2016 SEO ranking factors were announced on day one at SMX Advanced, the biggest addition to this year’s list was the inclusion of RankBrain as the third most important factor. Along with that, there were a few important fluctuations in some of the core technical SEO factors. So, what do marketers need to know about RankBrain and what changes in the ranking factors from 2015 to 2016 will impact local businesses?
What is RankBrain?
RankBrain is Google’s way of refining the search results for all types of queries by leveraging machine learning artificial intelligence. Google announced the launch of RankBrain in October 2015, and already in 2016 it is confirmed as the 3rd most important ranking factor for SEO.
What should marketers do in order to optimize for RankBrain?
RankBrain really does not require any drastic changes to the core SEO strategies. The algorithm is trying to better understand the user intent to serve pages with the most relevant content. So, the key is to understand your target market and their needs, then write quality and relevant content around the topics.
Other changes in the organic ranking factors from 2015 to 2016
- Keywords in title tags: The correlation of keywords in title tags with ranking has dropped by 20% YOY.
- H1 Tags: The correlation between having H1 tags on the page and ranking organically has increased 7% YOY. But at the same time the correlation between having the right keywords in H1 tags has dropped by 10% YOY.
- Word Count: The impact of quality and quantity of content on the page has increased 21% YOY.
- Internal Links Count: The total number of average internal links in the top 10 positions has reduced from 150 links to 126, dropped 16% YOY.
Search is constantly evolving, soft factors such as user intent, experience etc. are increasingly becoming important as compared to traditional hard SEO, deep machine learning is leading to better understanding of search queries and enhanced SERPs. Focus on being relevant and creative to influence ranking.
RELEVANCE + DEEP MACHINE LEARNING = BEST RANKING
Contributed by: Kanika Thakran, Senior SEO Manager