Understanding Google RankBrain

Everyone wants their business’s webpage to be the top result of a Google search, but how do you achieve it when Google is constantly changing their AI (Artificial Intelligence) algorithm? With the implementation of Google RankBrain, gone are the days of creating a multitude of webpages targeted at extremely specific keyword searches. RankBrain is able to understand concepts instead of just turning up any webpage that contains the searched keywords. With these continuous algorithm changes, Google is trying to encourage websites to simply produce engaging, useful content.

What is Google RankBrain?

  • Google RankBrain is Google’s first machine learning algorithm.

  • RankBrain uses user experience data (such as how long you stay on a page you’ve clicked on from a Google search, and whether you click on other links within the webpage and continue reading, or if you back click to the Google search to read something else instead) to bump down or bump up your website.

  • Basically, RankBrain tries to decide whether the website answered your question or provided you with what you were looking for or not. If it determines your “Dwell Time” (how many seconds you stayed on the webpage) was low, it will push you further down in the search results. If it determines the webpage DID solve your problem, it will push it up higher in the search results for next time.

  • RankBrain also helped to change what web pages will appear from a Google search. Before, it would just find web pages that contained your keywords specifically, regardless of whether it was related to what you were really looking for. RankBrain is now able to understand concepts instead. This means it can take a group of keywords, and understand what you were trying to find, and provide search results based on that instead.


So how should this affect your SEO strategy?

  • Trying to add webpages for every single long-form keyword you can think of is a waste of time- try to find the most popular small or medium length keywords instead. One way to do this might be to search for your topic on Reddit. If people are frequently posting Reddit threads containing the same topic or keyword, they’re likely googling it as well.

    • For example, if you want to boost your search result placement for your vegan cooking blog, and a popular thread on a popular Subreddit is “How to get through the first week of veganism?”, it’s likely that this is a popular Google search as well.

  • Another tactic is to keep web pages and copy straight forward. If the reader has to read too much to determine whether or not your website contains what they’re looking for, they’ll head right back to the search results to try to find their answer with less work.

  • Content continues to be king so keep building out your blog with consistent postings on topics your customers would find interesting. When it comes time to give your blog post a headline make it catchy. Would you want to read the blog with that headline?

It’s important to keep in mind that while these tips are relevant for 2019 so far, Google is constantly striving to make changes to edit and improve their RankBrain algorithm. Regardless of the specifics of these changes, Google seems to be working on a system that prioritizes those who are posting productive, useful content that quickly and clearly answers the questions and concerns of users.