Google RankBrain: Everything You Need to Know About Google’s New Search Algorithm

Google recently released a new search algorithm known as the Google RankBrain, and many people are already asking questions about it. The main purpose of this algorithm is fairly simple, so there is no need to worry that it will cause any serious upheavals in anyone’s daily online routine. Here we will cover the basics of the Google RankBrain algorithm so you are informed and ready for what’s ahead.

What is Google RankBrain?

The Google RankBrain algorithm is designed to deal with search queries that it does not immediately recognize. According to Bloomberg, it is now one of the three major signals for ranking in the Google search engine. This is the process used by the search engine to determine the placement of the content on the search engine results page, or SERP. The updated features of any search engine immediately grab interest, for the placement plays a major role in the amount of traffic a website can attract.

How Does Google RankBrain Work?

Google RankBrain serves as a translator between written human words and the computer system. Unlike older algorithms, this is an artificial intelligence system, which means that it is able to process unfamiliar or vague search queries. The ability to guess what a search query was intended to be is a major feature of this system. This gives it the ability to make suggestions, which may help the person conducting the search find what they were really looking for on the Internet. This is especially useful when dealing with misspelled words, jargon or unusual questions.

According to the CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, artificial intelligence and advanced capabilities in machine learning are a high priority for the company. The Google RankBrain release represents just one portion of these investments, but it is a significant one for Internet users. The benefits are often described as a personalized searching experience and improving the ability to predict future results. The company points out that users enjoy the feature because it reduces the effort needed for typing.

How Will Google RankBrain Affect Me?

Google RankBrain primarily deals with unusual or unfamiliar search requests. Since most users develop habits when searching, this algorithm will not be active for most everyday uses. However, when the search engine sees something that is unusual or unfamiliar, the RankBrain algorithm will try to anticipate what the user intended to type. This is one of several powerful context-sensitive search signals released by Google, and indexing search results is a process that seems to be perpetually in development. Dealing with new search requests represents a major advancement in this area.

Internet users who are already familiar with search engines may notice a slight difference in the way certain requests are handled, but many users will not notice the change at all. However, the benefits of the Google RankBrain will be experienced in the same manner regardless of the perception at the user’s end. Web developers might be able to benefit from this information to develop strategies that keep their website high on the SERPs page, and business owners who maintain a web presence should stay informed of these changes as a matter of good form.

Mobilegeddon and SEO – Why You Should Care


Mobilegeddon sounds pretty scary, right? But should you be scared? Absolutely. If your site is not up to speed on being mobile friendly, it’s time to kick that mobile website into gear. In March and April of 2015 alone there was a 4.7% increase in mobile friendly sites across the Internet, meaning a lot of people were following in step. If you haven’t already, you should consider following the crowd.

Google dominates the search engine space, so if you have a website and Google specifically says they are doing something to alter their algorithm, you better be listening. In this case, on April 21, 2015, Google finished their algorithm rollout that specifically lowered search engine rankings for sites that are not mobile friendly. Sites across the Internet saw lower rankings and hence lower traffic all because their website was not mobile friendly.

What’s in a few spots in a search engine ranking you may say? A LOT. Your average traffic share goes down 71% from a 1 spot drop from #10 to #11 in search engine results. If you had 200 visitors from that query, that means you ‘re down to just 58.

Being mobile friendly is smart anyways, think of the growth of the mobile market. Mobile digital time now surpasses Desktop time at 51% mobile compared to 42% desktop. 80% of Internet users own a smart phone. That means at least half of your customers will get to your website on their mobile device at some point. Are you ready for them?

Checking if your site is mobile friendly is free and easy, just use Google’s mobile friendly check tool.

How do you make your site mobile friendly? We’ll cover that in another blog post soon!

