Google Machine Learning Changes Requirements To Rank Higher In Search Results 08/22/2017

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Rebooting ranking factors based on
machine-learning technology should not come as a surprise, but findings from research released in June confirm that marketers can no longer rely solely on general search and content optimization
strategies to help content rank higher on Google. As machine learning becomes smarter, it changes the requirements.

This particular study focuses on financial institutions, but the concept can
be applied across the board.

Searchmetrics analysts pored over the top 20 Google search results for more than 6,000 finance-related keywords, including terms such as “mortgage
rates,” “insurance,” and “foreign exchange,” to identify the most commonly occurring themes, ranking factors, and times when finance-related information becomes more prevalent.

The
research summarized in the white paper Finance Ranking Factors – Data Insights for Performing
on Google
 are intended to make sense of industry-specific factors commonly found on financial services Web sites that rank higher in searches, specifically on Google.

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It’s no secret
that consumers research products online before they buy. Seventy-four percent of insurance shoppers go online to get information first.

Relevant content becomes even more important in
financial services than in other sectors, per the findings. Financial services content that ranks higher in Google searches is 50% more relevant to the entered search query.

Searchmetrics also
found the top-ranking financial Web site pages load a second faster than other high-ranking pages and may even use fewer images and videos.

The analysis also found that financial
services-related Web pages use the searched keyword or phrase far less in the text than other Web sites that rank high, so performing well in search relies even less on creating content that repeats
keywords entered by searchers. 

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It turns out that higher-ranking content related to financial services use the searched keyword three times less frequently in the body text than
high-ranking content in the benchmark study. Across the first 20 positions, the keyword only appears on the page 2.1 times, whereas for general search queries the overall average is 7.4: more than
three times as many.

Repeating the same words can come across as unnatural and it’s likely that in financial services searches Google is putting even greater emphasis on rewarding
sites that provide content that is easy to understand and uses natural language to answer searchers’ questions.  

When it comes to buttons and interactive elements that lead
site visitors to other parts of the site, pare back. Pages that tend to rank high in financial services have 29% fewer buttons, menus or other interactive elements that can lead
visitors to other parts of the site. Searchmetrics suggests putting the focus, when it comes to finance, on helping visitors absorb the content on the current page.

People are 70% more likely
to share or engage with on LinkedIn for those pages ranking high on Google, but they are less popular on Facebook.

This column was previously published in the Search Insider on
June 9, 2017.



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