How to hack the Google algorithm? This is a legitimate question, so there is nothing wrong with it. Most bloggers and website owners want to learn how to trick the Google algorithm, and in this article, I share what I’ve found to be the most effective ways of doing it.
Google wants to enhance user experience online and has been making algorithm updates over time to improve meeting user search intent. Thus, algorithm updates are all about better addressing the user’s intent.
Achieving a high score in page speed is not sufficient. Hacking the Google algorithm RankBrain requires some skills in search engine optimization (SEO). Simply over-optimizing your content no longer works. In fact, over-optimization can fire back.
SEO has advanced significantly since the beginning of the Internet. Strategies that SEO experts used a few years ago are not relevant anymore. Today it’s all about artificial intelligence (AI) and Google’s RankBrain. So if you want to increase the reputation and exposure of your brand, you must stay on top of these updates.
In this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know about hacking the Google algorithm and how to reduce bounce rate while increasing dwell time.
If you keep reading, you’ll learn:
- What is AI for SEO.
- How it works.
- Keyword research hacks.
- How to optimize for click-through rate (CTR).
- How to optimize your articles to rank on search results.
Table of Contents
In its simplest form, Google RankBrain is an AI algorithm used to sort search engine results pages (SERPs).
Before RankBrain, Google’s algorithm was hand-coded by human engineers. But now, the AI can tweak the algorithm on its own. And that’s the key—it does this on its own, thanks to machine learning.
Google RankBrain works independently of people.
Depending on the keyword, it’ll increase or decrease the importance of backlinks, content freshness, content length, domain authority, and more. It analyzes how searchers interact with the changes. If it’s better, it stays. If not, RankBrain reverses the change and returns to the old algorithm.
In fact, RankBrain outperformed Google’s top engineers by 10%.
While there are hundreds of Google algorithm’s ranking factors, only two move the needle substantially: content and backlinks. Acquiring backlinks to your site is not the scope of this article. Rather, I’ll be focusing on on-page SEO or the art of optimizing your content for a solid Google ranking.
Google RankBrain operates in two ways:
- Understands keywords and search queries.
- Measures how people interact with those results.
So first, let’s look at keywords.
Google used to try to match the words searched by people to the words on a page or an article. Since RankBrain is AI, it can figure out what you mean by matching never-before-seeing keywords to keywords Google has seen before.
For example, if you search Google for “Jethro Tull 20 minute song from 1972,” the algorithm pulls up the album “Thick as a Brick” immediately. It also shows video results and other resources related to their album with a 20-minute song.
Keywords can do that alone.
With RankBrain, Google is able to use machine learning to understand the search intent instead of just simple keyword rankings.
Google’s RankBrain also measures user satisfaction and tweaks the algorithm based on the results.
Google Panda was one of Google algorithm updates that assigned a “quality score,” which took user perception of the content into account. Instead of ranking websites solely on how many keywords they include, Google uses this “quality score” after a keyword stuffing and duplicate content check.
Here’s how that works.
RankBrain shows the user a set of search results that thinks they’ll like. If more users click through one of those results versus others, that gives RankBrain a user signal. The result? Google algorithm boosts that page on SERPs.
Ultimately, it’s about measuring how a user interacts with the search results or what’s called the user experience signals.
These user experience signals are:
- Organic click-through rate (CTR).
- Dwell time.
- Bounce rate.
- Pogo sticking (when a user quickly navigates back and forth between pages in the search results)
If Google can understand the intent behind the search, where does keyword research fit in? Well, it still matters, but it matters in a little bit of a different way.
Here, I’ll share some Google hacks you can start using on your SEO strategy or digital marketing efforts to boost your brand’s visibility.
A few years ago, you had to create one page optimized for every keyword variation. For example, you’d have one page that might be optimized for “best free AI writer.” And another page you’d be creating for “best free AI writing software.”
This was so Google could rank them for their different longtail keywords.
However, thanks to AI, RankBrain understands these terms are pretty much the same. So they’re shown identically in the search results, with the same content ranking.
This is the search results for “best free ai writer.”
And Google returns the same result for the query “best free ai writing software.”
The only difference here is the “People also ask” section.
This means that optimizing for longtail keywords can be a waste of time in your content marketing efforts.
Instead, you want to optimize around medium-tail keywords. These are words with more search volume but are not highly competitive. When you optimize your pages this way, RankBrain automatically ranks you for the main keyword and the thousands of similar variations of that keyword.
You can find these relevant search phrases as parent keywords on Ahrefs and other rank tracking tools.
Getting your content to rank is only part of the goal. You need people actually to click through so that it stays ranking.
The time when you could just add relevant keywords to your title to optimize it is long gone. Now you need to think of each title as a copywriter does.
You need to pack your titles with emotion to give the user that extra push to click through. For example, you can use words like “faster,” “easier,” “with less time,” or “less effort” based on search intent and the psychology of what the reader actually wants.
Another way to hack Google’s algorithm is by adding brackets and parentheses to your titles.
HubSpot and Outbrain analyzed 3.3 million headlines and found that brackets outperform those without bracket titles by 33%.
In the following example, “Ultimate Guide” is between parentheses, which clarifies the type of content.
These are called parentheses clarifications or bracketed clarifications, which are clarifications of the type of content represented by the headline.
It’s worth noting that this tip can help marketers using Google Ads (former Adwords) get more people to click through their ads. It directly impacts a brand’s presence and revenue.
You can also use numbers and not just for list posts.
People prefer predictability and dislike uncertainty, making numbers in headlines an effective way of increasing your title’s click-through rate.
