Google’s RankBrain update has been an absolute game changer for the industry. It is the first update to use machine learning to improve rankings based on the way that users interact with the search results. The happier you make users, the higher Google will rank you.
So how do you go about optimizing your site for Google RankBrain?
Here are two things Brian Dean recommends people implement:
Improve organic CTRs
RankBrain loves to see lots of people clicking on your link in Google. That’s because it tells Google that users love your page.
If you don’t get clicked on, your rankings will fall dramatically.
One of the easiest ways to improve your CTR in Google is to add numbers to your page title and meta description. Research has shown that people are more likely to click on links with numbers in the content.
Improve bounce rate and dwell time
In a similar vein, the longer users stay on your site shows Google how good and how relevant your content is.
One way to improve bounce rate and dwell time is to make it instantly clear what your content is about. That means scrap long-winded intros in favor of short and snappy ones that get straight to the point.
Another great tip is to break your content up into bite size chunks. This makes it much easier to read and therefore less scary for people landing on it fresh.
It also makes the content easier to read on a tablet.
Find untapped keywords on Reddit
If you’ve ever visited Reddit, you’ve probably realized that it is a pretty cool site. What you may not have realized is that it is a keyword research gold mine.
Especially for long tail keywords.
Once you’re on the site, search for your topic or head over to a particular subreddit if you know where your audience hangs out.
Now scan through all of the threads and look for topics that come up again and again. Because if people are posting about it on Reddit, there’s a good chance people are searching for it in Google, too.
Update and upgrade old blog posts
Your old blogs posts can be a great source of new traffic.
Rather than creating new posts, think about how you can update and expand existing posts instead.
You already have a great base layer with old content, and new content can be the only thing needed to get much higher rankings.
Copy Adwords for amazing titles and copy
At the start of this post we discussed the importance of getting high CTRs on your links in Google. But how can you know what phrases and titles convert?
One easy way is to copy Adwords ads.
These ads have been split tested thousands of times to optimize for clicks.
So why bother thinking up your own when you can steal from what already has been proven to work?!
Scour Wikipedia for broken link building opportunities
This is one of the most effective advanced SEO strategies of 2018.
Broken link building is an awesome way of getting backlinks. It’s white hat, it’s effective and it’s scalable.
But finding them is tricky.
But there’s a neat hack you can use in Wikipedia’s editing system to make finding these links easy.
You see, when people find a broken link on Wikipedia, they don’t delete it straightaway. Instead, they tag it with the phrase “dead link”. And this makes finding links super easy.
To find broken links on wikipedia, start by using this search string:
Site:wikipedia.org [keyword] + “dead link”
Visit a page listed in the results, hit ctrl + f and search for “dead link”.
Your browser will automatically go to the section at the bottom with dead links listed.
What you can then do is recreate the dead resource, get a new link from wikipedia and then find everyone else who was linking to that resource and approach them with your new piece of content.
Look to steal your competitors keywords
Using a keyword tool to find new keywords is effective. But a more effective method is to steal your competitors best keywords instead.
Start by finding a competing site that already ranks well in Google. In doing so you know you are stealing from a site that knows what they are doing.
Enter that site’s URL into a tool like SEMRush and you’ll get a full list of the keywords they rank for.
Be careful, not every keyword will be suitable. You’re going to want to focus your efforts on keywords that your customers are actually searching for and that you can actually create content around.
Let’s be clear, Google doesn’t use social media as a factor for ranking. But getting lots of social shares certainly helps your traffic.
Don’t forget about Hilltop
It’s easy to get carried away with Hummingbird and RankBrain, and forget about Hilltop.
This ten-year-old update was a way of showing Google that you had a hub of information. It worked by looking out for authority sites that were linked to on the page.
That’s how Google worked out if you were a hub of information and therefore worth ranking.
You should be linking to at least three quality sources in every post in order to show Hilltop that you are a resource worth ranking.
Internal link to pages on 2 and 3 of Google
You know and we know that if you’re on page 2 or 3 of Google, you might as well not be on it at all.
But you can change that.
By internally linking to your pages that are currently on page 2 and 3, you can give them the link juice needed to push them onto page 1.
Use Google Console to find out where your pages are currently ranking. Sort by position and look for pages ranking in positions 11-30.
Then look for authoritative pages on your website. You can use Ahrefs to find the ones with the most links or use Google Analytics to see which get the most traffic. Once you’ve found those pages add links to them to the pages that rank on the second or third page of Google.
Change the way you email
People get so much email nowadays, the first thing they think when they get a new one is who is this person and what do they want.
The easiest way to do that is to use the word because in your email.
Why? BECAUSE, using the word because makes any request seem much more legitimate.
And the more legit you are, the better your response.
Turn YouTube descriptions into mini blog posts
You’ve probably seen how Youtube dominates Google’s first page. And since Google owns Youtube, this probably won’t change.
So how do you get your own videos to rank high?
Simple: right 200+ word descriptions.
Here’s why: Google can’t watch or listen to your video. But it can read your description. That’s how they determine what your video is about.
Optimize for Semantic SEO
Hummingbird changed SEO forever. Instead of just analyzing individual keywords on your page, Google was able to understand the broader topic.
As such, it’s important to not get fixated on a single keyword, but to optimize for a topic as a whole.
You should still have a main focus keyword, but you should also cover subtopics, too. If you’re stuck for topics, check out the related search suggestions at the bottom of Google.
Add keywords into title tags
You shouldn’t just add one keyword into your title tag. I’d shoot for at least two.
The idea is to give yourself two bites at the cherry. Optimize for your primary keyword, of course, but by also optimizing for a secondary keyword, you can rank for multiple terms and get traffic much quicker than you might otherwise be able to get.
Head back to Wikipedia for keywords and topic ideas
If we all use the same tools for keyword research, we’ll all be fighting over the same keywords.
So don’t use the same tools. Instead, head to Wikipedia.
You see the problem with the Keyword Planner and other keyword tools is that they only provide very similar searches to your initial query.
What’s needed is a human mind. Or, better yet, millions of them.
Start by visiting Wikipedia and entering a broad keyword.
Next scroll through the page looking for closely related keywords in the content box, the sidebar and internal links. As well as the See Also section.
Do this enough times and you’ll have buckets of new keywords to use.
Make the most of Best Of lists
If you’ve done link building or content promotion before, you’ll understand the importance of having a list of top blogs in your niche. What you may not realize is that bloggers in your niche have already created these lists for you.
They’ve done so in the form of best of blog posts.
These are effectively hand curated lists of the best blogs in your niche.
Use Google to search for relevant lists. Now you have a load more blogs to reach out to when you want to promote new content.
Go long with word count
Longer content performs better: fact.
Backlinko did a study recently that found the average length of content on the front page of Google was almost 1900 words.
Why do they work so well?
It’s obvious, really. Long content shows that you are going really in-depth with a topic. Long content is also more likely to get the reader hooked and have them share it online.
Remember that the first link matters
If you have two links on a page that both point to the same page, studies have shown that Google only pays attention to the first one.
So if you have a link to a page in your content, but also one in your websites menu, Google will see the menu one first and only pay attention to that.