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How will Google's RankBrain affect your ranking?

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You may have never heard of Google's RankBrain machine-learning system. It might also be that your SEO might have mentioned it to you and it went over your head. However, it's becoming more and more relevant in today's ever-changing world of search engine rankings.

RankBrain was developed by Google to help improve search results. Plus, it was aimed at interpreting brand new search queries that haven't previously been searched for online. Speaking in 2015, one of Google's senior research scientists, Greg Corrado, explained the general principle of the algorithm;

"If you're searching for an ambiguous query, or you're using colloquial terms or talking to Google like it was a person, traditionally computers would break down, because they can't understand your query or they haven't seen that phrase before. RankBrain can generalise it: 'That phrase seems like something I've seen in the past, so I'm going to assume that you meant this.' It's much like a person hearing you talking to them in a crowded bar. They can't hear everything you're saying but they still can guess what your meaning and have a conversation with you."

How exactly does RankBrain work?

The main purpose of RankBrain is to deliver more accurate and relevant results by interpreting the meaning of whole phrases. This is instead of focusing on individual words. Essentially, this system is able to effectively handle complex and long search queries. It is also able to easily understand how they are connected to particular topics and then provide accurate results accordingly. It will identify patterns between the different search queries that might seem completely unrelated before finding the similarities between them. This will allow Google's search engine to properly understand a phrase that it has never dealt with before. It will do this by correlating it with phrases it is already familiar with. By doing this, the system keeps teaching itself. This means that if a user considers displayed results irrelevant to their query, the algorithm will show other results the next time it is searched for. Initially, it was only given around 15% of searches to learn and generalise. However, just over two years later, RankBrain has now been set loose on all searches, This results in constant change and fluctuation in search results.

But what does this mean for your website?

Search results will fluctuate quite dramatically

The biggest difference between before and after RankBrain is the fact that before its conception, Google's team of software engineers would alter and amend the algorithms that influence the search results and rankings. This meant that it would remain constant until an update was made. Now, RankBrain is continually changing and influencing the search results, meaning constant changes and fluctuations. We're already seeing the impact of this. Google's search rankings are changing almost daily at the moment. This is no doubt partly down to the changes to the RankBrain machine-learning system. Previously, it was a very sensible approach to take a one-size fits all approach with queries and query categories. However, thanks to RankBrain, this is no longer best practice. Now, it's incredibly important to pay close attention to exactly what content is posted on your website. Be it lots of fresh content, shorter content, longer content and lots of backlinks etc.

Your website will need to have a strong internal linking structure

Google also considers main and supplemental content when ranking a specific page on a website. This extends to pages within a URL subdirectory and pages linked to from the main site content. It's therefore very important that your SEO company optimises a strong internal linking structure. This will allow link strength to be passed to other key pages on the website. It's also worth adding a good number of internal links throughout the site to improve the user experience.

You'll need to try and avoid doorway pages

Previously, websites that featured one page for each keyword would see strong results on Google's rankings. However, with the conception of RankBrain (and the Hummingbird update), this has now become completely outdated. Rather than writing content with a 'focus keyword', you should now focus on creating high value and resourceful pages. These will be seen as far more important by Google. Plus, they'll be placed higher in the search rankings.

Keyword lists must be expanded

Alongside creating high value and resourceful pages, make sure you're expanding your keyword lists beyond just synonyms and variations. For example, it's important to target not just your keyword and its variations but also any additional words that most commonly appear in the same context as your targeted keyword.

Your website must be optimised for people, not the search engines

The best thing you can do is avoid just pleasing the search algorithms and systems. You'd be better off focusing your attention on providing a better experience for the user. It would also be worth analysing your visitors' behaviour. This will then allow you to make the correct changes and amendments accordingly. Essentially, if people appreciate your website's content and consider it relevant to their searches, the algorithms, including RankBrain, will start doing the same naturally. It's fair to say that RankBrain has changed the playing field of search engine optimisation. That being said, it's not something that can't be specifically optimised for though. However, the most important thing is to fully understand just how the algorithm will radically affect your website's rankings and prepare your site accordingly. Of course, there are SEO companies that can be trusted to maintain and improve your website's rankings. Even in this fluctuating world we find ourselves in! At Smart Domain Group, we specialise in comprehensive search engine optimisation that gets results. While we can never guarantee Page 1 results (no legitimate SEO company can), we use the latest white-hat techniques to generate strong results for all our clients. We do everything in our power to get them as high as possible. In fact, the majority of our clients do indeed see Page 1 results for their targeted keywords. Want to know more about how Smart Domain Group can boost your search engine rankings? Visit our Search Engine Optimisation page or contact us today on 01634 810600 to speak to one of our friendly team.

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