There’s a saying in the SEO world that says something like, “You can have the greatest website in the world, but if nobody sees it, is it really that great?” Likewise, you can have one of the best eCommerce sites and the best product on the entire internet, but if you don’t generate visits or sales, what good is it doing for you? That’s where understanding how Google ranks your page can benefit you.
To understand how Google decides what websites or pages appear on the coveted front page of search results requires understanding how Google’s current sorting algorithm Hummingbird operates. While Google is notoriously secretive about the top two things that go into Hummingbird, the third most influencing factor is a machine learning artificial intelligence code-named RankBrain. This program was officially rolled out in 2015, and has just been improving ever since.
What Is RankBrain?
When we talk about artificial intelligence, we aren’t talking about something out of the movies. This isn’t Skynet. RankBrain is a program that learns how people are searching for things. For example, when looking for a hotel in Los Angeles, people will word their search many different ways. Some might type in, “hotels in LA,” while others may ask “Where are hotels in Los Angeles,” and so on.
Older Google ranking algorithms would treat each query as a unique search, which they actually aren’t. They’re all looking for hotels in Los Angeles. This meant that you could get different results depending on how you worded your search. RankBrain changes that. The artificial intelligence is learning how searches relate to each other, which simplifies the entire process of finding what the searcher wants.
Conversely, in the past, a typical search such as “English Football Jerseys” would return pages that not only had jerseys from teams such as Manchester United or Chelsea, but also shirts from local American football teams. That’s because older algorithms saw “football jerseys” as a legitimate keyword search.
RankBrain realizes what you mean and is able to take your intentions into account. So now, not only will you find results from English teams, but you’ll also find jerseys from the Premiere League and older jerseys as well.
How Does RankBrain Impact You?
In short, this means that the importance of keyword density is changing. While it’s still important for your website to have the proper keywords in your headers and in proper place, the content of your site should be focusing on longer key phrases. RankBrain is looking for quality of content and how your information matches what people are actually searching for.
Content used to be written specifically aimed at the algorithm, leading to articles that sometimes didn’t flow very well because authors were trying to emphasize a specific key word or phrase. Now, you want content that targets an audience, but does so naturally, in a way that engages your customers. Avoid trying to stuff a specific keyword, but cultivate your page’s content in a way that provides the information your customers are looking for in a simple and easy to read format.
You might think that this will take a lot of work, and if you have years of old content, you may want to invest in hiring someone to curate it. A lot of duplicate information spread out over your site doesn’t just use up your crawler budget. It also makes the information you’re trying to present harder to find, which can count as a strike against you.
It’s also important that your site is optimized for mobile browsing. Among the criteria of things that RankBrain and Hummingbird look at is mobile optimization. Google isn’t betting the entire farm that the future of search is in mobile, but they’ve definitely invested all the cows and chickens. Making sure your site is AMP-ready gets you ahead of the curve.
If all of this sounds a little daunting, don’t worry. We at Darxe have been helping companies like yours optimize their sites for SEO for quite some time now. If you’re worried about increasing your web presence or your search engine ratings, we can help. Let us take a look at your current website’s structure so we can sit down with you and give you advice on improvements you can make. Our dedicated team of SEO and design specialists are ready to help you transition into the new era of search.