Artificial Intelligence (AI) has changed the way consumers shop and marketers promote products. It’s also affected how algorithms such as Google’s RankBrain process and display search results. If you can gain a clear understanding of how RankBrain works and how AI and SEO intersect, you can optimize your website for this new era of search.
RankBrain is Google’s newest search algorithm. Unlike previous iterations, this algorithm uses AI to process, understand, and sort search queries.
To get a full understanding of what this means for website owners and users, you first must understand how the algorithm works. RankBrain performs two main tasks. First, it must process search queries. Second, it must measure how users interact with the search results. This enables the algorithm to not just match queries to keywords on a page, but to understand the intent behind each search.
This differs drastically from previous non-AI algorithms, which were entirely driven by human input. The new process means that the software is continuously learning, and can even update search results in real time to better reflect what it has learned.
Therefore, the shift towards an AI algorithm means that your website may no longer rank where it previously did on search engines. As such, your website might need some work, in order to improve its rankings and better serve your user’s needs.
Fortunately, the changes you’ll need to make are actually quite easy to implement. Let’s look at three ways you can begin to optimize your website or blog for Google’s RankBrain.
Implement Advanced Audience Segmentation
With RankBrain taking a more human-focused approach to search, it’s important to create content aimed at specific types of readers. Audience segmentation helps you determine what smaller (but significant) groups of your audience are looking for, so you can create content that matches their needs.
This technique is very likely to improve your Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) rankings, meaning it can be a beneficial addition to your SEO strategy. To put it into effect, we recommend:
- Tracking user behavior. Behaviors can help you understand how users interact with your website, so you can optimize your pages and create more targeted content. Heat maps and link tracking are two of the best ways to begin.
- Creating targeted campaigns. Tools such as Matomo enable you to create targeted marketing campaigns on social media and search engines, to draw in more qualified (i.e. more likely to convert) traffic.
Your ultimate goal is to connect with your readers and consumers on a more personal level. This will reflect well on Google SERPs, and will also show your audience that you care about their individual needs.
Optimize Your Non-Text Content
The text-based content on your website, including blog posts and articles, is important to SEO. However, it’s not the only kind of content you’ll want to consider. Optimizing non-text content, such as images and videos, can be just as important to Google and other search engines.
Even with the use of AI, search engines still need help to understand certain parts of a website. This is especially true for non-text elements. By optimizing those types of content, you’ll provide more information to search engine bots, helping them present the right pages to your audience.
You can get started by:
- Using schema markup. Structured formatting, such as schema markup, is an advanced way to tell search engines exactly what they’re “seeing” on your website. By adding markup to your website, you can improve the way search engine bots crawl your site, increasing your chances for higher SERP rankings.
- Adding appropriate “alt” tags. Alt tags are basic HTML attributes that tells search engines and internet users what your non-text content (such as images) are all about about. They can be optimized with keywords, too.
If you’re struggling to come up with the best alt tags for your content, consider these three key elements: detail, specificity, and context. By creating tags that meet those characteristics, you can significantly improve how your content will appear to search bots and visitors alike.
Update the Way You Use Keywords
Keywords can be added to websites and blogs as a way to rank more highly on SERPs. They enable internet users to easily find your posts via search engines. However, the most common tactics, such as using many different keywords in one post or including a certain keyword too frequently, can negatively impact SEO instead.
Perhaps more importantly, AI has caused a shift in how search engines process keywords. With RankBrain, Google can now understand the intent behind keywords. This means you need to use a less literal approach to keywords moving forward, and you may even need to change your current keyword research process.
To begin, you’ll want to:
- Use more medium-tail keywords. With AI improving the way that RankBrain understands search terms, shorter keywords are now better understood. While you can continue to use long-tail keywords where appropriate, medium-tail keywords should begin to take a more prominent position.
- Focus on concepts over keywords. This will enable you to rank highly for more keywords (as opposed to just one or two), as well as to deliver a better experience for your readers.
The great thing about RankBrain is that a natural approach to keyword use is encouraged. Your best bet is to focus on writing high-quality content first and foremost, as this will lead to the natural inclusion of keywords, variations, and related words (all of which RankBrain pays attention to).
The intersection between AI and SEO has led to the implementation of a new Google search engine algorithm. RankBrain is very distinct from previous versions, which means you’ll need to take a different approach to website optimization if you want to attract the most traffic.
Do you have any questions about Google’s RankBrain, or how to optimize your website for it? Let us know in the comments section below!