Google Rankbrain – SEO is using Artificial Intelligence (AI)

In the last quarter of 2015, Google adopted the use of RankBrain to help it process search results and deliver more relevant search results.

Google RankBrain embraces mathematical processes and language semantics to understand complex search queries. Its unique combination of artificial intelligence and machine language enables it to look beyond basic language markers and conceptions that were previously limited to search engine capabilities. Google has hundreds of ranking signals and sub-signals within its algorithm, but it describes RankBrain as the key ‘signal’ within its core search algorithm. RankBrain is usually part of the algorithm responsible for understanding the meaning of billions of web pages and displays relevant results to various search queries.

It’s foundation is based on search strings with a humanized effect, what experienced SEO consultants like myself would call “long tail keywords or phrases”. It’s where you predict what the user in front of a google search input box is going to type for their search. In 2016, instead of creating pages and content that merely focus on one keyword phrase, create pages and content which focus on one main keyword phrase and then add phrases related to that keyword.   Let me provide an example. I’m going to create a blog post on “houston shale oil” for a client. In the past, you would do your keyword research, find that “houston shale oil enjoyed between, 300,260 searches in January to 227,940 searches in April 2016 (the decrease due to oil prices and subsequent O&G related job losses in Houston), and curate content which really focused on that phrase.

In 2016,  if you wish to get the attention of Google RankBrain, here’s what you need to do differently. You still do your keyword research. However, instead of creating a content article which focuses on “Houston shale oil”, you should take the time to write a long and detailed article which covers many aspects of Houston shale oil, from the history of shale oil to shale production, shale reserves, discuss Houston shale oil demographics and trends as well as adding further related phrases and keywords.

RankBrain informs Google’s algorithm on the links and content that are best and how it should interpret these signals in the future. RankBrain allows Google to leverage human-like understanding and interpretation in a more efficient manner of identifying content that people will respond to most in search results.

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The ever-increasing ability of RankBrain

Represents a fundamental shift in the way business and consultants think about SEO in the long term. Google segments search engine optimization into the following key categories:-

  • RankBrain (AI)
  • Content
  • Links
  • Website Design & Structure
  • Mobile Design
  • Page Speed & Security

which all work together and inform one another. These signals (and their sub-signals) do not operate independently, so you shouldn’t treat them as such when it comes to your SEO strategy.

All of these parts, including your website’s technical structure, content, offsite presence and more should work together seamlessly. The hard fact is how well they are linked will determine your site’s performance for specific searches. The objective is to make sure you are not just executing all the necessary requirements for maximum organic reach, but that all the pieces of your website and web presence are consistent, connected and relevant to the actual readers of your content.

Digital Marketing for organic growth is a full time gig. If you wish your online business to stay “relevant” and in the front of the line when it comes to organic web searches, you have to keep up-to-date with trends and technology.

By investing in your digital assets and online marketing strategy and providing Google with structured data, schema markup and content optimized for desktop and mobile devices, this creates search results that are relevant and have true value to Google.

Ultimately Google wishes to provide the best search results to consumers.  As a thank you for your investment and hard endeavors, Google will reward you by indexing these results – which, combined with Google’s dominance in the area of search, will ultimately provide your online website(s) with a stream of new website visitors and ultimately conversions.

That’s my thoughts.  What do you think? Feel free to #sayhello (@browserweb on twitter) or email me personally if you have any questions or comments.


Mark Burke, a Digital Media Company