In a recent announcement, Google revealed that their new machine learning program, known as RankBrain, is now the third most important ranking factor. In other words, this is now one of the most important factors that Google uses to determine how high your page should rank. This new addition has been up and running for a few months now and works to build off of what Google already knows to make new connections.
Its main strength is what it can do outside of Google’s existing knowledge. RankBrain is able to better serve searchers who are looking for something Google has never seen before. It even works to evaluate queries in multiple languages. As phrased in the Bloomberg article that ﬁrst broke the news:
“RankBrain uses artiﬁcial intelligence to embed vast amounts of written language into mathematical entities — called vectors — that the computer can understand. If RankBrain sees a word or phrase it isn’t familiar with, the machine can make a guess as to what words or phrases might have a similar meaning and ﬁlter the result accordingly, making it more effective at handling never-before-seen search queries.”
Most of what we know about RankBrain thus far has come from the horse’s mouth, and SEO experts have tried to fill what gaps are left. Information shared by Google employees has shed a little light on what this new ranking factor might mean. But, they haven’t been very speciﬁc. We do know that the 15% of never-before-seen phrases get a huge signal from RankBrain and that most of these phrases are longer, niche-specific phrases.
They also revealed that RankBrain is not focused on any speciﬁc group of searches or niches and is not limited to any particular set of search queries. Not only that, it’s virtually impossible to manipulate. That doesn’t mean that all SEO methods are now useless. After all, this new method for serving search results has been up and running for more than a few months and our SEO techniques seem to be working just ﬁne (for the most part).
You’re probably wondering how this change might affect your site’s long term rankings. Since its roll out date hasn’t been officially verified, it might be hard to tell if and when RankBrain had any impact. However, because it is the third most important factor in determining a site’s authority, we know it probably had, or will have, some sort of impact at one point.
The main takeaway from this new revelation is this: As technology continues to advance, Google becomes increasingly smarter and harder to fool. So don’t try. Give them a real reason to rank your site. Be relevant. Fill your pages with rich, high-quality content. It’s that simple.