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In June 2016, Google announced that its machine-learning, artificial intelligence, semantic search-query algorithm, RankBrain, is now handling 100% of all search queries. According to Google, RankBrain is “hugely effective” in providing relevant, valuable content in response to search terms. 

In essence, RankBrain allows Google to effectively interpret and process the three billion searches that happen every day, including ones with search terms that don’t perfectly match up with relevant pages. With the increasing number of voice searches, and the resulting long-tail search queries, RankBrain is equipped to see patterns between otherwise-seemingly-unrelated queries and learn to better interpret future complex searches. 

Google’s Gary Illyes has stated that the purpose behind RankBrain is to better understand queries, and doesn’t directly impact SERPs aside from improving relevant results:

Since RankBrain is the third most important ranking factor (after links and content), many are asking, “how do I optimize for RankBrain?” The short answer is that there is really no way to specifically optimize for the algorithm aside from continuing with SEO best practices and focusing on providing the best possible experience for your audience. Be sure to review your analytics and website engagement metrics regularly, and let us know if we can help you to identify any shifts that may have resulted in this update!

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