How does Google RankBrain work? Can you explain it to me? Do you know how to optimize for it? Here, you can learn everything you need to know about Google’s RankBrain algorithm.
I believe it is not an exaggeration to say that Google RankBrain revolutionized how search results are determined. What would become Google PageRank revolutionized search in 1996 with its use of links as a ranking signal.
There have been a lot of changes and massive shakeups since then, but arguably no algorithm has been as important as RankBrain.
In our discussion below, we will discuss why this is not due only to its impact on search results (though it may also win there as well). It is due to what it meant – machine learning was introduced into what we think of as a search for the first time.
Google News had used machine learning in the past, but nothing like what we were seeing with RankBrain. It was an important development. I think it was revolutionary. This is the first time machine learning has been used for search.
What Is RankBrain?
RankBrain is a Google algorithm that analyzes user search queries and automatically determines which results should appear at the top of the page. It’s been in place since 2013 and is now responsible for around 50% of all searches conducted on Google. However, it doesn’t always make sense to rank high for competitive keywords. When this happens, you’ll see your rankings plummet.
What Is the Impact of Rankbrain On SEO?
RankBrain can have a significant or a minor impact on your SEO skills based on how sophisticated and modern your personal skills are. Bill Slawski gave the following example of why RankBrain is necessary for the search environment:
To an equestrian, a horse is a large, four-legged animal; to a carpenter, a horse has four legs, but it doesn’t live in fields or eat hay; to a gymnast, a horse is something you vault on. Context matters with RankBrain, so you may be able to optimize for this machine learning approach by capturing this context.”
In the RankBrain environment, Rand Fishkin, the owner of Moz, explains three essential concepts that SEOs should understand:
Different Ranking Signals Are Applied to Different Queries
Search engine optimization (SEO) must match signals to query intent using the machine learning algorithms that drive RankBrain. Before RankBrain, website optimization could have been evaluated by looking at all traditional signals (link diversity, content depth, keyword matching, etc.). Now, SEO must determine what type of content is most useful to users. When it comes to something like a hurricane, freshness is more important than the links a piece might have accumulated. If talking about Indigenous American music, you’ll be relying on content depth and possibly related topics your domain covers to signal authority.
One-Keyword-One-Page Is Dead
You probably already know that dividing a page into “spatula,” “spatulas,” “kitchen spatula,” “pancake turner,” and “metal spatula” is a stale practice that must be put out to pasture. An SEO approach that utilizes natural language and incorporates variant keyword phrases that reflect the way humans search and speak would combine all of these phrases (and their associated URLs) into one complete piece of content. For most SEOs, this is not new. However, the advent of RankBrain demonstrates the wisdom of focusing on comprehensive keywords rather than creating multiple pages for variants such as “widget” vs. “widgets.”
Reputation Signals Apply to Your Website
SEO works towards building your brand’s reputation as a resource that search engines and humans trust for providing a specific experience. Establishing such a reputation can result in you ranking well for the most important keywords to you. Does your brand’s reputation depend on freshness, depth, diversity of earned links, high user engagement, or other factors? You need to consider the topics you cover (e.g., real-time scores of sporting events versus an online course on Spanish). Searches you hope to rank for requiring quick, brief answers or in-depth exploration? As your domain builds a reputation based on the signals it wants to deliver, you will realize that RankBrain creates an environment in which your brand can become recognized as one that provides specific content that meets a particular need.