How Machine Learning Has Improved Search Rankings

My approach to SEO is based around raising your click rates.

There are a few reasons for this, one is that if you can make your links more “clicky” or more interesting and raise your SEO click-through rate (CTR), then you’ll be moved higher in the rankings.

Machine learning has significantly improved this click-rate feedback loop by rating content based on what they expect your click rate to be and then measuring it against a link’s actual click rate.  
When a listing is getting a higher than expected click rate for their ranking consistently over time, then the algorithm will move you up higher in the ranking. This also works in the reverse.  
The top spot usually gets a 30% CTR but if it’s only getting 10% then it’s likely that link will be demoted.


Using Emotional Triggers To Beat The Algo

It’s definitely a marketplace that creates winners and losers.

There’s a huge advantage to having higher CTRs compared to your competitors. All you really need to do is beat the expected CTR for your spot in the rankings by 3% in order to progress.

In order to get people to click there are a couple of basic strategies you can employ, but I highly recommend you make friends with a pay-per-click (PPC) ad specialist.

In the PPC world, there are no backlinks. You’re scored directly on how many clicks you’re able to pull in.

In organic listings, the ads now look exactly like the PPC ads with the same headline and copy structure so you can essentially use any PPC strategy that’s effective.

The old approach to SEO headlines was where you repeat the focus keyword more than once.

They typically do OK, but not great. As a percentile score, they hit around the 66% mark.

They’re middle of the road, but can still give you a CTR boost if your numbers are low to begin with.

What I prefer is to use emotional triggers.

One example is for a divorce lawyer, the SEO marketer might want to write “Divorce Lawyer Boston – Sign Up For A Free Consultant.”

What I would write instead would be more along the lines of, “Who Is He Sleeping With? Get Revenge And A Smile On Your Face – Boston Divorce Lawyers.” See the difference here?

You don’t need to jam your title tag full of keywords, but instead hit the emotional heart of the purchase.  
This was an extreme example but I wanted to illustrate the point.

I still have my main keywords present but they’re in a supporting role. Using a list format also works well.

Think of BuzzFeed style headlines that have been popular in recent years.

10 ways to prank your boss, or 5 new hair dos and don’ts. These are great templates to mimic because they create a curiosity gap.

Fear, Anger, Laugher, Awe, and Shock are all great emotional triggers you can try out with your market.[/inlinetweet”]  

Action Steps

  1. Rewrite your headlines to include an emotional trigger.
  2. Try out a list format to create a curiosity gap.
  3. Experiment with Fear, Anger, Awe, Shock, and Laughter as triggers.
  4. Don’t over repeat your keywords, use them in a supporting role.


Result You Will Achieve

Improved CTRs on your listings and better ranking from the algorithm by using emotional triggers to produce better titles and descriptions.

Mentor: Larry Kim

CEO of MobileMonkey. the World’s Best Facebook Messenger Marketing Platform, for marketers at companies of all sizes. He’s ranked the #8 most popular author on Medium. Contributor to CNBC and Inc Magazine.

This article is based on an EHQ interview with the mentor.