The Truth about Google RankBrain (And How to Optimize For It)

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CEO Approved Content

What do you know about Google’s RankBrain? There’s scattered and varying information on it. Learn what it’s really about in this post.

Ever heard of Google’s “RankBrain?”

The gist of Rankbrain is that it’s artificial intelligence that finds and ranks websites. And rather than manual updates to Google’s core search algorithm, Rankbrain’s going to handle many of those changes on its own.

Up to this point, however, you probably haven’t noticed much of a difference in Google’s search results.

So what makes RankBrain such a big deal?

It’s going to do a lot to determine the future of search. According to Jayson DeMers at Forbes (from whom much of this info already came), RankBrain will be the third most important ranking signal going forward. DeMers also later notes that RankBrain currently isn’t making a huge impact on search results because right now it focuses on returning relevant results for ambiguous and complex long-tail searches.

An article at Bloomberg notes that RankBrain’s being used to contend with the 15% of brand-new, never-before-seen searches Google has to deal with on a daily basis.

So, How Do You Optimize for RankBrain?

Well, for once in SEO, that’s actually a fairly easy answer. Jennifer Slegg from The SEM Post asked Gary Illyes (a well-known webmaster trends analyst) from Google exactly how to optimize for RankBrain.

And this was his answer:

“Optimizing for RankBrain is actually super easy, and it is something we’ve probably been saying for fifteen years now, is – and the recommendation is – to write in natural language… If you try to write like a machine, then RankBrain will just get confused and probably just push you back.

But if you have a content site, try to read out some of your articles or whatever you wrote, and ask people whether it sounds natural. If it sounds conversational, if it sounds like natural language that we would use in your day to day life, then sure, you are optimized for RankBrain. If it doesn’t, then you are ‘un-optimized.’”

So, like many SEOs have been saying for years, you should create your content for humans, not for RankBrain. If you write for people, the rankings will follow.

Then Why Still Use Keywords?

Smart as Google is, you can’t get your website to rank well by simply sitting down and writing quality content in natural language. Yes, keyword research still needs to be done. Keywords are still critical to your success, but they need to be used in the flow of natural language.

So for now, that’s the scoop on RankBrain! We’ll see how (or if) it really changes the future of search.

Joshua Cabe Johnson

Joshua Cabe Johnson

Joshua Cabe Johnson has been an SEO since 2008. He has personally helped over 1000 clients with online visibility and brand strategy for SEO growth.

Visual rankings has been helping small business owners online since 2002.

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