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RankBrain: When Search Becomes Human-Centric

We’ve seen how the digital landscape has changed throughout the years – from algorithms shifting the way search engines work, to search trends affecting the way people make queries. But, the changes in the digital landscape are far from over.

SEO is taking a new turn with Google’s artificial intelligence system: RankBrain. Google started using this system during the last quarter of 2015, aiming to provide a seamless search experience. The interesting thing about RankBrain is how it makes the entire search process more human-centric.

 

It All Begins with Search User Behavior

Human Search Behavior

User behavior has a strong influence on organic search rankings. As much as how the digital landscape changes, user behavior is not constant. Users become better searchers as they get more information. If you want to rank well, you need to understand where your target audience is coming from.

Keywords are important, but the intention behind these search terms is what drives today’s algorithms. By knowing the “how” and “why” behind these keywords, marketers and businesses get better leverage in organic search as users get more relevant results—this is where the focus of RankBrain lies.

 

SEO with a Human Touch

RankBrain is not an algorithm—it’s one of the hundreds of signals that make up an algorithm. A few months after its deployment, RankBrain has become one of important signals that contribute to results appearing on search queries.

The artificial intelligence system works alongside content and links. It shows algorithms what links and content to appear in SERPs, as well as how to interpret signals. RankBrain combines language semantics and mathematical processes to understand user behavior data. Through Hummingbird, it advances human-like understanding in search algorithms to provide content that people are most likely to respond to.

RankBrain provides a more holistic approach to refining search queries, as Google says it helps the search engine interpret complex, multi-word queries (long-tail keyword phrases) behind the scenes. By recognizing patterns, it helps the algorithm associate the related searches to provide relevant pages to users.

 

Aligning Your Strategies

Instead of simply relying on keywords, this signal provides a new perspective on how you can develop a strategy for your online marketing efforts.

1. Focus on Quality, Relevant Content

As RankBrain is all about providing appropriate, relevant results, you need to gear your content toward a particular audience. Be an authority on a topic or niche; write content that highlight the unique needs of your target audience.

Don’t just stuff your content with keywords—apply semantic SEO practices. What are the keywords that your target audience will most likely connect with your brand? Work on your core keywords and find associated terms that search users might type on queries. Integrate these terms into your content strategy to drive more traffic and gain higher rankings.

2. Put Yourself in the Shoes of Search Users

As search becomes user-centric and more humanized, you need to put yourself into the shoes of your target audience and look at queries from their perspective. This makes it easier to craft content that is natural and relevant to their unique needs.

The key is to answer more questions. Focus on questions that your target audience may include in their queries. You can even explore questions that people have yet to ask, so you can provide information that might not be available from your competitors.

3. Enhance Your Branding

RankBrain shifts the digital landscape to a more personalized experience for every search user. You need to work on your branding strategy to earn metrics, such as click through rates, page visits, and browse rates.

Use your digital assets to your advantage – web pages, images, videos, press releases, forums, social media sites, and so on. The more presence you have for your digital assets, the more likely your brand will appear on the SERPs. As RankBrain and Hummingbird base content on semantic connections, optimizing your digital assets can bring better SEO results.

By developing your strategies with RankBrain in mind, it will be easier to expand your target audience reach. While this simply means there’s more in store for SEO, it gives your business a starting point to own the SERPs.

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Elyssa Rosales

Elyssa Rosales

Elyssa is a Communication Arts graduate from the University of the Philippines Los Baños. She spends her free time watching movies, reading, and going out with friends. She also embraces her geeky side by reading comic books, watching cartoons, and playing video games. She dreams of traveling around the world.