The process on turning ideas into reality

March 11th 2019

Optimize Your Site for Google’s RankBrain

What is RankBrain?

RankBrain is Google’s algorithm that is used to sort live search results in order to achieve better results to search queries. It is also used to help Google understand the search queries themselves. Before RankBrain, Google was running into a serious problem that they called a knowledge gap. Everyday about 15% of searches were unrecognizable to the algorithm. This number doesn’t sound like much but actually it is about 500 million searches a day. Google engineers would have to tweak their search algorithms manually to try to achieve more optimal results. Now RankBrain does a lot of that heavy lifting for them and has proven its worth by going head to head with Google engineers. The results? RankBrain outperformed them by 10%.

How does RankBrain work?

How does it work? RankBrain will take a search result and then depending on how the user interacts with it either by staying on the page or leaving to go to a different one it will adjust the algorithm and then see if that achieves a better result. RankBrain works to figure out what you actually mean instead of taking each key word and making a guess at the meaning. This means that it is trying to figure out the context of your search instead of just matching keywords. RankBrain uses several metrics to determine if the search results have been successful.

Increase Dwell Time Decrease Bounce Rate

Dwell time is the time spent by a user after clicking on your site from a Google search. The longer someone spends time on your page the better! RankBrain takes this into account and will adjust results with this parameter in mind. Bounce Rate is the measure of how quickly someone leaves your site after visiting it. A great tactic to help combat people from leaving too quickly is to have the most important information above the fold of your web page. Most people will not scroll down on a page to see if it contains the information they need, so to encourage them to stay relevant information needs to be the first thing that they see. To maximize your above the fold content keep your content in the center of the screen and use a short intro that goes over exactly what will be covered in the article. Typically if someone has searched on google for a subject and has not included the term “introduction or beginner” then you don’t need to go into too much detail with the intro they already have a handle on the basics. Pay attention to your headline as well. A super descriptive headline means that they can see in the least amount of words possible if your page is going to answer their question. After grabbing them with the hook of a great title and descriptive intro consider making your content longer. Longer posts mean that things are covered in more detail and if they do decide to read it all it increases dwell time as well. While longer post are better be sure to format it in a way that makes reading it more enjoyable. Like paragraphs in an essay break up your content into chunks with descriptives sub headers. That way the reader can easily see what topics will be covered and it doesn’t all just look like a giant mass of text.

Decrease Pogo-sticking

Pogo sticking is going back and forth on a search result page to each of the links in order to find the information that you want. If a lot of people go to each page and back but then find one page they spend more time on than the others RankBrain will take that into account. Decrease the likelihood of Pogo-sticking by creating comprehensive content so users feel like they can get everything they need all in one place.

Leverage Keywords to be more RankBrain friendly

Don’t optimize for long tail keywords, RankBrain understands that similar long tail keywords are the same thing. Remember, RankBrain is designed to try to understand the context of a search query. Best Homemade Dog Food Recipes for Healthy Dogs Best Healthy Dog Food Recipes for Dogs

Focus on optimizing medium tail keywords Dog food recipes Dog food list Dog food meals

Improve Organic Click Through Rate (CTR)

An important aspect of getting better CTR is to increase brand awareness. Users are more likely to click on your site if its one that they are familiar with or have seen before and consider to be a trusted source of good information. Some ways to increase this awareness are utilizing ads on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Having a great email newsletter is another way as well. Email newsletters should be tailored to your audience and not inundate them with worthless information. Publishing a lot of content over a short period of time is helpful in the beginning as well. It makes your site look like more of an authority figure and encourages back linking as well.


A main part of Google’s algorithm is RankBrain, it uses machine learning to determine the most relevant results from search queries. Knowing now that a main factor in SEO rankings is identifying the searcher’s intent for a search query it is important to put out longer forms of content to increase dwell time which signals RankBrain that you have what users are looking for. Increasing brand awareness is another vital step to get people to click on your site and by keeping the most important information in the center of the screen so users don’t have to scroll to find it you can hopefully increase your rankings and help people find the information that they are looking for.