What Is Rankbrain?

It’s an artificial intelligence system that Google is using to process its search results. RankBrain was rolled out in early 2015 and has been live globally since.

True artificial intelligence only exists in science fiction but as far as RankBrain is concerned, the element of ‘machine learning’ will be used to sort through billions of web pages and find the ones that are most relevant for user search queries.

RankBrain is part of Google’s overall algorithm, it’s not a replacement for it. Just like we have Panda and Penguin (for spam), Pigeon (for local results) and Mobile Friendly (to reward mobile friendly websites), RankBrain is now the official segment that is responsible for providing relevant search.




Ranking Factor Importance

Google has publicly said that RankBrain is now the third most important factor for ranking websites. Annoyingly, it doesn’t specify what its top two ranking factors are. We’ll assume that it links and social signals.

If RankBrain is analysing how important relevance is to a search query then it’s fair to assume that it’s focussing on content, i.e. On Page SEO. At a broader level, this would encompass synonyms, i.e. words that a user might enter which aren’t necessarily found amongst a website’s content.


How RankBrain Helps To Refine Queries

In the past, synonym lists and database connections were manually created by a human being.

RankBrain helps to interpret long tail queries (i.e. search phrases with several words) and translate them behind the scenes to give the user the best results. It does this by identifying patterns between complex searches and seeing how they are similar.

The ‘learning’ allows it to understand future searches and see if they are related to those that it has ‘learned’.


How This Impacts SEO’s

Focus on your On Page content. Include synonyms of your major keywords (if you’re not already doing so). If Google is examining content in more depth then it won’t do you any harm to include a little more detail in your own articles.

And if you’re stuck for ideas then it’s probably worth checking out your competition. Google will always have 10 results on the front page of the SERPs so look at what content is ranking and expand upon it.


For more information on RankBrain click here for the Bloomberg article.