Edition #7: Understanding natural language for the win

Welcome to the penultimate Sitebulb Monthly newsletter of 2018. They grow old so fast.

This one - well the first 3 posts at least - are coincidentally all of the same broad theme:
Google is getting better at understanding language
-> Google is getting better at inferring intent
-> Google is adjusting ranks based on this inferred intent.

Don't let my crappy summary scare you away, read the good stuff below...
 

Recent Tech SEO Stuff We Love

Algorithm Analysis in the Age of Embeddings

via @ajkohn

I really enjoyed this post, and not only because it's written by one of my favourite SEO bloggers, but also because it makes a logical, well-reasoned argument as to why E-A-T is not something that the algorithm measures and adjusts for. The post reaches far beyond this, however, describing how Google are testing and optimizing for query intent, and explaining how they manage this with better understanding of natural language. I challenge you to read this and not be thought-provoked.

Using topic modelling frameworks for NLP and semantic search

via @dawnieando

This SlideShare actually fits really nicely alongside AJ Kohn's post above, as Dawn also tackles some of the ways that search engines can understand context through natural language processing (NLP). There's plenty of theory, but also some practical advice around how you can optimize on-page content, utilize structured data, and better focus page content for a specific topic. BONUS: at the end there is a 30+ page appendix with a load more stuff, which is super easy to miss.

How to rank for head terms

via @THCapper

In this post, Tom explores the importance of links for ranking at the top of the search results for head terms. He walks you through a SERP changing over time, showing how the results can change based on search volume and intent (rather than links). Tom's recommendations end up similar to AJ's - optimize for engagement and seek to understand what's actually going on in the SERP.

Time to Interactive – focusing on the human-centric metrics

via @radibit

Now for something a little different - a post on performance. It feels like every week we are introduced to a new page speed metric we need to consider, and they all measure slightly different things. Today it's the turn of 'Time to Interactive', and this article is a really good primer, it explains what is actually going on when JavaScript events are taking too long, and how this manifests to the user in the perceived interactivity of the page.

Other Stuff You Should Check Out

  • Link Prospecting Made Easy With Free Prospecting Tool!
    I love the story behind this tool: David emailed me with a (URL Profiler) feature request. I suggested he speak to Sean, and thought nothing more of it. A few weeks later David emailed me to show me the new tool they had built together! The tool gives you a really fast way to examine prospect sites and weed out the ones you are not interested in. A heartwarming community collaboration and a fantastic free tool rolled into one!
     
  • How PageRank Really Works: Understanding Google
    If you don't already know how PageRank is calculated, I'd say it is a core concept worth getting your head around. And this is an extremely clear presentation that explains it very succinctly.

     
  • Lighthouse custom audits tutorial
    Have fun geeking out with this sexy little number. This post shows you how to use Lighthouse to create your own custom audit, so you can use it to time how long it takes for your hero image to appear, or your 'buy' button, or search bar etc...

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