Start a project


Google RankBrain and SEO – What’s It All About?

Google RankBrain
Published on: 22 May, 2018

What Is Google RankBrain?

Google takes into account many factors to sort search queries and decide which piece of content should be ranked and in what order. It’s all about delivering the end-user the most accurate list of results according to their search query.

RankBrain is essentially an artificial intelligence machine learning system. Yes, it can actually learn new things, according to Google. Armed with this ability to learn and improve, RankBrain takes on board the search query and decides on what results in the searcher requires. It will also attempt to make an educated guess with queries that are somewhat vague and offer up a variety of options.


This generally happens when the machine comes across a word or phrase it is unfamiliar with. Rather than give up in confusion, RankBrain will deliver results based on its “best guess”. Obviously, the more thorough and recognizable the query is, the more accurate the results will be.

Machine Learning Briefly Explained

Machines and computers are pre-programmed by humans to perform certain tasks. They cannot perform any function outside of what they’ve already been programmed to do. With a machine learning system, the computer can actually “teach itself” to do new things and gain new insight, rather than fully relying on being taught by people.

When RankBrain learns something new, the very next time it receives a similar search query, it will more efficiently sort content and websites and revise its results page based on the new insight.

True artificial intelligence (AI) still only exists in the Sci-Fi world of novels and movies, as the definition of AI means a computer can be as intelligent as humans and learn exactly as we do. RankBrain isn’t quite on that level, but it can learn and make connections.

What Does RankBrain Have To Do With SEO?

SEO is primarily about keywords. You create content based on a particular keyword phrase that you determine people will be searching for, and you want your content to hit the first page of Google for that keyword search query.

You will also want to sprinkle your content with similar relevant keywords known as LSI keywords. This enables you more options to be ranked and appear in search results for similar queries to your main keyword.

The trick is to find keywords people are actually searching for, but where there are not too many competing websites, or where the results are not dominated by authority sites that will be extremely hard to out-rank.


Because RankBrain has the ability to learn, revise and adjust its results, now more than ever your content needs to be more flexible with LSI keywords, as RankBrain is often searching for relevant content that doesn’t fit the exact search query typed into Google’s search engine.

The Takeaway

RankBrain is a complex subject, and Google doesn’t give everything away. There are a few different schools of thought out there about RankBrain’s role in Google’s overall search algorithm, but the general consensus has been summed up above.

Was this article helpful?