Optimising Your Website For Google RankBrain (2018)

Monday, February 19th, 2018

Understanding a person’s intent when entering a search query is not an easy task for computers. Words combined in a search query can carry a wide array of different meanings, interpretations and potential objectives. Figuring out what people want from their search query is the purpose of
Google’s RankBrain.

A semi-artificially intelligent computer program, RankBrain is capable of recognising search patterns and assessing results – this results in Google’s search result pages having greater accuracy and higher success rates.

What This Means For SEO

RankBrain is increasingly interested in how relevant your website was to previous searchers. In order to measure this it employs a combination of user assessment tools, typically known as ‘user experience signals’.

These signals help RankBrain build an online ‘reputation’ for each page within a website, making the ranking process more straightforward in future searches (provided performance levels are maintained). Common Google RankBrain user experience signals are:

  • Click Through Rates. How many times does the searcher click on the link to your website from Google’s result pages?
  • Bounce Rates. Are searchers viewing more than just one page of your website or bouncing immediately away?
  • Pogo Sticking. Similar to bounce rates but, worse from Google’s perspective, is when your site visitors pogo stick straight back to Google after not finding what they’re looking for.
  • Dwell Times. Do searchers stick around for under a minute or a few minutes when visiting your website? A longer dwell time typically indicates you have a useful resource.

Quick And Easy Ways To Optimise For RankBrain

Take a look below for some quick and easy ways to improve Click Through Rates, Dwell Times and Bounce Rates – all key factors in RankBrain’s automated ranking logic.

Improving Click-Through Rates
It is important to remember search engine rankings are only part of the process, getting searchers to choose your website out of the list of displayed results is the essential first step. You can heavily influence the searcher with your choice of page title and description elements.

  • Use Emotion. It is a well-known fact that people respond to emotional triggers. Words like ‘Proven’, ‘How To’, ‘Case Study’ and ‘Effective’ are great emotive additions.
  • Try Brackets. Using parentheses (brackets) in title text is also a winner. Common examples include (2018), (Proven Tips) and (Just Released).
  • Add Numbers. Numbers aren’t just for list post content; feel free to add them to titles and descriptions too.
  • Don’t Overlook Meta Descriptions. Optimised description tags can significantly impact Click Though Rates. Again try to add emotion, explain the purpose and why it will be useful to the searcher. It pays to add your keywords, and use secondary (LSI) keywords relevant to your topic.

Improving Bounce Rates And Dwell Times
When it comes to Dwell Times, Bounce Rates and Pogo Sticking, content is front and centre. Useful, quality content that helps solve a problem or answer questions is always the focus. Here are 6 key things to keep in mind when creating RankBrain optimised content.

  1. Keep Introductions Short. Get to the point, many people will make the crucial decision on whether to stay or go based on the introduction. Aim for a maximum of 5 to 10 sentences.
  2. Keep It Above The Fold. Even though you may have some great pictures, infographics and photographs to show off, make sure they don’t interfere with getting your introduction across above the fold.
  3. Keep It Fresh. New content is vital, keep it coming on a regular basis.
  4. Go Long Form. Research has shown longer content (2000 words plus) not only increases dwell times, it leaves the searcher feeling like you have answered all of their questions. Be careful to only provide useful information in long form – don’t pad it out just to hit the word count. Readers will become restless or bored and are more likely to move on.
  5. Format, Format, Format. Nobody wants to wade through copious amounts of text paragraph after paragraph, particularly when it comes to long form content. Break it up into readable chunks with clear headings, bullet points, images and consistent formatting.

LSI Keywords
As well as user experience signals, think about the context of your content. For example, if you are operating a site about the first moon landing, then Google will expect to see permutations of related content such as Neil Armstrong, Eagle Lander, Apollo 11 and Tranquillity Base.

This is Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) and simply means using alternative keywords that relate specifically to your main keywords. This will boost your contextual relevance and improve your standing with Google on your specific content niche.

Contact Avatar today for more information.

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Mark started working in the Internet industry in 1994. He went on to startup New Zealand Tourism Online, Avatar and other companies. Mark enjoys meeting with clients and strategising online marketing solutions.

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