First introduced in late 2015, Rank Brain is a key AI component that contributes to Google’s algorithm. It utilises machine learnings (machines teach themselves from the data that is received) to rank search engine results. To explain it in simpler terms, Google supplies the program with data from which it then determines which elements it can match up with and from there, the search engine results are ranked based on these matches. RankBrain interprets all searches that people enter into the search engine and finds pages that people may not have used exact keywords for.

Rank Brain works in conjunction with Google’s main search algorithm, which is known as ‘Hummingbird’. Hummingbird is the core algorithm which improves semantic search, which as a result, improves the overall search engine. Semantic search is the process where a search engine attempts to generate the most accurate results by interpreting searcher intent, query context and the relationship between words.

Signals are used to determine how to rank the different webpages. There are various different signals which Google will take into consideration when ranking, such as mobile-friendliness, page speed, HTTPS, H1 titles, and quality content to name a few. RankBrain comes in as the third most important signal, with the first two factors being content and links. As Bloomberg stated, RankBrain is just one of the hundreds of signals that go into the Hummingbird algorithm that controls which results will appear on Google search as well as their ranking position.

How Does It Affect You?

As long as you are applying all relevant and updated SEO techniques, RankBrain shouldn’t affect you in a negative way. RankBrain helps to distinguish the context behind words. An example of this is with the word Apple. Some people may search ‘Apple’ hoping to get results regarding Apple Mac products, whilst others may be after the fruit apple. RankBrain technology is able to distinguish the users intent when searching. Another example is when someone searches a generic term such as ‘How many tablespoons are in a cup’, RankBrain can generate an answer that is relevant to that specific region that the question is coming from, as many countries use different measurements.


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