Why optimising for RankBrain is essential

Digital360 on 8 June 2017

The world of SEO changes every day – new strategies are discovered and new programs are developed. But, most importantly, Google is becoming more and more sophisticated.

We know that RankBrain is one of Google’s top ranking factors – but just how much can it affect your search engine optimisation success? Read on to find out.

What is RankBrain?

RankBrain is the artificial intelligence component of Google's search algorithm. It uses machine learning to learn to interpret words and phrases that users plug into Google's search box.

To give its users the most accurate results possible, RankBrain focusses on analysing natural, speech-like language in searches. It better understands sites that are optimised for these ‘long tailed keyword’ searches. What that means is strict keyword searches are becoming less and less important and the technology can analyse unique and complex language.

What does RankBrain mean for search engine optimisation?

We know that the first step to every great SEO campaign is keyword optimisation. Before there was RankBrain, Google relied on other algorithms to match the right webpage with a user's search. Every so often these algorithms would update, but SEO experts could more or less anticipate how to optimise webpages for the algorithms.

Now with RankBrain’s machine learning system, Google's search algorithm is ever-changing. It updates itself according to user habits.

RankBrain means that SEO experts must shift from a mindset that targets specific keywords to creating valuable content and experiences to users. These days, best-practice SEO agencies are getting ahead by prioritising content, design and marketing, rather than prescribing a set of generic tactics. In a RankBrain world, generic tactics won't work.

How can you improve your SEO for RankBrain?

Because RankBrain is all about the user experience, one of the best SEO tactics you can use is to create high-value content for your target users. Certainly, keywords are important to search engine optimisation – it helps keep your content focussed on a specific topic, in the language your customers use. But RankBrain means that keyword targeting alone isn't as powerful as it once was.

RankBrain prioritises conversational language (i.e. the language that people use when making searches). Optimising for RankBrain means creating targeted, topic-based content written in natural language.

Think of the questions that your potential customers are likely to ask. Then, focus on solving those questions. Match the language used to make queries in your in content. For example, instead of ‘SEO strategies for RankBrain’, people are much more likely to search something such as ‘how can I improve my SEO for RankBrain?’. Think of long tail keywords that lead to answers and target these in your content.

Optimising for RankBrain? Here are some SEO tactics to avoid.

We know that Google algorithm updates can penalise websites and agencies using 'black hat' SEO practices. We also know that RankBrain has a huge impact on search engine optimisation – older SEO strategies become redundant the more RankBrain learns.

If you’re not working with a credible SEO agency or an in-house expert, it can be tricky to stay up to date. Optimising for RankBrain means steering clear of these commonly-used outdated tactics:

  • Keyword stuffing – This means bulking up your content with the same keyword or words to boost your rankings. This makes content difficult to read, and is now penalised for its user unfriendliness.
  • Paying for links – Buying links from other sites to bulk up your backlinks. A healthy amount of ‘organic’ backlinks boost your credibility and search ranking – but link buying does just the opposite.
  • Creating duplicate content – This means finding high-ranking content and copy and pasting it on your site. Google immediately detects content that isn’t unique, and penalises sites that try to manipulate rankings this way.

These tactics may have once worked for sites built many years – and many algorithms – ago. Now, they put your page at risk of reeling in a Google penalty. As the world of search engine marketing evolves, current best-practice tactics are likely to become outdated with time too.

Getting ahead in search engine marketing

When it comes to search engine optimisation, staying updated on what may harm your page rankings is a must. However, when running your own business, this is easier said than done. This is where an SEO expert or an SEO agency could help. They’re at the forefront of researching the latest in search engine marketing, ensuring that your business is performing in search engine results while steering clear of Google penalties.

We’re a Melbourne digital agency dedicated to outcomes. Chat with one of our specialists today about search engine optimisation.