Google ranking algorithms are no longer run exclusively by humans. A new machine learning technology called RankBrain has entered the game of search and it’s now responsible for the majority (if not all) of Google’s search results.
What is RankBrain’s impact on SEO and what Digital marketers need to know about this new buzz word?
What is RankBrain?
RankBrain is the machine learning, artificial Intelligence system of Google which is used to process search results. It works in conjunction with Google’s current search algorithms for delivering better, faster and more complete results.
How does it work?
RankBrain is responsible for converting the innumerable search words and keywords, entered over Google search engine, to quantitative figures that machines like computer can decipher and understand.
It uses mathematical processes called vectors and advanced semantic processes to learn about people’s search patterns and apply the inferences to the future search results, rather than being pre-programmed and scripted.
In simple words, RankBrain is a system that tries to give a better meaning to search queries, understand the real ‘user intent’ and return the most appropriate results to the user.
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For example, if there is a word that RankBrain is not familiar with, it can make assumptions about the other words or phrases which can have similar meaning, so that it can filter those for the user.
How effective is RankBrain?
Google engineers competed against RankBrain for its effectiveness by guessing which search pages would rank at the top of Google search results. At the end, it was found that the engineers made correct guesses almost 70% of the time but RankBrain stole the show by making 80% correct guesses.
Is it an algorithm?
The reality is that RankBrain is not an algorithm itself. It is rather the latest addition to the search engine algorithm of Google, known as the Hummingbird.
What are the improvements in search that we are looking at?
When we search on Google, our queries are not always restricted to any short phrase or a couple of words. In fact, rather than a simple search which the pre-RankBrain Google algorithm could handle, we are often eager to write full sentences such as, “Where do I find the best coffee shop with a view of a river in France?” These cannot be effectively dealt with by an ordinary search algorithm.
Google conceptualized the RankBrain for this very purpose- technology that studies and learns from the study. Whenever a question is entered into the search box, Google shall either give the exact result or filter the nearest results related to the query, but RankBrain learns from such attempts and gives a more comprehensive result in the future.
RankBrain will make every question meaningful to the search engine algorithm; it is more like talking to a person. Judged as the 3rd most important ranking factor, RankBrain is now responsible for the majority of Google’s search results.
RankBrain’s impact on Search
Going further, it is safe to assume that a few changes are likely to take place because of Google RankBrain.
- Improved search results guarantee user satisfaction which means users are not going to browse through a lot of results. To reiterate, the first three results are going to be the most popular and frequently used. This means that the pages that rank in the top positions will get the majority of traffic, making the rest of the entries less important.
- Highly optimized results also mean greater relevance. Less comprehensive websites/results will drop in rankings and gradually lose their high rankings, as only the best results get ranked.
- RankBrain is taught offline by Google which means that it’s supplied with words or phrases that might become viral on the net. This particular feature is helpful for website owners that have content with unconventional topics or words. RankBrain would immediately identify those words and make the results more relevant to the users.
- RankBrain is believed to be making the search results smarter and more user-friendly. We are now in the habit of making searches with long-tail keywords as we want more accurate and specific results.
RankBrain and SEO
Great Content is more important than ever
It is well known to the SEO world that keywords are crucial when writing content for any website. Google’s algorithms can identify these in the content of a page and use them in the ranking process.
Keywords alone though, will not get you far. Google’s processes (including RankBrain) are clever enough to identify great content and without providing users with a great experience, your chances of ranking high in the results are limited.
Pro Tip: Check out this infographic on the most successful SEO techniques and strategies for 2016.
Continuous update of the ranking algorithm
Previously, a mathematical algorithm was formulated to determine search rankings which remained constant and effective till the next update.
With RankBrain, the algorithm has undergone some vast changes. The results will now be continuously fluctuating and changing to allow accuracy of the results. Therefore, website owners will now have to be equally versatile and smart while choosing their keywords.
RankBrain is utilizing Artificial Intelligence to determine what the user really wants to find out. Therefore, instead of creating pages with a sole focus on a single keyword, it would be better to create content that targets the main keyword and a number of related keywords.
A final verdict
Artificial Intelligence has always been considered as the next step in technological evolution and with the introduction of RankBrain in search algorithms it is more than certain that the SEO landscape will gradually be more about the user experience and less about the keywords or other traditional ranking signals.
RankBrain is now responsible for billion of search queries and it is certain that in the months or years it will play an even more important role in improving the quality of Google search results.