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Google May Surface More Short-Form Video In Search Results

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Google May Surface More Short-Form Video In Search Results


Google is working on ways to show more short-form video in search results, saying it’s a clear and concise format for satisfying certain queries.

This was stated in latest Search Off The Record podcast episode by Google Product Manager Danielle Marshak, who oversees videos in search results.

Marshak is joined by Gary Illyes and Lizzi Sassman, both of Google’s Search Relations team, in an episode focused on videos in Google Search.

At roughly the 17-minute mark, the discussion delves into the topic of short-form videos and whether Google has plans involving this specific format.

In addition to learning Google wants to show more short videos in search results, we find out there’s interest among the Search Relations team in recording their own.

More Short-Form Videos In Google?

For the purpose of this discussion, Marshak defines a “short” video as less than five minutes in length and recorded in a vertical aspect ratio.

She says this format has the ability to communicate an abundance of information in a short time.

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Due to how useful short videos can potentially be for searchers, Google is thinking about how to surface them more in search results.

Marshak states:

“And this format, it’s really cool because as I mentioned, it is very concise. You can get a lot of information in a short period of time, and you can also get a loot of different views and perspectives…

So we think this kind of content could be useful for a lot of different types of search queries, and we’ve been experimenting with how to show it to users more often.”

What Types Of Short Videos Would Google Surface?

Marshak is asked to provide some examples of informational short videos Google might surface in search results.

She gives an example of a video demonstrating how to make a recipe:

“So let’s say, again, you’re searching for some new ideas to make banana bread. And right now, you might see traditional recipes, you might see longer videos, but you could also see short videos, which could just give you a different style or perspective.

And people’s preferences are different. Some people might prefer to read; some people might prefer a longer video; some people might prefer short videos.

And so we want to offer a lot of different options to get that type of information, in the format that is most useful for you. So that’s one example.”

Illyes adds to the discussion saying he enjoys short videos and may consider making some to educate people about Google Search.

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Illyes states:

“Yeah, I really like short-form videos and I see lots of instructional videos on certain sites. And I really think that at one point, we might want to try it for education purposes. Like for research, talks.

I don’t know if we are there yet, but eventually, especially if I see that the search engines pick it up, and they can present it in some way, then maybe we should push for it.”

How Would Google Surface Short Form Video?

Google would surface short videos by crawling and indexing them like any other piece of content.

This is already being done with self-hosted short videos like Google web stories, and Illyes suggests it might be possible with other videos as well.

Since TikTok videos have a URL you can visit in a web browser, Google may be able to index them in search, Illyes says:

“You can actually open it on the laptop and you will end up on a web page and you can actually watch it on the web page. You don’t have to have the TikTok app for watching the video.

So I imagine that if they allow crawling–I haven’t checked, then we can probably index those videos as well.”

That means short videos on platforms like Snapchat and Instagram couldn’t be indexed in Google since they require an app to view.

Listen to the podcast below for the full discussion on videos in Google Search. Or jump to the 17-minute mark for the discussion on short videos.

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Featured Image: mark gusev/Shutterstock





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Is RankBrain A Ranking Factor In Google Search?

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Is RankBrain A Ranking Factor In Google Search?

Google’s understanding of human language is made possible by several breakthrough technologies in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Launched in 2015, RankBrain was the first of said breakthroughs. It allowed Google to return results for queries with no previous record of searches.

RankBrain’s functionality has evolved since its initial introduction. It now allows Google’s algorithms to do something that humans do instinctively: relate words to real-world concepts.

In the days before RankBrain, Google interpreted words literally. It didn’t understand synonyms or figurative meanings.

That limited both the quality and quantity of search results Google could provide.

The ability to interpret what humans mean when they write queries in natural language marked a significant milestone for Google Search.

RankBrain does more than understand language; if you need a hint at its other function, it’s in the name: Rank.

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In this article, we’ll investigate the claims around RankBrain as a ranking factor, providing clarity on what RankBrain is and how it impacts search results.

[Learn More:] The Complete Guide To Google Ranking Factors

The Claim: RankBrain As A Ranking Factor

RankBrain is a technology that seems to impact how Google returns search results.

Due to its association with search, many people consider RankBrain a ranking factor.

