What’s the next best thing to having Google sit down next to you at your desk, gaze over its glasses at your screen, and tell you how to improve the visibility of your web pages? Listening to Searchmetrics founder Marcus Tober.

In his Intelligent Content Conference talk, Mastering the World of Deep Learning: How Big Data Is Making Content More Relevant in Search, Marcus shared some insights gleaned from years of studying search analytics across many industries and topics.

A pioneer in search-analytics software, Marcus has watched search engines get better and better at figuring out which web pages people will find relevant. He has seen search engines evolve from reading people’s text strings to practically reading their minds. Based on what he has learned from big data about SEO visibility, Marcus urges companies to do three things with their content:

  • Develop a niche
  • Get rid of redundant, outdated, trivial content (ROT)
  • Update the remaining content to address people’s intentions

Marcus’s advice is not new, but he backs it up with data. His numbers reinforce the importance of doing these things that we all know we should be doing.

Though he isn’t sitting next to you, read on for what this European Search Personality of the Year has to say.

Develop your content niche

A sprawling general-interest website – a Goliath that produces tons of content about all kinds of topics – may see strong search visibility for a while, but that kind of performance may be knocked out by a smaller site that comes along and addresses people’s information needs in a more targeted way.

Take, for example, a site that, as Marcus puts it, “invented mass scalable content online” in the mid-1990s. Over the decades, has published millions of articles. At the time of Marcus’s talk, this site still had over a half-million pages indexed by Google. Yet, despite the site’s size, “in the last two years they lost almost all of their SEO visibility,” he says.

(SEO visibility – as shown in this chart – is a metric Marcus developed taking into account several relevant search factors to calculate how visible a website is in a search engine’s organic results, providing a single, universal index for measuring and comparing the online performance of different domains.)

Marcus wondered how the visibility stacked up against a site specializing in one topic area. Because he likes cooking, Marcus singled out the recipe pages on – the 17,000 or so pages with the word “recipe” in the title – and compared them with the much smaller site, which had 5,400 recipe pages.

In other words, he pitted an e-David against an e-Goliath.

He found that during the same two years (April 2015 to March 2017) that had seen the SEO visibility of drop to nearly nothing, the SEO visibility of, with its focus on recipes and food-related health information, had grown by 53%.

Overlaying the two charts on the same SEO-visibility scale, Marcus found that, despite its relative lack of heft, the more specialized had overtaken in terms of search performance.

Marcus says, “This means that if you specialize in something and make it really good because you understand the user, you can have great search performance”…