If you have been active in the SEO landscape for the past 2 years, you should be familiar with Google Rankbrain™.
Rankbrain is a machine learning “algorithm” that was introduced by the search giant in 2015. I put algorithm in quote because Google Rankbrain is not an algorithm in itself, but highly integral to one. More on that to come later.
Since its announcement, the algorithm has continuously evolved with its machine learning capabilities to become Google’s 3rd most important factor for search ranking, the first two being content and backlinks. This cannot be overstated enough!
If you are not creating content with Rankbrain in mind, you are likely undermining your SEO efforts. Don’t miss out on a huge percentage of organic traffic your website deserves.
In this article, we’ll be discussing:
- What Google Rankbrain is and how it works
- Its relevance to you as a digital marketing professional
- How to maximise it for excellent SEO results
What is Google Rankbrain and how does it work?
Since the last quarter of 2015, Google has been using and AI system called Rankbrain to process search queries and ‘advise’ its core algorithm to present more relevant organic search results.
The program’s contribution to SEO is very pivotal, and it helps to provide a more human approach to search engine optimisation. While it may be described as an algorithm, it is not typically one, but its function is highly integral to the success of other algorithms.
How Rankbrain works
Google can distinguish irrelevant results by tracking the page visit duration, click-through rates (CTR), pogo-sticking (bouncing off users to and fro web pages and SERPs) and so on.
Before Rankbrain, Google relied completely on creating a broad list of synonyms and establishing intuitive connections between each entity. This process required a high computing power and took up a lot of time. It was just not practical for Google’s operations.
Today, Rankbrain doesn’t just create patterns and relationships between different entities, but also stores the result of the search query and learns from it. This makes it a machine learning program and a powerful tool for search engine processing.
In simple terms, Google Rankbrain works via a query interpretation model. It studies the intention behind every search query and makes sure the ranking signals assigned to the results are relevant to the search query.
Over time, the algorithm improves itself exponentially as it encounters more and more search queries. Contrary to popular belief, Google Rankbrain does not operate in real time function. It uses assisted learning. This means the new query sets, and processing models will be keyed into the algorithm regularly to help the machine learn on its own.
As soon as its improvement is complete, Google will release a similar update to Google Penguin or Panda- this one is likely to be a content quality update. An enhanced Google Rankbrain will be able to comprehend users’ queries better. It will also produce relevant answers to users’ queries a lot faster.
Other relevant functions of Rankbrain include helping Google gain an edge in natural language processing, understanding and voice search.
How does Google Rankbrain affect you as a digital marketer?
It changes the way you write content for SEO. Simply gaming the math of an algorithm to take your content to the top of an SERP is no longer applicable.
In the past, a lot of emphasis was placed on keywords and links. While the latter is still relevant to search optimisation, SEO professionals don’t need to stuff their content with keywords.
Rankbrain analyses the reasons searchers select a page and stores it for future use. As a result. Rather than single keyword usage, it favours smart long-tail keywords in content. It also uses a group of word semantics to understand what a subject is talking about.
For instance, the words Apple, iPhone, iOS, Tim Cook and iMac instantly informs it that the topic is related to Apple and presents it in relation to an Apple query.
Maximising the function of Rankbrain for good SEO results
Remember, Rankbrain is not your typical Google algorithm, the old ways will not be applicable anymore. Since it is a machine learning program, you will need to adopt your strategy to suit its functions.
Keep content extremely relevant
As far as Google Rankbrain is concerned, this is the best tip. Make sure the content you post is highly relevant to the set of keywords you have obtained. More so, to the title of your post/article. Google Rankbrain is understanding search queries better with each submission, so you want to ensure yours is highly relevant to the topic in question.
Answer every question in a topically optimised content
Choose a laser focused topic before writing any web content. If you write on a wide variety of subjects, it will be difficult for Rankbrain to identify a specific topic for search. This means when writing any piece, focus one subject and keep it related to the title. The objective of topical optimisation is to optimise the content around a tightly-knit subject or concept instead of a single keyword.
Use relevant keywords
The days of keyword stuffing are long gone. With Google Rankbrain, you won’t get anywhere with stuffed content. The algorithm searches for keywords that are natural, preferably long tail and mostly conversational.
With this, consider optimising your content with multiple keyword phrases in mind. It is important to dig through Google search console or Analytics data and understand the keywords you want to rank with.
Focus on building an authority site
An authority site is a leader in its niche. It is one people turn to for quality and reliable content in a specific knowledge area. You can become an authority site by consistently releasing relevant posts that help people solve problems in your area of expertise. As credible sites link to yours, its status rises and Rankbrain picks it up as a search-relevant site in the subject area.
Now you know what Rankbrain is and how it applies to you as a digital marketer. Use these methods to take your website up the ranks as an authority in its niche.