Sean Butcher

Google RankBrain – The AI Behind Google’s Search Algorithm

Google RankBrain

Search engine giant Google has confirmed that it is using an artificial intelligence element, known as RankBrain, within its search algorithm.

It’s believed that around 15% of all Google queries use RankBrain to process its search results. Although this may seem like a relatively small amount, when you consider that approximately 3.5 billion Google searches are performed each day the numbers using the system become far more significant.

What exactly is RankBrain?

RankBrain is a “machine-learning” artificial intelligence system that plays a part in processing Google’s search results. Machine learning means that the AI is able to teach itself how to do things, rather than rely on humans to update it.

Effectively, this means that RankBrain is likely to become more intelligent and sophisticated with the more results it processes.

RankBrain is said to be the third-most important signal for processing rankings within Google’s overall algorithm, known widely as Hummingbird. Whilst it is the third most significant, it is just one signal within hundreds that make up the entire algorithm. Other signals include factors such as content quality, site architecture, mobile responsiveness and backlink profile authority, to name but a few.

How does RankBrain work?

In simplest terms, RankBrain is designed to handle queries that have never been seen before, and return the most relevant set of results to the searcher.

It’s believed that approximately 15% of all searches have never been made before, therefore Google has built a way to try and handle the millions of fresh requests it receives every day.

The machine learning element of the AI means that Google will make a record of how users respond to the results they are presented with, and update its systems in order to deal with future queries more accurately.

What does RankBrain mean for SEO?

After the news broke late on Monday by Bloomberg, industry experts have been trying to decipher whether this will have any impact on the way that SEO and digital marketing teams work.

However, at this stage it doesn’t seem to mean a huge change on the cards for those in the SEO industry. Clearly, Google is implementing systems such as RankBrain to increase the quality of the experience it offers to its users, and therefore this should be reflected in your own SEO efforts.

With this in mind I would suggest the following are more important than ever if you are looking to stay on the good side of Google:

Even less focus on keywords: Google has been using artificial intelligence to return semantic search results for a number of years now, and RankBrain will emphasise this trend even further. This means that it is less important to use exact keywords on your webpages, as Google will be able to link together related words more effectively.

Offer useful, informative content: Your webpage is more likely to be returned in Google’s search results pages if it offers content that is going to be useful and informative to its users. This means spending time crafting all of the relevant information required to help users solve their problems and answer their questions.

Focus on user experience: If Google is spending time on improving UX then it suggests that you should too. This means focusing on elements such as improving site speed, presenting on page information in a friendly way and refining the user journeys around your website.

If you’re interested in learning more about our SEO, content or user experience services, contact Torpedo here.

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