Google RankBrain is now the third most important ranking factor for SEO.
Do you want to know more about it?
This guide will cover what it is, how it works, and how you can optimize your content for it.
What Is Google RankBrain?
RankBrain is an artificial intelligence system that was designed to help Google better understand search queries and return the best results possible.
This means that site owners need to start paying attention to it if they want to continue ranking well on Google.
So, what is RankBrain exactly? And how does it work?
Let’s take a closer look.
How RankBrain Work?
Google RankBrain works by understanding the intent behind search queries. It does this by looking at the click-through rate (CTR) of results to determine which ones are most relevant to the user.
It also looks at how long someone stays on a website after clicking on it. This is known as dwell time. If users click on a result and then quickly return to the SERP, that’s a sign it wasn’t relevant to their needs.
In fact, did you know that websites that have a longer “time on site” generally rank higher on Google (Backlinko)?
This SEO statistic shows that content creators should focus on delivering the best user experience to keep people reading.
So, how does Google use these signals?
They are useful to understand what searchers are looking for when they type in a certain query. Google can then consider this information to rank results accordingly.
Now, do you want to know a secret?
A few years back, Google admitted that 15% of search queries were completely new to them. This meant 500 million times a day, or else 500 million new keywords a day.
Fun fact: 15% of all Google searches have never been searched before.
— Google (@Google) February 15, 2022
Before RankBrain, Google would have scanned web pages to see if the terms found were the same as the keywords searched by users.
But because those queries were new, it could not find any matching results to deliver to users.
Today, RankBrain helps Google understand those new queries and return the best results possible.
For example, if you were watching that popular movie on Nextflix and you wanted to search for that “blonde actress from Australia that recently lose weight“:
RankBrain can understand that you are looking for Rebel Wilson, the actress from Australia who recently lost a lot of weight.
Google can then show you results for Rebel Wilson instead of results for other blonde actresses.
This is just one small example of how RankBrain can help Google understand complex queries and return the best results.
RankBrain is constantly learning and evolving, which means that SEOs, site owners, and content creators need to be on their toes if they want to rank well on search engines.
Google RankBrain and User Satisfaction
There’s a direct correlation between these two things.
When a user is looking for something on search engines, he will get a list of pages as a result. And he will likely click on the first one.
If he does not like it, he will come back to search results to find an alternative until he can satisfy his search intent.
So, what does RankBrain understand from this behavior?
It probably assumes that the first result was not relevant enough, but the other one was. So it will likely give a boost to the second user’s choice.
It is by analyzing how people interact with search results that Google understands if the results offered are satisfying user intent.
And it considers factors such as:
Let’s analyze each one in detail.
Dwell time is the amount of time someone spends on a website after clicking on it from the search results.
For example, if someone clicks on your content and then quickly returns to the search results, this is a signal that your website did not satisfy the user’s needs.
And this will probably influence your rankings because Google will think that your website is not relevant to the user’s query.
So, what can you do?
You can improve your dwell time by creating content that is relevant to the user’s query and by providing a good user experience on your website.
Organic Click-Through Rate (CTR)
The organic CTR is the percentage of people who click on your listing in the search results out of the total number of people who see it.
For example, if 100 people see your listing in the search results and 40 of them click on it, then you have a 40% organic CTR.
Google uses CTR as a signal to determine how relevant and useful your website is for a certain query. The higher your organic CTR, the better.
There are a few things you can do to improve your organic CTR:
- Use relevant and keyword-rich titles
- Write meta descriptions that accurately reflect what is on your page
- Use rich snippets to stand out in the search results
The bounce rate is the percentage of people who leave your website after viewing only one page.
A high bounce rate is an indication that people are not finding what they’re looking for on your website.
This will likely hurt your SEO because Google will think that your website is not relevant to the user’s query.
Here are some things you can do to reduce your bounce rate (other than the ones listed above for improving CTR):
- Create content that is relevant to the user’s query
- Avoid duplicate pages
- Provide a good user experience on your website
- Use the bucket brigade technique to keep readers engaged
- Improve your site loading time
- Avoid bad HTTP status codes
- Update old content so that it’s still relevant
Pogo-sticking is when a user clicks on a result in the search results and then quickly goes back to the search results to click on another result.
This behavior is an indication that the first result did not satisfy the user’s needs.
Google uses pogo-sticking as a signal to determine how relevant and useful your website is for a certain query. The more pogo-sticking, the worse it is for your website SEO.
You can prevent pogo-sticking by creating content that is matching user intent.
How Can You Optimize Content For RankBrain?
Now that we know how Google RankBrain works, let’s take a look at how you can optimize your content for it.
