How Does Google’s RankBrain Affect SEO?

Courtland Consulting Blog - How Does Google’s RankBrain Affect SEO?

The Newest Player on the SEO Field: RankBrain  

Most of us know a little something about the importance of keywords in SEO ranking.  But now there’s more to SEO than simply focusing on keywords, links, etc. (Yes, I know that SEO is more complicated than that 🙂 ).  In 2015 Google added yet another twist to its search result placements called Google’s RankBrain.  As Google continues to refine the RankBrain algorithm, it continues to play a vital role in SEO ranking for 2018.

What is RankBrain? 

In simple language, RankBrain is the smart cookie behind the organic search ranking.  It’s the artificial intelligence that measures user engagement before and after a user clicks on a search result.

All keywords aside, does the listing itself result in clicks, and how valuable is the information the user finds at the other end of the click?  Do visitors sigh a “ho hum” after landing on the website and simply click out of it because the content didn’t do anything for them?   Or, is there something of real value waiting on the other side of the click that captures their attention so users naturally jump in with both feet?

RankBrain Measures 2 Things:

Of course the intricate details of RankBrain are proprietary to Google, but here’s the gist of how it works.  RankBrain measures 2 things, starting from the initial display of the search result and seeing how people interact with the listing, followed by the user engagement after the click.

  1. Click Through Rate (CTR) – The percentage of people who click on your search result listing.

If your listing shows on the first page of the search results, but it doesn’t draw attention and intrigue viewers enough to click on it, then Google assumes the listing is less relevant to the search term, and in turn lowers its ranking.  Simply put, the less clicks it gets, the lower it goes in the list.

Lesson learned:  Make sure your listing title (title tag) and your description (pulled from your meta description or a clip of text appearing on your web page) are intriguing.

  1. Dwell Time – How long users stay on your page.

Now that the user clicked the listing, what’s the landing page like?  Does it draw enough interest that users engage and read through the content?  According to a study done by Searchmetrics, the average dwell time of a top listing in Google search is around 3 min and 10 seconds.  If the page content doesn’t grab people’s attention, then the listing is eventually bumped to a lower ranking.

Lesson learned:  The landing page needs motivating content so visitors don’t just stop by, but they stay awhile.

RankBrain… The Shoe Fits

When you think about it, RankBrain just makes sense.  User experience is becoming the primary concern for search engines, which is as it should be.  As  search engines get smarter, users benefit from more productive and helpful search results.  Search engines are making sure you’re not trying to stuff your foot in the glass slipper when it doesn’t fit.  Your job as a website owner is to make sure the shoe fits!

Courtland’s Expert SEO Services

If you need help optimizing your website, Courtland Consulting has SEO experts ready and waiting to serve you.  Contact us today for a FREE consultation.

If you’re interested in learning  more about Search Engine Optimization, check out this article:  SEO 101 Basics.

Written by Graphic Artist and Web Developer Kally Stehouwer