Your Website and Google’s New RankBrain

Google has added something new. They’ve added what they call RankBrain to their method of determining the ranking any site, including yours,has. It may help to remember that Google has used algorithms or a particular, and in this case, ever-evolving set of computer based rules. Now they’re adding a “machine-learning, artificial intelligence system.” And that’s what’s been named “RankBrain.”

What is machine learning?

If you ask Google to “define machine learning” you get, in part, this answer from http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/machine-learning:
Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides computers with the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed. Machine learning focuses on the development of computer programs that can teach themselves to grow and change when exposed to new data.
That’s right. Technology is now at the place where computers (machines) can actually be programmed to learn. In terms of Google’s search technology, RankBrain is a part of their search algorithm – currently named “Hummingbird.”

What you need to know

According to Google, “Focus on the user and all else will follow.” That’s their goal for themselves. They want users to get the ‘best possible results’ from their searches. When you search for whatever you want to know or find, Google’s goal is to deliver exactly that. If you’ve been online for long you’ve probably seen how Google has improved. You can type in a fairly long sentence asking for what you want and usually get it. That wasn’t true in the beginning. Google, which is still the number one search engine by far, has always suggested that the people who write web pages – you in other words – concentrate on delivering what your reader wants rather than trying to guess what will bring your content to the top of any given search term. While SEO (search engine optimization) and links are still a factor, it’s harder and harder to spoof Google to get good ranking. Write your property descriptions, your blog posts, and your articles with the reader in mind, not search engine ranking. Then go back and see if you can add some search terms that are actually helpful For example, supposing you have a 3 bedroom condo to sell in Grass Valley, California. You want the buyer who is looking for a 3 bedroom condo in Grass Valley, California to be able to find your listing. In this oversimplified case your keywords and phrases are probably:
  • 3 bedroom condo in Grass Valley California
  • 3 bedroom condo
  • Homes for sale in Grass Valley, CA
If your listing has a view, you could add that. If it’s a new building you could add that. You get the idea. The chances are RankBrain will simply make it easier for users to find a 3 bedroom condo in Grass Valley. Use natural language and be sure you have enough specificity so the right searcher finds your property. Now, of course, you really want anyone looking for a home in Grass Valley to contact you, which is why you include some general terms as well. My hunch is, however, it’s the natural language use of specific terms – honestly used – that will get you the best results. In other words, you don’t have to be a tech wiz or understand exactly how Google performs the way it does. All you have to do is write reasonably clear sentences that contain the terms you want buyers and sellers to use. As Google says, “Focus on the user and all else will follow.” In this case the user is your ideal client. While you can’t completely ignore Google, don’t get caught up. Just remember you want to be of service to your clients and you’ll do just fine. If you have any specific questions about SEO and RankBrain ask them in comments.
Anne Wayman real estate writer