RankBrain – Google’s Newest Ranking Factor is 3rd Strongest Signal

RankBrain – Google’s Newest Ranking Factor is 3rd Strongest Signal

Greg Corrado, a senior research scientist at Google, revealed that RankBrain is the third most important signal in the Google Search Algorithm when determining what content to show in search results during a Bloomberg Business interview today.

So what it is exactly?

RankBrain is mainly used as a way to interpret the searches that people submit to find pages that might not have the exact words that were searched for – Source

It’s apparently the first Google ranking signal that uses artificial intelligence to actually learn and was introduced into Google’s search algorithm earlier this year.  The process begins when a new search phrase is introduced to the search, which is an estimated 15% of all queries, where the machine takes a guess as to what words or phrases might have a similar meaning and filter the requests accordingly.     According to early findings, the machines have had a 10% percent success rate than Google engineers when asked to guess which result Google would rank number one for various queries.

RankBrain has reportedly been deployed for a few months and a “very large fraction” of the millions of queries a second that people type into the company’s search engine have been interpreted by the artificial intelligence system that embeds vast amounts of written language into mathematical entities — called vectors — that the computer can understand.   When RankBrain sees a word or phrase it doesn’t understand, the machine makes this best guess to find the best results.

In prepared remarks (via a transcript of the call from SeekingAlpha), he told listeners, “Our investments in machine learning and artificial intelligence are a priority for us. Machine learning has long powered things like voice search, translation, and much more. And our machine learning is hard at work in mobile services like Now on Tap, which quickly assist you by providing additional useful information for whatever you’re doing, right in the moment, anywhere on your phone. If you’re an Android user that runs Marshmallow, try it out by long pressing the home button, when you’re in the Map, it’s very cool.” (Source)

What does RankBrain mean for SEO?

In the few months it has been deployed, RankBrain has become the third-most important signal contributing to the result of a search query.  “I was surprised,” Corrado said. “I would describe this as having gone better than we would have expected.”   According to Search Engine Land, RankBrain probably isn’t a ranking signal, but rather a processing tool.

Of course, Google has been working on converting conversational questions and complex search queries into digestible phrases for some time.  The Hummingbird  overhaul a little over two years ago was a major change in the core algorithm and this new feature is one more component.  Of course, there will be a lot of discussions about SEO being dead, but this is just one more example that you must naturally integrate keyword signals into creative content for Google to index, analyze, and add to its search index.

So when Google talks about RankBrain as the third-most important signal, does it really mean as a ranking signal? Yes. Google reconfirmed to Search Engine Land that there is a component where RankBrain is directly contributing somehow to whether a page ranks.  Theoretically, RankBrain’s off-line artificial intelligence algorithm is somehow helping Google better classify pages on the content that they contain (Read more on how Google learns the meaning of words).    RankBrain might be able to better summarize what a page is about than Google’s existing systems have done. Source

Oh BTW, what are the #1 and #2 Rankings Signals?  Google won’t tell us, but I wonder if they are also concepts that will be introduced to the public when the time is right.