5 Things You Need to Know About Google's Rankbrain


The sultan of search engines.

The ruler of results pages.

Google dominates brands’ expectations and choices when it comes to their web pages, sites and content.

And its algorithms and standards are constantly changing.

One of the newer elements that Google’s uses to measure and rank online content?


RankBrain has been gradually increasing its presence in Google’s evaluation of online content.

According to Bloomberg, RankBrain is now the third most important signal in the hundreds of signals that Google uses to rank its pages.

What is RankBrain?


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Image courtesy of Search Engine Land

According to Search Engine Land, RankBrain is an artificial-intelligence system that is used to help process Google’s search results.

Google has described the system as a key component of its core search algorithm.

According to Bloomberg, “a very large fraction” of the millions of searches Google receives per second are evaluated by the RankBrain AI system.

What Does RankBrain Do?

Unlike a typical computer, RankBrain doesn’t just look at the words people type into their Google search bar.

It looks at a searcher’s words and tries to determine their intent.

RankBrain actually works to interpret the words that Google’s users type in when there are no exact matches for their entry.

Its patterns of interpretation change based on demographic and colloquial trends—and the machine learning that RankBrain uses to categorize searcher intent is only getting more sophisticated.

How Does RankBrain Do What It Does?

According to Brafton, RankBrain works by trying to figure out what users mean, regardless of what they’re actually saying.

One of the system’s main goals is to “put satisfying results in front of a user by answering his question better than he asked it.”

It takes your inquiry, and categorizes, indexes and analyzes each word, based on a complex system of indicators:

  • Where are you located?
  • What are you asking?
  • What are the terms that surround or relate to what you’re asking?
  • What does the jargon or colloquial language you’ve included mean?

It looks at the words that you’ve typed in holistically. And it uses millions and millions of categorized, memorized criteria to return the most accurate result to you.

How Should You React to RankBrain?

Considering that RankBrain is the third biggest ranking factor in Google’s evaluation, it’s important to model your content with its criteria in mind.

The first step is to create content that speaks to a particular audience.

According to Content Marketing Institute, you can do this by speaking the language of a particular audience.

  • Know your target audience’s jargon. Include words and phrases that will signal you as an insider and expert in their word.

  • Know your target audience’s unique needs. Create content that provides answers to particular, nuanced issues.

  • Create content that sounds natural. Don’t write entirely for search engines or SEO algorithms. Write for the communication style of a human being.

Human beings are nearly “one” with their digital devices in 2016.

And they aren’t confused about how to communicate with search engines anymore—the sophistication of Google’s algorithm has allowed them get comfortable, to trust that simply “talking” to Google will provide them with the results they’re looking for.

RankBrain is huge part of that evolution.

And if you want your brand’s content to stay visible on Google and valuable to your audience, you’ll follow suit.

RankBrain Loves Longform Content

Another thing that RankBrain loves?

Longform content.

This is because RankBrain (and Hummingbird) use co-occurrence as a huge relevancy factor when evaluating content.

Co-occurrence encompasses more than the incidence of a particular keyword or words within a piece of content.

It also encompasses concepts and context—that is, phrases or words that a searcher didn’t actually type in to the search bar, but which are related to the words he or she did.

Longform content offers the best, most natural format for co-occurrence.

The more information you provide, the more opportunity you have to include the concepts, context and related phrases that build your content’s value in RankBrain’s eyes.

So there you have it: a few important facts about RankBrain and the content it loves.

Let’s head into 2017 ready to create the content that Google (and our audiences) crave.

Still have questions? Plan Left can help.

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