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Hey folks, welcome to another Smattering of SEO News! PLENTY to talk about this week, including the fact that now an AI handles a large chunk of Google Searches? I know, right? Keep reading for the full skinny.

Google News

  • I’m Sorry Dave, I Can’t Find That: Google Turns Many Searches Over To AI – Google recently announced that, what it calls a “very large faction” of search results are now being handled by an AI they’re called RankBrain. RankBrain apparently uses its artificial intelligence to figure out phrases or words it’s familiar with and return relevant results, and can guess if it runs into a query it’s not familiar with. Interestingly, RankBrain has also become one of the most important ranking signals in the hundreds of signals as well. Search Engine Land has a FAQ about what we know about RankBrain so far, and it’s definitely worth a read.


  • Possible Unconfirmed Google Update Happened Recently, Maybe – Recent SERP volatility seemed to denote to some that there was a Google update. When confronted on Twitter about it, Google’s Gary Illyes basically said, “Yeah, we make hundreds of updates, and that could have been one of them.” That’s one of the best non-answer answers I’ve read in a long time.
  • Google Sees Plain Text Links And Follows Them, But Doesn’t Pass PageRank – This is less news and more “huh, that’s neat.” Essentially, Google’s John Mueller said that, while Google’s spiders can recognize a URL that’s plain text (i.e. not an actual hyperlink) and can follow it, they won’t pass any PageRank through it. It makes sense that Google’s spiders would be that smart, honestly.
  • “Not Set” In Analytics Is A Feature, Not A Bug – Recently, a lot of webmasters were expressing concern as to Google Analytics showing “not set” in the Queries section of the SEO report, and were thinking it’s a bug. Apparently, it’s a feature. According to Google’s John Mueller, Google Search Console doesn’t send analytics the actual search queries when they show their data, so Analytics doesn’t have the information at all. Good times!
  • Paid YouTube Red To Launch This Week – Have you ever wanted a YouTube without ads? Well, starting 10/28, you can now have such a thing with YouTube Red. For $9.99 a month (though apparently it’ll be included with other various Google subscriptions like Google Music, for example), you can not only eschew ads, but download videos for offline viewing as well. As a YouTube content creator my own self, this is something I’m definitely going to be watching.

Other News

  • Facebook Makes Public Posts Searchable – Facebook announced that all of its public posts are now searchable via its new universal search functionality. This includes over two trillion posts! Their new search also allows you to filter friends vs public results, apparently it will give better suggestions and let users jump right into active public conversations. I’ve not yet tried this but it sounds fascinating.


  • Twitter Organic Traffic Up 20% Since Google Reindexation – Twitter announced recently that its desktop organic search traffic has gone up 20% in the six months (has it really been that long? Wow!) since Google began reindexing their public Tweets. Interestingly, their bounce rate has also dropped significantly in the same time. This can only be good news for the struggling social network.



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