SEO, also known as Search Engine Optimization. If you own or manage a website then chances are that you’ve heard of the term before. SEO is one of the most effective digital marketing tactics when utilized correctly. However, it is highly technical and can take years of practice, trial, and error to master.
For those that are unaware, SEO is the practice of using various techniques in order to increase your website’s visibility on search engines like Google. In layman’s term, it’s how to take your site from page seven of Google to page one, maybe even to the top of the list.
Now here’s when things get technical
Search engines and their ranking programs are not monitored by human beings but instead by artificial intelligence. That’s right; self-learning robots control whether or not your website takes the top spot on a search engine.
Without getting too sci-fi, these robots operate off an algorithm that helps them determine how to rank webpages based on certain factors. These factors include the number of optimized keywords, backlinks, as well the addition of meta-descriptions and alt-tags used in images. Lost yet? Hope not, because we’re just getting started.
A few years ago the search ranking AI was somewhat primitive and followed a specific guideline, which allowed the system to be cheated. Users would overstuff their content with keywords, purchase backlinks instead of earning them organically, and even write useless and irrelevant content just for the sake of outranking the competition.
It was like the Wild West of the internet, where rules were broken on the daily with little to no consequences. However, because AI is self-learning, Google’s ranking algorithm picked up what was going on and began to penalize users for using what are now known as “black hat tactics”. Sites today are only optimized with quality keywords, organic backlinks, and relevant content.
So what is RankBrain?
RankBrain is one of Google’s latest gems. It is an addition to their search ranking algorithm that is used to go through the search results in order to help users find the best answer. In other words, its purpose is to make searches more accurate based on what a user may type into the search query.
RankBrain is not independent of their current search ranking AI but rather an extension of it. Thanks to its self-learning system, Google’s search engine is able to pick up on current trends and changes that are being made to their users’ search practices. From there, Goggle applies these changes to how they rank websites.
How Does RankBrain Affect my SEO?
Great question. With RankBrain, Google throws more factors that affect your SEO into the mix. There’s already the quality of your content, the number of keywords, backlinks, mobile responsiveness, and the list goes on. RankBrain works off of what users may type into the search bar. Sometimes a user’s search can be complicated, especially if it’s a question.
RankBrain analyzes the semantics in a search and uses that to pull information from the results that the user may find useful. For example, if a user searches “What is the movie that takes place in space and has aliens?” RankBrain will translate that search into a phrase that can pull more accurate results. This allows users to no longer be as specific with their searches as they once were.
On the SEO side of things, RankBrain changes the way you should view keywords. Instead of simply creating that content that contains your keyword, the entire passage should be based around it. Your topics and content should as open as the user’s search.
Going back to the previous example, the best way to pop up first on the results page for this type of search is to create content that encompasses various movies in space with aliens. Catering to RankBrain is all about crafting content that discusses various facets of a specific subject. If you write about movies, don’t just write about one specific title but instead an entire genre.
What Do I Go From Here?
How knows? Google’s AI is constantly learning and developing new factors to base their search ranking practices on. That’s what makes SEO such a difficult tactic to master. The thing that pushes you up the results on Monday can be the same thing that pushes you down the results on Tuesday. The same thing applies to RankBrain. Its sole purpose is to make the user’s life easier, not yours.
Keep in mind that you need to be prepared for anything in order to keep up with Google’s algorithm and obtain the search ranking you desire. Moving forward, RankBrain will continue to develop, forcing you to switch up your SEO practices so always stay on your toes.
Google RankBrain is the newest but not the last addition we’ll see to their AI-based search ranking algorithm. With SEO and technology constantly advancing, the only way to know where we’ll be a year from now is to wait and see. Til next time!