It’s the new buzzword in the industry. RankBrain. But what exactly is it? It’s the artificial intelligence machine-learning system that Google has implemented to bring back the most relevant search results to help your users find you.
In essence, it will teach itself what to bring back in the SERPs based on specific queries. Searches are evolving. We’re now talking directly to our voice assistants to provide us information. Most of the time, they’re getting their information from Google.
Instead of typing into a search box, “hvac nj,” searchers will ask Siri, Alexa, Cortana, or Google itself, “find me a company that will fix my air conditioner” or “where can I find someone to fix my air conditioner.” We’re getting more specific in our queries, and you need to be creating relevant content that helps you get found by your audience.
You should alter your approach to think about the ranking signal and the rise of voice search to best help your potential customers.
How to Optimize Your Website
Digital strategies are becoming more advanced. While local companies will continue to see great results from targeted keywords, which will grow traffic, you need to create the best user experience.
There is tons of speculation out there regarding how to optimize for RankBrain. The simple answer, which was reported by Jennifer Slegg on The SEM Post, says to write your content in natural language. Sound human. That’s how RankBrain will understand what your content is about. If you write like a machine, you’ll see negative movement that pushes your content back in SERPs.
In her article, Slegg quotes Google’s Gary Ilyes as saying, “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”.
Through RankBrain, Google is beginning to garner their ability to learn user intent and return the best results. Begin optimizing your website for an extended reach by designating each page to a unique issue. You want to answer user questions in the least amount of time as possible.
Target Frequently Asked Questions
What are your customers asking you? What kind of answers are they seeking? Answer their questions specifically in your content. Make sure your content fully answers the question with an accurate, in-depth answer.
You’ll want to write the content as if you’re speaking to a customer one-on-one. This will help ensure you maintain that conversational tone. Be sure that your answers are clear and direct in the first few paragraphs, and then expand for added value.
Research the most common questions that your audience poses. Search forums, ask surveys, and audit your social media profiles to see common questions. Then, use Google Voice or your digital assistant to search these questions and see what is appearing in the SERPs. If your questions aren’t being answered thoroughly, you have a great opportunity for new content.
Look at More of a Long-Tail Query for RankBrain
Think about the way we speak. More specifically, think about how we ask questions. You want to make sure you’re getting everything you want answered without having to ask two, three, or four more follow-up questions.
Treat RankBrain like this. Anticipate the long-tail query. Your goal is to increase traffic to your site and create a connection with your audience to increase conversions. Voice search creates the opportunity for longer, niche keywords that you can leverage with blog posts.
The long-tail query gives you more of a chance to reach a broader audience. Include in the page an in-depth answer to one question, and think about the follow-ups that your customers have. Make sure the entire article answers those questions thoroughly.
RankBrain was put into place to help determine how to rank queries there is no historical data for. As mentioned previously, instead of “plumber in philadelphia” we’re looking more at questions like “where is the closest plumber to me?” This means Google is taking your location, quickly finding places with addresses listed close to you, and delivering results that answer your question.
Talk about related concepts and be sure to use semantic words and similar phrases to broaden your reach. Leverage long-form content to include more phrases and increase your chances of being able to rank for additional queries related to the search term.
No Longer Keyword Focused
If you continue to stay the course without adapting to the ever-changing landscape of digital marketing, you’re going to lose to your competitors. While you still must have keywords in the right places to let both your users and the search engine bots understand what your page is about, it is lessening in importance.
Talk about concepts related to the keyword you wish to focus on, covering your topic from all angles. Be thorough. Align your strategy with the way users read content on the web today. Taking the approach of a well-rounded article or post will lead to a higher word count.
Voice search is asking questions in full sentences. That means Google is deciphering meaning in your sentence and delivering results with intent.
What This Means for Marketers
Techniques are changing. Don’t get comfortable. Even if you see great results, it takes one day for competitors to offer more value than you’re currently offering. Stay up to date on the latest marketing and search trends—namely voice search.
We’re starting to search the way we speak. Think less like a salesperson and more like a journalist. Tell a story with your content. Not every piece you publish should be sales oriented. Add value, ask questions, and solve problems. It’s a new and shifting landscape as search engines become more sophisticated.
Update your content to include questions while using a conversational tone. Google’s changes are all about creating the best experience for the user, helping them find their answer with as little navigation as possible. Your changes and updates should be too.