How to harness RankBrain for ecommerce websites


30-second summary:

  • Let’s make this clear, RankBrain is not a Google algorithm, it is a component of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm
  • RankBrain is a powerful AI-based system that helps Google understand search queries better and generate more accurate results
  • If you want to break through the clutter of 12+ million ecommerce websites, marketers need to understand and align with Google’s RankBrain-driven search algorithm
  • This step-by-step guide will help you make RankBrain work in favor of your ecommerce website’s search visibility

Lack of search engine visibility is one of the top reasons ecommerce businesses fail. And it is understandable why.

Data shows that 38 percent of an ecommerce store’s traffic comes through organic sources. When an ecommerce website fails to rise in the search results, it loses touch with a massive chunk of its prospects. And with around 12 to 24 million ecommerce websites out there, disappearing in the search results and failing to interact with the audience means losing to vicious competition.

Attempting to rank higher, on the other hand, means understanding and aligning with Google’s RankBrain-driven search algorithm.

For relevance between search queries and results, Google uses RankBrain to rank websites. Any seller who wishes to rank high and gain exposure must optimize their ecommerce store for RankBrain. But how do you get about harnessing RankBrain for ecommerce?

What is RankBrain?

Google is very secretive about how its algorithms work, so we have little information about what RankBrain is.

But from what we do know, RankBrain is a powerful AI-based system that helps Google understand search queries better and generate more accurate results.

RankBrain helps Google understand the pattern in user search and browsing behavior. With this understanding, Google uncovers the intent behind a search and generates results that are conceptually and contextually relevant to the search.

From the example below, we searched for “Edison” in Google. Now, it could have been the city of Edison in New Jersey. But Google must have known most people who search “Edison” are looking for information on Thomas Edison, and hence generated results accordingly.

Example of the search term Edison in Google and how RankBrain works

This is courtesy of RankBrain.

RankBrain is exceptionally accurate at matching search queries with results. In fact, it outperformed Google’s experts by 10 percent in doing that.

Google now uses RankBrain in all of its search queries. Therefore, it is critical for any ecommerce store looking for search visibility to optimize for RankBrain.

Before moving forward, it is essential to note that RankBrain is not a Google algorithm. It is a component of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm.

Now since that’s out of the way, let’s go ahead and talk about how you can optimize your ecommerce store for RankBrain.

How to optimize and make the most of RankBrain for ecommerce stores

Optimizing for RankBrain involves no rocket science. Here’s how you can do it:

1. Rethink your keyword research

If you are still optimizing your ecommerce store around one primary keyword, please stop. The search engine world has evolved far beyond that.

Yes, keywords are still relevant. But Google no longer uses exact-match keywords to find relevance.

You can see how the search query and keywords in the top search results differ:

use keyword clusters to optimize and harness rankbrain for ecommerce websites

Therefore, identify a core keyword and brainstorm other similar keyword ideas around it.

For example, when optimizing your crockery ecommerce store, your main keyword may be imported china crockery, but Google may also associate words like “imported plates” and “China sweet bowls” with your primary keyword.

Additionally, consider including medium-tail keywords. According to digital marketing maestro Shane Barker, medium-tail keywords are the perfect choice when optimizing for RankBrain.

Also, don’t forget question-based keywords. According to research, almost 8 percent of all search queries are questions.

Given that Google processes billions of search queries daily, 8 percent would form an appreciable number of questions.

Therefore, search for and include question-based keywords.

Finally, remember it’s no longer about keyword density. Optimization is all about user experience. Therefore, include keywords in a way that doesn’t disrupt the flow of the content. 

2. Create in-depth and quality content

RankBrain is big on user experience. This is why it gives extra weight to well-written content that offers value to the users.

So, first, identify your target audience’s struggles, and figure out their unasked questions and unsolved problems. And then create detailed content around it.

For example, you have realized your prospects are keen on learning about laptops. You have a topic on hand. Now, you can create a long-form blog or an ebook explaining all the types of laptops, what makes them good and bad, and how they can choose the right laptop for themselves.

Also, keep your readers in mind when creating this content and ensure that the style and language align with their preferences.

Keep your tone conversational. Write like you talk so the readers can feel a human-to-human connection and stay longer on the page, demonstrating satisfaction – something the RankBrain rewards.

3. Work on increasing your CTR

CTR is another indicator of user satisfaction. Google uses a quality-score algorithm. And CTR is an integral part of the quality score.

Activating featured snippets may help since listings containing featured snippets are reported to have 2x higher CTR than those without featured snippets.

