What is Rankbrain?

What is Rankbrain? Google’s Third Most Important Ranking Factor.



Rankbrain is an integral part of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm that is applied to all search queries. It is an artificial intelligence (AI) system that is the latest addition to the algorithm that helps to process search results. We’re talking about machine learning capabilities where a computer can learn and teach itself how to complete a task and does not require human intervention or a detailed program to follow. It builds on what it already knows and learns to make connections to evolve its capabilities. These days the terms AI and machine learning are used interchangeably.


RankBrain Interprets “Long-tail” Search Queries for Hummingbird


The Hummingbird Google algorithm processes around 3.5 billion searches per day with 15% of those queries being brand new, never seen before, search queries (around 450 million per day). This is where RankBrain comes to the fore to interpret these new complex “long-tail” search queries to find the most relevant results for the user. It makes an informed “guess” on phrases in pages that have a similar meaning to the search query, and filters the results on SERP’s accordingly. RankBrain is the part of the algorithm that determines a page’s relevancy linked to a user’s search and decides on its ultimate ranking order. The search query is processed by RankBrain’s interpretation model that looks at a variety of factors regarding the searcher, including their location and words used that reveal their intent.


The Top Three Ranking Signals


RankBrain can see patterns in seemingly unconnected searches to find the similarities between then. It is learning to understand complex searches and how they are related to certain topics, to deliver results that the searcher will find the most useful. Its drive is to find better search answers and is currently the third most important ranking factor in the algorithm make-up. The top two ranking spots are assigned to the number of quality links and the content of the page.


Reading Signals for Ranking


RankBrain is reading the signals that Google uses to determine where to rank a webpage. Currently, there are over 200 of these signals with a possibility of up to 10,000 sub-signals. So, you can see that RankBrain is a strong player in the algorithm if it is in the signal reading, third spot. Words on a webpage are signals, if the words are highlighted in bold – that could also be a signal, the PageRank score is a signal, being mobile friendly is a signal –all of the many signals when calculated together provide a ranking position for a page.


It’s All About Context


Your SEO efforts for RankBrain does not require a total overhaul. You need to continue to focus on creating well-structured quality content that has optimized images and excellent UX. RankBrain is looking for context, so you want to ensure that you are perhaps peppering your content with a few LSI keywords to appeal to the algorithms search for context. As RankBrain continues machine learning, it will excel at understanding semantics and the relationship between queries and topics – benefiting both traditional and voice searches.


The Hummingbird Big Guns

The other “parts” of the Hummingbird algorithm are designed for different functions. Penguin, Panda, and Payday are the warriors, tackling spam content. Pigeon is the champion of improving all local search results. If you have ad heavy pages, Top Heavy will weigh in to demote your page. Pirate sails in to stop copyright infringement with Mobile Friendly being the element that rewards good behavior for having a mobile-friendly page. PageRank is designed to give credit to pages that have been successfully link building with links from highly credible sources. RankBrain is there to process the content data into vectors and then to assess the quality of a  page. It would seem it functions to summarize the content of a webpage for better ranking classification.


Giving Off the Right Signals

Although the inner workings of the Hummingbird Google Algorithm are secret, SEO experts have been able to successfully guess at ranking factors, to get a higher position on the SERP’s. If you are looking for a way to optimize your web pages not only for RankBrain but for many of the other algorithm elements, please give us a call today. 281-650-9543 We’ll show you what we have learned about Hummingbird and how to give off the right signals.












About the Author:
Cindy Pruitt is the CEO and Founder of GBC Digital Marketing in Houston, Texas. She has been in the Digital Marketing and SEO industry since 2003. She specializes in helping her clients generate more revenue through comprehensive and custom-tailored SEO and Digital Marketing Strategies. She uses her articles and eBooks to help educate folks about SEO and Digital Marketing in hopes of demystifying the process.

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