In 2015, Google made the announcement that RankBrain was in the top three when it came to its ranking factors. Which is all good and well, if you understand what RankBrain actually is. If you don’t, it can seem confusing.
In this post, we will explain what RankBrain is and how you can optimize your site in preparation for it.
Is RankBrain Really That Important?
Google usually keeps relatively quiet about the exact factors that play a part in ranking sites. This has not been the case with RankBrain at all. In the short time it has been in operation, RankBrain became one of the most important ranking factors. So, yes, it is very important and will continue to be.
What Is RankBrain?
Simply put, it brings search engine and artificial intelligence together. It is an intelligent system that helps with the sorting of results for searches. The emphasis of this system is on finding the most relevant results based on the phrases used in a query.
What makes it different? If the system comes across a term it does not understand it can guess what it means and call up similar phrases. It is also better at understanding the relationship between different words.
Say, for example, I run a search stating, “I want the Best Little Restaurant contact number.” In earlier incarnations of Google, the “the” in that sentence would have been ignored. But, as you can see here, it is important to the search. It signifies that you are looking for a specific restaurant, rather than a list of the best restaurants in your area.
It is capable of learning, so as time progresses it gets better and better at determining the context of the search. But, what is even more exciting is that it follows users when they click onto the site.
It does this as a way of determining the value of the site. If the follower has what Google deems a positive interaction with the site, it will boost the ratings of that site.
Positive interactions are where people stay on the site for longer or take the time to explore it. By contrast, negative interactions are where people cannot be bothered to stick around for a while. If your bounce rate is high, Google will see this as an indication that your content is not worthwhile.
What Is Important To RankBrain?
According to SEO Tribunal, there are two things that it will mark you on.
- How long people stay on your site for.
- The click-through rate.
How Long People Stay On Your Site
The system measures the time spent on the page from the first click in the search engine results through to the time users click back to the same results.
The longer someone stays on your site, the more it seems as though you are offering good quality content that is relevant to the search term used. It is a legitimate way of determining whether or not the site is any good and whether or not it is worth recommending in future.
If several visitors spend a fair amount of time on your site, that is seen as a good indication that the content is, in fact, of better quality.
To improve the number of time visitors spend on your page is not rocket science. You have to ensure that you give them every reason to stay on the site. The best way to do this is to offer content that they will want to look at.
It doesn’t have to be mind-blowing stuff either as long as you stick to the following rules:
- Make it interesting: That 10-page treatise on the history of fabric dye will no doubt be of interest to some people. For most, however, it might be considered boring. Why not summarize the main points into a well-written post and then have the link there for those who want more info.
- Keep it flawless: You have heard this before. Even a small typo can dent your credibility online. Make sure that the content is polished properly before it ends up on your site.
- Go for content with a little more substance: This is a delicate balancing act. If you make the content too long no one will want to read it. If you make it too short they won’t really get much value out of it. The recommended standard of 300 words counts as too short. An article between 1,000-2000 words gives you the chance of giving a more thorough explanation without overdoing it.
- Keep it well organized and appealing: This is more a design issue than anything else. It the simplest factor to get right. Make sure that you break the text up into manageable paragraphs and do use subheadings throughout. Keep the page looking clean and uncluttered.
The Click-Through Rate
Another twist when it comes to RankBrain is that the results are not set in stone. The system will sometimes boost a site to a higher position even if it doesn’t deserve to be there. This is in an attempt to make sure that users are getting the best results possible.
If the site “promoted” in this way gets a higher than average click-through rate, it gets a more permanent boost in terms of ranking.
So, do make sure that you put a lot of effort into creating a great meta-tag for your site. Tell people exactly what they are getting, but do it in a way that makes them want to click through. If you get this right, you can kill two birds with one stone – get more people to click to your site and make sure that those who click through understand what the site is about.
That way, people who really are not interested are less likely to go through and increase your bounce rate.
All in all, RankBrain has changed the arena when it comes to SEO. As it improves, it will become an even greater influencing factor.
Author Bio: Hristina Nikolovska
As the Marketing Manager at SEO Tribunal, part of Tina’s daily engagements involve raising awareness of the importance of digital marketing when it comes to the success of small businesses. As her first step towards this journey was in the field of content marketing, she’s still using every opportunity she gets to put her thoughts into educational articles. Find me on Twitter: @HristinaNikol