Close this search box.

What is RankBrain?

When it comes to SEO, RankBrain is the third most important factor for ranking websites behind only links and content. RankBrain learns from search queries, the behavior of people on SERPs and their time on the resulting website they click on. It observes the patterns in the data collected and mathematically calculates the results.

[bctt tweet=”RankBrain learns from search queries, the behavior of people on SERPs and their time on the resulting website they click on. It observes the patterns in the data collected and mathematically calculates the results.” username=”ThatCompanycom”]

Google's RankBrain with That Company Logo

RankBrain is more of a method by which the search engine classifies search results instead of a signal or a ranking factor. Rather, it’s the addition to Google’s search engine algorithm known as hummingbird. Its databases are filled with data and information that are converted into certain mathematical categories. When Google encounters an unknown search query, it searches its database and tries to interpret it by finding expressions and concepts similar to the search query.

How Google Worked Before RankBrain

Prior to RankBrain, Google was able to find pages that went beyond the exact terms that a user used in a search query. Before the new Google algorithm, Google developed itself to recognize variations of the same search queries and to deliver relevant results to the users. With RankBrain, Google can now understand more complex search terms and interpret them effectively.

Before RB was launched, Google used to guess the key results. What is special about the new algorithm is that not only the results for the current query are improved. Over time and with new queries, RankBrain also improves the search results for other new queries.

How Does RankBrain Work?

As previously mentioned, RankBrain learns from search queries, the behavior of people on SERPs and their time on the website they click on.  In essence, Google is “crowd sourcing” the determination of the best results by observing searcher’s behaviors. The best thing about most searches is that Google has already gathered a lot of information about them and can immediately provide the most accurate search results for the search query. However, if RB encounters an unknown query, it looks for the vector that is most similar to the original query and returns the results. Over time, Google refines the results for a search query that was previously unknown based on user interaction and search patterns. RankBrain basically analyzes the results that users search for after entering the same search query.

So, Google RB is a machine learning algorithm that uses artificial intelligence to sort search results. Now, it has become the third most important signal from Google for search queries and is a central component of the Google algorithm. Its main task is to understand users’ search queries and to provide relevant results based on the words searched for.


white label guide to success

Simply the Best at White Label Marketing in the World


Google has started to understand that user behavior is simply the best indicator of what is good and what isn’t good or relevant content. Google essentially understands and recognizes how words shape the context, but user behavior is a far better indicator of the value of the content in relation to the search intent.

RankBrain Beats Google Engineers

data has a better idea neon lightRB seems to improve search results better than Google engineers. Google engineers competed against RankBrain for their effectiveness by guessing which search pages would be at the top of Google search results.  In fact, AI outperformed people by 10 percent when it battled these engineers to find the best site to search for. Ironically, RB, although it’s a machine learning algorithm, increases the impact of human users on search results.

When was RB Launched?

RankBrain was first announced in a Bloomberg article in October 2015, although Google said it had been using it since April 2015. In June 2016, Google announced that RankBrain will be used to process all searches performed on the search engine. Google was vague about the specifics of RB, but we have been able to use the observations and comments Google has made in recent years to identify some aspects of what RB is doing.

In 2015, senior Google analyst Greg Corrado went to Bloomberg to discuss RB’s announcement. A statement he made gave us an insight into how this would affect the rankings in the organic results. He essentially said that RB is one of hundreds of things that Google uses to determine search engine results.

Why RB is Important to Understand

rankbrain in neon light

RB is good at combining several aspects of this search with results from similar searches.

The Google RB AI is an important part of how the search engine rates pages. It helps them understand their users better and improve search results. RB is also likely to become more important, especially with the increasing prevalence of voice search.

[bctt tweet=”The Google RankBrain AI is an important part of how the search engine rates pages. RankBrain is also likely to become more important, especially with the increasing prevalence of voice search. ” username=”ThatCompanycom”]

What Lesson Should You Take Away?

Stop trying to outsmart Google and follow the path of the search giant by optimizing for the future as the future of search belongs to the machines. Content is King. It always has been, and it always will be.  In fact, this corresponds to the top trends in content marketing anyway. If anything, RankBrain is a wake-up call for us as marketers that the web has finally grown up, and now it’s time to get serious.

Authorship: Ken Knorr, CEO  

Cited Sources

Get Started

"*" indicates required fields

Do you run a marketing agency?*
What services are you interested in?

Trending News
Featured News
Listen to our CEO’s podcast “The Daily Drive” to stay driven and get great business insights from top business leaders. – Are you ready to scale your agency with a quality white label SEO, white label PPC, or white label social media provider?
If so schedule a meeting here – Let’s Talk