The Importance of Blogging for Increased Traffic

With all the changes in the Google algorithm over the years, one thing has remained consistent when Google determines the quality or relevance of a site, and that is content. If fact, some experts believe Google has effectively been able to reduce the gaming of rankings so much, that content has actually become more important than it ever had been in the past. So if you are a DIY site owner and attempting to improve your rankings using best SEO practices, you better be focusing on new content, that can be pretty intimidating.

Creating content isn’t easy, it can be very time consuming and frustrating. Nothing is more infuriating than staring at a blinking cursor on a blank white page when you know you should be pounding out content. For those of use who don’t like to write, or think that we don’t have much writing talent, creating content becomes a huge stumbling block. Especially when we think our writing could be the difference between being ranked or being invisible. Then let’s turn up the pressure cooker a little bit more and consider our DIY content could be the difference between someone buying from us, or actually leaving the site and looking elsewhere… that is just numbing. So what can we do? In almost all cases when someone asks me how they should deal with the challenges of creating content, I suggest getting a blog going.

The data on the benefits of blogging is pretty compelling. Just citing some figures from a recent post by Neil Patel and an infographic he produced on blogging, we can see:

61% of US consumers have made a purchase after reading a blog post.
77% of internet users ready blogs
81% of us consumers trust advice and information from blog posts
82% of customers enjoy reading blogs
70% of potential customers learn about a new company through blog articles rather than ads.

Pretty convincing data. So what should we write about on our blog? I think the big thing is to make sure we are writing about something that is easy for us, so we can remain consistent in creating new content. Obviously on the SoloSEO blog, we write about DIY SEO, some of the reasons to do it and some different strategies to make a site perform better. Since that is what SoloSEO is about, it makes sense. For any other blog, I would just suggest writing about your day, or the past week and something that occurred while you were managing your business or hobby or whatever. And always write on your blog as if you were talking to a friend. Don’t try to be fancy or technical, just be real, just be you. So for a blog on painting, I think the artist should discuss how they came about painting what they are currently working on, how the decision was made, why they thought the subject might be interesting. A car mechanic could talk about a car they are working on, or maybe some of the biggest problems they are seeing that time of year. Maybe they could throw in some preventative hints, then would share with friends or customers in the shop. For any business, discuss challenges of doing your business, maybe some challenges of finding clients, or the difficulties of clients you are solving from day to day. As long at the content is about what you are doing for your site and it is relevant to your site topic, you are in great shape. If you don’t like to type, consider recording your thoughts and ideas on a digital recording and have your audio typed out for you by an online transcription provider.

Once a blog post is online, always visit your social media accounts and post a link to your post and maybe a little description of what was posted. Traffic from social sites is a wonderful opportunity, as those who follow you and start to enjoy your postings, will like, share and refer you to their followers. Don’t miss out on riding a wave from social media buzz, you never know what might go viral and bring in a lot of traffic.

Blogging can be such a huge boost for site traffic, with each posting you are increasing the opportunity and probability that someone using search engines will find you. All those new unique searches a day need to be able to find what they are looking for and with each new post, you are making your site more findable!

Delivering Value from SEO for People as well as for Search Engines

SEOs come in all colors. The black hats game the system. The gray hats sort of game the system. The white hats play by the rules.

SEOs constantly assess the mood of Mother Google (as well as the lesser search engines, such as Yahoo!, Ask, etc). And, yes, it pays to pay attention to what the SEs like and loathe — what spiders find interesting and what they pooh-pooh. But don’t lose sight about what this whole game is about. Your SEO should deliver something of real value — that doesn’t yet exist on the webto a niche group of customers. That something could be a service, a product, or even just good information. But whatever you do, do it (ultimately) to benefit people in some way. 

Think about it. Say you spend all of your time just focusing on the search engines. You might win short-term victories by “beating Google at its own game.” But that is ultimately a rat race. To build a real business, you need customers who love your brand and who will want to return to you again and again for more services/product/information. To that end, if you clutter up your website with Google-pleasing stuff that turns off your visitors, your business will suffer over the long-term, even if you do see those short-term bumps.

So how do you provide the good stuff for people?

