We all know that Google learns from experience. But what about the 15% (yes, 15%!) of queries which it’s never seen before? Matching words in the query with pages that contain those words is all very well, but it probably won’t capture the intent. For example, if someone types in: “manufacturers of blue widgets without sprockets”, you’d expect Google to focus on ‘blue widgets’ and ‘sprockets’, and therefore you’d forgive it for returning a load of results for manufacturers of blue widgets with sprockets.
Enter the RankBrain algorithm, which made its debut last year. This is a Google project which aims to tackle more complex queries, especially those which are unique or rare. They don’t tell us how it works, not that mere mortals would understand it anyway, but they have said that it’s playing a significant role.
So what can we do to play along? It’s not as if we can use the normal SEO strategies of making sure we have key search terms in the right places, writing great page titles and ensuring our sites respond snappily. According to this article on Search Engine Journal, the best strategy is to write in natural language. And as ever, perhaps the best way to do this is either to dictate your article in the first place, or read it back out loud and adjust the awkward bits. These techniques are much harder to do than you might think. But nobody said copywriting or SEO was easy.