Search engine optimization (SEO) is evolving in 2018 as Google now says 100 percent of its queries are processed through its artificial intelligence (AI) program, RankBrain. RankBrain was actually introduced in October of 2015, but it wasn’t until last year that Google confirmed it is among the top three most influential ranking factors in its overall larger algorithm.

What is RankBrain

Rankbrain is an AI-powered tool designed to try and understand user intent, to understand what a user is really searching for and present those results. RankBrain is all about making the user experience more relevant. It looks at every user’s search terms, then compares these to billions of other searches and assumes the intent or the interpretation of what the user wants to see.

It is essentially trying to get rid of all the tools and reviews that can be used to produce fake results. RankBrain is trying to get at the truth.

Why Should We Care

In 2016, RankBrain only accounted for 15 percent of Google’s search queries, it now handles all of them. It is a major change in the SEO world. It means the days of keyword stuffing are over. RanlBrain has the power to determine whether or not a site is credible. This means marketers need to be making changes to get the most from their search marketing efforts and budget.

How to Account for It

There is no set formula or template for satisfying RankBrain. It operates on closely kept inputs and is updated every 18 hours. To rise in Google’s rankings requires being authentic in all aspects of a site’s content and design. A one-size-fits-all approach will not work anymore, and requires a more thoughtful, natural way to think and write about a company’s products and services.

Tactics to Consider

Think Hard about Keyword Intent. Keywords are still very important. Companies should still focus on them, but also look at what is going on behind the scenes with them. Practitioners need to be asking what users are really searching for. For example, what does a user want who searched “marketing in Chicago”?

Finding intent begins by running keywords through an experience-based lens. Think about how you Google things and the results you expect. And also remember when you’re entering keywords to take a look at the bottom of the page for some Google hints in the related searches list.

Create Niche Content. Once it’s understood what users are really meaning, companies can use this as a platform to generate authentic content. You may come to learn that users searching “marketing in Chicago” are looking for tactics specific to this city and not necessarily professional marketing services. Providing educational content around Chicago marketing might include a blog about upcoming neighborhood festivals or summer park concerts that offer unique marketing opportunities for this area. This has the potential to generate a lead, who will be open to buying at a later time.

Also, in a world of “me too” products and services focusing on your niche is now more important. Less generalized messaging and more on the specifics of what makes your business thrive is critical to convey through content, images, videos and design in consideration of RankBrain’s tendency toward natural, authentic-sounding sites.

Tap Emotions and Optimize for Engagement. Emotions are a powerful tool to get users clicking. Test out different headlines on social posts or PPC ads linked to your content and see what works, then use these as SEO titles. Companies need to try and put emotional triggers together with keywords in their titles and descriptions to get a higher than average click-through rate (CTR). A high CTR indicates to RankBrain that the content is relevant.

Now you need to keep them on your site too. Optimization needs to be occurring on every page of your website. Conversion rates in this instance means looking at bounce rates and time on a site to gauge engagement. Higher engagement correlates to higher relevance, which is what RankBrain is all about.

RankBrain wants your company to be the best version of itself and to clearly communicate that through the content it produces. Be natural, be authentic and remember to do this around a sound strategy and you’ll be found by RankBrain.