SEO has been a staple in the marketing world for several years, with seemingly every article being written about SEO and how to increase your rankings on Google.  There are many ways to improve a low ranking, but do you know about the recent development of RankBrain and how it influences your search results?  In this post, we will do a deep dive on what RankBrain is and the SEO practices for how to improve your rankings for RankBrain.

Google launched RankBrain in 2015 as a way to improve the Google search engine and its ability to rank pages as well as understand a person’s search query with more relevant answers than ever before.  At first, RankBrain was used as an equal source along with other link factors and signals to produce a result. Then, it was determined that RankBrain should be the intermediary between the link signals and the end search result.  RankBrain is the artificial intelligence that decides which websites are the most relevant to Google search questions and queries.  This means that RankBrain must be considered as a key element in how you develop your website and marketing strategies.

Artificial Intelligence & Search Engines – How does RankBrain Affect Search Results?

The early search engines had limited abilities to find answers to questions.  Keywords were simple and often the results were not an exact match. RankBrain, an artificial intelligence program, takes keywords that are more complex and nuanced, such as long tail keywords, interprets the search intent, and with its algorithms finds the best match to the query.  When RankBrain was tested alongside human engineers, RankBrain was accurate 80% of the time and the engineers just 70% of the time.  It is a truly amazing invention to have a search engine using this type of sophisticated technology.

RankBrain was developed as more and more search terms were typed into Google that were new keywords.  With more access to the internet around the world and the global reach that Google has had, it was announced in 2013 that they had about a 15% rate of new searches with unknown keywords.  This was the impetus to create RankBrain so that those searches would offer accurate and valid results to users.

From Dud to Dynamo – How to Improve your Rankings For RankBrain?

So how can you get your site from a low ranking up to the first page of searches?  Knowing and understanding RankBrain’s methods can lead you to a better position and to the top spot with perseverance and time.  Here are SEO practices that are most relevant for RankBrain:

Find Your Voice

First, find your “voice” online.  Write your information and blog in a personal and natural writing style.  Gone are the days of formal and fussy.  This will automatically give your site voice search optimization, which goes hand in hand with RankBrain.  If your writing flows like a conversation, RankBrain will be able to more readily match your content with searches.

Useful Content

Along with your voice, create content that is helpful and purposeful for the reader.  Quality content will be noticed by RankBrain more than content for content’s sake (a daily blog to gain SEO ranking but with poor quality content will hurt your ranking in the long run.)  Think about your target audience and write for those people in a friendly tone.

How To’s and Definitions

Content that is a definition or “how to” list can gain more traction because it matches up with the most common searches.  A well-organized, useful list can rise to the “position zero” of Google searches, the snippet box that comes at the top of every search.  This is the ultimate placement for your website.  Define a term or create a list with subheadings for each point, and your site will rise to the top rankings for that particular subject.

When you want to target a snippet, creating content that answers a question is the most effective approach.  When people search for something, they usually want to know “How to” do something or they want to know what something is; i.e a definition.  Your content should be structured in a list, which is easy for RankBrain to decipher and understand so that it can present the content easily to the person conducting the search, helping you to feature in the Snippet.

For example.  If you search for “How to Make Bread”, you will get a snippet result like this:

how to improve your rankings snippet example

Long Tail Keywords – Focus on the Searcher’s Intent

The search algorithm has a stronger grasp on the intent of a search, rather than simply looking at the keyword strings that make up said search term.  What this means is that you need to be much more cognizant of the searcher’s intent in selecting your keywords.  What would an ideal customer be searching for when they want to find a solution to a problem that your business can solve?  For example, if you are a financial institution, then perhaps you should consider long tail keywords such as “how can I check my credit score?” or ” what is debt consolidation?”   These are questions that your business can answer and provide a solution for.

When considering what long tail keyword search terms to target, always aim to do a role reversal where you are the client or customer, searching online.  What keywords would they type to find your site?   What problems do they need solved?   Coming up with the specific long tail keywords that lead to your business is vital to understanding just how RankBrain works for searches.

Long tail keywords are also less competitive for rankings, which may appear obvious but is important to understand.  Using a long tail keyword means fewer people will search for it, but it will also lead to the exact customer you are aiming to attract.  “Baking classes” will bring up classes all over the world without any specific location.  “What are the best croissant classes in Chicago” will post the results that a person specifically wants, a much better matching result.

Anchor Text

Another way to help get the right search results for your site is to improve your anchor text, the words you hyperlink matter.  Instead of using a hyperlink for the word “here,” use a word that describes the link’s content, such as “french baking class.”   This gives Google and RankBrain more accurate information to aid in the understanding of your site’s content.

Building Links

Links can be an important way to build your online presence and work your way up the rankings.  However, there is a classy way to do this and a tacky one. Google has guidelines about linking that can help you with knowing the difference.  One way to link properly is to have an organic approach.  Build relationships with related businesses such as writing a guest blog for another site.  Look for long-term solutions to building links, not the fast and easy way (i.e. buying links).

In addition to external links, it is equally important to establish internal linking structure among your content pages based in a cluster of topics so that link equity is passed to key pages and deeper pages on your website.  It is also important to include a good number of internal links among related topics, to improve user experience.

 Go Ahead & Improve Your Rankings For RankBrain

These are just a few ways to improve your ranking in Google Search for RankBrain.  With a few tweaks and additions to your site, it can have a big difference on where it will appear in the search results.  The good news is, you don’t have to be a computer whiz to improve your site, with some care and attention to detail, you can be on the way to better Google rankings.

RankBrain and machine learning are very exciting advancements in digital marketing.  Yet, they can be overwhelming for small businesses with limited resources.  At Mikesell Digital Consulting, we are constantly staying ahead of this dynamic space.  Let’s get in touch if we can help you improve your search results and brand exposure.