Can You Really Optimize for Rankbrain?


What is Rankbrain?

RankBrain is a component of Google's core algorithm that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help millions of search results. It was announced for the first time in late 2015, and by that year RankBrain was used to interpret less than 15% of search queries.

Today it is an essential part of the algorithm and used to evaluate more specifically long-tail search queries to provide the most relevant results.

Google commented in an interview in 2015 that RankBrain was the third most important ranking factor along with links and content.

RankBrain is a branded term of Google, and there is no surprise it uses machine learning techniques. The implementation of machine learning techniques is not something new for Google. However, Google has never earlier utilized a self-learning algorithm on a large scale such as the #3rd important ranking factor.

Let's quickly remember what was machine learning.

Machine learning is an artificial intelligence (AI) technology that provides systems the ability of learning and developing automatically from earlier experiences without explicit programming.

machine learning

It focuses on computer programs that can access data and use it to learn on their own. The most important goal is to give computers the ability to learn automatically and change actions accordingly without human intervention.

How Does RankBrain Work?

In the early days, which is the pre-RankBrain period, Google used its simple algorithm to decide what results to show for a specific query.

In those days, Google search results were served by using certain ranking factors set by Google engineers. (i.e. CTR, local search, or load speed). When a user typed a search query, Google would use the same algorithm for each search query form to determine what results to serve.

On the other hand, after the release of RankBrain in 2015, Google can today serve more relevant results. The new search data constantly empowers RankBrain to further improve the accuracy of the algorithm.

The Next Web explains it like:

“RankBrain converts the textual contents of search queries into ‘word vectors,’ also known as ‘distributed representations,’ each of which has a unique coordinate address in mathematical space. Vectors close to each other in this space correspond to linguistic similarity.”

Rankbrain primarily used to interpret long-tail search queries.

If you type any question, it is first interpreted by RankBrain, which looks at traces within the query's terms and decides the purpose of the query. This will help Google understanding better what kind of content it should be served to the user. Google then uses your query's analysis to determine which ranking signals should be prioritized to determine a search result page.

While there are many articles available on “RankBrain optimization” and “RankBrain SEO” are available on the internet, most of them have been based on speculation and assumptions.

The fact is that RankBrain is unaware of which parameters are applicable to a particular keyword. Therefore, through tests, RankBrain learns by changing different SEO metrics until it discovers the particular one that contributes to the highest user satisfaction (which, for example, could be click-through rate).

RankBrain is the newest catchphrase algorithm, and SEO specialists are just using the buzzword for optimization so they can have the edge ahead. Google is now much smarter to read user intent and deliver search results that meet that specific search intent.

Let me give you a few tips that may help you optimize your pages for RankBrain.

How to optimize your content for RankBrain?

Let me give you the answer you are looking for right away. There is no specific way to optimize your content for RankBrain.

RankBrain is not something static that stays at the same point all the time. It grabs new data to readjust itself automatically. It is too complex to grasp, at least according to Google, but by using certain guidelines, you can still help your website to optimize for RankBrain.

Publish Original Content

I know this advice sounds like a cliche. Because everyone involved in content marketing already knows it. These days, artificial intelligence is becoming more intelligent, so is RankBrain. Publishing great content that is apparently different than other content on the web is very important.

If you look most content on the web, they are just a repetition of the old content published earlier. Yes, it is written uniquely to pass the Copyscape. However, the ideas and information provided in most content are the same.

Google obviously doesn't like it. Because it brings no value to the internet. We don't need millions of blogs suggesting to us “write good content” to know it is necessary.

In fact, unique content is the radically different piece of content from all the earlier published content on the web. It provides new information and brings new ideas on the table that have never mentioned anywhere else before.

Google can algorithmically understand if your content discussing the same things as all other previous posts online. Therefore, publish unique content that is relevant to what the user is searching for.

To do this, you need to know what users really want. Try to view RankBrain as an intelligent person who can really understand the quality of your content, relevance and obviously user intent.

Write Powerful Title

A powerful title leaves a great first impression and separates your content from the other content on the web. Do not underestimate the value in the first hook. You need to entice the reader by writing strong titles that are emotional.

Here's a typical SEO-optimized title tag.

“How to be more successful and get more done”.

This title isn't bad at all. However, it's boring and lacks emotional stuff that would make people want to click on it instantly.

Instead, check this title:

“Secrets of highly successful people that will change your life”

The second title is much better, right? It arises a certain amount of curiosity in the reader's mind to click the result.

There is a fine line between writing a powerful title and clickbaity title.

Don't write clickbaity titles. Provide a title represents the entire body of your content. People will get quickly turned off from your content if you cheat them by showing your content different than your title suggests. If people lose trust in you, they will not be your leads and buyers.

Keyword Placement

The location of your keywords on a page is another important factor RankBrain uses. If your targeted keyword is “green beans” then ideally you will need to include it in your first or second paragraph. Also, your keyword should be consistent enough along with your content to tell Google your content is in fact about green beans.

Here is another tip of most people doing SEO is not even aware of it. Your keyword should be in different positions in different sentences.

What do I mean with that?

Your keyword should be an object, a subject, a pronoun of different sentences wherever relevant and consistent in your content.

Never ever keyword stuff your target keywords in your content. As I have said use your keyword in different positions in different sentences. However, don't force sentences to change its fluent and natural state.

Write concise content

Google can algorithmically determine the readability of your content. It can tell if you are using the right grammar and punctuation. But, it has nothing to do with RankBrain.

Then why am I telling it here?

Although RankBrain doesn't verify the readability of your content, good readability improves the user experience. If a page provides a good user experience it is likely to get prioritized by Google.

Final Recommendations

Google constantly monitors if the search results provided please users. If searchers visit your site and continue to consume your content for a decent length of time, Google will note your content as engaging content.

To sum up, defeating RankBrain may be difficult, but optimizing for it can be possible. RankBrain makes Google smarter every day, and it is not the only AI Google utilizes.

Instead of focusing on RankBrain optimization strategies start by reviewing your content. And ask the following questions to yourself. Is it useful and engaging? Is it discussing a subject instead of a particular keyword? If so, look at which pages on your website rank well, and see if you can determine which factors RankBrain uses.

We don't know a golden ratio that RankBrain is optimized for. We know it has the data of earlier search experiences, and it constantly changes its position depending on the new data.