When it comes to Search Engine Optimisation, Google’s machine learning algorithm Rankbrain has been referred to as the 3rd most important ranking factor after content and links.
Technology is advancing and is only going to speed up with the disruptive innovations of automation and artificial intelligence.
What implications does this have for Digital Marketing? Well, to stay relevant in the market, being up to date with new developments is crucial.
Google is the dominant force in the industry. When it comes to search engines, Google owns 92% of the market share, with the runner up being Bing at 2.6% (StatCounter). Google is how most of the world gets its information, making it an incredibly powerful tool for marketers.
Having the skill set to rank on the search engine results page competitively (SERP) can make the difference in being successful or failing in your respective industry.
Before getting into how RankBrain functions, there needs to be an understanding of how Google as a search engine processes search terms.
To put it simply, Google ranks and organises pages based on signals that have different weightings. To name a few, Domain Authority, Backlinks, Bounce Rate and many more are used.
These weightings were traditionally adjusted by Google Engineers to attempt to give the user relevant information for what they are searching for.
How RankBrain Works
RankBrain is an integral part of Google’s core algorithm that relies on machine learning to determine the most relevant websites for a search query.
Although Google does not entirely rely on RankBrain to rank search results, it still is one of the most important factors to consider. With advances in artificial intelligence, RankBrain or similar machine learning algorithms are likely to become the future of Search Engines.
As for the automated process RankBrain goes through, here is a broken-down overview:
- There is low user satisfaction for a search result.
- The algorithm slightly alters the weighting of a ranking factor.
- If the user satisfaction improves, the change is kept.
- If the user satisfaction does not improve, the change is reverted.
This process is so effective that when tested against Google engineers for identifying the best page for a search term, RankBrain outperformed them by 10%.
The reasoning behind having user satisfaction as a marker for RankBrain is that if the person searching the term has a high user experience (UX), it likely means that they found a website that is relevant to what they were searching for.
This is Google’s attempt to have an algorithm that has a better understanding of the intent behind the searches, rather than just how many words on the page matches the search term.
But what exactly is User Experience, and how is it measured?
User Experience can be seen as how the user interacts and engages with the website.
The signals RankBrain uses to measure UX are the following:
- Organic Click-Through-Rate: the percentage of users that click on your website’s address on a search engine result page.
- Dwell Time: how much time a user spends on a page before returning to the search results page.
- Bounce Rate: the percentage of users of a website that exit after viewing only one page.
- Pogo-sticking: going back and forth through several websites on the same SERP in an attempt to find what they are searching for.
These metrics may appear similar and interchangeable; however, the nuances behind each factor can have very different implications.
What does this mean for Digital Marketers?
We have compiled some practical strategies that you can use that specifically cater to the way RankBrain works.
Because Google is trying to show the most relevant information that gives the most value, the straightforward answer is to focus on making quality content.
Here are some general content attributes that would be considered higher quality:
- Exciting and relatable to viewers.
- Formatted and written to be easily understood.
- Provide some actual value.
By creating better content, you automatically start to increase user experience, as users are more likely to stay on your page.
You can specifically target the markers of UX by trying and increase your CTR. One method to do so is to increase Brand Awareness.
You can build brand awareness through marketing campaigns such as paid ads, affiliate marketing, and having a strong social media presence, to name a few.
Research has shown that brand awareness can triple the CTR of certain websites. This is known as the Mere-Exposure Effect or the familiarity principle, where people tend to feel positive about things that they have been exposed to frequently.
Dwell Time / Bounce Rate
You can increase Dwell Time and decrease Bounce rate by using video and audio media on your website. This is because viewing or listening to other forms of media usually takes more time than reading or skimming text. RankBrain will see this increase in dwell time as an indicator of higher user experience.
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)
Another method would be to use LSI when creating content. LSI refers to researching semantically related keywords that are often found together.
Examples of LSI for the search term “RankBrain” would be:
- Google RankBrain Algorithm
- RankBrain in SEO
- RankBrain Software
What this does is help RankBrain have some context for the content of your page, so it can better understand and match the user intent to the content.
Here’s a free tool you can use when researching LSI keywords: https://lsikeywords.com/
The SEO landscape is perpetually changing, and as Digital Marketers knowing the best practices is key to being successful online.
However, with changes to SEO being so frequent, it can be challenging to know which strategy is the most appropriate. It is essential to consult with experts in the field to make sure your approach is practical.
Check out our services if you would like to know how we can help you be fully optimised and using up to date practices in your digital strategy.