SEO: The new eyes of Google
Google grew up with the mission of organizing all the information in the world and making it universally accessible and useful. Google indexes all possible data online with an automated program: Googlebot. Until recently, that program was always blind: it didn't see websites the way users see them. Until recently. The latest Google developments in a row.
The personal experience
Google has always focused on providing an optimal user experience. Websites that appear in the search results in an unnatural way do not give the user what they are looking for. That's why the Webspam team led by Matt Cutts is always working to keep out unauthorized SEO practices. Focus on the user and the rest will come naturally, is therefore the motto of Google.
A good SEO practice is to make your website accessible to blind users as well. They browse the internet with voting software: it reads the title of a page, the headings, the links. The blind user calls out a command to go to a link and the voting software reads everything on that page. For example, if a blind user is looking for the first date of the Cheese Market in Alkmaar, and he lands on a page with the title 'Kaasmarkt', he will not immediately know whether he is in the right place; he has to listen to the whole text. The title 'Kaasmarkt Alkmaar' says much more. Calling residences is therefore a good SEO method (Venice update).
Googlebot sees formatting
Googlebot sees images
Previously, an image could contain anything, but Google only looked at the text around it: the title of the file, the alternative text (alt-image) and the context of the page. A photo of a dog could thus be indexed as a photo of a cat. On Nov 17 Google announced they've got a self-learning program (a "Neural Image Caption Generator") to accurately describe photos.
With this, blind users can get a much better user experience: they are no longer dependent on the texts around it. The challenge the researchers tackled is not just what is in the photo, but also what is happening in the photo: how do the objects relate to each other? Google previously participated in the ImageNet large-scale visual recognition challenge (ISLVRC2014) and gave clear to:
“These technological advances will enable even better image understanding on our side and the progress is directly transferable to Google products such as photo search, image search, YouTube, self-driving cars, and any place where it is useful to understand what is in an image as well as where things are.”
What does that mean for SEO? No more stunts with the alt-image tag: if there is a dog in the photo, then there must also be 'dog' in the alt-image tag. figments.com therefore expect an update in the Google algorithm soon.
I'm not a robot
CAPTCHA. You know them: the number plates or extremely blurry numbers and letters that you can type. To determine if you're a spam robot (that just spews nonsense and crashes) or a real person contacting through a form. By typing countless number plates and words, we help with the digitization of photos and scans: Google knows the real house numbers of Google Streetview photos and scanned old books are made digitally searchable.
Now Google recognizes that Artificial Intelligence technology can accurately read CAPTCHAs up to 99.8%. Good news for anyone tired of retyping (especially if there's another required field or incorrect data message that makes you do everything over again). For Google, it means a renewal of CAPTCHAs: a handy checkbox. With possibly an extra test: match the cat with cats.
New eyes of the user
And there you immediately see the challenge of Google: they research software that can also do that. So when that software becomes freely available, and it's only a matter of time thanks to the wonders of the internet, we'll be dealing with real data pollution. We can no longer distinguish real visitors from software. And it's going to get even more interesting with the arrival of intelligent personal assistants: software that gives you as a user an assignment: 'find the cheapest brand of jeans in size 36-34 and color dark blue'. The user then gets new eyes to bet on.
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