You might have heard of RankBrain, it is one element of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm and has been in use for a number of years but it’s becoming increasingly important in SEO. Rankbrain uses machine learning to determine the most relevant results for search engine queries. Before Rankbrain’s existence,  Google used a more basic algorithm to decide which results to show when given a query. Now it is believed that search queries go through an interpretation model that looks at a number of possible issues including location, personalisation and intent interpretation. By determining the search internet behind a query Google can deliver more relevant search results.

It’s the ‘machine learning’ ability behind Rankbrain that differentiates it from most other updates. Rankbrain is able to learn and adapt after being fed by a variety of sources, it teaches itself and improves over time, working to deliver better results later on.

How does Rankbrain impact the way we do SEO?

To optimise and produce the best results for the age of Rankbrain that need to be made. Depending on your existing SEO practices, these adjustments could be small or large.

Matching ranking signals to topics

Before the new machine learning algorithm, it was common to assess and evaluate traditional signals like link diversity, content and keyword matching. Nowadays it’s important to examine user needs and the kind of content that best suits the topic and search intent of the users. It’s all about context really and understanding that Rankbrain is equating signals with the query intent behind searches. Currency might be more important for some topic areas for example, such as searches around the weather. Whereas articles on other topic areas might require content depth, where related topics might become more important. SEO specialists must adjust and recognise which signals best match query intents.

Domain reputation

SEO specialist looking at a graph

The reason many people undertake search engine optimisation for their websites is because they are seeking to build their brands reputation and online presence. They want to grow awareness of their brand and becomes recognised and respected as a reputable source of information. Having a good online reputation is valuable because it results in better rankings for important keywords, higher user engagement and puts some steam behind your SEO efforts, making things easier in the long run. It’s important to consider the topics you cover and the kinds of users you’re hoping to engage. Is your topic in-depth or are short, quick answers better for your audience? Work out what kind of content you want to be known for and build a reputation for. Machine learning algorithms allow you to better tailor your content to the kind of audience you are hoping to attract and focus on particular signals, helping you to build a good reputation and be served up by the search engine for the right kind of search intent. 

Organic writing and flow

The old practice and wisdom in the past have been to create pages and content for every version and plural of a word, but this is outdated. Nowadays SEO specialists combine phrases into more comprehensive pieces and write thing organically for a better user experience. Content should flow naturally and use language and sentence structure that reads well to humans. Content should use semantic and variants keywords and phrases and be written for human readers, rather than purely robots. This has been the practice for a while and won’t be a big change for most SEO specialists; however it’s increasingly important with the introduction of Rankbrain to look at keywords more comprehensively and holistically.

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