This Week In SEO #28
A New AI Algorithm, A Mobile Algorithm Update, and Duplicate Content

This week had a bigger news buzz than usual as Bloomberg published an article on Google’s RankBrain (probably at the request of Google). Here’s the gist of it:

Rank Brain


What is RankBrain?

RankBrain is an artificial intelligence algorithm that Google is using to help display relevant search results.

This is the first time that Google has mentioned AI in conjunction with search results.

What Does it Do?

RankBrain handles about 15% of search queries. Specifically, RankBrain helps Google determine the best search results for a search query it hasn’t seen before, or very ambiguous queries.

Is RankBrain a Ranking Signal?


RankBrain is one of the “hundreds” of signals that go into an algorithm that determines what results appear on a Google search page and where they are ranked, Corrado said. In the few months it has been deployed, RankBrain has become the third-most important signal contributing to the result of a search query, he said.


Is RankBrain Related to the Hummingbird Algorithm?


Hummingbird is the overall search algorithm, just like a car has an overall engine in it. The engine itself may be made up of various parts, such as an oil filter, a fuel pump, a radiator and so on. In the same way, Hummingbird encompasses various parts, with RankBrain being one of the newest.

In particular, we know RankBrain is part of the overall Hummingbird algorithm because the Bloomberg article makes clear that RankBrain doesn’t handle all searches, as only the overall algorithm would.

What Does This Change for You/Your SEO?

Continue to write relevant, high-quality, and in-depth content for your site and you’ll be good to go.


Penalizing Sites With App Download Interstitials


Today Google announced an update to the mobile-friendly algorithm on their G+ account:

An update to the mobile-friendly algorithm

Starting today, pages with an app install interstitial that hide a significant amount of content on the transition from the search result page won’t be considered mobile-friendly.

Instead of full page interstitials, we recommend that webmasters use more user-friendly formats such as app install banners. We hope that this change will make it easier for searchers to see the content of the pages they are looking for.

We mentioned previously that this was coming. If your mobile site tries to get the user to download your app and hides the content the came to see in the process, your SEO rank will suffer.

Need some more info on how to comply with this new change? Google’s got you covered:

How do I detect if my site is doing sneaky mobile redirects?

Check if you are redirected when you navigate to your site on your smartphone

We recommend you to check the mobile user experience of your site by visiting your pages from Google search results with a smartphone. When debugging, mobile emulation in desktop browsers is handy, mostly because you can test for many different devices. You can, for example, do it straight from your browser in Chrome, Firefox or Safari (for the latter, make sure you have enabled the “Show Develop menu in menu bar” feature).

Check out the full post here.


Google’s Inability to Recognize Stolen Content

SEO test

PI Datametrics did some duplicate content testing. There’s a ton of people to be found in the SEO space telling you not to copy content, but invest in your own unique content (including us. We say that). But how about some hard data?

Stolen content Test 1. Our findings:

Despite Econsultancy’s original article having 44 times more social shares than ours, and even though they’ve been established for 5 years longer, we found that pages with stolen content (such as ours), can not only prosper but can in fact blow the original content out of the water, and go on to achieve even stronger positions in the SERPs.

On the other hand we found that, when optimising our stolen content for long-tail search terms, our site failed to hijack any positions.

This is a very interesting case study. Go and read it. Even though you might not see any negative returns in the short term, it is advisable not to duplicate (a.k.a. steal) content from other sites.

TWS29: Google Machine Learning, New Schema, Pinterest Visual Search
TWS27: Yahoo + Google, 301 Redirects, and Competitor Research

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Sean Markey

Sean Markey

Obsessive consumer of SEO news and strategies, writes the This Week in SEO column. Loves playing drums and writing fiction. Bets you he can throw a football over them mountains.
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