Machine learning and AI are used almost synonymously with each other. However, that is not the correct comparison. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the broader field of computing where computers can think and learn the same way a human does, either on its own or with human intervention. Machine learning is the new hotness nowadays and you see the term pop up everywhere. But Google is one of the companies that are leading the charge.
True AI is still a thing of science fiction and is yet to be developed. Major strides have been made in AI, and machine learning, which is a term we see get thrown around a lot, is a part of how computers are achieving AI. Machine learning, in other words, is a term under the overall umbrella of AI, if you will.
Google handles a mind-blowing number of search queries a day, of which 450 million searches are queries that it sees for the first time, meaning that these new terms and searches are completely new and have never been indexed.
For a company that size and whose mission is to accumulate all the world’s data and make it accessible to the masses, it is quite impossible to do that with just humans.
That is where machine learning comes in. And RankBrain is one of many ways Google moves closer to becoming a perfect search powerhouse with every update of the algorithm.
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What is RankBrain and How Does It All Work?
RankBrain is one of the many thousands of signals the search engine giant uses to ensure whenever you search a query into Google, you get exactly what you ask for.
Google, over the years, has gotten impressively good at knowing what you exactly mean when you type a keyword, to the point where, if its algorithm can’t find the exact match, it can give you alternatives. For example, if you typed in one word, it can also give you results for the synonyms of the same word without you ever having to explicitly type it.
RankBrain, on a broader sense, is part of a larger search algorithm that helps interpret the searches you make and show you webpages or search results that represent what you intended to search for when you typed in that query and, sometimes, might not always have the same words you searched for.
Currently, as it stands, RankBrain is the third most important tool that Google uses to bring you precise and relevant search results, and it only became active in April of 2015.
Before RankBrain went live, Google would scan results for the searches you made. For example. If you searched for ‘new red apple phone’, google would cross-check the keywords, ‘new’, ‘red’, ‘apple’ and ‘phone’ and then try to figure out the results.
With RankBrain, it knows you are searching for the new model of the iPhone specifically in red color.
Now, Google has practically learned to figure out what you mean and shows you all the relevant search results.
What Does That Mean For Marketers and SEO
For marketers and SEO professionals, this means that you need to tweak your strategy a bit. The old tactics do not get as much click-through rate (CTR) due to RankBrain. And if you want your CTR to increase, you need to understand how to optimize your page so that Google ranks the page higher, which allows it to be more visible and, in turn, have a higher CTR.
In the olden days, which is to say a couple of years ago, you would typically create different pages optimized for different long-form keywords.
You would use different long-form keywords that would essentially mean the same thing and optimize different pages around that. But since Google can understand what general searches means and the intent behind a query, optimizing for different structures of the same keywords is now obsolete and no longer necessary.
What you should rather do now is optimize with medium-form keywords; they get more searches and more hits.
Apart from this, deep-diving into the keywords and seeing what the general intent of searchers searching for the keyword are is essential. With this knowledge, you can optimize your page for higher clicks in general.
After you have done that, it is now time to do something with that new-found knowledge. At the end of the day, what your goal should be is to bring your customers or readers value.
If your page does not give visitors value, they will just not stay there very long. This is called Dwell time, how long a visitor stays on your page. And the higher the Dwell time, the higher Google ranks your page in searches.
This is sort of very simple logic: if people are sticking around longer, that means what you are doing is bringing them value.
This also helps your CTR in the long run.
Another great strategy is in the titles itself. Your title copy needs to evoke emotions and grab the attention of the potential reader instantly. An emotional hook to a title is sure to get more clicks and this fact is backed up by solid data.
According to a study done by CoSchedule, there was a positive correlation between emotional titles and the number of shares. So, double down on the title names for your content to get more click through rates.
In conclusion, cracking Google’s search algorithm can sometimes be painstakingly tedious with good old-fashioned trial-and-error and, sometimes, just using some good practices.
So, the best way to optimize CTR for Google’s RankBrain is to use medium form keywords and do some research into the keywords you are optimizing for. Ensure that the content that you create is well-made and s value at every point. This ensures a higher dwell time and retains readers and customers. Finally, finish it up with a catchy and emotionally provoking title, and you are all set!