What Is RankBrain and Why It Matters in SEO
So you’ve decided to bring your business online because you’re losing out to the competition who have already cashed in on the online revolution. You paid for hosting, got your WordPress site up… But your website is not converting.
In fact, you can’t even see it on Google when you type relevant keywords. A few months down the line, one or two pages from your website find themselves stuck in page 10 or page 12 of Google search results, unable to rise from their former places.
What’s the problem, exactly?
The answer is: there can be a number of problems affecting your website, and one of them is how it is being measured by RankBrain, the machine learning system developed by Google.
RankBrain is considered the third most important component of Google’s system of systems, and is set to dominate how search engine results will be coming out in 2019 and beyond. Simply put: if you don’t know how to please RankBrain, your website is going to languish.
How It Works
More than a decade ago, about Google ran into several huge snags that actually threatened its position as the “kingmaker” of the online world. People were complaining daily of bad content making it to the top results of Google searches.
Let’s call this Google 1.0. This was a time when Google paid attention to keywords and keyword densities alone, and directory listings (with relevant keywords), etc. This was all the rage. The ranking system that we see now was in its infancy, but people were easily able to get to top results by stuffing content with the right combination of keywords.
SEOExplode had found that his is bad news for users mainly because not every piece of content on the Web that has the right keywords is the right type of content or website for specific users. Let’s say you went online and typed “cold brew coffee recipes.”
You see a website with the exact keywords, but when you open it, the content talks about cold brew coffee and is actually promoting stuff on Amazon that have nothing to do with pressing your own coffee at home. This is useless information, basically, and you leave the website.
Dwell Time and Website Usefulness
This was the basic experience back in the day, when Google was still trying to figure out how to balance keyword relevance with the usefulness of a website to actual users.
Enter RankBrain, the machine learning system. Google’s RankBrain takes into consideration several hundred different signals from a website, but it also hones in on two major signals that can make or break a website:
- The duration of a user’s stay on a website; this is also called the dwell time.
- The number of people that select your website on Google search results after performing a specific search with a keyword or keyword phrase. This is called the CTR or the click through rate.
According to the experts, a top ranked website on Google normally has an average dwell time of three minutes and ten seconds. Sounds like a piece of cake right? Well, not really.
If you have a relatively new website with almost no useful content for users, then it’s possible that people will just jump almost immediately from your website to another website. The jump happens when they close your tab and clicks on another link instead. Ouch! But don’t worry, because there is a solution for your problem.
Google Canada states that RankBrain considers dwell time a major ranking signal, so you really have to get down to business to providing what your users need so they actually stay in your website when they find it.
If they keep bouncing after the first three seconds, then your website will continually underperform in RankBrain’s eyes, and it will suffer the consequences of having low dwell time.
Thinking About Content
You can spend a lot of time tweaking the on-page and off-page factors affecting your website, but at the end of the day, you need good content on your website to keep users coming back. Your website can only be likeable if it has content worth looking at.
Basically, you have to offer something useful in order to generate traffic. People also have to like your content enough that they would share it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and all these other dwelling places for netizens.
Good content can be created in a variety of ways:
– It provides general information about a subject.
– It provides a solution or options to solve a problem.
– It provides references so that people who need more in-depth information can find better information.
– It provides interesting stories or points that can be shared on social media.
– It is entertaining.
– It is useful for the user’s life.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when creating good content. The fact of the matter is that you can create good content as long as you know what your users want. With that said, it’s safe to ask at this point – how much do you know of your target users? If you haven’t researched your niche well enough, it would be difficult to identify relevant topics to base your content on. Knowing the type of content your audience likes is also helpful.
For example, let’s say that your audience is all about bicycle parts and modding BMX bikes for competitions. The type of content that would be most useful to this type of niche would be DIY and how to videos and articles, as well as the latest news on new bike parts and methods of modding.
If your business was all about modding BMX parts, or selling modded BMX bikes, it would naturally follow that after reading the great information on your website, people would be really drawn to your products and services. Why? Because you have established authority by providing information. People who are drawn to certain kinds of information will also have a tendency to share and link to this information so they can share with their networks.