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Keyword Associations in Google, Part 2

In part one of our discussion on Google’s keyword association algorithm patents, we talked about how the search engine uses relevance and search volume to refine user queries in an effort to deliver useful search engine results, regardless of the ambiguity or general nature of a given search. In part two, we will discuss context and location in refining search queries even more. Read on:

How Context Plays a Role in Search

Google also has a patent that may offer insights into how context plays into the refinement of a user’s search queries. Contexts in the case of SEO refer to the collections of words, keyword strings, and phrases associated with a particular Web resource. Google catalogs these contexts and uses them in its algorithm as it refines search results for the user.

Google does this by looking at how words and phrases are used. It can recognize patterns based on the intersection of those words and phrases and by analyzing the resource content page by page.

Google may also use a specific user’s past search history, past queries, and browser usage patterns to help pinpoint context. That history, even of the past few searches, can help the search engine better understand the user and his or her interests, returning useful information as a result. It is a combination of machine learning, mathematics, and word analysis that comes together to form relevant search results, regardless of the keywords and phrases a user puts in.

Context Goes Much Deeper

So, Google looks at a user’s search history and browsing habits to refine ambiguous queries in order to better answer questions. There is evidence that the search engine does so much more with context than those simple steps. The information contained in several recent Google patents suggest that the search engine may capture more intimate information about each user, such as the movies they’ve watched recently, the topics they’ve read about in the news, and the music choices they have recently made on online streaming or purchasing services. Google may even keep track of the television shows playing in a user’s area, sort of setting the stage for potential queries. For example, if you’re searching for information on Armageddon, and the movie “Armageddon” is playing on a local TV station, Google may highlight that particular semantic cluster in its search results.

Location as Context

In recent years, geolocation has risen to the forefront of online search engines. Local search has influenced the major search players as well as the professionals in the SEO field who tailor client content to reflect local search patterns. Local businesses wishing to grow already take advantage of local search tools to attract customers from the area, but there is evidence that Google is preparing to do so much more with location as a form of making connections between the user, query, and results.

This can have important ramifications for traveling abroad, for tourism, and for many other facets of everyday life. Imagine that you are walking past a historic building and want to know if any good restaurants are in the area. You may not know the name of that building, but Google can use its algorithm to understand that you’re looking for resources in the immediate area of your current location. In no time, the user is plugged into the neighborhood or location they are currently traversing, and Google is feeding that user relevant search results that fit even the broadest of queries.

Ramifications for SEO

Google is getting smarter and smarter as the years go by. The personalization of search is making it so that users get tailored results that fit their specific needs in mere seconds. As an SEO professional, it can be hard to keep up with the changes needed to leverage the power of Google. Gone are the days of stuffing keywords into a web page and hoping it would attract the attention of the search algorithm.

Keywords are still important, but it is critical for an SEO professional to try to anticipate what keywords, keyword strings, and search phrases a user may type into a search engine. Incorporating variations of those words and phrases will boost rankings. Your target keyword may be a first, too – in other words, a user may search for a specific word or phrase, and if that word or phrase appears in your Web content first, you may be the top entity on search results pages! So, don’t forgo keywords even though the landscape has become more challenging.

Finally, continual monitoring of a site’s performance in terms of SEO is critical. It is possible to refine content quickly to suit changes in ranking. There are several tools available, such as Rank Tracker by SEO PowerSuite, SEMRush SEO rank tracker, Pro Rank Tracker, and much more. These tools make regular monitoring a snap and will help give you the edge as you strive for those top positions on Google search results pages.