This is some cool stuff here. I was starting to write something on topical relevance and how it's somewhat important. I got totally sidetracked and derailed by spotting this. This is pretty freaking neat.
If you want to know what the future of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) looks like (the future that has already started), then read on.
So… I started with the idea of two seemingly unrelated things but that might already have a connection in Google's knowledge graph. My unrelated things were "Plumbing" and "A Slice of Bread".
Then, already knowing the connection myself, I started to form a search questions that I hoped would generate a rich snippet. I really wanted one of those "Big Bold Heading" ones – that has the one or two word answer all gigantic – like if you ask "Who was the 14th President of the US". (See the first image).
Now… I formulated a question that would hopefully put "Bread" or "A Slice of Bread" in big bold letters.
The question was: What do you use to dry a copper pipe before sweating?
I was a little tricky in one of my word choices there. I used the word "sweating" instead of "soldering." Sweating is the term professionals use while soldering is more of a layman's term for it. You can solder lots of things, but "sweating" is something specific to pipes in the plumbing industry. So, in other words, my search term was designed to hit two points already close on the knowledge graph – where the word "soldering" might be further away.
So… now we get to the result (see picture 2).
Here is what is absolutely fascinating and inspiring to me. The answer to my question ("bread") is not anywhere visible here – and, in fact the word "bread" is not in the YouTube description, either. (Though it does appear in a few comments). Another way cool thing here is that the word "sweat" or "sweating" does not appear in the description, the video itself, and only once in the comments as a tangential afterthought. The video calls it "soldering" (with a non-silent L, even) throughout.
And… the coolest thing… Google sought that out and showed me the square on shot of the answer I was expecting – not just bread – but a slice of bread.
Now… I can't be certain, but this sure feels like "MUM" to me. Producing a visual answer to question asked in words. It's also connecting the answer using information it got from other pages… taking my term "sweating" and realizing that "soldering" is an appropriate word meaning the same thing. And understanding visually that that IS a picture of bread and it IS what a plumber would use as one of their old school solutions to this problem (and it's really the only one that uses outside ingredients – which plays into the way my question is formed too).
So, for any of you playing along at home folks – when I say, "Forget the keywords for a moment and think about what you actually have" – here's a great example.
Sure, this video also comes up as the first video if you type in what it's optimized for – "soldering copper pipes with water in them" – but this goes beyond that. This comes up for a LOT of similar and related things (it's the #2 video for Soldering damp pipes, for example).
People ask me all the time – what is the future of SEO? And I always say that it's what I've been trying (with some success) to do for a few years now. This guy almost certainly lucked into it – but it wasn't really an accident. He's on point, suits the need and intent of the term he was going after, and presented it. And then Google turned that into this result.
The future of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is being able to get this kind of result – on purpose.
32 👍🏽5 💟37
The whole video is on getting water out of the way. Why would Google choose that particular video snippet with the picture of the bread and not another section? Are we to understand that Google has made the judgement that using bread is more effective than the other techniques he describes.
And here's something else interesting. Look at my query. I purposely used the word bread to see what it would do. It showed a different video. With no bread in query, we get a picture of the bread. With bread in the query, we get no bread picture.
I must be missing something.
The semantics of my question led to the bread. "What do you use to dry the pipe…" There are several things to "do" which works – but that's the one thing where you "use" something to do it.
I'm not surprised Google knew the answer to this – it's one of the reasons I chose that particular question and worded it that way. The surprising thing to me was the answer it gave was accurate, but didn't optimize for the particular words I used and, in fact, didn't even use the one word that made this definitively a question about plumbing.
In your question the answer to the question is different as are the knowns. In my question, the one unknown was "bread" – in your question the unknown is "how to do it." And while both videos do similar things, yours maybe does a better job of showing you that if you look at that, you'll get the "how to" part here.
AH! I totally skipped over the word "dry." Then this raises another question. It looks to me like they use the bread to plug the pipe, not dry it. Yes? So why would Google prefer the bread over the wet/dry vacuum? Do you think the answer lies in fact that articles connecting bread and sweating are quite popular and Google knows it? And then how do we know it has anything to do with the image since Google can index the audio in videos?
Truslow ✍️ 🎓
It dries it too – the bread is very absorbent, so you make the ball and push it up the pipe. It absorbs and dries out the inside as you push it through – and then also sits there as a temporary block to new moisture coming down the pipe as you heat it. And, once you turn the water back on, the bread gets saturated, breaks up, and easily flows out away. So… it dries it AND temporarily prevents new moisture from forming while you work.
As far as the image goes – I would have to think it plays some sort of role in the selection of that video. Bread isn't the only solution (or think you need to actually sweat the pipes) and it wasn't the only solution. My question's intent wasn't to learn "how" to do it either – it was looking for an ingredient – the one specific thing to use – so the only immediate satisfaction I could get from that result would be the perfectly framed slice of bread in the video snap. The video then does go on to "how" to use it – but so do a lot of others. That one does the best job, in spite of the lack of verbiage, of giving me my answer… "Here, Dude… the answer is a big ole slice of white bread."
