Glossary | 2 mins
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RankBrain is an artificial intelligence and machine learning engine algorithm Google uses to rank search results. The algorithm was first launched on October 26, 2015, to complement Google’s hand coded algorithm and produce better, faster, and more specific search results.
When it was first launched, RankBrain was used to analyse search terms that Google had never seen before, which accounted for 15% of keywords used across all searches.
Its initial intent was to help Google understand the meaning behind keywords and provide their users with more pertinent results, thereby creating a better user experience. But in the past few years, it has developed to take cues from search results more dynamically, for instance, by analysing brand new keywords and user engagement signals to determine which results to serve.
How to optimise your content for RankBrain
RankBrain places a strong emphasis on content, and determining how useful it is to Google users. SEOs must try to minimise negative engagement signals while encouraging positive ones. For example, your CTR (click through rate) will go into decline if your content is poor, meaning users won’t click on your results and won’t return to your website, resulting in a lower ranking by RankBrain. RankBrain also looks at negative user engagement signals such as a site’s bounce rate, which is driven by users clicking on a result, deciding that the page isn’t useful to them, then going straight back to the search results without taking any further action.
Because RankBrain takes cues from the way users interact with SERPs, the best way to align your site with it is to make sure your SEO efforts reflect the way that people search for content. Optimising for medium tail keywords is one particularly effective RankBrain strategy, as these terms tend to cover several different iterations of related searches, and have a decent amount of volume with moderate competition. Furthermore, working with mediumtail keywords can often help to naturally boost related long tail keyword rankings.
By optimising your site based on the way people are searching, you’ll help encourage the positive user engagement signals that RankBrain uses to understand search terms, and decide which content is best.
What is RankBrain used for?
RankBrain is used to give Google a better understanding of the meaning behind new keywords, and what users are actually looking for when they use certain search terms. It does this, in large part, by analysing user engagement signals such as click through and bounce rates.
Why did Google introduce RankBrain?
Google created RankBrain to cover more ground in its understanding of the search terms being entered on its engine. Before RankBrain was rolled out, Google had not seen around 15% of search terms entered into its search engine, meaning that it lacked the ability to analyse its results for those terms, and understand how well they were satisfying users.
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