What is Google RankBrain?

Introduction to RankBrain

RankBrain, or 'ranking brain', represents the first evolutionary leap in the intelligent positioning method. Before RankBrain, Google's search algorithm was completely hand-optimized. Improvements were evaluated and implemented in a closed environment. Predefined searches were carried out in various niches and a group of testers evaluated the results. If the results pleased, the change in the algorithm was implemented permanently and on a global scale.

Today there is also, of course, the human impact, but at the same time we have a artificial intelligence beating in the background, monitoring and making decisions by itself: RankBrain.

How does RankBrain work?

Fundamentally, RankBrain works in two dimensions: on the one hand, it learns day by day to better interpret Google searches; for the other, measures user satisfaction against suggested results. It achieves this by tracking their interactions, and in this scenario the user experience has all the weight.

How does RankBrain interpret each keyword in a search?

Google always had a problem with its search engine, and that is that it could not predict new searches.

What does this mean? To begin with, it is estimated that approximately 15% of daily searches are new. That is, they were never typed before. Therefore, Google (before) did not have an effective method of hitting the key with the results. Thus, the results took longer, and were uncertain. In fact, Google had to examine multiple pages to see if they contained the exact keyword someone searched for..

Next, we can see the before and after of RankBrain with the search 'what is the best place to see many kinds of birds‘.

Before RankBrain

After RankBrain

In the first case, and without the help of RankBrain, Google searched for pages with the terms “types”, “best”, “birds” and “place”. In fact, there are two cases where it returned results for seeing whales instead of birds. Today, RankBrain's artificial intelligence perfectly interprets the search and all the results it returns are correct. And it achieves this by combining keywords that perhaps had never been together, but measuring that the user enters certain links, not others, and the reading time that rules out the "bounce". On the one hand, he understood that wanting to “see birds” means “sighting”, “recognition” and “birding”; on the other, he understood that favorable scenarios were sought to view the largest number of birds in one place.

How does RankBrain measure the level of satisfaction of its results?

We have already seen that RankBrain interpret the concepts behind the words, and that too is capable of making adjustments to the search algorithm on its own. But to make those adjustments and learn in real time, you need to check that the results you provided are correct. As it does?

When many users click on a result given by RankBrain against certain concepts, RankBrain improves the ranking of said content on that page. If, on the contrary, a content is ignored or the user enters but immediately returns to the search engine and enters another result, said link will be replaced for another of better acceptance.

Specifically, RankBrain has an eye on:

  • Organic click rate.
  • Dwell time.
  • Bounce rate.
  •  Enter the first result, return to the search engine by pressing the back arrow, enter the next result, and so on (in SEO this is known as 'pogo-sticking‘).

All of the above measurements are a constituent part of the user experience. In particular, RankBrain pays close attention to the phenomenon of pogo-sticking (last point).

A typical case is that we look for “knee pain” after a particularly hectic football game.

In the first result that we enter, the text begins by talking about the importance of footwear and insoles to avoid knee pain. It is not what we are looking for, so we click on the back arrow to return to the search engine and enter the second result.

Here we find that it is best to put ice and rest for several days. It does not seem to us the best concept, so we go back again to give the third result a chance.

In this case we find that the approach deals with the relationship between being overweight and knee pain. It is also not what we need so, again, we go back to enter the fourth result.

Finally, it happens that we stay reading several minutes about advice on physical routines and specific therapies for sports pain. It was what we were looking for.

And all this back and forth is the very concept of pogo-sticking. When RankBrain notices that people quickly leave a page to click on the next result, the message it captures is "these links do not respond to the requested search".

At the same time, when the pogo ends in a certain result, it understands that said result must go up in ranking. We will see how to influence this favorably in the final section of our analysis..

Keywords in the RankBrain dimension

We have already pointed out that Google can now capture the intention behind a search. However, it does not imply that the more traditional literal searches ceased to be part of the algorithm.

Having said that, It is crucial to modernize and adjust our keyword research techniques to make our content benefit from RankBrain. For that:

Forget about 'long text' searches (long tail keywords)

One of the most interesting ways to gain traffic was, for a decade at least, writing content to take advantage of the famous 'longtails'. In case you did not know, long tail it is a search that contains many keywords. For example, "balanced food for German Shepherd puppies." It's easy: the search involves both "food + balanced" and "puppy + sheepdog + German". If our content spoke only of puppies, or only of the race german shepherd, or only from balanced dog food, the chances of attracting traffic vs. long tail example is null compared to having a special note on balanced food for german shepherd dogs that, in addition, they are puppies. As if that were not enough, changing the order of terms, or adding more words, worked as a different longtail.

Following the example, a note could point to 'German Shepherd puppies special balanced food'. Or 'healthy balanced food for German Shepherd puppies'. It is clear that the search results against these variations can be answered with the same content; nevertheless, Google returned alternate results according to these variations.

