Is Google’s RankBrain Smarter than You?

Google's RankBrain

When you begin to type in a search and Google magically finishes your thought, it’s not because it’s a clairvoyant god (okay, maybe it is, but that’s not my message here). It’s just because millions of other people have already typed the exact same query you’re about to. Google guesses what you’re going to do based on what others have done.

But what does Google do about the 450 million searches a day that are brand new? Those queries that no one’s ever thought of before or typed into a search bar quite the same way?

That’s where RankBrain comes in. RankBrain is an artificial intelligence system created by the Google gods and it’s their newest SEO factor that you can’t afford to ignore. You can’t ignore it because even Google admits that it’s now number three among the more than 200 factors its Hummingbird algorithm considers when ranking your website. Only actual keywords and content rank higher.

But how does RankBrain work?

When RankBrain sees a word, phrase or query that it’s never encountered before, it uses AI and computer vectors to “learn” audience intent. It finds connections between new searches and what it already knows and adapts accordingly. It considers context and makes guesses about new words and phrases based on similar content and synonyms in its vast vocabulary.

Does RankBrain improve results?

It’s no surprise that when Google develops and rolls out such a sophisticated tool, the effort will probably improve search results. And it does. When digital marketing firm Stone Temple Consultants ran independent testing, it found that RankBrain improved search results by more than 54 percent.

What does this mean for your SEO strategy?

Remember those two most important ranking factors: keywords and content? They tie seamlessly into what RankBrain is looking for –if you use both correctly. When you create great content with keywords that make sense, and aren’t forced or overly used, Google likes it. So does Rankbrain. It’s not looking for keyword-to-keyword connections; it’s looking at intent and interpreting how it can best get the user where they want to go and provide them with useful answers.

What should you do?

Instead of focusing on a single keyword or phrase and using it multiple times in a page, think about the entire message of your page or post. For example, if you have a medical assistant program and you want to capture the attention of someone considering a career in geriatrics, provide them with valuable information. Answer the kinds of questions they might intuitively ask and use a variety of vocabulary that revolves around the same general subject. Working with the elderly, senior care careers, and nursing home jobs are phrases that might naturally fit in a post about the many benefits of working with the elderly. Educate and inform using relevant vocabulary and your audience—and RankBrain—will reward you for it.

At Effective Student Marketing, we’ve been creating great content for our clients for more than 10 years. Want to learn how we keep up with Google? Contact the HigherEd Geeks today and we’ll share some of our secrets with your school.

~Linda Emma