You can even use two numbers. For example, “6 tips for getting 100k views on Reels.”
Finally, don’t forget to optimize your meta description for your click-through rate as well.
Meta descriptions don’t really make an impact on your SEO rankings. However, they can boost your click-through rate because there are some words in there that people can see.
When writing your meta description, you should focus on the following aspects:
- Make it clear why someone should click your result.
- Use your target keyword if you can.
- Use other search intent trigger words to help it stand out (when, where, how, why, best way to, etc.)
It’s not a guarantee that Google will use your meta description to boost page rankings. Although all my blog posts have optimized meta descriptions, Google chooses not to use them most of the time and displays whatever it thinks is the best match for the search.
Google penalizes websites that use dishonest or obsolete techniques to rank higher or manipulate Pagerank. The reputation and profitability of a brand may suffer as a result.
If you’re a marketer or a marketing agency wanting to improve search ranking and rank on the first page, you should focus on these points:
- Create rich, engaging, and relevant content for readers.
- Fix broken links.
- Create quality content that encourages other websites to link to you through contextual backlinks.
- Swap out outdated inbound links with new ones. You can leverage link building platforms to acquire high-quality backlinks for your site.
We’ve discussed keywords and your Google search result title and description to get people to click through. Next, you need to optimize your actual article for your bounce rate and dwell time.
Dwell time is the amount of time someone stays on your content after clicking through.
The longer someone stays on your page, the more Google understands people love your content. This means that the algorithm could bump you up a few spots.
But if the opposite is true, and people bounce back after just a couple of seconds, Google probably assumes your content is poor and drops it down in the rankings.
However, that’s not totally true. Because if someone hits your article, receive the answer they want in just a few seconds, and don’t go back to the search results page but click another article—that’s actually a good thing, too (although it counts as a bounce).
For example, in my post on the best AI SEO tools, I don’t care if the dwell time is low as long as the reader clicks through my affiliate links to navigate to the tool’s website. If they make a purchase, I get a commission. Dwell time is really not important here, as this is not an informational type of post.
This is why bounce rate and dwell time can be a little tricky. It depends on various aspects, such as user intent, an article of bad quality, or user experience (bad website design).
Overall, here’s how to keep your readers interested and engaged in your article.
It’s important to have a strong first impression on readers when they visit your website. That first piece of content they see is called above the fold content.
Here’s how to make your above the fold content appealing:
- Have an attractive featured image.
- The title should remind the reader they’re on the right page for their query.
- You shouldn’t have obtrusive elements like weird ads popping all over the place (although they’re great for increasing ad income stream).
So that first content that the reader actually sees right away is significant.
Next, you want to write good intros and hook sentences that tell the reader exactly what they’re about to get. And this goes back to search intent.
For example, suppose you’re writing an article about AI writing software. In that case, you don’t want to give people the history of artificial intelligence or software development in recent years. You should give them what they actually want.
Write a simple introduction with minimal effort and get right to it.
You can, however, write about what features to look for in the best AI writing software or other relevant topics AFTER the main content people are searching for. This additional content can be relevant for SEO-optimizing your article.
The next tactic to reduce bounce rate and increase dwell time is to cover the topic so readers feel like they got a solid answer that they’re looking for. You don’t want to leave any missing pieces here.
For example, in my article on YouTube To WAV converters, I have a section about WAV files, the difference between WAV and MP3, the features to look for in a YouTube to WAV converter, and more. So, if you cover everything, readers won’t want to return and click on another article.
In my last example, I refer the reader to a review of some of those tools, where I discuss the aspects of the tool that I like and dislike, as well as my own experience using it. This helps build trust with your audience and makes you a little more than just a random blog.
Nearly every other day, Google makes a small algorithmic tweak. But you don’t have to panic and stress over your SEO efforts. Just focus on creating high-quality content with your personal input, and you’re good to go.
You can use Google to help you get closer to your business goals by keeping an eye on its algorithm updates.
To increase dwell time on your articles, you can break up your content with:
- Bullet points.
- Bold text.
This helps to keep it simple and easy on the eyes.
How To Know If a Google Algorithm Update Hit Your Website?
Google is constantly changing and tweaking its algorithm, which means that your website could be affected by a Google update at any time.
These are some steps that you can take to determine if a Google algorithm change has hit your website:
- Is it a site-wide or page-specific issue? If the issue is site-wide, then it’s likely that a Google algorithm update has hit the site. However, if only certain pages are affected, then there’s a good chance that it might just be a site configuration error.
- Look at search query reports from Google Search Console, a free analytics tool by Google. If there have been sudden drops in traffic or rankings for certain keywords, then it’s probably due to an algorithm update.
- Check your keyword rankings on SERPs using an algorithm analytics tool like Grump by AccuRanker and see if they changed significantly overnight or over the past few days/weeks/months. If your rankings have dropped significantly, then there’s a good chance the algorithm update is responsible.
Google is getting smarter, so you must level up your game and provide the best possible content. And if you want to tackle google’s algorithm, you need to learn the best way to leverage on-page SEO.
Luckily, many other blogs aren’t doing the best job, so you don’t have to create the perfect content plan. You just have to beat them. Some Google hacks not only work for search engines but also LinkedIn posts or Facebook posts.
Every day, there are minor Google algorithm changes that may impact Google rankings. However, learning them all is futile as it will distract you from what really matters: creating quality content.
In the end, this new world runs on algorithms. And to stay current, you must understand Google RankBrain and user signals and implement new AI-based strategies into your blogging business. Fortunately, many AI SEO tools can help you achieve that.
What are you doing to hack Google’s algorithm and rank your blog content today?