It’s no secret that Google’ parent company, Alphabet, has invested heavily in machine learning and artificial intelligence. Whether you know it or not, you’ve been relying on A.I. to search and to be found in Google for a while now. Meet RankBrain. You can benefit from learning how RankBrain works.
In mid-2015, Google began using a machine learning technology called RankBrain to help deliver its search results. Bloomberg Technology reported that, at that time, about 15% of Google’s s searches were being interpreted by an artificial intelligence system.
RankBrain was applied to all search results beginning in June 2016. Google has brought the A.I.’s role in the algorithm increasingly to the fore. Bloomberg says it is the third most important element in Google’s search algorithm. By now, if you work with web content, you should know some basics about your friendly neighborhood A.I.
How RankBrain Works
RankBrain is one of hundreds of signals, but a significant one, that figure into Google’s algorithm. Intuit reported, in December 2016, that “RankBrain is so new that many developers and internet gurus are having trouble understanding its full capabilities. RankBrain is confirmed to be the third most important signal, which makes it very important for web developers and SEO specialists.”
Basically, RankBrain uses artificial intelligence to analyze language mathematically. If RankBrain doesn’t recognize a word or phrase, it can “guess” based on context. It’s not unlike the way you, yourself, might interpret a new word you come across in a book. The upshot for Google is that it’s now more capable of handling first-time search queries.
RankBrain Interprets Language
RankBrain goes even further that recognizing words; it interprets them. Plan Left Advertising and Marketing says, “Its patterns of interpretation change based on demographic and colloquial trends.” Theoretically, the more it interprets, and the more new words it processes, the more it will “learn” and become more sophisticated.
The focus on context may have improved Google’s ability to translate from one language to another. The New York Times reported on this phenomenon.
One recent revelation about Google’s search function could be cause for concern. The latest version of the algorithm also prioritizes results based on how likely you are to click on them, multiple sources tell. Business Insider reported that this particular change unintentionally gave higher rank to fake news. Experts disagree about how much RankBrain contributed to this problem.
How Does It Affect My Site?
If a Google prioritizes newer content over older content, all other things being equal. So keep that site up-to-date. Launch a blog if you don’t already have one. Content, more than ever, requires daily commitment.
Speak the language of your audience. Now that Google is increasingly able to understand context and colloquialisms, talk like they do. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and ask yourself what he or she would ask Google. Embrace jargon and slang, if that’s what your customer uses.
Google considers how frequently a keyword appears in your content. The repetition of certain words is called “co-occurrence.” The more words you write, the more you can repeat yourself without sounding unnatural. Also, the more content, the more opportunity to put your message in context. As we’ve discussed, RankBrain understands words according to their context.
Google considers how in-depth visitors go on a website. As Quickbooks explained, “A search result that leads a visitor to spend more time and more page visits on a website is considered a high-engagement signal.” So anticipate the needs of your audience. Once they get to your site, consider what information they might want next. Provide it and, more important, show them how to find it. Think through your traffic flow from one page to another.
Essentially, as artificial intelligence develops, machines will “think” more and more like human beings. So, create your content for human beings. Content creators can focus less on trying to game or “outsmart” search engines and simply focus on creating strong, useful content. A.I. might sound mysterious, and even portrayed as scary in pop culture, but its purpose is to make life easier. RankBrain may be the most ubiquitous example at the moment.