Google RankBrain as a Ranking Factor – The Future of SEO

In October 2015 Google took the rare step of announcing a major addition to its search ranking algorithms.
That new addition, already in operation at the time of the announcement, was named RankBrain. It was revealed to be a major application of machine learning technology to aid a better understanding of search queries made by humans.
In his Future of SEO and Digital Marketing presentation before a group of top marketing professionals in Boston, Perficient Digital’s Eric Enge explained not only the basics of RankBrain, but its implications for SEO and digital marketing.
Watch that section of the presentation below, followed by my text summary, and relevant links for your further study.

What Is RankBrain and Why Does It Matter?

In their announcement of the addition of RankBrain to the Google search ranking algorithm, Google said it is now the “third most important ranking factor.” That makes it one of the most significant updates to Google Search since it was invented by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in their Stanford University dorm room. The first and second most important factors remain backlinks to your site and the quality and relevancy of your content.
So what is RankBrain? RankBrain’s primary function is to translate ambiguous or unusually worded queries into the standard queries Google can understand. Here’s an example of the type of query Google says RankBrain can understand and translate:
typical rankbrain query
Can you figure out what question that person is actually asking? As a hint, here’s the result that Google returns with RankBrain in effect:
RankBrain influenced search result
Now maybe you’ve got it! The more common language for this question: What predator is at the top of the food chain?
Most intelligent humans would probably have been able to figure that out eventually. But it’s a monumental task for a machine, given all the nuances and vagaries of human language. There are always a great number of different ways to say almost anything.
That’s where machine learning steps in. A machine learning algorithm is programmed to observe, test, and learn from its own feedback. In this case, RankBrain observes the language people use in queries on Google, and watches what results seem to be the ones that actually satisfy the users.
In this way, RankBrain continually grows its understanding of the variety of ways humans express themselves.
RankBrain is especially important as more people use mobile devices and voice search. People ask questions differently out loud than they do in text.

More Information:


About the Author

Mark Traphagen was our Content Strategy Director for Perficient Digital until February of 2019. He has been named one of the most influential content and social media authors in numerous industry listings.

More from this Author

Thoughts on “Google RankBrain as a Ranking Factor – The Future of SEO”

  1. The best Option is to be human and understand your customers needs.
    Google allready speaks german much better than bing. Rankbrain makes Google a lot better in understanding .. Hard work for other search engines to reach google

  2. AI-robots can not build better websites. These robots only can detect certain quality patterns. It is up to Seos to build and form better websites. The robots can detect: best links paterns, best social signals patterns, best onpage patterns, best technical patterns, best semantic site architecture and also most readable high-value content related to a certain topic. So the future google aglo powered by artificial intelligence through deep machine learning with the help of neuronal networks can filter out the common aspects of good websites. So in the future it will be much harder to fake rankings, because Google is getting better at looking at the whole quality picture of websites.

  3. This really pushes SEO´s to focus more on user intents, all from user experience, content and links to how the inbound marketing is done.
    Looking forward to hear more from you about this topic!

  4. Hi! I have never heard about RankBrain as a new feature of Google. google is constantly evolving and it is really great! Wondering how it works and have a great desire try using it.
    Thank you that you continue to delight us with such an interesting posts.

  5. So again it comes back to the same thing. If the your website is useful, gives satisfied answer to the user queries. Other things like long visit duration, low bounce rate, visiting the same website again for the same type of queries.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe to the Weekly Blog Digest:

Sign Up