Google RankBrain for Dummies
By Nicole Sievers
Google search results are about to get a lot better
Recently, Google introduced something called RankBrain into its search algorithm. RankBrain is Google’s name for a machine-learning artificial intelligence system that’s used to help process its search results. It’s just one aspect out of 200 that goes into returning the best web content for your search. RankBrain is constantly analyzing patterns found on the web and learning from these analyzations. It tests theories based on its findings and then if proven correct, Google implements them into search.
I know what you’re thinking: “Artificial intelligence? Should I worry about robots taking over the world?”
No, it’ll be ok. This is really good for us!
How Does RankBrain Work?
The computers we are used to aren’t the best at understanding the human language, or the way we formulate sentences. Computers have a much easier time understanding numbers. Therefore, RankBrain takes the words and phrases we type into Google and turns them into mathematical formulas that it can understand. If RankBrain sees a word or phrase it isn’t familiar with, using the math it created, it can ‘guess’ what words or phrases might have a similar meaning and filter the results correctly.
RankBrain Understands User Intent
Still don’t quite understand how it works? That’s ok, take this example: Before RankBrain, you could type in a search for “the best hot dog in New York City” and get different top results than if you were to search for a, usually, more popular search, “best NY hot dog”. RankBrain now sees these two searches as being very similar and just translates the first search into the second, and shows you the most relevant content for what you were looking for. It does this because since “best NY hotdog” is more popular than “the best hot dog in New York City”, Google has more data that will help it be more confident in the quality of content it is returning.
RankBrain’s main goal is to really understand Google’s users search intent better.
How RankBrain Will Affect Business on the Web
Like I mentioned above, RankBrain is 1 of 200 aspects of a very long algorithm, but what are the other 199? Well, we really don’t know. Google likes to keep that private. But what we do know, is that RankBrain is currently the third most important factor in ranking web searches. So what are the other two?
Marketers often try to “optimize” their content with relevant keywords to ensure their content appears when a user searches for a specific term. RankBrain now makes it more difficult to optimize due to the fact that it is not finding exact keyword matches. This isn’t a post about how search optimization will now fall to the wayside because of RankBrain. RankBrain just means that content quality, and links to your content is more important than ever. Content continues its reign as king.
As time goes on, we’ll begin to see better results for our searches. RankBrain is also going to affect other areas of Google, such as paid search. Since RankBrain is learning user intent when searching for things, more focused keywords will need to be used in paid ads. Google uses the example of ‘iced coffee’; ads that point to a landing page about iced coffee makers will be less likely to show for less relevant searches like “iced coffee.”