January 16th drops: Google core update or end of year code freeze?

We’ve recognised a lot of flux and drops in Google from November – January – between large groups of sites within the same sector, and internally between category and landing pages – and obviously we’ve been trying to put our finger on just exactly why this is.

As with any level of fluctuation, there could be a number of reasons. Here’s a few:

  • Google’s ongoing, real-time RankBrain signal (October 26, 2015)
  • Google’s revision of its Quality Rater Guidelines (November 12, 2015)
  • Talk of a quality related update known unofficially as “Phantom III” (November 19th, 2015)
  • Google’s announcement that Panda is now part of its Core Algorithm (January 10th, 2016)

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November 19th Google algorithm update – Phantom III

November 19th Google Algorithm Update: Speculation on “Phantom III”

The digital world was buzzing back in November, as people took to forums, Twitter, and email to report unusual movements in Google.

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RankBrain: What is it and how will it affect your SEO and visibility?

What is RankBrain?

RankBrain is Google’s AI “machine-learning” signal, established in early 2015 and now rolled out globally. According to Google, it’s the 3rd most authoritative signal out of Google’s 200 major ranking signals, and makes up part of the Hummingbird algorithm (alongside Panda, Penguin, Payday, Pigeon, TopHeavy, Mobile Friendly and Pirate).

RankBrain - SEO and Visibility - Machine Learning

What does RankBrain actually do?

From our research we’ve identified the two main things that RankBrain is responsible for:

RankBrain recognises user intent

The first thing RankBrain does is interpreting unique, long-tail, and ambiguous searches (of which, 450 million occur a day) and identifying their similarities, to retrieve the most useful pages for the user. It uses “word vectors” to mathematically identify words which share some form of semantic relationship, rather than merely recognising letter sequences.

RankBrain ranks pages in Google based on their relevance to a query

Secondly, and as a result, it directly contributes to whether a page ranks in Google, as it’s able to understand content and surmise what a page is about.

The thing that differentiates RankBrain from Google’s Knowledge Graph, which also analyses the relationships between words and things, is that it is devoid of human input and recognises patterns unaided, by processing historical searches and making predictions from them. This process is offline but, if correct, goes live.


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Pi Datametrics New Update – Version 1.7

Search Volume, CPC, and Competition Data added to Pi

We‘re pleased to announce the addition of “Market Data” – i.e. Search Term Volume, CPC and Competition Values, as a new feature of Pi Datametrics content performance and natural search platform.

This means that you can now organise all of your search terms (sorted ascending/descending) based on their Search Volume, CPC, and Competition values, rather than simply by Date Range, Returning URL or Position Movement in Google.

Pi Datametrics - 1.7 Update

Pi Datametrics 1.7 update – New search volume CPC and competition value Market Data

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Pi in the news Search Engine Watch: International domain structures and SEO: What works best?


Research conducted by Pi Datametrics was used in this article to show the different domain structures businesses use across their international sites. Charts from our content performance platform were used to show the possible drawbacks of each domain structure.  Read more ›

YouTube Search: YouTube SEO ranking factors

How do I get my video to the top of You Tube search?

There are a number YouTube SEO ranking factors to take into consideration when optimising your videos on You Tube – and contrary to popular belief, it’s not all just about view count!

Companies spend billions on video content, but many don’t get the views their budgets deserve. In fact, according to Business Insider, some 53% of YouTube’s videos have fewer than 500 views.


  • 200k videos uploaded per day
  • 500 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute
  • 100m videos watched daily
  • 300m existing accounts
  • 3rd most popular site in the world
  • 2nd most popular search engine after Google
  • Reach expanded by inclusion in Google Web, Video Search and Trends

How do I get to the top of YouTube search?

We’ve put together an SEO guide to help you better optimise the key YouTube SEO ranking factors on both your video and channel. This will help you climb the rankings in YouTube, and get your content out to the most relevant audience.


YouTube ranking factors: Pi Datametrics Position Explorer Channel Tracking

Pi Datametrics Position Explorer YouTube Channel Tracking


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YouTube SEO Best Practice: Sainsbury’s Christmas ad ranks higher than John Lewis

YouTube SEO Best Practice: Christmas adverts 2015

Christmas ads are part and parcel of the holiday season (excuse the terrible pun). Retailers such as John Lewis invest seven figure sums in hopes of achieving top dog status, and it seems to have paid off for them this year, if you’ll believe one consumer poll, which heralded their “Man on the Moon” advert as the best Christmas ad of 2015.

However, it’s Sainsbury’s Christmas ad “Mog’s Christmas Calamity” which seems to have taken the lead in YouTube for a variety of key search terms, including “Christmas advert 2015”, “best Christmas ad 2015” and “Christmas ads 2015”.

(NB. rankings are constantly changing so you might see different results today than we did during our testing)


Sainsbury’s rise above John Lewis in YouTube Rankings

YouTube SEO best practice: Christmas Adverts - YouTube Ranking 2015

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Pi in the news Search Engine Watch: 10 most popular articles of 2015

Pi Datametrics SEO platform and pioneering findings on cannibalisation and internal linking make it to position no.4 on Search Engine Watch’s 10 most popular articles of 2015, and again in position no.10 for how cannibalisation can harm search rankings.

Pi Datametrics - Search Engine Watch - 10 most popular articles of 2015

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Pi in the news Econsultancy: Top 25 blog posts of 2015

Econsultancy article

Pi Datametrics content performance platform features twice in Econsultancy’s top 25 blog posts of 2015: position no.12 for “30 SEO tools to make your life easier”, and position no.15 for “32 simple SEO tips for small businesses”

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A roundup of 2015 in Digital Marketing and SEO, and predictions for 2016

Chris Lake Kelvin NewmanDavid Moth Dawn Anderson

We asked some industry experts to give us their opinions on 2015 and forecasts for 2016. The panel consisted of specialists across different fields of the digital industry including:

Chris Lake: CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy (@lakey)

Kelvin Newman: Founder and MD at Rough Agenda, the company behind BrightonSEO (@kelvinnewman)

David Moth: Social Media Manager & Interim Blog Editor at Econsultancy (@davidmoth)

Dawn Anderson: Digital Marketing Consultant & Director at Move It Marketing Solutions (@dawnieando)

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