Google RankBrain and Its Impact on SEO

Did you know that a new part of Google’s algorithm is an AI (artificial intelligence)? Google introduced it in October 2015 as RankBrain and informed search engine optimizers that it’s their third most important ranking factor.

Anyone who wants first page rankings must understand what it is, how it works, and how it impacts SEO. Continue reading for a summary on how RankBrain is changing SEO, so you can stay ahead.

What Is RankBrain?

RankBrain is a machine-learning AI system that assists with processing search results. Machine-learning means that the computer can teach itself how to do something. It doesn’t need to rely on detailed programming or humans to learn. RankBrain learns from searchers and adapts based on the connections it discovers between what people type in the search bar and what they really want. As a result, searchers are given more relevant results for their searches.

Unique Searches Go Through RankBrain

RankBrain is good with handling unique search queries that haven’t been entered in Google before. You might not think it happens often, but Google receives a significant number of new search queries every day. According to Google, 15% of their daily searches are unique. By unique they mean the system has never seen that search string before. RankBrain steps in to display the search results that are most likely to answer the user’s question.

RankBrain Can Read Your Mind

Kidding! Mind reading isn’t possible, but RankBrain uses the clues it gathers and the information that Google feeds it to come as close as it can to delivering what searchers want. Good marketers have a similar goal; they attempt to read the minds of customers in order to improve their products and services. Google is evolving to display results that deliver the information users were seeking when they typed a certain keyword into Google. Thus, keywords aren’t as important as they used to be. Reading your target audience’s mind is more valuable.

RankBrain Can’t Be Abused Like Links and Keywords Were

Previous Google algorithm updates were exploited by black hat search engine optimizers, but RankBrain can’t be abused. In the past, Google saw their algorithm abused each time they announced how important a particular ranking factor was. Link building, keywords, and on-page SEO were gamed by black hat SEOs (search engine optimizers). Those who didn’t play fair would buy and sell links, keyword stuff articles, and create spammy on-page SEO. RankBrain isn’t easily gamed. You’re better off publishing quality content and caring about your readers.

How to Use RankBrain to Improve Your SEO?

You need to expand your thinking beyond single keyword optimization. In the past, marketers and search engine optimizers would perform keyword research, pick a good keyword with low competition and high searches, and write the article based on that keyword. The keyword would be placed in the title, a subheading, and sprinkled throughout the article.

While you still want to research keywords and center a post based on one, you should take it a step further by asking yourself what the real person behind the mobile phone or computer wants to know. What problem are they currently experiencing? Solve that problem and you’ll have a user who doesn’t leave your page.


What it takes to rank on the first page of Google is constantly evolving. It was once enough to stick a keyword inside your blog post a certain number of times, but that isn’t the case anymore. Google’s algorithm has become better at differentiating between high quality and low quality content. Considering Google revealed that RankBrain is the third most important ranking signal, it’s safe to say RankBrain has had a huge impact on SEO. This is only the beginning. As Google continues to improve RankBrain, search engine optimization will be impacted as well.

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