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RankBrain coupled with AI and ML – a smarter Approach to SEO

Is SEO dead? Now you may wonder what makes me ask this?

Well, Google changes its SEO algorithm twice in a day which means approximately 600 times in a year! An alarming figure, isn’t it?

You may wonder how on earth is it possible to keep up with Google’s constantly changing ranking factors? How would you tweak your website content in a way that it makes it way to the top in the SERP’s? Although it isn’t easy, but it is possible, by employing robust strategies which is the focus of this blog post.

Google has introduced an AI Implementation ‘RankBrain’ to harness the capabilities of machine learning and Artificial intelligence.

Machine Learning in a broader sense is the ability of machines to learn in a way a human does. The machine determines what works for the user and what doesn’t by carefully examining the user search queries. Google has done immense investment in machine learning and artificial intelligence in order to filter search results and determine the rankings. Yet another factor to be considered when trying to build organic presence, in addition to backlinks and keyword optimization. In this blogpost we will figure out what is RankBrain and how should you optimize your search results for RankBrain.

What is RankBrain?

Google search results have changed drastically over a period of years. The main motive of Google is to give the user what exactly he is looking for in the least amount of time. In other words, Google wants to augment the overall search-engine experience for a user.

Earlier, Google used to function in a different way. Ranking was quite easy. It was done by just plugging relevant keywords into your content or few opted for keyword stuffing, which isn’t a great technique.
But with the aid of RankBrain, Google has become smarter and sophisticated in its approach to display SERP. Google just doesn’t rank your website based on the keywords.

It actually uses a decision making capability of humans(artificial intelligence) to understand the context behind the search query. It means Google can tell what exactly you are looking for though your search query. An example would suffice.

Suppose I type ‘SEO’ as a search query in Google search engine. Think about it more a minute. Why am I typing just SEO into the search query ?

Obviously I am not looking for SEO services or SEO tactics. If I were, I would have mentioned it specifically in the search query. I am definitely looking for the definition of SEO.

Google, understood my intent behind the words I have chosen and it gave me the exact results I was looking for. Google is capable of understanding and gauging the context behind the words. And RankBrain is a tool that allows it to do this.

A formal definition of RankBrain can be stated as ‘ RankBrain is a machine learning system that uses artificial intelligence to enhance search results and interpret user queries.

RankBrain is indeed a brainy child of Google. It also has the capability to relate to the past queries in case it encounters the complex search terms and still displays the most accurate results.

Lets look at RankBrain in details in the subsequent section:

How RankBrain works?

The primary objectives of RankBrain are:

  1. Understanding the search queries(keywords) and
  2. Understanding user-satisfaction level with the search-results.

Now, lets look at each of these in brief:

Understanding the search queries

Before RankBrain, Google wasn’t able to figure out the meaning of the complex search terms entered by the user. It would rely on the guessing and pattern-matching algorithm it was initially fed with. The results were obviously not what the user expected.

But with the advent of RankBrain, Google is able to deliver the exact results the user is looking for.

So you may wonder what changed?

Google actually figures out the intent behind the keywords just as a human would.


By matching the search query to the query it has already seen before. Connecting the new query to the previous one helps Google to gauge the exact context behind the query and deliver accurate and reasonable results.

Understanding user-satisfaction level with the search results

Once RankBrain understands keywords and deliver results accordingly, the next question to ponder over is how does Rankbrain know if the user is satisfied with the results?

Well, the answer lies in these four metrics also known as user experience signals (UX):

  • Click-Through Rate
  • User dwell-time
  • Bounce Rate
  • Pogo-sticking

Basically RankBrain determines user-satisfaction through the user-interaction with the generated results.

For example:

If you search a term ‘postpartum depression’ on Google. Like others, you will click on the first link. You may find that it is full of filler content and irrelevant information. So you bounce through the page and go back to the second link.

Again the second link is stuffed with generic content and doesn’t provide the information you are looking for.

Now you hit the back button and click on the third link. Bingo! You’ve hit the jackpot. You have found the specific information you were looking for. You spend next 10 mins to go through the content of the page(User Dwell Time) without revisiting the search results.

This back and forth is also known as Pogo-sticking which RankBrain pays most attention to.

The page which contains the relevant information is bound to be replaced with the page that doesn’t and ultimately rank higher on the Google’s SERP.

Now that you have learnt about RankBrain and its working you may ask, how to optimize content for RankBrain.

Optimising content for RankBrain

Making use of medium tail keywords instead of long-term keywords can generate more search volume. Moreover medium tail keywords aren’t competitive enough and it will give you to a prominent position on SERP.

Curating content based on target audience(user segmentation) gives you an edge over other competitors. Keeping in mind the requirements of the user enbles you to rank higher and deliver a better reading experience to the user. Remember Googles’s objective ‘deliver relevant and accurate content in the least possible time’.

Final Words

RankBrain is an innovative approach powered by ML and AI adopted by Google to website optimization in order to generate high-quality results and achieve higher user satisfaction level in a least possible time.


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