How RankBrain is changing SEO – facts we know and how you can benefit from it

How RankBrain is changing SEOUsers are so dear to Google. If users can find the right information quickly, Google will find a way to make it happen with a new update. That’s why Google is always looking for ways to serve better content. We gathered the facts we know so far How RankBrain is changing SEO.

Hope this helps to improve your rankings in this new SEO era.

Panda update was a major evolution in Google’s algorithm. The Penguin update which redefined link building, and the hummingbird all changed the future of SEO as we know it.

A new artificial intelligence algorithm “RankBrain” is here.

I’m going to walk you through this new AI algorithm, what it’s all about, how it works and how you can increase organic traffic – just by understanding what RankBrain wants from your site, and optimizing accordingly.

You’ll get to know whether or not Google is turning its business over to AI machines, and if it’s true, how will this affect your organic search performance?

Here’s the table of content’s for easier navigation:

Google artificial intelligence

What is RankBrain?

RankBrain is Google’s artificial intelligence technology. It’s the new addition to the ranking factors. It is part of the Hummingbird update.

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cnet - rankbrain

Google keeps collecting large amounts of data from users. In turn, these data are used to make decisions, and develop stellar ranking algorithm that will help users get better search results.

Greg Corrado, a senior research scientist at Google confirmed that artificial intelligence machine, known as RankBrain has been used to interpret a large fraction of the millions of search queries that Google collects per week.

How RankBrain Works?

RankBrain works by presenting the right content to users, irrespective of whether they searched for the most appropriate keyword or not. SEO is not what it used to be. The new SEO is user optimization, not keywords targeting.

Search User Optimization

Oftentimes, the user may have a need, but wouldn’t know the right search query to input into Google. J

ack Clarke says that RankBrain is a learning system that interprets words, languages, systems, and can guess more accurately than humans.

When new search queries are inputted into the search engine which the program hasn’t come across before, RankBrain guesses what the unfamiliar terms may mean, and then filters irrelevant results out.

Google had said that the release of RankBrain will not negate SEO efforts. So if you have been following the SEO best practices, you don’t have to worry about penalty.

But how do you benefit from RankBrain? How do you increase your organic traffic and rankings, especially now that the algorithm is being managed by an artificial intelligence learning machine?

Here are 2 Steps to position your site to drive more organic traffic:

1. Optimize for the users, not their keywords

According to Search Engine Land, 15% of all search queries are new. Since Google processes over 3 billion searches per day, it means that more than 450 million of those searches are new.

new search queries

Despite the billions of keywords that Google processes per day, you may think the focus is on keywords – but it’s not. Google is so passionate about users’ intents.

Using keywords to gauge the relevance & quality of a web page may yield biased results, but using ‘intents’ behind the keywords will ultimately make the job easier.

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Users’ intents guide search results. For example, if users want to buy a product online, Google wants to show results with commercial intents, not informational or navigational results just because of the keywords used.

Users Intents

RankBrain wants to satisfy the phrases and keywords that users aren’t searching for, but are truly seeking.


Since Hummingbird launched in 2013, Google’s improved dramatically at understanding the connection, synergy and relationships between words, key phrases, and sentences.

When someone searches for “Michelle,” since there was no specific surname or identity attached to it, Google might bring back search results that are related to “Wife of United States President,” “Michelle the sculptor,” etc.

However, with RankBrain, search results are going to be different.

According to Greg Corrado, a senior scientist at Google who is part of the RankBrain team, “RankBrain seems to be a new way of processing search queries that goes deeper into understanding the significance of each word properly and interpreting its meaning accordingly.”

A specific keyword may have words synonymous to it. For examples, “visitors” is another word that bloggers use interchangeably with “traffic,” “generate” can be replaced with “drive,” etc.

RankBrain artificial intelligence algorithm follows this pattern:

  • Discover and learn how users search Google, and what they’re looking for
  • Communicate and connect what users searched for in a simple language
  • Satisfy the user by serving results that are better, and clearer than their questions

Quick tip:  Get into the conversation. Discover where your target audience hangs out – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.

Get to know what they’re discussing and how they structure their questions. Because those queries that users aren’t typing in Google search engine are the main focus of RankBrain AI.

Use Quora to find and answer questions related to your topic. You’ll increase your chances of generating more organic traffic, no matter the new system that Google uses.

2. Collect user insights based on their conversations

Collecting user insights will save your time. And you’ll understand your audience better.

I talked about Quora earlier, and how it can be used to mine user behavior data. Titleist increased interactions with customers by 78%, by collecting user insights and across various social media channels.


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You need tools that will help you turn user wisdom (what they thought is best) into data (that you can process).

Data to Wisdom

Get your target audience to send you feedback. If you have an email list, you should ask open-ended questions.

That way, they can share their opinions without reservations. If you don’t have an email list yet, you can get started with, or any other email autoresponder solution.

You may not be able to collect user insights by studying their keywords, but you can by studying their questions.

For example, when you search for “customer satisfaction” in Quora, here are the resultant questions:

Quora customer satisfaction

Rest assured that each of the questions (on the screenshot) came out of a passionate heart. Users who asked the questions are desperately seeking answers.

For example, users who searched for “what are a few questions for a customer satisfaction survey” are specific.

They don’t want another “customer satisfaction” article, or “tool.” They want a template, a guide, sample questions, etc.

Since majority of users’ questions and keywords are new, RankBrain wants to strike a balance between what the user searched for, and what they truly want.

Trust me, you may not find any of the questions (screenshot) as keywords in Google Keywords Planner. Let’s try it.

Keywords Planner

Collecting user insights will guide you when creating articles, blog posts, podcasts, and whatever content format you decide to use.

For example, what comes to mind as you read this keyword “help me lose weight?” The word “help” is a dependent word.

Whenever you ask for help, it means that you’ve tried all you can but still couldn’t get the job done. You’re asking for help, because you to understand that someone, somewhere might listen.

So when a user types ‘help me lose weight,’ your content has to sympathize with them. Ideally, you should put yourself in their shoes – and write content because you’re touched by their continual struggles to burn excess fats.

Top brands collect user insights and turns it into an actionable metric.

For example, Marquette University lacked strategic oversight, and no standardization that will aid them in bringing multiple departments on to one centralized platform – to encourage team collaboration.

Marquette University

But by using Sprout Social, a social media management tool, they collected user behavior data, increased mentions, and retweets by 26%.

Ready for how RankBrain is changing SEO?

Google considers the signal from RankBrain as the third most important ranking factor.

For the most part, the new ranking factor will not follow the path that other algorithm updates, such as Panda, Penguin, and Pigeon are known for.

Learn more about How RankBrain is changing SEO by reading the excellent article on NikSto’s blog.

& feel free to share your experience in the comment section bellow.