Google Rankbrain – A Guide Even Your Grandma Can Understand!
If you are in the SEO space for the last 2 years, you certainly have heard about Google Rankbrain by now. Rankbrain is a machine learning algorithm that was announced by Google in 2015.
Since then, the algorithm is constantly evolving through machine learning, and now it has become the 3rd most important ranking factor for SEO, only next to content and backlinks. Gurus don’t emphasize this enough!
This means, if you are not writing your content for Google Rankbrain, you are missing out a large pie of organic traffic you deserve.
- A brief and non-jargon understanding of how Google Rankbrain works.
- What Google Rankbrain means to you as a digital marketer?
- How to leverage Google Rankbrain for your own SEO benefits?
Why was Google Rankbrain rolled out? Google Rankbrain was mainly rolled out to make use of machine learning, a part of artificial intelligence to understand the meaning behind search queries.
The fact is that 15% of the search terms Google witnesses are new. Understanding these queries and returning accurate results would be a hard job without any sort of artificial intelligence. So, Google Rankbrain was rolled out.
How Google Rankbrain Works
Google can determine irrelevant results by tracking the click-through rates, page visit duration, pogo-sticking (jumping of users to and fro the SERPs and web pages), etc.
Before Google Rankbrain, Google used to rely solely on creating a huge list of synonyms and establishing insightful connections between the entities. This process takes a lot of time and computing power. It’s just not feasible for Google.
The all-new Google Rankbrain not only creates relationships and patterns between different entities, but it also takes a note of the results and learn from the results getting intelligent.
If you are still scratching your heads, trying to understand what Google Rankbrain is, here it is in plain simple words:
Google Rankbrain is a query interpretation model. It tries to determine the intent behind the query (keywords users search for) and makes sure that the ranking signals applied to the results are appropriate to the search query.
The algorithm can exponentially improve itself as it witnesses more and more search queries, over time.
Contrary to the popular belief, Google Rankbrain will not be in real time work. It employs assisted learning. Meaning, the new query sets, and processing models will be input to this algorithm periodically to help the machine learn by itself. The moment its improvement is significant, Google will roll out the update similar to that of Google Panda or Penguin update – this one probably as a content quality update.
When Google Rankbrain understands the users’ queries better, it can rank the web results accurately and can also provide the relevant information to the users more quickly. It also helps Google in getting an edge with regard to voice search, natural language processing, and understanding.
How to Make Use of Google Rankbrain for SEO
Before discussing the things you need to adapt to make the most of the new Google Rankbrain, we need to first look at the results of Google Rankbrain:
- As Google understands every query better, the relevancy of the search results to the query you entered will be improved a lot.
- As the relevance of the search results will be increased, the user is getting their queries resolved in the top 3 results themselves, resulting in declined clicks on the results that rank below the top 3 listings. This emphasizes the importance of making sure your site is ranking in the top 3 positions for your target keywords.
- Before Rankbrain, Google was not understanding every search query. In those times, it would blindly drive traffic to keyword-stuffed articles with a lot of spammy backlinks.
Let’s discuss on how you can optimize your content for Google Rankbrain.
Keep your content highly relevant
This is the best tip you need to implement as far as Google Rankbrain is concerned. Make sure that the content is highly relevant to the keywords that you have used in the article and also, more importantly, the title of the article.
With Google Rankbrain as you came to know, Google is becoming better day by day in understanding the search queries. When Google understands the search intent accurately, if your content is irrelevant to the keyword you targeted, you won’t be ranked at all.
Answer every possible question in a topically optimized content
Before writing any web content, always write on a laser-focused topic. Along with keyword optimization, you need to also do topical optimization.
It is known that you need to do keyword optimization. But, many of the people miss or underestimate the value of topical optimization.
So, what is topical optimization ?
The goal with topical optimization is to optimize the content around a laser-focused topic or a concept rather than a single keyword. This also drives backlinks from the pages that are topically relevant to your content.
How do I know whether my web content is topically focused in Google’s eyes?
