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:
Lemme try one last time: Rankbrain lets us understand queries better. No affect on crawling nor indexing or replace anything in ranking— Gary Illyes (@methode) March 18, 2016
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!
- FAQ: All about the Google RankBrain algorithm from Search Engine Land (June 23, 2016)
- How to Use Google RankBrain in SEO from Search Engine Journal (May 3, 2016)
- How Google’s RankBrain Algorithm Affects SEO in 2016 from SEO Hacker
- Artificial intelligence is changing SEO faster than you think from TechCrunch (June 4, 2016)
- RankBrain: A Study to Measure Its Impact from Stone Temple Consulting (March 9, 2016)