On 26 October 2015, Google confirmed a piece of news about their search results processing system. Google admitted to using artificial intelligence to monitor its search results. This is what is called Google Rankbrain. It is a machine learning artificial intelligence system. Machine learning refers to a system where a program itself learns things, rather than being taught by humans. According to Google, in a list of important ranking factors, Rankbrain comes in the top three, right up there along with content and links.
What is Rankbrain?
Rankbrain works by learning from every new search made. Basically, it uses artificial intelligence and embeds huge amounts of language into vectors. Vectors are mathematical entities. When Rankbrain is faced with a new word or a phrase that it isn’t familiar with or hasn’t encountered before, it makes a close guess as to what it might mean, and then filters the result accordingly.
Considering that new searches and terms make up almost fifteen per cent of queries each day according to Corrado, the importance of Rankbrain shoots up as providing the right results even when the same words might not occur in the result documents and images give an average user a feeling of the search engine almost reading their mind. This is an excellent way to keep customer loyalty and not even give them a chance to sample other search engines.
How is Rankbrain different?
Google has always been secretive about its ranking factors, and for good reason. The search engine doesn’t want companies/advertisers to use knowledge of their algorithms to trick the search engine into displaying certain pages in the search results, even if they might not be what the user is looking for. There are well over two hundred ranking factors. Google hasn’t revealed exactly what they do individually. So, how much importance Rankbrain holds for Google isn’t know with cent per cent surety. However, Google believes that the introduction of Rankbrain will help improve the Google search experience.
For one, the first three search results will probably be paid ones. Add to it the fact that the competition will get tougher now as user behavior will change and businesses will probably be investing more on Google advertising (just as Google wants). The other change will be how black hat marketers and spamsters will find it more difficult than before to tinker with the system. And if you know what Google likes, you will be able to make Rankbrain like your site more, which can bring in more visitors and sales.
What it isn’t
Since Google has been secretive about giving out information about what exactly Rankbrain does and how exactly it does it, there might be a few assumptions that can go wrong. So, what doesn’t Rankbrain do?
No, this isn’t Artificial Intelligence
This is not the first time Google has associated itself with artificial intelligence. A form of artificial intelligence that Google has already admitted to using is Knowledge Graph. However, Knowledge Graph and Rankbrain aren’t related.
It isn’t a standalone update
Rankbrain isn’t a standalone algorithm update. Google’s search algorithm is Hummingbird, and Rankbrain isn’t to be compared to that. In fact, Rankbrain works with Hummingbird to produce better search results. In layman’s language, it may be said that Ranbrain is part of the Hummingbird system.
It’s not a new way to search Google
Rankbrain isn’t a new kind of search or something that will make a considerable difference for someone using Google as a search engine. It is just a way for the system to filter search results and to push out better results with every search.
Rankbrain, in some ways, is just a small part of the giant machinery that is involved in manufacturing the Google search results that you see multiple times everyday within a tenth of a second at the click of a button.