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What is Google's RankBrain and What Does it Mean to You?

What is Google's RankBrain and What Does it Mean to You?

Google's ever-evolving algorithms are always top-of-mind for those seeking SEO services in Snohomish WA. Google confirmed the use of RankBrain, a self-learning, artificial intelligence system in late 2016. Here's what you need to know about RankBrain and how it will affect your SEO practices in 2017

What Does RankBrain Do?

The current algorithm in use is still Hummingbird; RankBrain is one of the many parts that make up this algorithm. Signals from these different parts of an algorithm are used to determine a site or page's inclusion and rank in a list of Google search results. The signals that are given from RankBrain have to do with locating pages that do not necessarily contain the exact search terms that an individual types into a search engine, but still match the subject of what the searcher is seeking.

Google has been using synonyms for a while and serving up pages about "windbreakers" when you type in "jackets" has become an expectation. What's new here is that RankBrain builds its own knowledge base from experience, and is a little smarter about making contextual differentiations between, for example, the company Apple and the fruit apple. 

What Does this Mean for SEO?

For businesses that are trying to boost traffic to their websites from search engines, this change should make SEO a bit easier by further focusing search results on the intent of the searcher rather than the exact words that were typed into the search bar. That means that you can focus your content creation even more on the reader and your marketing goals, and worry a little bit less about cramming details into your prose to make sure it's found on Google. 

RankBrain will also help reduce the number of mismatches that are based on exact terms rather than searcher intent. For example, if you are looking for information about consumers, RankBrain will look at the other words in your search terms to determine if you mean customers, animals that eat things, or people who use consumable items like printer ink. The overall effect may mean fewer actual hits on your pages, but the hits you do get will be of higher quality. 

Looking to the Future

For now, RankBrain is being used primarily to inform the search results for the small number of queries that Google receives that have never been seen by Google's algorithms before. However, because RankBrain can "learn" or make new connections based on old connections, or based on human-fed information, we can be sure that this type of technology will become increasingly important to how Google filters search results in the future.