Google RankBrain Update & Its SEO Implications

Learn How Google's RankBrain Affects Your SEO Strategy

James Gibbons
Google RankBrain Algorithm Update

Google's primary objective is to deliver its users the most relevant search results. When users type in a query, Google understands it and provides relevant results. It concerns which sites come up first and which areas have the most relevant content. 

Google RankBrain is an artificial intelligence (AI) system designed to tackle ambiguous queries and understand user intents better than before. Simply put, it optimizes the search experience for users by understanding what they are looking for and serving them with results that match their query intent rather than just matching keywords or phrases.

However, there is still much ambiguity on how exactly RankBrain functions and how it affects page ranking. This blog explores all we know about the RankBrain update and how you can optimize your web pages.

Google RankBrain Explained

RankBrain is a machine learning artificial intelligence system used by Google to help process its search results. It is one of the "Hummingbird" updates that Google introduced in 2013 and has been in use since at least 2015. 

RankBrain uses artificial intelligence to interpret the searches of users and to help determine the best results to show for those searches. Google uses the rank brain to better understand the intent of search queries and provide better answers to those queries.

Google created the RankBrain update to parse through ambiguous queries. Instead, it examines every search query, processes it, and then recommends the most relevant search results to show on the SERPs. But, it does so in a completely different way than previous algorithms did. 

The RankBrain update is an extension to the 2013 Hummingbird algorithm update. Google introduced the RankBrain update in October 2015. It helps improve the algorithm's performance by understanding users' intentions better. 

Hummingbird Update v/s RankBrain Algorithm Update

Google launched the Hummingbird update in September 2013 and the RankBrain in October 2015. Google's Hummingbird update improves its understanding of searchers' intent instead of just their keywords.

Google achieved this by using semantic search techniques that consider the entire sentence or paragraph rather than individual keywords.

RankBrain is a machine learning algorithm that uses artificial intelligence to improve Google's understanding of search queries. It helps Google deal with the increasing complexity of queries, which can now include long, complex phrases and questions that don't have straightforward answers.

The Hummingbird update and RankBrain help improve Google's ability to provide relevant results for searchers. However, they achieve this goal in different ways.

The Hummingbird update uses semantic search techniques to better understand a searcher's intent, while RankBrain uses machine learning to understand the meaning of a search query.

RankBrain can also learn and adapt over time, allowing it to understand ever-changing search trends and queries better.

Overall, the Hummingbird update and RankBrain help improve Google's ability to provide relevant results for searchers. However, RankBrain has a more significant impact on search results.

Understanding the Google RankBrain Update

To make sense of complex and ambiguous search queries, RankBrain analyzes the questioning, trying to discover what the user wants. Then, it checks the user's location, current search trends, and historical data to determine which results to show on the SERPs

One key aspect of the RankBrain update is that it doesn't just focus on keywords. The algorithm determines search intent, location, current trends, and user search history to deliver the most relevant results.

Multiple factors ensure that the results Google generates for a user query by a unique user are distinct, relevant, and helpful to that particular user.

Since Google implemented the original RankBrain algorithm, there have been various updates to the algorithm that have made it even more intelligent and accurate. With each update, the algorithm has become even more robust in understanding users' queries and delivering the most relevant results.

History & Evolution of the RankBrain

To understand how and why we needed Google's RankBrain update, we need to understand the evolution of web search. 

Archie was the first web search engine created in 1990. It simply searched through files on FTP servers that were publicly accessible. In 1993, Yahoo became the first modern search engine. Users could submit URLs for inclusion in its index using a directory structure.

In 1995, a search engine called WebCrawler was created that used links to determine the importance of a website. The more links a website had, the higher it appeared in the search results. In 1998, Google was founded, and it introduced the PageRank algorithm. PageRank uses links and other factors, such as the number of times a word appeared on a page, to determine the importance of a website.

The early versions of Google's algorithm were pretty simple. However, over time, Google began adding more and more features, such as the Hummingbird algorithm in 2013 and the RankBrain update in 2015. RankBrain is a machine learning algorithm that uses artificial intelligence to understand the meaning of queries and determine the best results for users.

