As a small business competing against larger companies with greater brand presence, it’s important local patrons still find you. If you don’t optimize your website correctly, you could be lost among the sea of competitors. Achieving high search engine rankings depends on pleasing Google’s algorithm RankBrain. Here’s a basic guide for doing that:
Clifford Chi, content marketing manager at Animalz and contributor to HubSpot, describes RankBrain as “a machine-learning artificial intelligence system” that “helps Google understand a searcher’s intent and serve the most relevant content to them.”
Why does this matter to your business? In the past, Google only weighed the authority, quality, or relevance of a website when providing results for a search query. Now, Google’s search algorithms take the user’s location, search history, intent, and other factors into consideration. It’s constantly adjusting which factors are pertinent to a query and scoring every site accordingly.
This significantly impacts how businesses like yours should approach their websites.
Prioritize information, not keywords
If your approach to optimizing for SEO is limited to drenching new pages in keywords, your website isn’t going to perform well. It’s time to start thinking of SEO less as a code to crack and more as a judge evaluating if you have the most relevant, informative answer for a specific user’s search query.
“Google has evolved to recognize topical connections across users’ queries, look back at similar queries that users have searched for in the past, and surface the content that best answers them,” explains Chi. “As a result, Google will deliver content that they deem the most authoritative on the topic.”
It doesn’t matter if your page is abundant in all variations of a target keyword phrase. Link diversity and anchor text also aren’t essential. What matters is if your page has the information a person is seeking.
Have longer, more detailed content
Stop following a method of creating a short, individual page on your website for every single keyword you want to rank for on a particular subject. Instead of aiming for website volume, start putting long-form, comprehensive content at the forefront of your site.
“Spending more time and effort crafting insightful and compelling content at a lower volume is one of the best ways to bolster your standing with Google,” says Chi.
A good way to start doing this on your website is to consolidate all the similarly themed pages on your website and putting all that text onto one comprehensive, well-organized page that has all the answers someone may need on the subject.
Keep your website fresh
If you haven’t touched most of the contents of your website in a couple years, RankBrain may deem your domain as outdated and therefore irrelevant. SEO expert Rand Fishkin of Moz simply explains it as “If you are not fresh, you are not showing searchers what they want, and therefore Google doesn't want to display you.”
While there’s no guarantee freshness will be a quality RankBrain will weigh when evaluating your site, it’s a good idea to mitigate the presence of stale content — especially if you’re in an industry where being up-to-date matters.
Write in a way that sounds human
Google is a lot smarter than you may realize. If you write in a way that is trying to game the system, it will penalize you. Google’s Gary Illyes recommends you, “Try to write content that sounds human. If you try to write like a machine then RankBrain will just get confused and probably just pushes [sic] you back.” RankBrain is smart enough to tell when you’re writing in a way that unnaturally stuffs keywords into the text to game the system. Such an approach will actually hurt your SEO instead of boost it.
There are many other ways you can improve your website’s value to your customers and thus reach more people. Above all else, prioritize user experience, and you’ll be on the right path to successful SEO results.