In October 2015, Google talked about a new component of their infamous search engine ranking algorithm which is collectively called “Hummingbird”. This new component is referred to as RankBrain. It uses computer learning to help place search engine results in the ranked lists we see and interact with on a daily basis. Google understandably keeps a tight lid on the exact workings on the company’s entire algorithm in order to keep site owners and SEO experts from min-maxing the algorithm too much, but every now and then the company decides to make some aspects—like BrainRank—public.
For Google BrainRank in particular, this decision was most likely reached due to the fact that the component makes use of computer learning skills. Computer learning is similar to artificial intelligence (AI), but not quite as science fiction-y. Essentially, RankBrain is capable of looking at the millions of search instances that take place on a regularly basis and “learning” how users behave and what links they click on after performing searches. That information is then used to predict what type of results users really want to see when they type in certain words and phrases.
If, for example, a user is in a hurry and ends up typing in a somewhat ambiguous search phrase like “law injury happened in Vermont accident”, Google’s algorithm may question whether the user was talking about lawyers in regards to Vermont accidents or laws about Vermont accidents. Based on the behaviors of past searchers, RankBrain will likely determine that searchers tend to search for lawyers far more often than laws themselves—especially in combination with a specific location. Results shown will contain links to both law-related and lawyer-related content, but most will focus on law firms and personal injury lawyers located in Vermont.
RankBrain is great for law firms for a couple of reasons. First of all, such as in the example above, Google RankBrain can potentially bring your firm more clients. Potential clients new to legal services may not remember the phrase “personal injury lawyer” off the top of their head, but as long as they manage to get their point across to RankBrain, they can still find your firm’s website. Thanks to local SEO listings, RankBrain helps ensure clients don’t even have to enter an exact geographical location. Online searching is easier than ever. This fact does nothing but help businesses like law firms which depend on new client leads for growth.
Secondly, RankBrain makes it easier for SEO experts and law firm website owners to create new legal content writing without having to include every keyword variation. In the early days of SEO, it was common to see law firm blogs with page after page of similar content with only slight keyword variances between each. Back then, this was the best way to get a site’s SEO rankings up. Thankfully, this is no longer the case. Writing content on the most important keywords is still impactful, of course, but if you happen to not touch on a couple, Google RankBrain does its best to fill in the blanks.
In fact, in a recent interview, Google finally revealed the top three contributing factors in the company’s search algorithm. In the third slot was RankBrain. In the first and second slots were content and links. We’re not exactly sure which factor is in which slot, but you know that saying “Content is king”? It’s apparently true. Keyword usage may be important when it comes to SEO, but not nearly as important as the quality of your site’s content and the quality of the links used.
Over time, Google’s algorithm continually improves, helping users find what they need on the web quickly and without a lot of hassle. This is great for law firms, and results in nothing but potential increased client growth. All you need to do is learn to harness the power behind Google’s algorithms. We’re here if you ever need a little help in that department.