RankBrain is a machine learning system that helps Google sort their search results.
That might sound complicated, but it isn’t.
RankBrain simply measures how users interact with the search results…
…and ranks them accordingly.
For example, let’s say you search for “cold brew coffee” in Google.
The #4 result looks especially enticing. So you quickly click on it.
And when you get there…wow! It’s the best darn article about coffee you’ve ever read. So you devour every word.
RankBrain is going to take note…and likely give that #4 result a rankings boost.
On the other hand, let’s say that you do the same search. But this time, you click on the #1 result without even looking.
But the content is TERRIBLE. So you bounce from the page after a few seconds.
And you click on the #4 result to find something about coffee that’s actually worth reading.
RankBrain will also notice this. And if enough people quickly bounce from that result, Google will boot it from the #1 spot.
As you can see, RankBrain focuses on two things:
1. How long someone spends on your page (Dwell Time)
2. The percentage of people that click on your result (Click Through Rate)
Let’s break each of these down.
RankBrain and Dwell Time
Dwell Time=how long a Google searcher spends on your page.
As it turns out, RankBrain pays A LOT of attention to Dwell Time.
In fact, the head of Google Brain in Canada recently confirmed that Google uses Dwell Time as a ranking signal.
He stated that RankBrain measures when:
“someone clicks on a page and stays on that page, when they go back”
And a recent industry study by SearchMetrics supports this statement. They found that the average Dwell Time for a top 10 Google result is 3 minutes and 10 seconds.
If you’ve spent any time digging through your Google Analytics, you know that a 3+ minute Dwell Time is legit.
And it’s no coincidence that pages with awesome Dwell Time tend to rank best. In fact, RankBrain is upranking these pages for that exact reason.
This makes sense if you think about it:
If you spend a long time on a page, you probably like the content on that page.
And if enough people feel the same way, Google will uprank that content to make it easier to find.
If you want to improve your site’s Dwell Time, check out this video:
RankBrain and Organic Click Through Rate (CTR)
Google Engineer Paul Haahr caused a stir in the SEO world when he put up this slide at a conference:
This slide basically says:
“RankBrain sometimes ranks pages higher up than they “should” rank.
And if that page gets an above-average CTR, we use that as a sign that the page should get a permanent rankings boost.”
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, if no one clicks on your result, why would Google keep it on the first page?
And if your site is getting clicked on like there’s no tomorrow, why would Google keep it buried in the #9 spot?
If you want a few simple strategies that you can use to boost CTR, check out this infographic that I made with Larry Kim.
It will help you create title tags and meta descriptions engineered for clicks.
Speaking of click through rate…