Around October 2015, Google announced it would be using artificial intelligence to help deliver its search results. This machine-learning AI system is called RankBrain.
Since RankBrain uses machine-learning AI, it learns by itself, consuming web pages and search queries by the second with the intent of delivering the best and most relevant results to users.
You need to understand that this is an addition to Google’s algorithm and not an algorithm update such as Hummingbird, Penguin, etc. In fact, it is reported that RankBrain is now Google’s third most important signal contributing to search queries and results.
So, with a very good understanding of RankBrain, how do you optimize your content for the future of SEO?
#1: Understand machine learning and how RankBrain works
Artificial Intelligence is taking over, robots are here to stay. Machine learning is where a computer is self-taught over time. Artificial intelligence is where a computer can be as smart as a human being, in the sense of acquiring knowledge from building on what it knows and making new connections which is what RankBrain is doing.
RankBrain accepts a search query either through text or a voice command then crawls through the billions of pages it has access to and delivers the results calculated to be the most relevant to that particular query.
#2. Content creation for humans
SEO is being humanized. You need to have a grasp of creating quality content in a natural language. Once your content has a clear purpose and language, humans can understand and absorb your content then the same goes for search engines.
Content marketers should visit their buyer’s persona now more than ever and create content for specific audiences. Since RankBrain is helping Google’s search engine deliver more appropriate results then your content should have the following:
- Answer problems your target audience are having and may search for solutions online.
- Your content should cover the topics ultimately including references and supporting information
- Dump keyword focusing and include a natural language to convey your topic.
- Focus on search term frequency within the content and the importance of those terms to that content
#3: Develop content with voice search in mind
Create content that considers how people would search for it using voice commands.
RankBrain was developed to display the most relevant results for search queries which have limited data to work with which includes vague or uninterpretable requests and this is where voice search comes in.
By taking into consideration the natural language and ambiguous requests made through voice search, you can include user targeting and voice query matching into your content creation process.
#4: Links, links, and links!
To get a competitive advantage with RankBrain and search engine results, links should never be overlooked. Links make one of the top three most important ranking signals in search results according to Andrey Lipattsev, a Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google.
With hundreds of Google ranking factors related directly to content, including links within your content would build trust with your readers and showcase external relevancy to that piece of content.
In your content creation process, include references and links to high authority sources, adding links and excerpts from industry experts would help search engines translate the purpose of your content and make your content useful and credible to your target audience.
When including links to content the following should be taken into consideration:
- Domain Authority (DA) plays a major role
- Place quality before quantity
- Would the audience be interested in the link?
- Relevance to topic
#5: Think beyond keyword optimization and stuffing
With the addition of RankBrain and recent trends of SEO being humanized, content marketers and SEO experts should forget about keyword optimization and focus on search term frequency and relevance.
According to Steve Baldwin, RankBrain uses co-occurrence to help deliver the most relevant results to users. And according to Wikipedia, co-occurrence is the frequency in which terms or related groups of words appear in a given material.
So to effectively optimize your content for RankBrain, certain terms or related groups of terms should appear more often. Use semantically related terms, co-occurrence and RankBrain will give your content higher priority.
A perfect example can be found in the images below:
Analyzing the first result to determine why it ranked shows that priority was given to the content because semantically related terms and co-occurrence was used in the article by QuickSprout as shown below.
In the image above, synonyms for boosting sales was sprinkled in the article. Semantically related terms and co-occurrence together with other ranking signals allows RankBrain to give this content priority and determine its relevance to the search query.
#6: Revisit old content
Armed with the information above, visit, optimize and improve your old content for the future of SEO, which is artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Edit your content for clarity, natural language, link placement and buyer persona search terms. Remember, pay little attention to keywords.
I would love to hear your thoughts on RankBrain and your tactics in optimizing so far.
Nikolay Stoyanov is one of Bulgaria’s top SEO experts with more than eight years of practicing SEO and a contributor to SEW.