Organize. Get input from your visitors. What do they like about your site/blog/whatever? What do they find cumbersome or frustrating about it? Correct those problems. Is your “core competency” clear? If you are writing a bodybuilding site, is it clear from your home page that you have built a bodybuilding site? Or do visitors think it is a diet pill website or something? With clarity, organization, a clear statement of purpose and credentials, you stand to win.

Finally, do you provide unique and useful stuff for people? It’s not enough to “be Wikipedia.” There already IS a Wikipedia. You need to offer something different and better and special. Otherwise, people will just go to Wikipedia. This sounds obvious, but you would be surprised at how many websites simply deliver ho-hum, poor-mans-Wikipedia content in the hopes that they will win at the SEs. You need to do better than that. You need to create something that people will love and that they will love for a long time to come.

Think about what the search engines are designed for. They aim to deliver excellent information to people searching for specific keywords. If you build a website specifically to deliver that excellent information, Google wins, you win, Google’s advertisers win, and your visitors win. It’s win-win-win-win. Think about that as you craft your SEO approach.

The Power of Persistence in SEO: Seriously, it may be all you need

Doing SEO is hard. It’s long. It’s challenging. It’s technical. There is so much out there that you don’t know. Tap into any informed blog about the topic, and you will be hit with a firehouse of information. Whether you are building your first website, or your sixteenth, you can rest assured that you haven’t yet begun to “grok” the many myriad facets of the SEO biz. 

Okay. So, fine. Given all the obstacles you face — technical, psychological, physical, and financial — what can you do to move the ball down the field?

The answer is a single word: persistence.

That persistence yields results is a cliché. When you hear the word, you think of one of those office motivational posters of a bald eagle soaring over a cliff with a lightning bolt in its beak or something. Still, the power of this concept should not be undersold.

Consider all the new research that’s come out, indicating that persistence is far more important than natural talent in determining success. One great book on this subject is Talent Is Overrated by Geoff Colvin, an editor of Forbes Magazine.

Colvin makes the case that great performers in history succeed NOT because they possess innately better genes but simply because they work harder and persist through obstacles.

Of course, persistence isn’t just about grinding through difficulties. It’s about doing so SMARTLY. If you practice incorrectly, you will end up like one of those wind up toys with a broken wheel — going very fast, indeed, but going in circles.

Keys to successful persistence:

  • Get good coaching.
  • Learn from the mistakes and successes of others.
  • Sharpen and review your process.

The SEO monster can be mounted and tamed. But you will not do it in a day, and you will not do it without significant tolerance for failure.

Tips on Persistence

Okay. So you want to bulldoze your SEO process forward. But how? Here are some ways to withstand the inevitable forces of attrition, fatigue, self-doubt, and angst. 

  1. Set small goals that you absolutely can accomplish. Small successes are crucial.
  1. Get feedback from people you trust. Perspective can blind you to things you do wrong. No one has twenty-twenty vision all, or even most of, the time.
  1. Pay attention to longer-term horizons of focus — if you are caught up in the Sturm Und Drang of the day-to-day, all the time, you may end up like our broken wind up toy — generating lotsa energy but no forward momentum. Point your compass in a direction that will get you somewhere good. Then GO!
  1. Knowledge is power. Another overripe trope, but so true. Understand the landscape of your business — in particular, your niche. Establish yourself in your community, and build solutions your customers will need (but don’t know they need yet).
  1. Develop a core competency. What can you do better than ANYONE else in the entire world? Find something you are passionate about (that you would still do if you didn’t have to earn another cent in your life). Become the ruler of the roost.
  2. It can’t be just about the money. Your passion must come from somewhat deeper, somewhat more sincere and human. Only then will you find the internal resources to push through the (many) unpredictable obstacles that come your way.
  1. Expect the unexpected — you can have the most ace business plan in the world, but the universe will find a way to blow it out of the water. You need to able to find a way to, in the words of the poet T.S. Elliot, “be still and still moving.” Be flexible enough to respond to dramatic changes to your SEO or business plan but steady in terms of your long-term vision and principles.


