trend matches Google’s overall direction in the search engine results pages: answering everything right there in the SERP. It also does this by personalizing the local results to what it believes is the searcher’s intent.
“The term that has arisen to describe the most prevalent type of local pack personalization is ‘justifications’ (this is apparently Google’s internal term for the feature). Justifications are snippets of content presented as part of the local pack — or, in some cases, as part of the larger business profile — in order to ‘justify’ the search result to the user. Justifications pull evidence from some less-visible part of GMB, from Google users, from the business website, or from local inventory feeds, and publish that evidence as part of the search result,” said Rollison.
So why should marketers care about this? “Personalization represents a broad range of opportunities for businesses to drive relevant traffic from search to store. Answers to questions, photos, website content, and much more can be optimized according to the products and services you most want to surface for in search.“