The RankBrain update has had a significant impact on search results. In some cases, the algorithm could interpret queries that had never been seen before correctly. As a result, website rankings have shifted dramatically. Some previously prominent websites have been pushed to the bottom of the search results.

The RankBrain update is still in its early stages and is constantly being updated and improved. As RankBrain becomes more sophisticated and significant, it will continue to impact search results.

Why did Google introduce RankBrain?

RankBrain was created to work with today's complex search queries. With today's rise of mobile devices, voice search, and the increase in the use of long-tail keywords, previous methods of generating search results were insufficient.

RankBrain was designed to help Google understand the intent of these complex queries. It uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to better understand the relationships between words and concepts. RankBrain helps Google match the user's search intent with the most relevant search results.

The main goal of RankBrain is to improve user experience. The new algorithm is more efficient than previous versions by learning from the user behavior and making better search results recommendations. 

RankBrain is also very effective in combating spam and improving the accuracy of search results. Since its launch in late 2015, RankBrain has become one of the three most important ranking signals for Google search results.

How does Google RankBrain work?

Now that we have a basic understanding of what RankBrain is and what it does let's take a closer look at how it works.

RankBrain is a machine learning algorithm that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to learn from data. It does this by using a process called "training."

RankBrain is constantly learning and adapting to changes in the way people search. Meaning that the search results that it shows for a particular query may be different today than they were yesterday or last week.

RankBrain has two main jobs:

1. Interpreting search queries

RankBrain can understand synonyms and related phrases. For example, if someone searches for "chrome," RankBrain will also show results for "google chrome," "Chromebook," and "chrome cast." Thus, even if users are not specific with their search query, Google will automatically interpret it for them and show the most relevant results. 

RankBrain can also solve complex queries. For example, if someone searches for "best laptops for students," RankBrain will understand that they are looking for a list of the best laptops for students. It will then rank the results based on the most relevant and useful websites for that query. RankBrain update assists in how search queries will be interpreted by measuring how people interact with the results.

2. Measuring user satisfaction

RankBrain measures how people interact with the search results, such as how long people stay on a page, whether they click on a result, and how often they return to Google to search for the same thing again.

RankBrain takes all this data when ranking the results for a particular query. It then uses this data to determine which search results are the most valuable and relevant for people.

Some of the factors that RankBrain takes into account include the following:

-The title of the web page

-The meta description of the web page

-The number of links to the web page

-The relevance of the content on the web page

-The authority of the website

-The location of the website

What Signals does RankBrain Consider?

There is no definitive answer to this question since Google keeps its search engine algorithms a closely guarded secret. According to Google, more than 200 significant ranking signals are evaluated, each with up to 10,000 variations.

However, several things influence how a page ranks, including the number and quality of backlinks, the relevance and authority of the website hosting the page, and the keywords used in the page's content and titles.

The algorithm is equipped to learn from past search queries and user behavior. It, thus, allows it to understand ambiguous questions better and deliver more accurate search results. The algorithm considers a variety of factors to determine which results to show.

Pages that rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) are typically most relevant to the user's search query and provide a great user experience. Ranking factors can vary depending on the particular search engine algorithm in use but typically include a variety of factors, such as the ones stated above, along with user experience.

RankBrain & SEO

RankBrain is a significant ranking factor for Google, and it can affect a website's position in SERPs in two ways. 

Firstly, RankBrain can help Google to understand the intent of searchers' queries better and to rank websites accordingly. It is because RankBrain can learn from the search queries that users type into Google and the results they click. As a result, RankBrain update means your web page & SEO efforts need to align with user search intents and not just individual search queries.

Secondly, RankBrain can help to improve the overall quality of Google's search results. RankBrain can filter out low-quality websites and pages from Google's search results. As a result, RankBrain can help ensure that Google's search results are high-quality and relevant to the user's query.

The biggest misconception about the RankBrain update is that it only affects how Google handles long-tail keywords. While it impacts long-tail keywords, it affects all search queries. 

