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All About Google's RankBrain Update

All About Google's RankBrain Update
January 25, 2019

All About Google's RankBrain Update

Jan 25, 2019
Rashmi Rao V
V Rashmi Rao, a Digital Marketer with 7+ years of experience in creative Content writing, proofreading and a SEO professional. Rashmi is a veteran for creating and managing digital content across mediums to help build relationships for organizations and individuals.

Get ready for some changes in the way you search and the way the search results are analyzed. Google initially introduced the search algorithm in 2015 on 26th Oct and was called RankBrain. The first news about the algorithm was posted by Bloomberg and in their news story it was described  - “RankBrain uses artificial intelligence to embed large amounts of written language into mathematical entities called vectors that the system could understand. If RankBrain spots a word or phrase that isn’t familiar with, the machine can guess as to what words or phrases might have a similar meaning and filter the result accordingly, making it more effective at handling never-before-seen search queries.” 

Google earlier used the basic algorithm for all the search queries done and used to display results accordingly. But now it uses RankBrain, which runs on machine learning and artificial intelligence to show relevant search results for the given search queries. This algorithm helps Google to sort, process and understand the search queries in a better way. The fantastic part is RankBrain keeps on tweaking the algorithm as and when required. Which means depending upon the search query RankBrain will work in the background and will increase or decrease the necessity of Backlinks, content quality or freshness, how big or small the content is, etc. After altering the algorithm, it checks whether users like this or not by sending it as a new search result. If the user doesn’t want the present search results, it goes to its old version. That’s something interesting Google is working on currently. 

Before we know more about RankBrain, first we shall know about Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence, that form the basis of RankBrain.

Machine Learning – A concept where the machine learns by itself. It doesn’t need a human to tell what to do and what not to. 

Artificial Intelligence(AI) – the smartness a system has I terms of learning either from a human or by itself.

So let’s understand more in-depth about how the RankBrain works?

RankBrain performs two things –

1. It understands user query, i.e. keywords or phrases – You might be surprised to know that earlier Google didn’t understand 15% of words typed in the search box! That amounts approx 400 million keywords every day. But today with the RankBrain update Google understand everything you type in a search box and gives 100% accurate results. 

Earlier Google would match words, but today it understands exactly what a user wants to say. It understands concepts, and this was described in detail in a blog published by Google “Learning the meaning behind words.” In this blog, they defined a concept called ‘Word2vec’ that converted keywords into concepts. This also meant that Google understands what user searches and can sort, analyze, display the information exactly as the user wants. Although the blog wasn’t about RankBrain but, it plainly explained how Google converts keywords into concepts and understands them.

E.g.: earlier if you searched “black handbags designed by Louis Vuitton,” Google would pick up words like ‘black’, ‘handbags,’ ‘designed,’ Louis Vuitton and show results.

But RankBrain understands what to you are trying to search and displays the results accurately. So when you are trying to search ‘black handbags designed by Louis Vuitton’ it also shows you similar results like various types of handbags marketed by Louis Vuitton and black handbags designed by other designers or manufacturers. 

2. After understanding the search query, it also analyses and measures how the users interact with these search results. 
Understanding user experiences signals (UX signals) is a significant part of RankBrain. It observes and reads the user journey, how a user searches and later interacts with the displayed results.

RankBrain analyzes the click-through-rates, the bounce rate, dwell time, pogo sticking and then keeps that in mind and shows a similar result when a user searches for the same keyword. Sounds confusing? Let’s see an example –

If you searched for ‘Digital Marketing course”, Google displayed some search results.

You clicked on the 1st one, and you found the information isn’t helpful. You then clicked on the 2nd link and to your disappointment, the second link wasn’t useful either. After 2 more links, you found the 5th link to be just what you were expecting. Bang on!  You got the right information you were searching for. So instead of moving out you stay on the page and read through the entire information available on the page.

The moving back and forth from one link to another is pogo sticking. So RankBrain checks this movement of the user and understands that the pages the user left are bad ones and are not relevant for the particular search query. Now, when a new user again searches for the same query, it will display only the search result that was viewed by earlier users and was found out to be relevant.

Is RankBrain part of Google Hummingbird search algorithm?

Although there isn’t a solid proof about it, we may consider RankBrain can be a small part of the Hummingbird Algorithm. RankBrain works in all languages which is a piece of good news for all the users across the globe.

RankBrain as a Signal

RankBrain is considered as the 3rd most important ranking signal after content and links along with some other hundreds of signal that go into an algorithm which ultimately determine the type of search results appear in a search page and rank them according to relevancy. 

RankBrain and its effect on SEO

Users today are using complex keywords and phrases in the search boxes, wherein it becomes difficult for Google to rank these keywords and show the results. But all thanks to RankBrain now we can search anything and everything and the way we want. RankBrain will do all the work for us and will show the best results. 

1. One signal doesn’t apply to the same queries

Before the concept of RankBrain came live, website optimization could be performed by analyzing the traditional signals like different links, matched keywords. That was simple. After the RankBrain came in, SEO has changed entirely as now the search results are based more user interests and requirements. The query results are being displayed more from user intent and SEO should also be designed around it.

2. Right signals help in building an excellent reputation for your brand

You must be thinking how this is possible? With the traditional SEO methods, you could build a reputation that is trusted by the users and the search engines by giving them the what they want. Similarly, with the RankBrain update, you can create an environment where the user gets what he/she searches. You need to define which signals suit you and how you can build a good reputation in the market. It can be fresh, clean content, organic links, user engagement, etc.

3. RankBrain encourages total keyword concepts

Gone are the days when SEO experts used to place one keyword for one page. Today we use multiple keywords and phrases in the best possible content structure and put all in one page. RankBrain focuses on the concept of total keyword concepts where it tries and understands what the search query is and delivers the result as per the user need.

With Google’s RankBrain update SEO experts need to be more clear and precise in defining the campaigns so that they get a perfect ROI on it. The update has changed the way SEO is looked at. RankBrain directly effects the search results and the page ranking which means marketers need to make proper use of content, signals, and SEO. The ranking methods and algorithms are always changing, and Google continuously updates about the new changes. It is thus necessary that you have to be updated with all the changes otherwise you may lose your ranking and users too. 

Other Resouces to Understand Rank Brain

Ggoogle RankBrain: The Definitive Guide by Backlinko

How RankBrain Works (And Why You Need to Jump On) by Neil Patel

Google Rankbrain: What Is It, Why Does It Matter in 2019? by SEO Expert Brad

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