Almost Timely News, 7 November 2021: Search Quality Rater Guidelines, Marketing Budgeting, Vision and Strategy :: View in Browser

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What’s On My Mind: Google’s Updated Search Quality Rater Guidelines

Last month, Google refreshed its Search Quality Rater Guidelines. What are these? These guidelines are what Google uses to instruct human raters how to rate websites that are then used to help train Google’s models. From the official blog post, this is how Google describes them:

“”What that looks like in practice is often a “side-by-side” test where a rater will look at two sets of Search results, one from the current version of Google and the other from an improvement we’re testing. Raters will review the pages in each set of results, and evaluate if the pages are a helpful match for the query based on our rater guidelines.

What this means in practical terms is Google uses the results of human raters to train its AI, to help it learn and deliver better results. Thus, as marketers constantly working to earn more traffic from the world’s largest search engine, it behooves us to align our SEO and content marketing efforts with what Google is training its AI to look for.

So what’s important in this massive 172-page document? Fundamentally, they boil down to three key factors:

  • Page quality
  • Mobile friendliness
  • Needs met

If you’ve ever heard the term dimension reduction in reference to machine learning, it’s the practice of using mathematics to consolidate a lot of variables down to far fewer variables. You do this because otherwise you’d have massive computational costs to deal with. It’s very likely for a search engine the size of Google that there are multiple layers and levels of dimension reduction in their AI so that it can function quickly at scale.

These three criteria, then, probably form the major dimensions that they reduce much of their other data down to in SEO. Obviously, they’re not going to confirm or deny that, but it seems logical and probable. So what does that mean?

Suppose you draw a matrix on a sheet of paper, a cube.

  • On the X axis is page quality – stuff like expertise, authority, trustworthiness, high quality content.
  • On the Y axis is mobile friendliness – stuff like page load times, size of assets, scripts that take up time.
  • On the Z axis is needs met – whether the page fulfills the user’s intent, and the things that would detract from a positive user experience like misinformation or harmful content.

If you took each of these three major dimensions and plotted out all the pages on your website, conceptually, you would end up with a visualization of what content is most likely to do well in search.

So, how would you go about actually doing this? Again, we don’t have Google’s data to know how they see our sites and all the measures which contribute to their internal metrics. But we do have a fair amount of information from the data they do share in services like Google Search Console.

For example:

  • We know search impressions is the number of times our site’s pages showed up in searches. Search impressions likely maps in some way to page quality – if our site were terrible, we wouldn’t show up well in search results.
  • We know with great detail about our mobile friendliness and page experience directly from those relevant sections in Search Console.
  • We know and can see bounce rate and session times of users on our pages. A user with a very short session duration that immediately bounces probably did not have their needs met on our site.

If you extracted all this data, cleaned it up, and plotted it, chances are you’d have a decent visualization of what pages on your site do well in search – and from there, you could prioritize what pages you need to fix, by which category they lag most in.

Consider this approach when you start tackling your SEO. Instead of randomly guessing or relying on opinion, use metrics and the guidelines Google has publicly stated as important for doing well in search.

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ICYMI: In Case You Missed it

If I had to suggest only one of these articles to read from this week, it would be the podcast episode I did with Katie on marketing budgeting and planning. In it you’ll learn the sourdough bread marketing planning strategy that may help you get more budget for your marketing efforts from stakeholders who don’t understand how marketing actually works.

Skill Up With Free Classes

These are just a few of the free classes I have available over at the Trust Insights website that you can take.

Thank You Notes

These are the places you’ve had or mentioned me – on your podcast, on your blog, in your newsletter. Thank you!

What I’m Reading: Your Stuff

Let’s look at the most interesting content from around the web on topics you care about, some of which you might have even written.

Social Media Marketing

Media and Content

SEO, Google, and Paid Media

Advertisement: Supermetrics for Google Data Studio

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Tools, Machine Learning, and AI

Analytics, Stats, and Data Science

All Things IBM

Ad: Make Better Videos with Techsmith Camtasia

If you enjoy my videos, like You Ask, I Answer, Do Something With Your Marketing, Saturday Night Data Party, and many others, then consider using the platform I use to edit and publish them: Techsmith Camtasia. Camtasia is just the right balance between too easy and inflexible, like iMovie, and absurdly complex and expensive, like Adobe Premiere. It’s got just the right features, from subtitle editing to all the usual transitions and special effects, and it’s a desktop app, so there’s none of this crazy trying to “edit in the cloud” (which is insane for video production). If you need to produce videos, screencasts, and even animations, give Camtasia a try.

Good Reads, Long Reads, Interesting Stuff

Fun, Games, and Entertainment

Economics, Politics, Environment, and Society

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How to Stay in Touch

Let’s make sure we’re connected in the places it suits you best. Here’s where you can find different content:

Required Disclosures

Events with links have purchased sponsorships in this newsletter and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.

Advertisements in this newsletter have paid to be promoted, and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.

My company, Trust Insights, maintains business partnerships with companies including, but not limited to, IBM, Cisco Systems, Amazon, Talkwalker, MarketingProfs, MarketMuse, Agorapulse, Hubspot, Informa, Demandbase, The Marketing AI Institute, and others. While links shared from partners are not explicit endorsements, nor do they directly financially benefit Trust Insights, a commercial relationship exists for which Trust Insights may receive indirect financial benefit, and thus I may receive indirect financial benefit from them as well.

Thank You!

Thanks for subscribing and reading this far. I appreciate it. As always, thank you for your support, your attention, and your kindness.

See you next week,

Christopher S. Penn

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