Google RankBrain What Your Business Needs to Know

How to use Google RankBrain to optimize your content to meet visitor need.

Let’s start off by saying that Google RankBrain is not new. It’s not a new wrinkle in the SEO game. Nope, Google has been using this tool to help with local search and conversational search since 2015. So what is RankBrain, and how does this knowledge help your business succeed in organic search?

What Is Google RankBrain?

Google RankBrain is part of Google’s overall search algorithm. It’s been a part of the algorithm since the Hummingbird update 5 years ago. In 2015 it took a larger role (about 15% of all searches), and is now a part of every search done on Google. Its job is to understand human speech and the context in which we ask questions. Let’s look at an example:

I did a Google search for, “name of the band with the singer with big teeth.” Nothing about this search is straight forward. Yet the image search and first ranking knew exactly what I was looking for.

Google Search Results for Queen and Freddie Mercury

That’s because RankBrain is looking for patterns in other searches regarding bands and singers with big teeth. It inferred that I’m looking for Queen and Freddy Mercury. This kind of logic is done through machine learning, and is what makes their algorithm so useful for searchers.

How Does This Impact SEO?

For some time now keywords have diminished in their relevance for search rankings. The important factors continue to be content and links. With RankBrain it’s about the clusters of words and long-form key phrases that you get ranked for.

For example, people generally won’t search something like, “website deliverables.” However they may search something like, “ what website deliverables should I expect from a web designer?”

In that example you can see that no one has the exact phrase matched, but it’s inferred the question. Content that answers that question best will earn the top results.

How Does This Affect My Business?

Depending on the nature of your business, this can impact how you handle your SEO in a number of ways. The first way is quite simple, you’ll be spending more of your time or budget on content. This isn’t just blogging, but it certainly will be a part of a mix.

As you can see in the example below, no business outside of advertisers has really focused on optimizing their products for longer phrases that are more RankBrain-centric. However, you can see that Reddit answers this question and is the number one response. This is the nature of content over keywords in a nutshell.

Google RankBrain results for football jerseys.

No one is selling anything on Reddit, they’re simply answering the question. This is what Google wants to see. The problem is that a better solution would’ve been for any of the advertisers to optimize their site for these kinds of searches. For example, if the NHL shop had a category for jerseys under $100, it’s probably would’ve ranked for that phrase.

This is one way that AdWords can help your SEO. If you look at the key phrases and are seeing long terms getting great conversions, optimizing not only your pages but even how you structure your site for RankBrain-focused search can help you get those organic wins.

What Do You Do From Here?

Google RankBrain is artificial intelligence. It’s a computer algorithm, and it’s attempting to infer information from the searcher. The best way to handle it is to make sure the language in your content is also answering those kinds of queries. This seems pretty straightforward and something you’d just do in content marketing. However, many of us get so wrapped up in high volume searches that we forget that, all too often, they net less than optimal results.

Go through your Adwords search terms. Look at those search terms you haven’t purchased that have gotten you clicks. They may be negative, but there’s something in your content that gives Google the impression that’s what you are going for. If they are something you want, try to optimize your content for those types of search terms.

If you don’t have that kind of insight, talk to an agency who can help you get there. These terms can be used to help you craft the right content and optimize it for the things you want to rank for, based on your goals. Because where your visitor’s questions and your answers meet is the sweet spot for success.

Published 03/12/19 by Matthew Perkins