Google RankBrain Algorithm: A Guide Part 1

One of the most significant parts of the Google search engine system is the new RankBrain technology, an algorithm that uses machine learning to process the incredible number of searches performed on Google every day. The search algorithm, dubbed “Hummingbird,” relies on the Google RankBrain system as the third-most significant metric for retrieving search results.

There are several parts of the Google search engine system, and Hummingbird handles the bulk of search queries while other supporting algorithm such as RankBrain, Penguin, and Payday help further refine searches. While initially only a minority of long-tail search queries ran through the Google RankBrain system, the number of sites RankBrain analyzes has been increasing every day since launch.

What Is Machine Learning?

The various parts of the Hummingbird search algorithm rely on machine-learning to keep pace with the increasing rate of new information, new webpages, and updates on the internet. About 15% of the searches Google processes are new searches, containing phrases or arrangements of keywords no user has ever searched before. Machine-learning is a process that artificial intelligence (AI) systems use to alter their performance.

Over time, the machine not only tracks past performance but also measures accuracy, click-through rate, and countless other metrics and adjusts future processes accordingly. Machines can analyze content relatively easily, but struggle putting that content into the correct context for user queries. Machine-learning allows AI-powered systems like RankBrain to develop context over time and adapt accordingly.

How Does RankBrain Work?

RankBrain analyzes how users search as well as whether they appear satisfied with those searches. Essentially, RankBrain not only analyzes the content of your search query, but also the context for your search based on the pages you click to and from and how you alter repeat search queries. RankBrain learns from experience to provide the most relevant search results to a user’s query.

When a user performs a search, RankBrain and the other elements of the Hummingbird search algorithm compile a list of the most relevant results. RankBrain uses past searches and user behaviors following similar searches to help refine these results. If a user searches, does not find what he or she wanted, and then refines the search for new results, RankBrain notices this and takes it into account for similar searches in the future. This encourages website owners to create relevant, meaningful content and develop user experiences that match that content.

Over time, Google RankBrain analyzes users’ behaviors after performing searches and develops a context for those searches, eventually leading to more accurate results. RankBrain can even attempt to understand new keywords and further refine its context development for new searches. If a user performs a search and finds the desired result in the top rankings, RankBrain will boost that page’s ranking for the user’s query and related terms. It does this by timing how long a user stays on a ranked page, whether or not they return for a new search after visiting that page

Is Google RankBrain Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is the theory of computers capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence. This may include visual recognition, language translation, speech recognition, and decision-making. AI can essentially help a computer respond to a specific task or problem in a way that a human would. RankBrain strives to understand how users interact with Google so it can make better decisions for future searches.

RankBrain’s artificial intelligence is slowly increasing its influence in Google search results. While it only touched a small percentage of searches after launch, Google’s confidence in the system has steadily increased and the AI has grown more sophisticated and accurate over time. RankBrain can also edit itself, tweaking the algorithm based on the results it collects and analyzes.

Check out the next part of our blog series to learn more about Google RankBrain and how you can optimize your website’s content for better search rankings.

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