Very cute, right? Write specific content (long tail) always worked to attract niches, or niches within niches. And although by "niche" it is understood that the traffic is small, having 1000 articles longtails it was directly a visitor trap. Also, advertise for longtails it's much cheaper than going for the main keyword (eg 'dog food').

But the party is over.

the longtail is obsolete

Note: we use the image of a dinosaur because 'longtail' content creation is deprecated.

Later in the note we will see a better variant.

Today, the algorithm that is RankBrain knows that a search can be written in multiple ways, and therefore ignores the specifics. Our search is transformed into concepts, as we have already said. It doesn't matter if we use the word 'can' instead of 'dog', or 'food' instead of 'balanced meal', or 'baby' instead of 'puppy'. The longtails today they drain through a funnel that leads to the same content suggested by Google.

Towards the end of the note we are going to tell you how to think, then, about content compatible with RankBrain and its way of suggesting results.

Title and Description Strategy for RankBrain

The concept of CTR, as we have been explaining, is the quintessence to be able to climb (or stay) in the search results. CTR, for its acronym Click Through Rate, is precisely the monitor that RankGrain observes.

To refresh some memory, let us remember that CTR measures the relationship between the number of times a link is presented and the number of clicks that users make on it. If this measurement is the cornerstone of RankBrain, how do we get users to actually click on our site?

Bring our titles to life

This is how it sounds: print emotion, humanity, enthusiasm to the titles of our content is an effective way to capture attention (and clicks).

We need an example and this is it.

“Effective physical routines: more muscles in less time”.

Not bad, but something is missing… Let's look at an 'emotional' alternative.

"Your body in a dream version with this exercise guide".

In the second example, we appeal to the emotionality. It can be thought of as talking to a friend, or to a third party face to face, encouraging them to do something; as if we were recommending the best Mexican food restaurant to a guy. How would we tell him? Do you dine here because the food has very interesting flavors?

Of course not. Perhaps we could encourage him by saying "dining at this Mexican restaurant is like spending a night in Guadalajara." This is the formula! Although, of course, we cannot always be so colloquial or risk losing practicality. Balance, They call it. But, whenever possible, we recommend using an emotional stimulus, typically enthusiastic.

Use brackets and parentheses in titles

No one could have imagined except the people behind Hub Spot Y out brain, who both imagined it and could prove it. In a study looking at 3.3 million titles across several thousand websites, they found that brackets and parentheses get 33% more CTR.

Typical success stories:

Parentheses or brackets, sometimes hated in textbooks, seem to make the view is drawn to them in the context of titles.

Make your own tests and then tell us in the comments. Meanwhile, we leave you with proven cases that work very well. Consider adding extra information at the end of your Titles such as:

  • (2021)
  • (updated)
  • (case study)
  • (Unmissable) / (Surprising)
  • (Comprehensive analysis) / (Complete report)
  • (Validated Tips) / (Proven Tips)
  • (Infographic) / (Screens included) / (Original Photographs)
  • (Step by step) / (Guide for Inexperienced) / (Professional Guide)


Use numbers (and not letters)

This advice is compatible with the previous one. Numbers attract, generate clicks, improve CTR.

And another thing: it is not the same”Ten tips to avoid heartburn” that “10 tips to avoid…” The number it has to be a number. And if we can insert two numbers, much better.

  • How to increase your traffic 250% in 15 days?
  • stop headache in 5 minutes.
  • 20 strategies that achieve 2 decade 3 clicks convert.


Optimizing the Meta Description for more CTR

In case you haven't figured it out yet, Meta-Description no longer directly affects SEO positioning. Nevertheless, a clever description will improve your CTR.

Here are proven strategies that will get one user to your site over another.

1. Appeal to emotions

As we had advised for the Title, it is convenient that our descriptions provoke animosity in the reader. Example:

2. Give a reason for them to click on your link

Whether your content is comprehensive, easy and clear to understand, fun or technical, sell your strength in the description. Example:

3. Using words or phrases used in paid advertisements (AdWords)

Searching for your own services or products on Google, it is common for you to come across the ads of the competition. So, we recommend you read the meta-descriptions they use in search of patterns. For example, for the search 'furniture repair' we find a pattern noted in the screenshot below.

Therefore, it is very convenient to evaluate the adhesion of “get your furniture back” in your own description.

Note: in some cases you may find a feature of your product/service or a competitive advantage that you had not thought of. So, attention.

4. Be sure to include your target keyword

In search results, keywords are displayed in bold in the search results. Therefore, it goes without saying that it is effective that it stands out in our description. For example, this is what happens for the search 'exterminate cockroaches':

Optimizing our content to avoid bounces and improve dwell time

A fundamental part of SEO 2021 is being able to let Google know that your content is useful and provides what your users were looking for. and the way

And the best way to do that? Improving the dwell time of your readers.

Time of Permanence

Dwell time is what it sounds like: how much a user spends within a site after having entered said result.

Of course, the longer the time, the better signals for Google. A site rises in position to the extent that its visitors spend time on it.

