Optimize Your Site for Google RankBrain

01Jul, 2019

A while back, Google announced their RankBrain algorithm.

rankbrain_announcement

And as it turns out, this update was a HUGE game changer.

Why?

Google RankBrain is Google’s first machine learning algorithm. In other words, it measures how you interact with the results on the first page:

ux signals

As you can see, the happier you make Google’s users, the higher you’ll rank.

Sure, backlinks, keywords and other traditional signals are still important. But RankBrain is quickly taking over.

In fact, Google went on to say that RankBrain was one of their “top 3” ranking signals:

google top 3 ranking signals

(The other 2 key search engine ranking factors? Links and content).

The question is:

How do you optimize your site for Google RankBrain?

Here are two simple, easy-to-implement tips that are working great for me right now:

First, improve your organic click-through-rate (CTR).

Google RankBrain wants to see that lots of people are clicking on your site in the search results.

That tells Google:

“People LOVE this result. Let’s boost it to the top of the page so it’s easier to find”.

Pogo stick effect 4

But if people don’t click on your result? Google will drop your site like a stone.

Pogo stick effect 3

And that’s why optimizing your site for organic CTR is so important.

I have a very cool strategy that you can use to improve your CTR later in this post (SEO strategy #4).

But for now, here’s a quick tip that I recently learned:

One of the EASIEST ways to get more clicks is to add numbers to your title and description tag.

Here’s a real-life example from one of my blog posts:

Actionable SEO Tips (number highlight) – Post

Research shows that people online are more likely to click on content that contains a number. So when you include a number in your content’s title (and in your meta description), you can increase your CTR super quickly.

Next, improve your bounce rate and “Dwell Time”.

Again, Google RankBrain wants you to publish a piece of content that makes their users happy.

And if users leave your site (also known as a “bounce“) after 3 seconds? That’s a user experience signal that tells Google that people don’t like your content.

In fact, my analysis of 1.3 million Google search results discovered that sites with a good bounce rate ranked above sites with a poor bounce rate:

bounce rate rankings

See how that works? The better your bounce rate, the better you rank.

And the longer searchers stay on your site (known as “Dwell Time“), in general, the higher you’ll rank.

So:

HOW do you actually improve your Dwell Time and bounce rate?

One tip that’s helped my rankings a lot is to write compelling introductions that encourage people to take action.

In other words, AVOID content like this:

boring intro

If someone lands on this intro from Google, they’re going to bounce as fast as possible.

(And as we talked about, that’s bad for your SEO).

Instead, get STRAIGHT to the point, like this:

blog post intro

Boom. Anyone landing on that page knows EXACTLY what my piece of content is about.

I also recommend breaking up your content into mini, bite sized chunks.

In other words, you want your content to look like this:

easy to read copy

As you can see, this copy is super easy to read.

And it’s especially easy to read on a phone or tablet. Considering that most Google searches are now done on mobile devices, readability is more important for SEO than ever before.

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