As we are all too aware, Google almost constantly update their ranking algorithms, which makes the job of an SEO all the more difficult. Luckily, we have some insider info about the latest algorithm change: Google’s RankBrain.
RankBrain is Google’s new machine learning technology which helps it to sort through its search results. Machine learning is basically where a computer teaches itself to do something, instead of being programmed by people to do the same thing. It’s a sort of artificial intelligence system! It essentially learns from historic searches and makes predictions based on this information.
RankBrain is not directly responsible for ranking search results though. It’s only a small piece of the algorithmic jigsaw puzzle. The current algorithm is called Hummingbird – before 2013, Google didn’t really used to bother giving names to their search algorithms.
As far as we understand, RankBrain is part of the Hummingbird search algorithm. In the same way that a car has an overall engine made up of lots of different parts, RankBrain is just a small part of the overall search algorithm. Other fairly familiar parts of the algorithm include Panda, Penguin and Payday for example.
Lots of people believe that PageRank is the Google Search Algorithm, but again, this is just a part of the main Hummingbird algorithm. PageRank was the first name Google gave to one of the parts of the algorithm, way back in 1998! As we know, Google uses a range of ‘signals’ on webpages, such as the words on the page. These signals are processed and help Google figure out which pages to show in response to different search terms. There are well over 200 main ranking signals, and potentially up to 10,000 sub-signals related to them – RankBrain, it turns out, is the 3rd most important signal (according to Google themselves…) We are hoping that RankBrain is going to help Google to classify pages better based around their content, and to summarise what a page is about much more effectively than it has in the past.