Believe it or not, a whopping 15% of the searches taking place on Google each day haven’t been seen by the search engine before.

Google announced last week that it has been using RankBrain, an artificial intelligence system, to interpret first-time searches. With it, the mighty search engine hopes to provide you with the exact result you’re looking for when you Google “three-tone cupcake beach wedding dress.” Theoretically, you’ll also get that content quicker and with less scrolling through results.

As with any algorithm update, RankBrain might change your site’s likelihood of appearing in your prospect’s search results. While Greg Corrado, senior research scientist at Google, didn’t tell us the criteria by which it’s returning results, he has disclosed that the factor now ranks as the third-most important signal contributing to the result of a search query.

We should probably take it seriously.

While we can’t predict how the algorithm will shift as RankBrain continues to develop, we can tell you general best practices for your site structure. Here are a few:

  • User Experience. Page speed, layout, and site architecture help Google determine the quality of your site. High bounce rates, low pages/session, and short average session duration can all negatively impact your rankings, so it’s important to keep tabs on these metrics and adjust when you notice poor performance. Trends on your site can easily be examined within the Behavior section of Google Analytics.
  • Content. If your content isn’t fulfilling your visitor’s needs, you’re probably going to get dinged. As such, you should align your SEO efforts with the content on your site. Don’t forget that your site will also be negatively impacted if you have duplicate content on multiple pages. If you do need to have identical content, use canonical tags to let Google know your preferred version to index. Don’t forget to optimize images with appropriate alt text to give Google additional clues about your content.
  • Kill it on Mobile. Unless you’ve been under a rock, you probably already know how important mobile is for SEO. However, you should remember to test your site regularly to ensure you’re creating a good experience for your mobile and tablet traffic. Here’s a guide to get you started.

Ultimately, updates like RankBrain are great for digital marketers. Tuning into the intent behind searches helps Google position our customers directly in front of us when they’re searching for the products and services we’re offering. But companies can perform better only when they’re given the opportunity to connect with customers at the right time. With this update, it looks like we’re that much closer.

Cover Image: Reuters