When running an ecommerce store, you can use rich snippets to display your product’s reviews or your catalog and price.

Branding may also help increase CTR.

88 percent of customers say authenticity is critical when deciding what brands they want to support.

Therefore, invest in building your brand authority. Generating clicks will become much easier when prospects recognize and trust your brand.

Imagine searching for “running shoes” and coming across two listings, one of Nike and another of an unknown seller. Which one would you click? Nike, most likely because it is a trusted and recognized brand.

4. Focus on user intent and search intent

User intent is defined as the goal or intention of a user behind entering a search term into a search engine.

Imagine you have driven traffic to your ecommerce store. How are you confident that the traffic is here for shopping and not simply browsing?

This is where user or search intent comes into play.

To get more leads and generate more revenue, you have to focus more on the commercial and transactional intent of the user.

Your website ranks higher if you are using intent-specific words.

These transactional intent keywords often include the words discount, buy, deal, promo codes, coupons, cheapest, and purchase.

Thus, you are directed to the right customers using these transactional keywords.

5. Increase dwell time. Decrease bounce rate.

RankBrain collects information about user satisfaction and assigns ranks based on that.

When a user enters your website and leaves quickly, RankBrain thinks your website isn’t satisfactory enough for the user. And hence, your website may suffer in ranking.

As opposed to that, if a user visits your website and stays back for a long time, this tells RankBrain how users are satisfied with what you have on your website. Consequently, you may be rewarded.

This is why you must work on increasing your website’s dwell time and decreasing bounce rate. Here are some ways you can do that:

Work on site navigation

Site navigation is the process of clicking and looking through the pages of a website. It is a collection of user interface components and it helps customers to flow from one page of a website to another easily.

Simple site navigation allows the user to complete the task in less time. This increases the user experience as the user encounters fewer confusions related to the website.

Simple site navigation also allows search engines to crawl your website more easily and effectively.

Content

Effective content designing and formatting increases users’ engagement on a website and positively impacts the experience. According to a survey, 66 percent users prefer to interact with “beautifully designed” content.

User-friendly layout

Layout design and text size on a website can improve or disrupt the user experience. User-friendly layout of a website can be attained by using images and videos, organizing and formatting content interactively, and adding links to other related content.

User-friendly layout can also be achieved by adding related graphics, CTAs throughout the site and using clear headers.

Website structure

Website structure defines the arrangement of your site’s content, its design, and the way the pages are related to one another. A good website structure has various elements including taxonomies, internal links, breadcrumbs, navigation, and schema.

The most popular type of website structure is the hierarchical structure. This type of structure is useful for websites having a large amount of data. As ecommerce websites have a large amount of data, the hierarchical structure makes it easy for search engines to crawl your website. Thus it becomes easier for your website to be indexed.

website structure example to harness rankbrain for ecommerce websites

Website load speed

Website load speed is the time it takes for your website to load as well as the time it takes for search engines to crawl your website.

Customers prefer fast-loading websites. This is why improving your website load speed enhances your user experience. 

More importantly, website load speed is a search engine ranking factor. Google uses it to judge a website’s UX while determining its rank.

Therefore, optimizing your website’s load speed is critical when enhancing your ecommerce store. 

Some of the methods to reduce website load speed are improving server response time, reducing redirects, and enabling compression for CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files.

Internal links

Internal links help users navigate from one page on your website to the other, keeping them on the site for longer and prolonging dwell time. 

So, build a solid internal linking structure and make sure to link only relevant pages with one another. 

High-quality product images and include product details

Since you are optimizing an ecommerce site, use clear product photos and include as many details as you can about your products to keep the customers on your website for longer. 

Conclusion

With the advent of Machine Learning and advanced SEO techniques, avoiding new marketing technologies can drastically harm your ecommerce business.

RankBrain is a machine learning (AI) algorithm that Google uses to sort search results. It also helps Google process and understands search queries. RankBrain understands the user intent and provides relevant search results.

RankBrain will only increase in popularity with time and become even more crucial for ecommerce store optimization. Working to get yourself acquainted with RankBrain today will help you run your ecommerce store more successfully in the future. So, start now to foster your long-term success.


Atul Jindal is a web design and marketing specialist. He has worked on website/app optimization for SEO with a core focus on conversion optimization. He creates web experiences that bring conversations and transform web traffic into paying customers or leads.

Subscribe to the Search Engine Watch newsletter for insights on SEO, the search landscape, search marketing, digital marketing, leadership, podcasts, and more.

Join the conversation with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.