Google Algorithm Update: No Need for Panic Over RankBrain

RANK BRAIN– ooh, scary! Sounds like a bad 50’s sci-fi movie title, right? IT CAME FROM GOOGLE….however, RankBrain is nothing to be scared of. If you’ve been following the principles of SEO and doing things the right way, RankBrain is going to be a relatively minor transition.

First off, let’s define it- RankBrain is part of Google’s algorithm that uses machine intelligence- the algorithm learning what serves Users best, based on their input with SERP results and a multitude of factors- to serve up pages that might meet a User’s query even if they don’t contain the exact match phrase the User was searching for.

A quick example would be if you had a site all about finding underground water, and all over the site you used keywords like “find water, find ground water, search for aquifer”, but the User puts in a query “locating water”- there’s a good chance that your site isn’t optimized for that exact match term if you missed it when you did your keyword research, so the site doesn’t contain it, but it would still serve the User well. RankBrain is supposed to figure that out for the algorithm and present you pages that don’t necessarily include the exact keyword phrase you ranked for.

Another way to think about how to build a website, is the idea of writing an academic paper. You can’t simply put your thesis on a piece of paper and present it to the professor- you need to write sentences that equate to paragraphs, then sections and even chapters that present your overall idea. You’re building a foundation to tell Google what you’re about, and RankBrain is Google getting better at figuring it out the way a person would.

Build sites that include pages optimized for keywords (individual posts), then work up to clusters of ideas (category level pages) and chapters and sections (navigation). The principles of SEO will help you organize your offering to the User in a way that makes sense for both the robot and the person behind the keyboard and should lead to overall better rankings.

One implication of RankBrain could be your social media activity. If you have conversations with your community there is a good chance that you will come to be associated with keywords and ideas that you aren’t necessarily optimizing specifically for. It’s also a good idea to build back links using anchor text that’s relevant, even if pages aren’t necessarily optimized for that particular term. You don’t have to cram every term into your site structure to satisfy RankBrain- it should be better now at figuring out what you’re about, even if it’s not an exact match. Google got rid of Exact Match with regards to AdWords a while ago- it makes sense that they are doing the same for Organic search.

Single-keyword or vanity campaigns simply don’t make sense any more- why put all your efforts into ranking for the 100 searches a month for a specific keyword- organize around an idea and reap the rewards of getting traffic that you didn’t even know you wanted.


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