There are many mysteries revolving around Google’s RankBrain, just like other Google algorithm updates. It has been 4 years since it was first rolled out in October 2015. RankBrain is one of the most essential parts of Google’s core algorithm and it is the only machine learning system that Google is using right now.

In the following blog, we will be looking at the most frequently asked questions that will include how RankBrain is working, how it has affected SEO, and how you should optimise it?

How This All Started?

In previous days, Google looked at separate words within a query to figure out the search intent, but this wasn’t always working. Due to this, Google came up with the Hummingbird update in 2013. This made a breakthrough in semantic search by considering the combination of keywords along with their context. Even with this, search results were still far from being relevant because algorithms do not know how to process unfamiliar search queries that are constantly appearing. To get your ranking improved, you need to connect with a professional company like Xenex Media for SEO services. 

How Google's RankBrain Started

It is a fact that about 15 percent of the queries that Google processes every day is new. In October 2015, Google introduced a new system to improve its ranking named RankBrain. The primary purpose of this was to do processing that was never seen before and predicted the best results accordingly.

1- What is RankBrain?

RankBrain is Google’s name for a machine-learning system that is utilised to process unfamiliar and unique queries. It is further related to already existing searches for providing users the most relevant search results.

Since the algorithm went live in April 2015 it was first publicly mentioned in an interview with Greg Corrado given to Bloomberg in 2015. He is one of the senior research scientists at Google.

2- How It Works?

RankBrain is using so-called “entities”. These are the specific objects that Google knows about people, places, and things. Using a mathematical algorithm, it later divides entities into more specific word vectors that move toward a certain SERPs. Remember that similar word vectors lead to similar SERPs naturally.

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3- Queries Affected by RankBrain?

In 2015 when RankBrain was rolled out, it was used only in 15% of all Google searches. But in 2016, when RankBrain showed surprisingly good results, Google’s confidence in the machine learning system started to grow more. But still, RankBrain is not processing all the queries. It is used in queries that are unclear to Google. It is stated by Steven Levy, “RankBrain is probably not involved in every query but in a lot of queries.”

4- What is Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence?

To get a better understanding of RankBrain, it is very important that you should have an idea of what machine learning and artificial intelligence is? You must know that these two things are interlinked. Due to this, they both are mostly misinterpreted.

Google's RankBrain

Artificial Intelligence is a broader concept of machines being able to carry out different tasks that normally require human intelligence. The task will include speech recognition, decision-making, visual perception, and translation between languages.

On the other hand, Machine Learning is an application of Artificial Intelligence that can learn things on its own without being explicitly programmed. This is exactly the thing RankBrain do as it automatically learns and improves things in its past experience.

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5- What is Neural Matching?

Neural matching is also an AI-based system that Google began in 2018 to understand how words are related to concepts. You can compare this system to a super-synonym system. For your information, synonyms are words that are closely related to other words.

Neural matching is a system that will help Google to better relate words to searches in an attempt to provide the most relevant search results.

6- How RankBrain differs from Neural Matching?

Note that RankBrain and neural matching are AI-based systems, but there are still some differences between both the systems. The tweet from  Danny Sullivan will provide you with a great example of how neural matching will actually work:

“For example, neural matching assist us to understand that a search for “why does my TV look strange” is linked to the concept of “the soap opera effect.” We can then return pages related to the soap opera effect, even if the exact words are not used…”

This is how Danny Sullivan described the core difference between RankBrain and neural matching in just two simple sentences. 

RankBrain differs from Neural Matching

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7- RankBrain A Part of Hummingbird?

Note that the Hummingbird is the overall Google search algorithm that is made up of many different parts that are responsible for certain tasks. RankBrain is also operating under Hummingbird and it is being responsible for processing unique queries. Remember that it will not handle all the searches as the only major algorithm.

8- RankBrain-A Ranking Signal?

Confused about RankBrain- A signal or not a signal? It is one of the important questions.  The answer to the question is that Corrado called RankBrain Google’s third important ranking signal in his Bloomberg interview as mentioned above. The actual statement was:

“RankBrain is one of the “hundreds” of signals that go into an algorithm that determines what results will appear on a Google search page and where they will be ranked. In a few months, it has been deployed, RankBrain has become third-most important signal contributing to the result of a search query”.

Ranking Signal

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9- RankBrain Effect on SEO

RankBrain aims to connect searchers with the most relevant results possible. It is important to note that search intent has become a priority. Due to this, RankBrain only gives preference to the pages that really meet its requirements. Basically, today’s efficient content optimisation is impossible without understanding the search intent and carrying out intent-specific keyword research.

10- Ways to Optimise RankBrain

To do RankBrain optimisation, you need to do the following:

  1. Use natural language
  2. Figure out search intent
  3. Improve comprehensiveness and relevancy
  4. Check Snippets
  5. Continue improving your rankings.
  6. Inspect your niche


Without any doubt, RankBrain is constantly learning and changing. The right thing to do is to target your content towards people and keep it relevant to search intent and make it conversational and updated.

Still looking for professionals to rank higher? You should get in touch with a Xenex Media, a digital marketing company Gold Coast to improve your business ROI by improving your ranking.