Google Updates

What is the RankBrain algorithm?

March 29, 2016 - 2  min reading time - by Emma Labrador
Home > SEO Thoughts > What is the RankBrain algorithm?

A few months ago, Google was releasing a new algorithm named RankBrain and based on artificial intelligence.

In fact, over the past several months, a “small percentage” of all Google queries were handled by RankBrain itself. The average user didn’t notice anything especially different, but according to Google, this move to RankBrain will make the web an easier, better place to search.
What is it? How does it work? What possible impact on SEO? This is what we are going to talk about.

What Is Google’s Rank Brain?

The RankBrain is an AI (Artificial Intelligence) program built to help Google understand search queries. It helps Google to process search results and provide more relevant search results for users. It embeds a wide range of written languages into mathematical entities, named vectors, that the machine can understand. If RankBrain faces a sentence that it does not know, it can guess the meaning with similar sentences or words and filter the result accordingly, making it more accurate for the new tries.

Rather than being pre-programmed to respond to given situations in pre-determined way (like Google search has been up until now), it can update itself over time. Think of it as a robot that can constantly upgrade itself rather than relying on an outside human for occasional maintenance.

While Google search engineers guessed correctly 70 percent of the time, Rank Brain had an 80 percent success rate.
Overall, Rank Brain is capable of learning and recognizing new patterns and then revising SERPS (search engine results page) based on its new knowledge.

What RankBrain is not

Google can sometimes be unclear towards its new changes but let’s list what RankBrain is definitely not :

  • It is not a new Knowledge Graph. The Google Knowledge Graph is an artificial intelligence program too, but this isn’t a new version of the Knowledge Graph, nor is it directly affiliated with the feature.
  • It is not a new type of search. RankBrain is not a new type of engine, nor is it intended to make any significant updates to the process a user relies on to get results.
  • It is not an algorithm update. Don’t think of RankBrain the way you would think of Panda, or Penguin. This is not a new algorithm. Instead, it’s a new modification, working in conjunction with Hummingbird (the semantic search algorithm) to produce more meaningful results.
  • It is not a robot. It’s just a series of mathematical equations that can learn and improve over time.

Possible impact on SEO

RankBrain can have an impact on your keywords campaigns. When you are defining your keywords, you are looking for relevant terms that respond to customers queries. This is how a successful SEO strategy work. And logically, if you are picking keywords your audience is not searching for, you campaign will have no chance to succeed. This is where RankBrain can play a role.
Before Rank Brain, Google’s software engineers would create a mathematical algorithm that would determine search rankings. That algorithm would be a constant until an update was made.
However, with Rank Brain that algorithm is now learning and constantly changing.
As a result, your SEO campaign has to be more mind thinking and adaptable to changes in the search engine rankings landscape.
Google always wants to provide their users with webpages that satisfy the purpose of their searches. If you are optimizing your online presence by offering quality content and relevant services, you will be ranked higher on Google search results.

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Emma Labrador See all their articles
Emma was the Head of Communication & Marketing at Oncrawl for over seven years. She contributed articles about SEO and search engine updates.
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