On the other side of the same coin, if a visit bounces, that is, passes two seconds or less within a site, Google will make you lower positions.

RankBrain measures dwell time and shuffles the results one way or the other based on dwell time. So, how to increase the stay of our users on our site?

Reduce bounce and increase permanence

1. Put the content on top

If someone comes to your site it is because they want to get a response. The content needs to start giving that answer as soon as possible. Nothing to place advertising on top of everything, or go around or place introductions that nobody is interested in.

2. Use short introductions

The introductory paragraph of a content, oddly enough, is a kind of Bermuda triangle where the 90% of the visitors make a decision: keep reading or disappear from here.

There are two scenarios to consider. On the one hand, we must think that the person who carried out the search may you already know about the subject, and therefore a showy introduction would make our content superfluous or plain and simple boring.

On the other hand, the person may actually be interested in getting to the point; For all this, we recommend that an introduction never exceed 10 sentences in length. An average of 5 sentences is what to aim for.

3. Write content as long as it is deep

Assuming that the content we offer is good, of quality, then why shouldn't it be long? We must never underestimate the interest or reading ability of our visitors.

Of course, if the content is more extensive, the time of permanence of our visits will be greater (and our content will rise in the ranking). Some time ago there was talk of 'Panda-proof' SEO content. Panda is a series of updates to the Google algorithm and at the time it was on everyone's lips.

At that time, the 400-word article became fashionable. That, folks, doesn't exist anymore. A longer (complete) content satisfies more and better the thirst for knowledge of our readers.

4. Distribute content in small blocks

Another excellent way to retain attention is to make reading easier. And to easy reading, nothing better than dividing paragraphs with air, rounding up small ideas.

In this sense it is also useful (and recommended) section information with subheadings. We can take as a guide the division of content with titles every 200 words.

Making the most of RankBrain

There are some very important tips that we leave for last. Among them, how to guide our content when the 'longtail' ceased to be effective. Let's see this and other SEO improvements that we cannot miss if we want to have more and more entries in a RankBrain context.

Change 'longtail' to medium keywords

We already said that the strategy of writing content for searches like “balanced food for german shepherd puppies” does not work in RankBrain. Different combinations of 'longtail' today lead to content that RankBrain has already determined to be valuable, regardless of the words and their order.

Then? Well we will focus on keywords with an average of three words. No, we are not saying that all our web architecture must respond to that. Many times one or two words are our target keyword, and other times we may not be able to define it in less than four or five.

However, the guideline is not to cover more than three.

As we can see in the search table on the right, there is a certain equation between the three/four word keywords and an average portion of the searches.

When content is optimized around a keyword medium length, RankBrain will rank you for that term, but also for thousands of similar keywords.

Why? Because let's remember that RankBrain converts words into concepts, and brings together similar concepts by neural network.

So, following the example, appealing to “vegan diet recipes” is also collaterally appealing to “veganism”, “recipes”, “lunch”, “dinner”, “snack”, “vegan plan”, etc.

Update our Titles and Descriptions

Now we know that numbers, appealing to sensitivity or emotion, and using effective words and effective phrases increase our CTR. Although they do not believe it, Searching for our old content or with few entries and modifying the title and description is a great way to revalidate and increase your visits with very little effort..

Where we have placed 'five', we will change it to '5'. Where the title is not up to our content, give it strength, vitality, enthusiasm.

Where we do not use our keyword in the description, add it.

Search our content on Google and get insights into how our competition puts descriptions into paid ads. Exist patterns among the advertisements, forms of enunciation that we missed? Features we didn't mention, or any competitive advantage What slipped under our radar? Let's take advantage of it.

Use appropriate contextual words and phrases

RankBrain also positions us for the intelligent understanding it makes of our content. At this point it is vitally important that our texts have LSI keywords.

In SEO jargon, LSI or Latent Semantic Indexing (latent semantic indexing) refers to those words that are related to a certain topic.

For example, if our content talks about “email marketing”, typical LSI words will be “mass mailing”, “online campaigns”, “contact list”, “smart tracking”, etc.

In this point, We recommend an excellent online tool to determine the LSI of your texts. It's easy: you must copy and paste in the provided field and click the "Analyze" button.

Yes, works in Spanish too. The tool is Watson Natural Language Understanding Tool (Watson Natural Language Understanding Tool). In addition to LSI, provides a lot of information that will really interest you.

Watson works in a compatible way with RankBrain. Therefore, it is an extraordinary method to find out what RankBrain understands about our content.

On the other hand, it is the way to find omissions or unfortunate patterns in our texts. The better LSI our content has, the better Google will understand what we are targeting and will provide us with more varied visits.


SEO changed because Google becomes smarter day by day. What used to work not only stopped working, but even could negatively affect our ranking.

If we create content, we create with enthusiasm, but also with honesty. There is nothing more important than giving our readers what they want and in the most complete way possible. Writing well is writing accurately, simply and truthfully.

We have put a lot of work into this note. If you liked it, you can share it and leave us a comment.

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