WIth advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning, Google and other search engines are continually improving their ability to provide users relevant results. As their algorithms improve, they will modify search results in real-time by determining what users are more likely to click and find engaging.
One such algorithm is Rankbrain, which Google acknowledged to be in use since 2015. Rankbrain is particularly useful for giving users relevant results for long-tail queries that are unusual or have never been used previously. The algorithm provides results according to keywords with a similar meaning. Currently, Rankbrain accounts for less than 15 percent of queries, but because Google has over 200 ranking factors, it is the third most used algorithm by the search engine. Because of how competitive the search engine industry is, digital marketers should assume other search engines are also applying machine learning to give users the most relevant results.
Because search rankings are now determined in part by machine learning, which involves the search engines learning what users find useful and accommodating them, digital marketers must take a step back and reassess their strategy. Instead of trying to manipulate results with technical gimmicks that worked in the past, such as putting the right keywords onto the page, title, and description, and using precise anchor text when link-building, digital marketers should mainly focus on providing relevant and engaging content that Google and other search engines will recognize as high-quality. The technical aspects of search engine optimization (SEO) still matter, but now more than ever the user experience is factored into how websites are ranked.
This means that other factors impacting the user experience, such as fresh content and page loading speed, are more important than before. If users are searching for the hottest movies that are out, a website with information that is two years old will be less relevant, because the movies mentioned on the website are no longer playing in theaters. Thus, even if the website has a higher domain authority (DA) or PageRank (PR) than websites with fresher content, Google and other search engines will determine that the website with outdated content is less relevant to the users seeking the hottest movies right now. Similarly, websites with fast page loading and that are mobile-friendly will generally have lower bounce rates, or rates in which users immediately click away from the website after determining it is not relevant or useful, which will help with their rankings.
Brig Agency, a Naples marketing company, anticipates that machine learning will play an increasingly important role in how websites rank in the search engines. The founder of the company, Jose Molero, believes that digital marketing companies that do not adjust to the changes will face a strong likelihood of extinction similar to the dinosaurs. Brig Agency believes this will be a positive development for the industry, as it will clean up the Web ecosystem and force marketers and webmasters to provide higher-quality content.
For digital marketers to optimize for Rankbrain, rather than narrowly focusing on gaming the system, the user experience should be paramount. This means that content creation should have the user in mind. So while specific steps can be taken to optimize for this, such as increasing the page speed, being mobile-friendly, and writing content with proper spelling and grammar, digital marketers will have to imagine themselves as website visitors to determine whether their website is worthy of a high rank. This will require not just technical proficiency but also creativity that cannot be explicitly detailed beforehand. To summarize this point, digital marketers need to focus on quality and not quantity.