Above is the report generated by one of the features in our Clickx suite. It takes into account the nature of the content of the sites from which we are getting our backlinks here at Clickx and helps determine the topics that are tied to our brand in the eyes of Google. As you can see, according to Google, we are closely tied to “web development” space (which is correct). So, if we write content related to shopping or something like health, we can’t even dream of ranking high in Google.
How to create topically optimized content
For this, you will first need to come up with a focused topic on which you are willing to create a blog post. Once you research a good focused topic to write on, you need to find a set of keywords for every possible question that users may ask when it comes to that specific topic. Once you make a list of questions, you need to answer them in the content you are writing and research for the keywords you need to include naturally in your content.
The goal here is to answer every possible question in the topic you are writing. By doing this, you rank for the topic and no matter what variations the keyword query contains, you rank for the whole topic.
Make use of relevant keywords
Gone are the days when you were stuffing a single keyword all over the article and expecting your result to be picked up by Google. With Google Rankbrain, things won’t work that way. Google Rankbrain algorithm seeks for the keywords that are preferably long tail, natural, and most of the times conversational.
Considering this, you need to optimize your content by keeping multiple keyword phrases in mind. You need to accompany your primary keyword with several more natural keywords and phrases that users are searching for and might search for.
Digging through your Google search console or Google Analytics data and getting to know what are all the keywords you are ranking for is very important. With this, you also come across some of the great LSI keywords to include in your web content.
Focus on building authority sites
Competition is becoming tougher. It is getting even tighter with the advent of Google Rankbrain. As I’ve explained earlier, with the improvement of Google Rankbrain, the top 3 search results will get the most number of clicks as there’ll be less irrelevant results.
Just go back in time and recall, which sites do you witness daily in the top 3’s?
You are right. The authority sites.
The reason is that Google is not confident enough to show niche sites in the top 3 results for keywords. With the improvement of machine learning algorithms of Google, the importance of building authority sites as opposed to thin niche sites with 10 – 20 pages is increasing.
Your job is not to get to the first page, but t0 get to the top 3 spots. This is only possible with authority sites as days roll on.
Make your content more understandable
Google tends to feature your content in Google Knowledge Graph, only if Google completely understands your content.
So, the big question is, how to optimize your content so that Google comprehends it better?
Google loves structured data like tables, bullet points, and subheads.
It can easily make out the meaning as far as structured data is concerned. This is the reason why most of the times, the table, and bullet points you included in your content gets featured in Google snippets.
You need to remember that the only way to rank in the top 3 spots is to make sure that Google understands your content completely.
These are some of the elements you need to include in your content to make sure that Google understands your content better and also to improve the reader’s engagement on your web page.
- Including a table of contents
- Adding table containing data
- Splitting up content using subheads
- Using lists and bullet points
- Grouping sentences into paragraphs based on relevancy
You need to also write your content in a natural language, as if you’re speaking with Siri or to a friend. This is because the large part of the web searches will be comprised of voice searches in the coming years. Considering this, including conversational flavor to your content is certainly the way to go to get your content picked up in Google Rankbrain era.
On page user interaction
On page user interaction like bounce rate, dwell time of the visitors, and other interactions are the only reliable ways by which Google can determine the quality of the content.
Even after you optimize your content for Google Rankbrain, if the on-page user interaction is poor, your content won’t rank.
These are some tips for you improve the on page user interaction:
- Use formatting tags like bold and italics
- Keep paragraphs short
- Structure your article with subheadings
- Make use of cliffhanger words
These are all the things you need to know about Google Rankbrain. We also need to realize that Google is stressing more on returning quality content to the users relevant to their search query.
Google Rankbrain is also doing a great job of keeping blackhat and spam link builders out of the game and it’ll continue it for the betterment of the web.
Rather than saying, it’s better to adapt to the significant changes that Google Rankbrain is about to bring to the SEO.
Make sure you consider the actionable guidelines I’ve mentioned in this post. If you have any further questions, don’t hesistate to reach out!
Solomon Thimothy is the Co-founder of Clickx, a Chicago-based white label digital marketing platform. He has been in the agency space for over a decade and has helped 100s of entrepreneurs build 7 and 8 figure agencies. He helps agency owners on a 1:1 basis to scale sales and fulfillment. Follow him on twitter @sthimothy