And yes – there's DEFINITELY correlation to the idea that the same fact is given by many. The knowledge graph doesn't learn by any sort of "reality" – it just learns by seeing the same fact over and over again. Bonus points if independent sources present the same fact and of course people claiming the opposite can lower Google's confidence that it's a fact. In some cases where there is a lot of noise on both sides of something, Google learns it as a "contested fact"
This is, at the same time, a flaw and a strength of how the knowledge graph learns. But it does basically learn by democracy, not by science or reality. It's the reason many believe that Google shows bias in areas, like favoring the left and silencing the right. Google doesn't have that bias, the web does and that, in turn, gives Google that bias. Most of the media outlets (the major ones with all the link juice and power anyway) present the facts with a left leaning bias but only a few big outlets have the other bias. This gives a signal that some idea might be contested, but the primary consensus leans left. And so, the knowledge graph learns with that left leaning bias and favors them more. Most of the other hot topics (global warming, vax vs. anti-vax, and even things like the validity of the Big Bang Theory) work this way too. Sometimes truth and accuracy wins, other times maybe not. And it's not that Google gets it right or wrong, it's that the number and authoritativeness of the side with the most clout gets it right or wrong. You can change Google's thoughts on any give "fact" that it knows with enough noise from enough trusted sources to turn the tide.
Kathy » Truslow
True. I've been trying to convince my right-leaning friend of that fact, but he's convinced Google is biased.
Truslow ✍️ 🎓
It IS biased – as a result of the bias of the sources and the left democracy being louder about it.
And, of course, there is the writing style. As the side who feels like the bias is against them, their writing style devolves into more of emotional and aggressive style – and that style is a lot harder for the Natural Language Processing (NLP) extractions to pick up on what's fact and what's flavor.
I've been itching for someone on the losing side of one of these things to present me with a decent budget and a high level of control over their web site. I don't even care if I agree with them. It would take retraining writers to frame things a little differently, some good framework, and a year – but if everyone got on board and followed the plan, I'm fairly sure there isn't any one of these topics that I couldn't get the tide to turn on.
If you want to know how Google learns… this Meme captures it nearly perfectly:
Kathy » Truslow
Agreed, but he thinks Google is actively involved in SUPPRESSING the right. It's not Google. It's the content – and us. You're right. I think you should scratch that itch and educate us all. This guy is. One of the best conversations I've heard in a long time.
Saving Civilization: Healthcare, Tech, Democracy (w/Daniel Schmachtenberger)
Saving Civilization: Healthcare, Tech, Democracy (w/Daniel Schmachtenberger)
Nick » Kathy
"Are we to understand that Google has made the judgement that using bread is more effective than the other techniques he describes."
Any guesses on what metrics Google used to arrive at this conclusion?
Truslow ✍️ 🎓
Yes, Nick. Google determined that, in part, by the number of other documents which describe that method as the way to do it. Google adds things to the knowledge graph through verification and corroboration. That's why, when you establish your brand, you need to set up social media accounts and other sources, mentions, and citations all using the same Name, Address & Phone Number (NAP)
Gotta love this. If you search on how to solder pipes with water on them, Google tells you to call a plumber. 🙂
That's a wise response too. 25 or 30 years ago when my buddy taught me to sweat pipes, I probably put 10 holes in my wet pipes before I managed to make my first good connection. That was with bread, some experience soldering, and with a trained professional guiding me as I did it. lol
Kathy » Truslow
It's quite funny to think of Google knowing better, but, hey, maybe we're onto a patent no one has discovered yet. It goes like this.
Stockbridge comes to Google and asks how to sweat a pipe with water in it. He watches a video. An hour later he comes back and searches for a plumber near me. Boom! Need I say more?
Catherine » Kathy
And when no one called a plumber, it tried shopping results 😁 I got lots of Amazon results for copper pipe cleaning items.
The video then appears as you had it. Then it shows in videos as Stockbridge got it.
(I used the original term)
Check out the related searches:
Truslow ✍️ 🎓 » Kathy
The "Comes back later and searches for a plumber after watching a video" thing – there are several patents on that – though it's escaping me at the moment which ones would apply… if I get a moment this weekend I'll see if I can dig them up.
One of them talks about "how users interact with the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs)" as a way of testing efficacy and learning, too. This is, of course, where the myth about "Click Through Rate (CTR) affects Rankings" stems from – but that's not what it is talking about at all. It's talking about exactly what you describe.
It's not about what they click per se or that that ONE thing is the best answer, but it's what people do AFTER that click or lack of click where Google can learn.
Say I search for "Widgets" – and Google isn't sure if I mean that I want to buy widgets or to learn about widgets. So it might decide to show me a mix. But then after I try a few of what I wanted, I come back and refine my search to say "Buy Widgets" to get a whole set of pages with the buy intent.
Now, let's say over time that a vast majority of the people do something similar – most people don't care to learn about widgets, most people want to buy them. Over time, Google can say, "Widgets" (without the word "buy") can be a strong indicator that they want to buy – and therefore put a lot more weight to putting transactional pages into that result set than informational ones.
What you are describing is quite similar and I could easily imagine Google doing that if it understood the niche well enough. If people ask "how to" and most of them come back later and ultimately solve the problem by hiring someone – then it would make perfect sense to suggest that they skip the "how to" part and just solve their problem in the first place. It will still give them a mix of what they "want" – but it will try sometimes, and it just might find, that it can get what you need.
Flimsy Rolling Stones Reference aside, yep… it could very well be doing that. But no… it's not an unknown patent. I'll see if I can dig it out when I get a moment later on.
Here's Stockbridge's point. If you ask WHAT do you use, Google shows the bread video on top. Under that, a related search is "HOW" do you dry the pipe and Google pulls up a video on the bread trick. But the "how" word didn't trigger the "thing" or the "what," hence no bread picture.
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