What is Rankbrain & How Will it Affect SEO?

What is Rankbrain & How Will It Affect SEO?

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As most people who have dabbled in search engine optimisation (SEO) know, Google’s ranking algorithm is a complex piece of work.

There are hundreds of factors that come into play when determining which web page to rank for a given search query. And of course, Google changes them constantly.

Some of these changes are small tweaks. Others, however, can have a major impact on how SEO is practiced. In this article, we’ll be talking about the latter.

Although it has been around for quite a while, lately one of the most common questions we have been getting from our SEO clients has been, ‘What is this Google Rankbrain? How is it going to change our SEO?’.

What is rankbrain for SEO

So, What is Rankbrain?

Rankbrain is Google’s name for its machine-learning algorithm that assists to process its search results, particularly one-of-a-kind or rare search queries. In case you’re wondering, 15% of Google’s daily search queries (about 500 million searches) fall into that category.

Rankbrain uses advanced mathematical processes and language semantics to learn more about search behaviour in order to provide better search results. By machine learning, we mean that the computer is able to learn things by itself instead of being thought by humans. Over time, it is able to update itself as it learns more as opposed to having to be updated by a human. This is Google’s attempt at Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Is Rankbrain any Good?

Yes, it is. Google set up an experiment where it had its best engineers eyeball some pages and guess which ones the search algorithm would serve on top for a given query. These engineers, the people working on Google’s algorithm everyday, had a 70 percent rate of success. Rankbrain reportedly had a 80 percent success rate.

When Google turned off Rankbrain, it found that it was as damaging to users as forgetting to serve half the pages on Wikipedia.

In case you’re wondering, Bing also has its own machine learning algorithm called RankNet. It has been using it since 2005 but has kept relatively quiet about it.

Third Most Important Ranking Signal

As reported by Bloomberg, Rankbrain is now the third most important signal when decided which webpage to rank for a particular search query.

RankBrain is one of the “hundreds” of signals that go into an algorithm that determines what results appear on a Google search page and where they are ranked, Corrado said. In the few months it has been deployed, RankBrain has become the third-most important signal contributing to the result of a search query, he said.

Impact of Rankbrain on SEO

First, you need to understand the whole purpose behind Rankbrain’s creation. Google wants to move beyond literal keyword searches and better understand the meaning and intent behind a particular search.

This will impact how you do your keyword research, targeting and content creation.

We used to create one page targeting one keyword phrase and then creating content around that one keyword phrase. With Rankbrain in the picture, you shouldn’t only create content for just one phrase. The content you create can target one main keyword phrase and other phrases related to that keyword. This will better help Rankbrain understand and rank your pages.

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Fairuze Shahari

Fairuze Shahari is a principal consultant at CloudRock. When he's not furiously downing G&T's, Fairuze Shahari writes for CloudRock, an inbound marketing agency.