Remember: It’s a balancing act. But persistence is the great equalizer. With it, even the most uncredentialed novices can outgun Fortune 500 companies.

Go to it.

Never rest.

Organization: Why your SEO plan may fall flat without it

The forces of order and chaos are always at war, as anyone who has read (or watched) Lord of the Rings or Tim Burton’s new Alice in Wonderland sequel will tell you. On the one hand, SEOs must have structure — guidelines that keep you focused on your goals and principles. On the other hand, SEOs need some creative chaos.

The way to navigate nimbly between chaos and order …  that is organization.

Mastering organization pays massive dividends. But HOW should you organize your SEO?


Organization 101

Consider the following:

  • Web surfers have incredibly short attention spans. The industry rule is that, if you don’t hook someone within 4 seconds, you have her. A poorly organized site can drive visitors away in droves.
  • Great material can be lost easily. You might have written profound content, but if it’s buried on some Tier 4 page, it won’t pay.
  • There are PLENTY of ways to go wrong. It takes discipline and practice to cultivate a well-organized website or SEO plan.
  • If you go right, and you organize your SEO approach with your human visitors in mind (as opposed to search engine spiders), this can yield a tremendous return on investment.


How can you go wrong?

Whether you are building a website, a blog, or some other kind of online platform, it is all too easy to step off the path and into outer space. Here are a few common mistakes:

  • Content Mistakes — too much, too little, poorly organized, inadequate, inappropriate, ineffective tone, poorly targeted for your target audience.
  • Keyword Mistakes — Stuffing your content too full of keywords (the search engines will find out!), not using enough keywords effectively, using so-called black hat SEO techniques (trying to game the search engines instead of creating good original stuff for your human visitors).
  • Navigation and Design Mistakes — even great content can “disappear” to a visitor if your site design is ugly, messy, too complicated, too graphic heavy, or too bizarre.


Getting organization right. 

  • Aggregate good content for people, not just for the search engines.
  • Create a web business, blog, portal or whatever to serve a predefined niche market.
  • Answer a real need that people have.
  • Be focused and specific about what kinds of content you deliver, what services you provide, and why your web portal is different from every other business out there.
  • Get input on your organizational scheme. Especially if you are just starting out at this, you likely will not get it right the first or even the second time.
  • Look to people who have succeeded, and find out what they have done right.
  • Talk to coaches and experienced SEO professionals.
  • Look at web businesses that are similar to the kind of business that you want to build. See what has worked or what hasn’t worked in terms of organization.


The perfect is the enemy of the good.

Don’t get caught up in getting your web business overly organized, however. There is a fine line between taking control of a messy situation and becoming lost in the weeds.


Many smart SEOs use GTD.

Take a look at David Allen’s productivity system called Getting Things Done (GTD for short) ( Allen is one of the biggest productivity gurus out there. He served as an executive coach for 25 years and forged his model of organization in the crucible of the real world. If you boil GTD down, it is ultimately about “paying attention to whatever has your attention.” Allen advises people to collect what he calls “open loops” — items that have your attention, ranging from needing to buy cat food to wanting to climb Mount Everest — and then systematically processing and organizing and reviewing these items to keep you more in control of your workflow.

GTD is perfect for the SEO professionals who have difficulty keeping things altogether — and it is perfect for SEOs who want to take their business to the next level.

Value of Short-Term SEO Goals

SEOs tend to get infatuated with the latest tricks and techniques published on the hottest blogs. And while it’s enjoyable (and often extremely useful) to check out what other people are doing and to reassess your own process and projects, too much of this “blue-skying” can lead you down the road to severe anxiety and perhaps even a panic attack. 

So what to do? With the information firehose blasting your face, how can you make progress — without feeling like you are missing out on the stuff “all the cool kids are doing”?

