RankBrain: Google’s new AI that handles 15% of search queries

rankbrain

The SEO industry exploded with news about RankBrain, a new artificial intelligence that recently became the 3rd most important ranking signal out of hundreds of ranking signals Google uses to determine which page deserves which organic ranking spot.

What does the RankBrain do?

Most of what we know about RankBrain comes from an interview at Bloomberg with Greg Corrado, a senior research scientist at Google.

To sum up our understanding of what it does is the following:

RankBrain helps Google understand the entities within the query and their relationship to other entities that Google knows about.

Or in the other words, to quote Greg’s interview:

For example, it’s adept at dealing with ambiguous queries, like, “What’s the title of the consumer at the highest level of a food chain?” And RankBrain’s usage of AI means it works differently than the other technologies in the search engine.

“The other signals, they’re all based on discoveries and insights that people in information retrieval have had, but there’s no learning,” Corrado said.

RankBrain is in use for a few months now so you’ve already been served some results by RankBrain without actually knowing about it. It’s serving 15% of Google’s search results right now and it has become the 3rd most important ranking signal of Google’s algorithm.

Google’s engineers themselves were surprised by RankBrain’s performance meaning it works better than expected.

Just to emphasize how important RankBrain is right now to the algorithm, let me quote another thing from this interview:

In experiments, the company found that turning off this feature (RankBrain) “would be as damaging to users as forgetting to serve half the pages on Wikipedia,” Corrado said.

What does it mean for eCommerce?

While the rest of the SEO industry is probably as fascinated by this new AI as we are, we at Inchoo are much more interested in what this new AI capable of learning new entities and relations between entities holds for the future of eCommerce SEO.

Our best guess is that RankBrain might be very helpful in some eCommerce industries and drive even more organic traffic for queries you weren’t able to rank for before.

For example, if this AI can learn relations between entities it could help a fashion eCommerce website rank for certain clothing worn by certain celebrities at a certain event without actually mentioning the said celebrity or the event in question on a product page.

This is how it could work in a very close future (if not already today in some cases):

  • The AI could learn that a certain dress “A” for example belongs to a certain brand “B” in one article. It could understand the dress as one entity and the brand as another.
  • In another article the AI can learn that a certain celebrity “C” wore the dress “A” at event “D“.
  • An online store could have listed the dress “A” by brand “B” for sale.
  • A user might enter query such as “Where can I buy a dress worn by “C” at “D“?”.
  • Even though the query doesn’t’ contain the entity “A” or entity “B“, by understanding relations between these entities, AI can deliver the online store that sells “A” by “B” as a search result to this user, which is actually what user wanted all along.

What are your thoughts on RankBrain? How do you feel it will affect eCommerce SEO?


About Toni Anicic

eCommerce Consultant

SEO. Professional gaming. Home-brewed beer. Magento Certified Solution Specialist.

Read more posts by Toni / Visit Toni's profile

1 comment

  1. Great article Toni! You mentioned eCommerce. Do you think that one day, commercial websites can be on the same playing field as the regular blogs just because their products are important for a query? Do you think that one day, Google will lead users directly to product pages as the first results in SERP?

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