The RankBrain algorithm can read and understand search queries better than Hummingbird. Since the RankBrain update rolled out, Google has become more aggressive with its penalties and penalizes sites that are not optimized for mobile devices. 

The RankBrain update makes Google's algorithm more efficient and accurate and shows users more relevant results. Since mobile searches have increased, Google expects web admins to have a mobile-friendly website, if not a mobile-first approach.

How to Optimize for RankBrain?

Optimizing web pages for RankBrain updates is not a straightforward process. RankBrain is a machine learning system that uses artificial intelligence to help Google process its search results. Thus Google is constantly updating what it is showing to the user. How do you stay on top of these constant updates and changing algorithms?

SEOs and website owners should create straightforward, concise content relevant to the user's search query since RankBrain is an intelligent algorithm. If the algorithm knows what your website is about, it will show relevant pages and match user search queries. 

1. Create Simple, Precise, and Human-Readable Content:

The main goal is to ensure that the algorithm can understand it. Use short paragraphs, crisp sentences, bullet points, and very few bolded words so the algorithm can easily read and understand your content.

2. Provide a great user experience: 

User experience is one of google's most important ranking factors. Ensure that your website is easy to use, provides a great user experience, and loads quickly. You can use tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights to help you improve your website's speed and user experience. 

3. Follow SEO Best practices to rank on SERPs:  

Ensure you follow the latest SEO best practices, so your website can rank higher. These include optimizing your website for keyword clusters, utilizing structured data, adding internal and external links, and ensuring a mobile-friendly website.

The Quattr platform can help you stay on top of search engine updates by providing you with up-to-date analytics about your website's performance and visibility within the search engines. It can also provide automated keyword reports, competitor analysis tools, A/B testing tools, SEO audit tools, and more that can help you optimize your website for better visibility and rankings. With the Quattr platform, you can receive personalized tips and advice to make the most out of your SEO strategy.

Improve Ranking with Google RankBrain

The Google RankBrain update is one of the most powerful algorithms updates Google has ever implemented. The algorithm update improves how Google handles long-tail keywords and delivers more accurate and relevant search results. 

With this update, the algorithm produced better SERP results for user queries, increasing webmasters' optimization efforts. Knowing how RankBrain works and how it affects the SERPs is essential. Once you understand how the algorithm works and what it considers, you can optimize your content to rank higher in the SERPs.

Quattr can keep you up-to-date on search engine updates through analytics, keyword reports, competitor analysis, A/B testing, SEO audits, etc. It provides personalized tips and advice for optimizing your website for better rankings.

Google RankBrain FAQs

What is Google RankBrain?

Google RankBrain is a machine learning artificial intelligence system used by Google to help process search results and provide search users with more relevant results. It is used to interpret and process search queries, understand user intent, and provide more relevant search results to the user.

Is Google RankBrain the same as Google Page Rank?

Page Rank is a metric that Google uses to determine the importance of a website. It measures the number and quality of links to a website. RankBrain, on the other hand, is a machine learning algorithm that Google uses to determine the relevance of a website. So, while they are related, they are not the same thing.

Why is RankBrain Important in SEO?

RankBrain is essential for SEO because it helps Google’s algorithms understand user search intent and deliver more relevant results. With RankBrain, Google can better understand the context of a query and not just the words used. This helps Google better match the user’s expectations with the search results. Ultimately, leveraging RankBrain helps optimize web pages for better rankings and improved visibility on search engine results pages.

About The Author

James Gibbons

James Gibbons is the Senior Customer Success Manager at Quattr. He has 9 years of experience in SEO and has worked with multiple agencies, brands, and B2B companies. He has helped clients scale organic and paid search presence to find hidden growth opportunities. James writes about all aspects of SEO: on-page, off-page, and technical SEO.

About Quattr

Quattr is an innovative and fast-growing venture-backed company based in Palo Alto, California USA. We are a Delaware corporation that has raised over $7M in venture capital. Quattr's AI-first platform evaluates like search engines to find opportunities across content, experience, and discoverability. A team of growth concierge analyze your data and recommends the top improvements to make for faster organic traffic growth. Growth-driven brands trust Quattr and are seeing sustained traffic growth.

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