Play doable games. Set winnable, useful, short-term goals.

Bring yourself back to earth. Sure, think about those long-term 5-10 year goals from time to time. But don’t get hung up on that stuff. Give yourself a chance for clear and near wins. Where do you want to be in the next two weeks? How many visitors do you want your website to have in a month? Find a specific, fixed, easily doable number. Work towards that. Give yourself the chance to win small, again and again, and you will suddenly soon find yourself winning big.

As productivity guru David Allen has pointed out, the brain is teleological — it focuses on results. When you set in your mind a short-term, specific, doable, useful goal (such as the ones we just described), your brain will figure out how to get you there. You do NOT need to know every step for the journey to advance.

Think of it this way. Imagine you are stuck out on a desert plain when it starts to thunderstorm. It’s raining harder than ever in history. If you stay where you are, you will drown. You need to get to a high point. You could spend your time figuring out how to get yourself to Mount Everest. But this will take WAY too long, and you will die in the flood. Instead, if you simply get to the nearest hill, you will avoid drowning and live to fight another day.

Sometimes, the “good” is better than the “perfect,” in other words.

If you are drowning in SEO technique and process, just get yourself to a high and dry place and then reassess from this better vantage.

Defining your SEO Core Competency – and Sticking to It!

What is a “core competency”? 

Simply put, it is the kind of work that you do best. We all wear multiple hats at our jobs. If you’re a journalist, you’re not only a writer but you’re also a reporter, a networker, a self promoter, and in some senses a psychologist (especially to your interview subjects) all rolled into one job description.

Most of us define ourselves professionally in one word — or in a handful of words — e.g. professor, physician, SEO guy, etc. But in reality, no only do we all wear lots of hats, but we also change hats at different times throughout the day and throughout our careers.

Your core competency ( ) is the hat that you wear best — the hat that makes you look dashing and daring and that fits you better than all the other hats. For instance, in our example with the journalist, maybe her best hat is her ability to extract confessional statements from her interview subjects.

Some of us already know what our core competencies are. Others have no clue. Still others have some kind of vague understanding.

The better you specify this key component, the easier it can be to accelerate your SEO career. Why? Because you only have so many resources and so much time and energy to work your SEO. Focus your energies towards improving the narrow competency that you excel at most, and you’ll grow even more in that arena and soon become one of the foremost experts in your field. (Of course, in order to monetize your core competency, you must make sure it’s monetizable in the first place! You may become the best pan-flutist-disco-dancer on the planet, but few people are going to pay you for that service, unless they are looking for some kind of freak to put on a Youtube video.)

Think about Olympic athletes. Apolo Ohno, for instance, is an awesome speed skater. Can he do figure skating? Who knows. He concentrates almost all of his training on becoming the best speed skater he can be. Everything else is secondary. And guess what? Thanks to that intense focus and discipline and practice, he’s won a fantastic bounty of medals — including several at the 2010 Olympics.

All this is to say that take some time to plan out what your SEO core competency is now, and don’t be one of the myriad “jacks of all trade” that populate the web. Specialize, become awesome at what you do, make sure that what you do is monetizable, and success and glory should inevitably follow.

The Paradox of Choice — How to Narrow your Options of SEO Techniques and SEO Strategies

As you research SEO techniques and strategies, it’s easy to blow a gasket. Hop from blog to blog on this stuff, and you will be inundated with facts, figures, promises, and warnings. Build content. Get inbound links. Submit to directories. Be on social networks. Twitter your brains out. So on and so forth. And that’s just the beginning.

You also get warnings of every stripe and variation. Do this with your meta tags but not that. Optimize your images this way but not that way. Blog about this but not about that. Listen to me and not the other guy. Forget about what I said about a month ago, Google has changed its algorithm so you need to do this now. 

Once you get on the merry-go-round of SEO, your head may experience a surprising amount of centripetal force — to the point that it feels like it might explode.

