A brief insight into Googles Machine Learning algorithm Google RankBrain and how you might adapt your Search Engine Optimisation Strategy to work with it.

What is Google RankBrain and how might it impact your SEO Strategy?

The strangest thing you might find about Google RankBrain is that everything I am going to tell you has come straight from the horse’s mouth.  Whist Google can understandably be quite tight lipped about their algorithm they seem to be inclined to tell everyone about their new machine learning toy. Well I say new but it has been around since 2015 although periodical updates mean that it is improving all of the time.

So, what is it?  It was designed to help Google learn and respond better to negative search queries.  Better to explain this with an example.  Your kid wants to know how to complete the latest level on their computer game they are stuck on but to do so without cheating.  So you search “Complete Pokemon Brick Bronze Level x without cheats”. The without is the negative part of the phrase we are talking about.  This is the type of word that might be omitted from the keywords used to search but it is clear that if this happened the results would be the opposite of what you would have wanted to see.  RankBrain tries to understand what Google needs to stop omitting and how best to achieve the search results that would best match the searchers needs.  It doesn’t quite learn on the fly though so it stores data and then the clever people behind the scenes take what they have learned and make changes to how Google processes these queries.  Simples?

Well what most people want to know is how this might impact their SEO strategy and that’s hopefully cleared up in the next few sentences.  Firstly, RankBrain is not looking at how much you spend on advertising with Google and using this to alter search results.  This will be good news for everyone who doesn’t work in a cash rich company. The same can be said for spend on advertising on social media platforms, this is not being used to change search results so there is no back door here.  The only one piece of advice Google have provided is to make sure that your content is written in natural language.  If you are writing as you would speak then you will be using sentences and phrases that RankBrain will be able to find when it looks to match content.  If your not sure if your content sounds natural then read it aloud.   You will soon discover if the content has been stuffed with keywords and sounds unnatural. 

As RankBrain is changing all the time this information is only as up to date as what we know.  Lets be clear that there is much we don’t know but as long as the machines don’t take over then “I’ll be back” with another article on this at some point in the future.