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in Algorithms, SEO

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Google RankBrain: What Does It Mean For SEO

Anyone who works with search engines, notably Google, will have likely heard of RankBrain. And, if you haven’t, it’s essential to understand that this machine learning system is one of the most critical tools in the Google algorithm.

It has a significant impact on how well your web content will rank on Google SERPs (search engine results pages) – and believe it or not, it’s all down to a magic blend of search intent and artificial intelligence!

But what is Google RankBrain, how does it work, and how can you best optimise it with your content marketing in mind?

google search optimisation

What is RankBrain?

At its inception, the RankBrain algorithm was based on machine learning. It is Google’s core algorithm, purely designed for ranking sites.

RankBrain helps to produce the best relevant search results for even the most ambiguous or poorly worded questions. Even if you enter a deconstructed sentence or question into Google, your Google search page will (hopefully) be full of relevant results.

Google’s RankBrain has been in place since around 2015. While SEO has changed massively since the mid-10s (and sources such as Moz and Search Engine Land will confirm this), it’s still relied upon to help ensure search results are relevant to a vast spectrum of potential queries.

It uses artificial intelligence to turn incredible amounts of written language into mathematical symbols known as vectors. If RankBrain encounters a word or even a whole sentence it doesn’t understand, it can guess what it could mean and then filter the page’s result accordingly.

That way, questions and search queries that have never been seen before become more accessible to answer. It’s predictive and impressive, and it pretty much dictates how we produce content so it gets seen online.


How does RankBrain work?

Without sounding too terrifying, RankBrain essentially follows you around. It uses historical data (such as your location, search patterns, history, and how you respond to your search results) and analyses it to create a profile.

It then uses this profile to recognise what you are looking for when you search. After rifling through millions of results, it ranks them based on their relevance to you!

The efforts RankBrain makes regarding data privacy may have raised a few eyebrows. However, it’s immensely convenient for users and content producers alike. What’s more, you can always opt out of Google’s tracking if you wish.

What’s incredible about RankBrain is that it is always working, even offline. It is essentially always bettering itself!

It uses data it finds to make better predictions around what it thinks you’ll want to see. If these results prove relevant and valuable, it will update itself to become even more efficient when ranking search results.

The result for the searcher is that they get to spend less time looking around and more time finding genuine solutions.


How to optimize for RankBrain

Now that you know how RankBrain works (at a basic level), optimising its use to enhance your business’ appeal online is essential. The answer is pretty simple. You must create helpful, engaging, valuable content.

To do this, remember to keep your material fresh and relevant. For example, if a user is looking for modern home design trends, they will naturally look at the most recent article, as opposed to one published last year or even the year before.

That doesn’t always mean you must keep writing new web content! Simply updating your old material can be enough to keep Google indexing your site.

However, you will also need to learn how to use keywords properly. As necessary as keywords are to the core of SEO (they’ve long been treated as the ultimate ranking factor), hammering them into sentences inappropriately isn’t going to work.

google optimisation

This creates robotic, shallow content that no one wants to read. RankBrain has evolved to ensure that ‘black hat’ keyword research and implementation no longer cut it on the SERP ladders.

Try using a recognised keyword research tool to find organic ideas – search terms people genuinely use.

RankBrain maybe AI, but it understands that people want to read content that’s – well – produced by other people. That also means learning how to write conversationally! You must write web content that appears like a natural language.

Of course, it needs to be informative, and even a dash of humour can help keep the reader engaged.

Link building is also one of Google’s search algorithm’s most important ranking factors. Linking to other sites in your niche will help build your online presence and show Google’s crawlers (and RankBrain) that you’re someone searchers can trust.

RankBrain forged the way for AI to start pushing forward, too. However, resources such as ChatGPT won’t help you rank highly on Google. AI content writing is still too robotic, predictable (and even factually flawed!) to impact search intent profoundly.



Google – and RankBrain – genuinely care about producing accurate results for any search queries the engine computes. It’s a mammoth task, but Google search results continue to dictate who buys what, what goes viral, and what makes someone – or something – an authority in their field.

It’s time to start listening to RankBrain! It would be best if you took serious care of your search engine optimisation to do that.

If you want the best search engine results for your content, it’s time to contact SEO CoPilot. You can call us at 01246 556565 or email us via our web form. We’ll ensure you create content that makes 2023 your best year on the SERPs yet.

Guy Tomlinson

Guy Tomlinson is the owner and founder of SEO CoPilot Ltd. As an organic SEO specialist and SEO trainer with over 15 years of experience, he has the knowledge when it comes to helping small businesses succeed online – and shares his expertise through SEO CoPilot’s blog (mentioned in Top SEO Blogs to Follow). Follow Guy’s profile on LinkedIn for more SEO Tips!
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