Optimizing for Hanukkah: Sometimes it’s still strings, not things

My wife came to me with a problem. She wanted festive, whimsical, and potentially matching Hanukkah pajamas. But there weren’t enough options coming up in Google under one spelling of the holiday’s name, so she told me she was systematically going through all spellings to compile her list of shopping items.
I was pretty surprised by this — I had expected Google to be smart enough to recognize that these were alternative spellings of the same thing, especially post-Hummingbird. Clearly, this was not the case.
Some background for those who don’t know: Hanukkah is actually a transliterated word from Hebrew. Since Hebrew has its own alphabet, there are numerous spellings that one can use to reference it: Hanukkah, Chanukah, and Channukah are all acceptable spellings of the same holiday.
So, when someone searches for “Hanukkah pajamas” or “Chanukah pajamas,” Google really should be smart enough to understand that they are different spellings of the same concept and provide nearly identical

Search Engine Land Source

How machine learning levels the SERP playing field

We don’t ordinarily think of Google when we think about competition in the digital marketing world, since it seems to reliably dominate most areas in which it does business. A recent segment discussing corporate monopolies on John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight“ hilariously referenced Bing as the dominant search engine with a graphic that stated, “Bing. The best place to Google something.”
For the most part, however, the digital marketing sphere has been a fairly competitive landscape, though there were exceptions to this maxim. Established brands frequently dominated top SERP positions because of long-standing trust, fresh domains had to wait their turn in line, and black-hat SEO allowed webmasters to game the system and deliver high rankings for thin content. A decade ago, SEO agencies and webmasters could apply simple heuristics and buzzworthy keywords to rank content regardless of its utility to user intent or actual quality.
The Hummingbird update and subsequent rollout of RankBrain changed all of these notions

Search Engine Land Source

8 major Google ranking signals in 2017

 

It’s no secret that Google’s ranking algorithm is made up of over 200 components, or “signals.” And while the list is impressive, it can get daunting if you’re a just regular human with 24 hours in a day.
Luckily, SEO isn’t about getting every tiny thing right; it’s about getting your priorities right. Below, we’ve put up a list of top eight rankings factors, based on the industry studies by SearchMetrics, Backlinko and SEO PowerSuite. Read on to find what they are, and how to optimize your site for each.
Backlinks
Surprise, surprise, right? In 2017, backlinks continue to be the strongest indication of authority to Google. Let’s look at the things that can make or break yours.
1. Link score
How does Google turn the abstract concept of “backlinks” into a quantifiable ranking signal? In several patents, Google explains that this is done by calculating a “link score.” The score is made up by every incoming link’s individual quality score (aka

Search Engine Land Source