Last Updated on August 1, 2020
What Is RankBrain Thinking?
You know that strange feeling you get when someone you don’t really know says exactly what you’re thinking? Well, so do Google, and that’s where they think the future of SEO is headed. When Google announced RankBrain as the third most important factor in their ranking algorithm back in 2015 we realised that artificial intelligence had already been playing a role in our searches. But what do we mean when we say artificial intelligence and what is RankBrain?Ready to Talk?
Artificial intelligence isn’t all about scary robots trying to take over the world. Well. Not yet… anyway… Artificial intelligence when it’s broken down is quite simple (at least when we’re talking about SEO). Essentially what artificial intelligence means is that; a computer can ‘learn’ new information, take that information it has learned and then act upon it. So if it see’s a pattern, or a trend, it can take that information in, and adjust how it performs it’s allotted task.
When we’re talking about Machine Learning (again in terms of SEO) it’s pretty much the same thing. For the simplest example look at your cell phone’s predictive text. When I type in “Steve” on my phone it pops up with “is running late. Again!“. In a way, my phone has learned that Steve is chronically late. RankBrain does a (much) more sophisticated version of this, along with two other factors, when it presents your search results in Google.
For now it seems that RankBrain is focused on longer tail search terms, and helping to ‘translate’ them into something more manageable for Google’s algorithm to break down. For example if you’re searching for “that thing you hang from a tree and hit with a stick then candy comes out” over time Rank Brain will come to realise from your actions, and all the other people searching, that you want a “piñata”. It tries to help establish the intent behind the search. If I’m searching for lye and a shovel, should AdWords be showing me ads for drain cleaner, or an attorney?
While things in the short term should stay as they are, improving long tail searches will change things eventually. As searches become more intuitive the influence on grey hat tactics like keyword stuffing should be decreased even further, because the algorithm will be able to take in an entire page’s content and work out the context itself. Which in turn will place an even higher value on producing quality, detailed, long form content.
The future potential for systems like RankBrain is limitless, but for now it is only one part of the ranking algorithm. Have you seen any changes in your long term search results as advertisers, or while searching? If you have we’d love to see what you think’s changed?