RankBrain: what it is and how to use it

RankBrain: what it is and how to use it

Considering that SEO barely existed 20 years ago, it’s crazy to think that the industry is now at the forefront of technological innovation. AI and deep learning are coming on in leaps and bounds thanks to the huge data analysis opportunities that arise from people navigating the internet.

Google’s RankBrain is one such innovation.

What is RankBrain?

RankBrain is one of Google’s most ambitious announcements, and one that changed the way SEO worked. It is a machine learning artificial intelligence system that helps Google process its search results to provide the searcher with more relevant search results.

Using artificial intelligence technology, RankBrain embeds packages of written data into mathematical vectors to identify less familiar search words and phrases. RankBrain ‘guesses’ what other words and phrases may have similar meaning, filtering these results it deciphers if they have meaning in relation to the query Google is trying to solve; making it more effective at handling new or unique search enquiries. By continually teaching itself to be a more concise and effective search engine, RankBrain won’t need any manual input, it will only need a dataset to apply its learning process to further refine and generate its algorithm.

The Google algorithm ‘Hummingbird’ was intended to fill this search need. However, enquiries that were too ambiguous or based on colloquialisms were discovered to be too hard for Hummingbird to understand. RankBrain could be perceived as a much-needed patch to the Hummingbird update as it generalises and rewrites ambiguous queries trying to match the intent behind them. This will enable web searchers to have access to data that they may have missed previously due to incomplete or ambiguous searching; RankBrain finds these missed opportunities. The choice the web searcher makes when presented with the additional search result findings ultimately informs Google what the answer to the incomplete or unknown query is.

How do I use RankBrain?

It is thought that RankBrain completes the trilogy of most important factors in Google’s ranking algorithm, alongside content and links.

You don’t use RankBrain, as such, but it forces you to abide by SEO best practice rather than seeking quick wins that fall foul of Google’s guidelines. In years gone by, SEO gains from illicit techniques could position you above other sites until Google updated it’s rankings; RankBrain means that dodgy dealings are punished much more quickly.

This previous set-up was great for business if your website had exactly what Google defined as being the perfect search term on your site, not so great if you had missed the boat. However, the Rankbrain algorithm is constantly evolving as it learns its own lexicon of search terms, therefore, now SEO campaigns will require more adaptability to these changes. Now is not the time to become complacent with your SEO strategy to develop and maintain high visibility in Google search results.

What are the benefits of RankBrain?

The benefits are that you can see changes in rankings much more quickly than before, which means that good site maintenance and effective SEO strategies are usually rewarded.

All of our SEO strategies are built on such techniques. If you’d like to discuss improving your site’s SEO and rankings, get in touch.

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