Since its introduction in 2015, there have been a lot of rumors surrounding RankBrain. As expected, SEO experts are leading the charge as the group most interested in learning more about this revolutionary machine learning system.
However, after one year of its existence, our knowledge is still limited.
One thing is for certain. At this point in time, RankBrain’s use has been limited to a few queries. So far, it has shown excellent result and it is only a matter of time until it’s implemented on all the searches.
Now, let’s see what RankBrain actually is and how it can help Google users.
As previously mentioned, RankBrain is an advanced machine learning system. It represents a continuation of Google’s previous work, primarily Knowledge Graph and Hummingbird. RankBrain is separate from Google’s algorithms and its main purpose is to better establish users’ intent.
For now, it is still in trial. This is why people from Google decided to use it only for a small number of searches – ambiguous queries and slang in particular.
According to the company, system should adapt to natural human language. It should understand the user the same way other people understand him. That being said, it should provide more accurate and relevant results.
Among other, RankBrain should help with the new queries. In fact, there are millions and millions of brand new searches every day. A part of them do not make any sense to Google. RankBrain should be able to process them and provide valid answers.
How does RankBrain work?
A revolutionary thing about this system is that it is able to learn on its own. There is no need for human interference as it is completely autonomous. This is the main thing that separates him from anything we’ve seen so far.
RankBrain embeds words into vectors and then creates a map where there are correlations between vectors. If two words are distant from each other, their connection is loose. On the other hands, phrases that are close are related.
This allows RankBrain to assess every word and determine how important it is within an article.
Basically, instead of focusing on keywords, it focuses on copy as a whole. One word or a phase is not enough to determine relevancy so RankBrain dissects the entire piece.
It is expected that one article will have not one word but entire set of related words and synonyms. In order for you to rank, you will have to have all these keywords that will suggest the real purpose behind your content. If the article lacks certain crucial keywords, RankBrain will perceive it as less relevant.
RankBrain’s practical use
Previous systems focused on one keyword.
If you spammed that phrase within an article, there was a higher chance that you will appear in top 10 results of Google. Nowadays, this is a really bad strategy if you are an SEO expert.
RankBrain doesn’t linger on that one phrase. Instead, it is able to discover a true meaning behind a query.
For example, if you type in “Michelle Obama’s Husband” you will get results about Barrack Obama. Previous algorithms would instead return articles that have Michelle, Obama and Husband keywords within them. This represents a major progress as Google can now better understand the query.
However, the biggest benefit of having RankBrain lies in its ability to process completely new queries. In fact, it the main purpose behind its existence.
For some time now, Google had trouble processing ambiguous questions and slang. It required a lot of work just to give somewhat reasonable answers. With this learning system that is all over.
The machine learning system is able to learn based on users’ feedback. In other words, factors such as time spent on website or bounce rate are a crucial way of pointing out whether an article is relevant or not. RankBrain collects all these impressions and uses them for future reference giving certain articles more value while devaluating others.
How can I adapt to RankBrain?
At this point in time, there is not much need for any change.
First of all, RankBrain is used on a small population of queries meaning that by optimizing you are not going to profit that much. The percentage of searches processed by RankBrain is so small that there is no point in even discussing it.
The rules of the game are the same: write highly informative content that will attract visitors resulting in more links and shares. In the end, RankBrain (and Google as a company) are constantly looking to improve user’s experience. As long as you are playing by the rules, you will be fine regardless of RankBrain or any other system which they may implement.
In future, user experience will probably be the most important ranking factor. So, if the visitors are satisfied with your articles you have a good chance of ranking higher in Google.