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Google rolled out a new hand-crafted machine-learning artificial intelligence system known as RankBrain to help process its daily search results.

In case you are asking yourself how the new system fits in with Google’s overall ranking system, below are a few crucial elements regarding RankBrain that you should know.

What Is RankBrain?
It is an artificial intelligence system Google is using alongside its current search engine algorithms, such as Hummingbird, to provide better results for user queries. It is rooted in machine learning and uses mathematical processes as well as advanced understanding of language semantics to learn more about why and how people search. It then applies the conclusions to future search results. Instead of being pre-programmed to respond to situations in a specific and pre-determined manner, RankBrain can update itself over time.

What is Machine Learning? This is where a computer teaches itself how to do something instead of being taught by humans or rather following detailed programming.

What is Artificial Intelligence? Abbreviated as AI, true artificial intelligence is where a computer can be equally smart as a human being in terms of acquiring knowledge through learning or being taught as well as building on what it already knows and making new connections. True AI only exists in science fiction novels, but in practice it is used to refer to computer systems designed to learn and make connections.

Is RankBrain The New Way Google Rank Search Results? No. It is part of Google’s overall search “algorithm”. Algorithm is a computer program used to sort through the billions of pages it has indexed and find the ones deemed most relevant based on particular queries.

What is The Name of Google’s Search Algorithm? Google’s search algorithm is called Hummingbird. Although the overall algorithm didn’t have a name for a long time, Google went ahead and overhauled that algorithm back in mid 2013, and in the process named it Hummingbird.

Is RankBrain Part of Google’s Hummingbird Search Algorithm? Yes, it is. While RankBrain doesn’t have the ability to handle all the searches, Hummingbird does, with RankBrain playing its part. Hummingbird is made up of different parts, including Panda, Payday and Penguin for fighting spam, Top Heavy for demoting ad-heavy pages, Pigeon for improving local results, Pirate for fighting copyright infringement and Mobile Friendly for rewarding mobile-friendly pages.

Google Hummingbird - Moving Mountains Advisors

Isn’t
Google Algorithm Called PageRank? PageRank is part of the Hummingbird algorithm designed to give pages credit based on the number of links from other pages pointing on them. It is special in the sense that it is the first name Google gave to one of its ranking algorithm parts, way back in 1998 when search engine began.

What About The Signals Google Uses To Rank Pages? Signals are things used by Google to help them determine how a Web page should be ranked. For instance, it will read the words contained in a Web page, hence the words are the signals. In case some words are in bold, Google might consider that as a signal too. The calculations used as part of the Page Rank give each page a PageRank score, which is used as a signal. Mobile-friendliness of a page is also taken to be another important signal. These signals are usually processed in various parts within the Hummingbird algorithm, and helps to figure out the pages that Google should show based on various searches.

How Many Signals Are There? Google have been consistently saying that it has more than 200 major ranking signals, with the sub-signals likely to be more than 10,000.

Is RankBrain The Third-Most Important Signal? Yes, it is. Google have confirmed that RankBrain is indeed its third-most important factor when it comes to ranking Web pages. According to Greg Corrado, a senior research scientist with Google, RankBrain has become the 3rd most important signal that contributes to search results.

What Are the First Two Signals? It is still unknown what the first and second-most important signals are. Google haven’t revealed the two signals, but there are some guesses that the two signals could be the links pointing to a Web page and the words in that page.

What Does RankBrain Do? It is mainly used to interpret the searches people submit to find specific pages based on the words entered. Furthermore, it can be used to handle unique or ambiguous queries that haven’t been submitted to Google before. Google notes that new queries make up to 15% of total searches a day. Considering the fact that Google processes about 3 billion searches per day, approximately 450 million are entirely unique or new searches.

How Does It Work? Using artificial intelligence, RankBrain embeds large amounts of written language into mathematical entities known as vectors that a computer can understand. In case RankBrain sees a phrase or word it isn’t familiar with, it can make a guess as to what the phrase or word might have a similar meaning with and filter the result accordingly. This makes it more effective when it comes to handling new or ambiguous searches.

How Does RankBrain Help Refine Queries? RankBrain is designed to help interpret different queries and effectively translate them in order to find the most appropriate pages for the searcher. It can interpret complex and multi-word queries, commonly known as “long-tail” queries within a very short time. RankBrain can identify patterns between seemingly unconnected complex searches, hence identifying how they are similar to each other.

Does RankBrain Really Help? RankBrain is making a huge impact at the moment. Considering the fact that Google is fairly conservative when it comes to what gets into its ranking algorithm, the inclusion of RankBrain is a clear indication that Google itself has a great degree of confidence on its effectiveness. Furthermore, Google notes that RankBrain is the third-most important signal.

Is RankBrain Always Learning? According to Google, RankBrain learns offline. It’s given a collection of historical searches then it learns to make predictions from the data. The predictions undergo tests and if they are proven to be good, the latest version of RankBrain will go live. The learning and testing cycle will continue offline until a better version is made.

Does RankBrain Do Anything Else Apart From Query Refinement? Apart from refining queries, RankBrain contribute to the ranking of a Web page through a RankBrain score. It is helping Google to better classify pages based on the content the pages contain. There are also chances that RankBrain can better summarize a Web page than the Google systems that have been in place for quite some time.

In the end, no matter what Google does you can guarantee we’ll be here to help you out. Don’t hesitate to shoot us an email or give us a call. We’ve got your back.

2 Comments

  1. Nikolay Stoyanov

    Nice article Travis! Do you think that RankBrain will be replaced by something more advanced in next couple of years or will Google stick to it, trying to see limits of its potential?

  2. Travis Causey

    RankBrain is always evolving. I’m sure it’s already way beyond what we can imagine. That’s the thing with self-learning.

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