- Use the right keywords
- Think about user intent
- Make it clear
- Optimize titles and meta descriptions
- Create long, in-depth content
Use the Right Keywords
The first thing you need to do is make sure your content is relevant to the user’s needs. This means using the right keywords and phrases in your titles and throughout your articles.
Make sure your titles and meta descriptions are accurate and reflect what is on your page.
Think About User Intent
When creating your content, it’s important to think about what the user is trying to accomplish.
- Are they looking for information?
- Do they want to buy something?
- Are they searching for directions?
Your content needs to match the user’s intent.
If you can provide what the user is looking for, they are more likely to stay on your website and less likely to pogo-stick.
Make It Clear
You also need to make sure your content is easy to read and understand. Google RankBrain looks at dwell time to determine how relevant a piece of content is. If people are quickly bouncing off your page, it’s a sign that what you offer is not relevant to their needs.
To prevent this, you need to make sure your content is well-written and easy to understand. You can do this by using short paragraphs, clear headlines, and simple language like I did in my “featured snippets” guide:
Optimize Titles and Meta Descriptions
Your titles and meta descriptions are what show up in the search results. This is your chance to make a good first impression and convince people to click on your result.
Your title should be accurate and reflective of the content on your page. You also want to include keywords that are relevant to the user’s query.
Your meta descriptions should also be accurate and reflect what is on your page. Think of it as a chance to give a summary of your content and convince people to click on your result.
Both your title and meta description should be under 55 characters so that they don’t get cut off in the search results.
Here are some practical tips. People are more likely to click on a result that has:
- Numbers. Some examples of this are “12 WordPress SEO Tips to Improve Your Rankings” or “100 Ways to Build Links”.
- Emotional Words. Some examples of this are “The Most Amazing SEO Trick That Will Change Your Life” or “You Won’t Believe What This SEO Tool Can Do For You”.
- What, why, how, and when. Some examples of this are “What Is SEO?” or “How to Optimize Your Content for SEO”.
Create Long, In-Depth Content
Google RankBrain is also a measure of the quality of your content. The longer and more in-depth your content is, the better.
In fact, on average, the first page of Google search results contains 1,447 words (Backlinko).
In-depth content shows that you are an expert on your topic and it gives people all the information they need in one place. This means they are less likely to click on other results in the search results.
To create long, in-depth content, you need to do research on your topic and make sure you are covering all the different aspects of it. In other words, following the semantic SEO strategy.
You also want to make sure your content is well-written and easy to read.
Google RankBrain FAQs
Let’s see now some of the most frequently asked questions about RankBrain.
Q: Does Google still use RankBrain?
A: Yes, Google still uses RankBrain to measure the quality of webpages in their search engine. It is a key factor when determining which results show up for users.
Q: How does RankBrain affect SEO?
A: RankBrain looks at factors such as dwell time (and other user experience signals), keyword relevance, and user intent to determine how relevant your content is to the user’s query. Optimizing your content for these factors can help improve your SEO rankings.
Q: What is the difference between Google Hummingbird and RankBrain?
A: Google Hummingbird is an algorithm that was released in 2013 and focused on understanding the user’s intent behind a query. Therefore, Rankbrain is the thinking and Hummingbird is the memory.
Q: Is RankBrain an AI?
A: Yes, RankBrain is an AI system that uses machine learning to better understand user search queries and deliver more relevant results. It helps Google improve its search engine by providing data-driven insights about user behavior and preferences.
Q: What is machine learning?
A: Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that allows computers to learn from data instead of being explicitly programmed. The algorithms used in machine learning give the computer the ability to identify patterns and make decisions based on those patterns. This gives Google more accurate results for user searches.
Q: What is artificial intelligence?
A: Artificial intelligence (AI) is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems. AI enables computers to learn from experience, adjust to new inputs and perform tasks similar to humans. AI has many applications including facial recognition, speech recognition, natural language processing, and search engine optimization.
Q: What are user experience signals?
A: User experience signals are data points collected by Google that measure how users interact with search results. These signals include things such as dwell time (how long a user spends on a page), click-through rate (the number of people who click on your result), and bounce rate (the percentage of people who leave your page without taking any action). You must learn more about them.
Q: What is the difference between Bert and RankBrain?
A: Bert (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) is a natural language processing technique used to help computers understand and interpret human language, while RankBrain uses machine learning algorithms to measure the quality of webpages in search engine results. While both have been applied to Google’s search algorithm, they are different approaches for solving the same problem. Bert is focused on understanding the context of a query, while RankBrain focuses on optimizing for user experience signals.
Before You Go
Thanks for reading so far!
But hey, there’s much more to read about Google!
How about E-E-A-T?
And the ranking factors?
It’s also important to read about the recommendations that Google gives for site owners and content creators:
I hope you enjoyed the readings and don’t forget to leave a comment below!