What’s worse, the more you learn about SEO, the less satisfied you may ultimately be with your final product or decision. In fact, paradoxically, the more choices humans are provided about practically any topic, the worse they feel about their decisions. For a fascinating discussion about this counterintuitive idea, please read the book, The Paradox of Choice, by psychology professor Barry Schwartz. The author presents compelling, rigorously researched, and evidence based arguments to support his thesis.

It also meshes with common sense. Think about when you go to a restaurant. You look at the menu and see six items, and you feel pretty good. You pick one and that will be your dinner. But if you look at a menu with hundreds of items (like you might find at a diner), suddenly your mind starts wandering. Should I get the blintz? Should I go for the double-decker turkey sandwich? Should I have the chicken soup? You start comparing all the different options in your mind, and suddenly you start to see all the pluses and minuses they have with respect to one another. Nothing looks great anymore. Dinner seems more confusing and somehow less satisfying. Even though you have more choices with the bigger menu of options, you end up feeling far less happy about the meal.

The same can be said about the SEO information buffet.

So how do you solve this paradox of choice problem?

According to Schwartz, the key is to do something he calls “satisficing.” In other words, strive for “good enough” instead of “perfect.” Picture a good enough result, and head in that direction. Don’t get distracted by shiny objects and new and better technology and techniques. Because if you go chasing after that stuff all the time, you’re never going to make any real forward progress. Of course, it’s always a dance. You don’t want to get stuck with a stodgy SEO approach and have your competitors run all over you. But once you recognize that we have this tendency to get overwhelmed by too many options, you can take steps (such as seeking satisficing instead of optimization) to make things a little more easy and fun.

Do’s and Don’ts of Outsourcing for SEO

Your SEO process is jammed. You want to speed things up, get things moving down the pipeline, and delegate the gruntwork that’s gobbling up your time. Outsourcing can obviously leverage your resources/budget — if you do it correctly, that is.


Pitfalls abound. Outsource to the wrong party or parties, and you could wind up in legal hot water, get lassoed by tax problems, or inadvertently torpedo your whole SEO project.


So how do you steer between Scylla and Charybdis? Here are broad principles to abide by.

1. You get what you pay for.

If a company promises you superb web content at one dime per page of 500 words, do you really think you’ll get top-notch work? (If so, perhaps you should pick another business!) This isn’t to say that ALL cheap content is bad or that ALL overpriced content is good. A range exists, obviously. But cut too many corners, and you’ll cut off your nose to spite your face (or, insert a more elegant metaphor here).

2. Experiment before going whole hog.

Even if you’ve found “the perfect company” to outsource your SEO to, you MUST work out kinks before embarking on massive projects involving thousands of dollars or hundreds of man-hours. Test your process, then test it again.

3. As Steven Covey put it, “begin with the end in mind.”

Visualize the optimal outsourcing experience for your SEO. What does the relationship with your outsourcing partner look like from beyond the point of completion and from a vantage of great success? Start by imagining “what if” scenarios in which your SEO outsourcing dreams have completely come true. Don’t restrict yourself. Dream the dream, and then work backwards to make it a reality.

4. Write down a list of all potential problems that your SEO outsourcing endeavor could encounter.

Imagine handing the process over to a third party whom you don’t know. What instructions would you give that person? What should that person NOT do? What should that person look out for? What should that person focus on, goal-wise? These instructions to your imaginative third party comprise your principles for your outsourcing program. These are often unstated assumptions. Write them all out on a paper you review often. Refer to them as you sort through outsourcing opportunities.

5. Get references.

Find peer reviewed, highly regarded, transparent firms to work with. There are plenty of good players out there. Do due diligence, and you’ll be rewarded. 

6. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Don’t fall into “analyses paralysis.” As long as you have your principles and your vision spelled out in some concrete, written form, you should be pretty safe. Take a step. Trial and error. Too much planning discourages the creativity and adventurism necessary for entrepreneurial success. So line up your ducks and get to shooting. Good luck to you!