Google announced and unleashed RankBrain, their machine learning ranking program, in 2015 — and digital marketers have been watching carefully ever since. RankBrain was referred to as a “top ranking factor,” which led many to ask how to optimize for RankBrain. However, it’s not really a factor like links or mobile-friendliness.
You can’t optimize for RankBrain. RankBrain is a deep learning algorithm performing unsupervised learning. It’s creating its own rules.
Google’s own engineers tell me and others they don’t even really understand how it works. Ultimately, the best way to “rank” for RankBrain remains that same boring thing no one wants to hear despite it being true. Have really good, descriptive content.
There’s no question that good content is one of the most important aspects of SEO in general, or that RankBrain is amplifying the importance of quality content. And it’s true that RankBrain isn’t technically a ranking factor that marketers can check off on a list.
But the SEO community has had about a year with RankBrain now. We have learned and experienced a little more about the program since its launch, and some of the pros think they may have carved out some specific insights about how to work with Google’s new program — it takes a bit of a mindset shift.
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