Google’s search algorithm, or computer program used to sort data and find the most relevant pages for a specific search, is a complicated process that is constantly updating. Launched in 2013, this algorithm, Hummingbird, was created to return better search results while acting both quickly and precisely (hence the name). The last time Google made an algorithmic change this large was in 2001. Hummingbird has improved upon its conversational search accuracy, as well as result relevancy and speed. While there are many working parts to Hummingbird, today we will focus on RankBrain, a machine-learning artificial intelligence subsection.
RankBrain is used to process Google search results through artificial intelligence, or simply intelligence exhibited by a machine designed to learn and make connections. This is achieved through the machine teaching itself how to accomplish something, rather than being taught by humans or detailed programs.
RankBrain specifically is used to interpret searches users submit to find pages that may not contain the exact wording of the search. Its principal function is interpreting complex, multi-word searches called “long tail” queries. An example of a long tail search is “best running shoes for women” compared to the simple search, “sneakers”. The two searches generally come from similar thought processes, but may have very different results. RankBrain works to understand patterns between the two and produce similar hits. From here, it allows itself to learn and better understand complex searches in the future and whether or not they relate to varying topics. This will improve the relevancy for future search results.
Now that you have a little background on RankBrain you’re probably wondering how this affects you and your digital presence. RankBrain will have a sizable impact on Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. In the past, increasing your SEO success primarily meant repetition of single key word phrases. Today, this program is moving away from verbatim searches, and is interpreting the overall message of the user; this means mentioning multiple relevant phrases and aspects within your overarching topic. If done correctly, RankBrain will read your content better and drive more pertinent traffic to your site.
Google’s end goal with launching RankBrain is to improve the overall experience for the user: for them to find more relevant results and have their intentions better interpreted. It impacts how companies should be implementing SEO strategies, and will hopefully make all of our lives a little bit easier.
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