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Google’s New AI is Powerful Factor in Search Results

An in-depth explanation of how Google RankBrain has changed the entity of search. Google RankBrain; is a machine learning system that assist in determining the best results.


When users perform an internet search through Google, the results served up are generated by an algorithm called Hummingbird. This algorithm is actually made up of many individual tools and processes, including PageRank, Panda, Mobile-Friendly, Penguin, and more. Together, all these pieces pull from thousands of signals to sort billions of indexed web pages and return the most relevant pages in response to whatever query is typed in. As of fourth quarter, 2015, a new piece of this vast algorithm puzzle is running globally, and it’s already vital to search results.

It’s called RankBrain, and its job is to help return the best results for ambiguous or complex, long-tail searches. What makes this tool unique among Google’s search arsenal is that RankBrain is a machine-learning artificial intelligence (AI). Searches in the past have generated results based solely on painstaking work by programmers that tells the system how to respond to any given search request. RankBrain is designed to learn and teach itself rather than rely on solutions pre-programmed by humans.

“RankBrain is one of the “hundreds” of signals that go into an algorithm that determines what results appear on a Google search page and where they are ranked, Corrado said. In the few months it has been deployed, RankBrain has become the third-most important signal contributing to the result of a search query”Greg Corrado, a ‎Senior Research Scientist and Tech Lead at Google

RankBrain’s Capacity to Learn Shapes New Search Results

RankBrain’s ability to learn is intended to result in better answers to the millions of never-before-seen search queries that people request from Google every day. While RankBrain is fairly new, Google has announced that it is already the third most important factor in search results (and no, Google has not revealed what the first and second factors are). RankBrain goes beyond simple refinement of a search query, and though Google has not revealed how, the AI is contributing directly to a page’s ranking.


Industry evaluation of RankBrain so far indicates that the AI may be interpreting web pages for context, looking for high-value content that meets search terms, even if the exact keywords or search phrase don’t appear on the page. RankBrain appears to be able to learn to see patterns, understanding similarities between words even when they don’t seem to be connected, and to better summarize a page’s meaning and content. This allows RankBrain to suggest more concise results for new, ambiguous searches.

Google told Search Engine Land that RankBrain learns offline, where programmers feed the AI batches of historical searches and it learns to make connections. Written language is processed into mathematical vectors that a computer can understand. When RankBrain encounters an unfamiliar word or phrase, it looks for similarities in what it knows to generate results that suit the search query. When the results of each learning session have been tested and are working properly, the latest version of RankBrain goes live.

How Will RankBrain Affect SEO Efforts?

As the AI refines its methods and expands its ability to connect pages to searches, teaching itself how to do something rather than being programmed by humans, it may affect SEO in unexpected ways. RankBrain is built to handle complex language and draw conclusions, using context rather than just keywords to process search queries, allowing It to provide good results even when the searcher isn’t sure how to phrase their request. This makes it clear that quality content will continue to be vital to the success of a web page.

At 180fusion, we stay on top of the updates and changes at Google that affect your website’s success, and we are constantly testing to ensure we know how to keep your online marketing campaigns working.

Get started & contact us for a website SEO analysis today!


Shelisa Loertscher is a veteran writer, creating content at 180fusion. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, movies, and exploring the great outdoors. Now that her five children are all grown up, Shelisa is excited to discover Life 2.0 with her husband.

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