Without knowing what “RankBrain” means, people new to SEO might assume that it refers to a technique used by Google to rank search results.
This assumption is not far off, but not every component of the Google search algorithm is a ranking factor in and of itself.
In this article, we will investigate claims about RankBrain as a ranking factor and provide an explanation of what RankBrain is and how it is used in search results.
Claim: RankBrain is a ranking factor
RankBrain is a technology that is said to affect how Google displays search results.
Because it is related to research, RankBrain is commonly referred to as a ranking agent.
If you are new to SEO, you might hear this and start thinking that RankBrain is another signal that you should improve.
But that’s not exactly how it works.
The next section goes over what RankBrain is designed to do, and when Google calls it to help answer queries.
Evidence: Is RankBrain a ranking factor?
RankBrain is an artificial intelligence (AI) system introduced in 2015 to help Google return results for queries that have not been searched for before.
That changed somewhere between spring 2015 and 2016 when an unannounced update was made to RankBrain that integrated AI into all queries.
This information was revealed in a Wired article, which notes that Google is not clear on how RankBrain will optimize all queries except that it Do you affect the ranking.
Google is characteristically vague about exactly how it optimizes search (something with a long tail? Is it a better explanation for ambiguous requests?) but [Google engineer Jeff Dean] He says that RankBrain is “involved in every query”, and influences actual ranking “maybe not on every query but on a lot of queries”.
What sets RankBrain apart from other Google algorithms is its ability to learn how to answer more ambiguous queries.
As Google’s Gary Illyes explains, this is accomplished by making an educated guess as to what a user is likely to click on for a query they haven’t seen before.
“RankBrain is an interesting PR machine learning ranking component that uses historical search data to predict what a user is most likely to click on a previously unseen query.”
RankBrain allows Google to solve problems it used to have with traditional algorithms.
Contrary to popular theories about how RankBrain works, it does not use data collected from users’ interactions with a web page.
RankBrain relies more on data collected from users’ interactions with search results.
Ellis provides more clarity:
“It’s a really cool piece of engineering. We’ve saved our butts countless times when the traditional alts would be like, eg ‘Oh look at the ‘no’ in the query string!” Let’s ignore it! ‘, but it’s generally based on (sometimes) outdated data about what happened on the results page itself, not on the landing page.
In short – RankBrain is a machine learning system that allows the Google search algorithm to provide more relevant results.
This is believed to be achieved through an improved understanding of fuzzy queries and long-tail keywords.
RankBrain uses data collected from users’ interactions with search results to predict which pages are likely to be clicked on for a brand new search query.
RankBrain as a ranking factor: our judgment
Google has confirmed that RankBrain is used to rank search results and that it participates in all queries.
In 2016, Andrey Lipatsev, chief strategist for Google Search Quality at Google, He said RankBrain was one of the top three ranking signals (along with content and links).
RankBrain continues to play an important role in search results today.
RankBrain differs from traditional ranking factors in that there is no clear way to actively improve it.
How do you optimize for keywords or vague queries that no one has entered into Google before?
The only option is to provide Google with as much information as possible about the page, which is something site owners should do anyway if they are creating comprehensive content for users.
Ellis was asked this question once and answered With similar sentiments:
“You optimize your content for users and therefore for RankBrain. That has not changed.”
Search Engine Journal VIP Contributor Dave Davies offers more advanced tips for communicating information to Google regarding different entities on a page in a complete guide to the Google RankBrain algorithm.
Featured image: Robin Biong / Search Engine Journal