Google Rankbrain: 4 things to know
By helloDarwin
February 08, 2019

Google Rankbrain: 4 things to know

If you’re already invested in the world of online marketing, you’ll likely be familiar with the key ways to be successful. Whether looking to gain visibility or reach, we’re sure you know how crucial it is to understand SEO. But what happens when you’ve exhausted all of your SEO tactics, there must be the next step? Well, that’s exactly where Google Rankbrain comes in!

So, what exactly is Rankbrain and what role does it play in the performance of your website? Luckily, we’re here to look a little deeper into this technology as well as gain an understanding of the ways it can be utilized to offer visibility and grow your business.

Here’s what to know when it comes to Google Rankbrain

The basics: Google Rankbrain 101

To put it simply, Rankbrain is a part of Google’s core algorithm using AI technology or machine learning by working to process search queries while assisting Google in understanding them.  If you’re an online marketer, you’re well aware that Google has long had algorithms in place to sort through search results, so what makes this tool unique or innovative?

In the past, Google’s algorithm was hand-coded, meaning that each query had human engineers working on it. Although human beings continue to work on this algorithm, Rankbrain adds an extra layer of understanding through artificial intelligence

This technology works in the background to tweak the algorithm without human prompting; thus, completely on its own. Essentially, Rankbrain uses keywords as a starting point and increases or decreases the importance of different tactics that relate back to them. These include backlinks, content relevance, content length and so forth.  

Following this, it analyzes how users interact with the search results in their new form. If users seem satisfied with the newer algorithm, it will be kept. If not, Rankbrain will put it back to how it was. Straightforward? When tested, Rankbrain has outperformed Google engineers by 10% and so it has huge potential from the standpoint of online marketers.

Now that you know the basics, let’s go over the 4 most important aspects of Rankbrain as well as the impacts these could have on your business

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1- Rankbrain better understands searcher intent

Before the existence of Rankbrain, Google would scan millions of pages to manually locate keywords users were searching for. Unfortunately, this would sometimes lead to misinformation, as keywords would be searched as the words themselves and lack context outside of their intended meaning. For example, if a user searched “best hamburger in Toronto” Google would search the words “hamburger” “Toronto” and “best” rather than the phrase.

Thus, results would often return misguided and were not really what the user was looking for. Now, with the technology of Rankbrain, Google has the ability to understand full sentences and offer a clear set of results to search queries. Machine learning looks to understand what it is you are asking but it does so by searching relative sets of keywords and phrases that often appear together.

Google has long been working to better understand searcher intent, and Rankbrain does just this by turning keywords into concepts. It works beyond the simplicity of keyword-matching to find pages that cover exactly what you’re looking for.

Curious about keywords? Check out this article about the best practices for your website!

2- Rankbrain works toward a better user experience

So now we fully understand that Rankbrain is an excellent tool for understanding keywords in relation to the phrase in which they’re used. But how does this algorithm work to offer the most relevant results to users? Rankbrain will analyze users search as a concept, and then will rank whether or not the users felt the offered results were helpful.

For websites where more time was spent, and thus more users were in favour of the information it offers, Rankbrain will up-rank these pages. The next time someone searches a similar question, the most relevant pages will be offered first while others will be dropped.

Rankbrain pays close attention to how users interact with specific results and specifically looks at the following:

  • Dwell time;
  • Organic click-through rate;
  • Bounce rate;
  • Pogo sticking.

By this point, it should be obvious that the algorithm is working harder than you think to offer spot-on results.

3- Leave long tail keywords in your past

A few years ago, it made sense to focus content and blog posts around a single keyword, optimizing the page in its favour. Before, Google would search long tail keywords individually, even if they included the same set of words in a different order. With Rankbrain, regardless of the order of words, phrases surrounding the same subject will retain almost identical search results. Thus, it’s no longer important to optimize for longtail keywords.

Instead, long tail keywords have been replaced with medium tail keywords. These are shorter phrases that retain a larger search volume than long tail keywords. Rankbrain ranks pages for their use of these medium tail keywords as well as concepts that closely surround them. Of course, your content will still need to be creative and relevant for you to obtain an excellent ranking.

4- Titles play a major role in offering visibility

When it comes to Google’s Rankbrain algorithm, titles play a major role in offering your content the visibility, traffic and reach it deserves. As we continue to mention, creating well-written and informative content is at the heart of how it will perform.

Let’s consider our titles for a moment. Blog post titles should look to engage readers which will lead to more clicks. To start, look to create more emotive titles, as this will be the first point of contact with users.

Another tip that Rankbrain (and readers!) respond to is including brackets in titles. For example, if you’re writing about finding the best hamburger in Toronto, you’d create a title along the lines of “The 5 Best Hamburgers in Toronto (as tested by our writers!)” This is a comical example, yes, but we’d recommend trying to employ brackets and seeing if this has an overall effect on how the article is received.

Lastly, using numbers in titles leads to definite visibility and CTR improvement. Even if the content isn’t a listicle, numbers (such as statistics, percentages and so forth) can be used in creative ways to get that extra ounce of visibility.

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