How To Really Optimize Your Content for RankBrain

If your job description incorporates generating quality content for your audience, you are going to have your work cut out for you when it comes to Google Search.

Like many, you rely on the ever-changing Google. As they are constantly changing and updating their algorithms to provide you with the most accurate and relevant search results to users, this then means that you can never rest on your laurels, no matter how brilliant your content marketing strategy is at the moment.

As far as the algorithm is concerned, it relies on around 200 primary and 10,000 secondary indicators which all contribute to ranking your website.

In 2016, Google divulged that its most authoritative three ranking indicators for search, include links, content, and RankBrain. To elaborate on what Rank Brain does, it is a machine learning AI system that is engineered to investigate 15% of the daily search queries. These search queries are new to Google and have never been seen before. Recent search queries are analyzed by RankBrain for topic, after which it corresponds to the best results.

Naturally, RankBrain is one of the three most important ranking signals because it will make your content optimization a lot more effective.

How RankBrain Works

As we know, Google is rather tight-lipped about the way its services and algorithms function. Fortunately they have dropped a few bread crumbs along the way, which will provide us with a more comprehensive layout of its abilities.

What we already know is that RankBrain is called upon whenever Google comes across a brand new search query it has never seen before. Technically speaking, RankBrain’s first action is to turn human language into mathematical vectors, all with the goal of analyzing queries- finding phrases, words, and sentences with similar meanings to those inside the search query.

According to Greg Corrado, a senior research scientist at Google, RankBrain also comes to the rescue when Google is presented with searches that are a bit more ambiguous. Of course, as human beings, we can pick up on all the linguistic subtleties and nuances, but machines think differently than us.

RankBrain is designed to comprehend what an individual intended to look for, and what it determined was valuable in the process. Based on what we have observed so far, it’s performing extremely well.

Allow us to now consider three rather similar searches from a user’s perspective:

  • Content Marketing
  • Content Marketing Definition
  • What is content marketing

Now, let’s have a look at how many of the identical results appear in the top 5 SERPs in the screenshot below:

Google Search

For each search query, 3 out of 5 links are identical: Content Marketing Institute,, and Wikipedia. In addition to that, each of the search queries included a definition box from Google’s Knowledge Graph. This goes to show that although the phrases we have entered were different, Google was capable of realizing that we were looking for an explanation on content marketing, and therefore delivered similar results.

How We Can Optimize for RankBrain

The traditional notion of optimizing your content for search engines includes link building, inserting keywords, and using the right anchor text. This has now been turned upside down. As pointed out by Rand Fishkin, RankBrain prioritizes factors such as the freshness of the content, its depth, user engagement, and related topics when ranking for phrases and keywords- much like we would when looking for relevant content.

Gary Illyes, who is a Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, declared that RankBrain makes life easier for content marketers because it only requires you to optimize your content to sound natural. Nothing more, and nothing less.

“Optimizing for RankBrain is actually super easy, and it is something we’ve probably been saying for fifteen years…to write in natural language. 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 you back”.

Based on everything we understand so far, here are 5 essential ways you can optimize your content for RankBrain:

1. Create Useful Content Which Solves Users’ Problems

In the past, you wrote content that was relevant, useful and designed to solve problems of your readers. This hasn’t changed, but in order to connect with them, you would have needed to optimize it for search engines first, construct a database of keywords, and so on.

With RankBrain now in the picture, keywords and anchor text are no longer as relevant, because you should concentrate on optimizing your content for user intent. This should be done by comprehending and anticipating what your audience might search for in the future.

2. Content Should Be In-Depth and Well-Researched

In-depth content provides you with enough room to solve your audience’s problems and address their major pain points. Detailed content such as tutorials, how-to articles and videos, and pillar posts not only provide the readers with everything they need to know, but it also increases the chance of them engaging with that content.

From research data and case studies, this will make your website the go-to destination for both users and other websites who will rely on your research- helping you with your link building efforts.

3. Your Site and Your Content Should Be from the Same Niche or Related Niche

RankBrain investigates new queries, searches for similar topics, and looks for the meaning beyond keywords. With that, if your content doesn’t align with your niche it is not going to rank your website as a relevant reference for information.

This inhibits you from ranking for different popular keywords, and encourages you to produce more relevant content, as opposed to just concentrating on the rankings. As far as RankBrain is concerned, it is all about helping users find the best information.

4. Make Sure Content Is Fresh and Up-to-Date

Aside from its relevancy and practicality, another critical component of superior content is its freshness. For example, if a user wants to expand their knowledge of the 10 most-watched shows on Netflix, they’re probably going to require a list of the most popular shows at the moment.

If your content features the most popular shows, but from 2014, it is no longer relevant. Shows from this year may have had a decline in viewership or may have been canceled altogether. However, preserving the idea that your content is relevant and fresh doesn’t necessarily mean that you should be creating brand new content every time.

You can modify your previously published content by testing this content relaunch strategy by Brian Dean.

5. Use Natural Language When Writing Content

This suggestion will advance your rankings in two ways. First, it is a known that online customers might not consume every piece of content that you develop. To fix this, your content needs to be uncomplicated. Write simply, choose uncomplicated language that your audience can understand.

Second, use natural-sounding language, especially when ranking for new keywords. By doing this you are helping RankBrain connect your content to the right people: your target audience. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools out there which can help you analyze and improve your content’s readability. We recommend Atomic Reach.


Producing magnificent content and ensuring that it finds the right people is a challenge, especially when you’re not completely familiar with how RankBrain works. Practice these tips, and remember these definitions to optimize your content, get on Google’s good side, and expand your audience. Good luck!

About the Author:
Antonio is a marketing specialist at an online writing service EduGeeksClub. He loves writing about SMM, marketing, education, and productivity. He’s also crazy about riding his bike and bumping into new people (when he’s on foot). He will be happy to meet you on Facebook and Twitter.

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