Without knowing what “RankBrain” means, people new to SEO may assume it refers to a technology Google uses to rank search results.

That assumption isn’t far off, but not every component of Google’s search algorithm is a ranking factor in and of itself.

The following section goes over what Google designed RankBrain to do and how it assists with answering queries.

The Evidence: Is RankBrain A Ranking Factor?

RankBrain is an artificial intelligence (AI) system introduced in 2015 to help Google return results for queries without previous search data.

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That changed sometime between the spring of 2015 and 2016. Google announced an update to RankBrain, which integrated AI into all queries.

Wired revealed this information in an article that notes Google isn’t clear on how RankBrain improves all queries, but it does affect rankings.

From Wired:

“Google is characteristically fuzzy on exactly how it improves search (something to do with the long tail? Better interpretation of ambiguous requests?) but [Google engineer Jeff Dean] says that RankBrain is ‘involved in every query,’ and affects the actual rankings ‘probably not in every query but in a lot of queries.’”

What differentiates RankBrain from other Google algorithms is its ability to learn how to answer more ambiguous queries.

As Google’s Gary Illyes explains, the algorithm makes educated guesses at what a user would likely click on for a never-before-seen query.

“RankBrain is a PR-sexy machine learning ranking component that uses historical search data to predict what would a user most likely click on for a previously unseen query.”

RankBrain allows Google to solve problems it used to run into with traditional algorithms.

Contrary to popular theories about how RankBrain works, it does not use data gathered from users’ interactions with a webpage.

RankBrain relies more on data gathered from users’ interactions with search results.

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Illyes provides further clarity:

“It is a really cool piece of engineering that saved our butts countless times whenever traditional algos were like, e.g. “oh look a “not” in the query string! let’s ignore the hell out of it!”, but it’s generally just relying on (sometimes) months old data about what happened on the results page itself, not on the landing page.”

In short – RankBrain is a machine learning system that allows Google’s search algorithm to deliver more relevant results.

RankBrain accomplishes this through an improved understanding of ambiguous queries and long-tail keywords.

RankBrain uses data gathered from users’ interactions with search results to predict which pages will likely get clicked on for a brand new search query.

Practical Example From Google’s Vice President of Search

In addition to returning results for ambiguous and never-before-seen queries, RankBrain is capable of connecting words to concepts.

Pandu Nayak, Google’s Vice President of Search, explains how this works with an example of a query that contains the phrase “food chain.”

“Food chain” can refer to organisms in an ecosystem (literal meaning), or it can refer to a hierarchy of people (figurative meaning).

As Nayak states, RankBrain helps Google determine the intended meaning of words based on how a searcher uses them in a query:

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“For example, if you search for ‘what’s the title of the consumer at the highest level of a food chain,’ our systems learn from seeing those words on various pages that the concept of a food chain may have to do with animals, and not human consumers.

By understanding and matching these words to their related concepts, RankBrain understands that you’re looking for what’s commonly referred to as an “apex predator.”

Thanks to this understanding, Nayak confirms, RankBrain can decide the best order for top search results by ranking them according to relevance.

[Ebook Download:] Ranking Factors: Fact Or Fiction 2nd Edition

Our Verdict: RankBrain Is A Confirmed Ranking Factor

Google has confirmed that RankBrain is used to rank search results and is involved in all queries.

In 2016, Andrey Lipattsev, a Google Search Quality Senior Strategist, said RankBrain was one of the three most important ranking signals (along with content and links).

RankBrain continues to play an essential role in search results today.

RankBrain differs from traditional ranking factors in that there’s not an obvious way to actively optimize for it.

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How do you optimize for ambiguous keywords or queries that no one’s ever entered into Google?

The only option is to provide Google with as much information about a page as possible, which site owners should do anyway if they create holistic content for users.

Illyes was asked this question once and replied with a similar sentiment:

“you optimize your content for users and thus for RankBrain. that hasn’t changed”

Search Engine Journal VIP Contributor Dave Davies provides more advanced tips for communicating information to Google regarding different entities on a page in A Complete Guide To The Google RankBrain Algorithm.


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

Ranking Factors: Fact Or Fiction? Let’s Bust Some Myths! [Ebook]

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