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RankBrain: Artificial Intelligence at Google

Google’s search results process is constantly evolving, as we know. The latest tool in the armoury may be one which takes over in the medium-term: it’s an artificial intelligence system called ‘RankBrain’.

There’s a reason why Google is pumping resources into beating the human world champion at Go. It wants to lead the world in machine learning. And the results from this work will undoubtedly feed back into internet search.

At the moment there are over 200 ‘signals’ used to rank search results, and although RankBrain is only one more, it’s apparently the third most important, right from the outset. (If you find out what the first two are, please let me know).

So, while we of course welcome our new artificial intelligence overlords, how do we design our website strategy to impress them? Of course, nobody this side of the fence has any idea. However, I’m sure that those of us who’ve toiled over increasing AdWords’ Quality Scores for the past few years may have a head start.

What’s likely to be happening is that Google will concentrate more on working out an expected click-through rate for a given result, shown in a given position, for a given search. It will then start moving results around based on whether the actual performance of a result is meeting expectations.

If it’s all about the clickthrough rate, then you need to start writing page titles like advertisement headlines. They’ll need to intrigue, and they’ll need to shout: “click me!” Lazy labels churned out by neglected content management systems will no longer be enough. If your page titles just look like breadcrumb trails, you need to sharpen up your act.

But crucially, the pages will need to deliver on the promise. The quality of your content will be more important than ever.

2 thoughts on “RankBrain: Artificial Intelligence at Google”

  1. Great post Chris! For some time, SEO is slowly turning towards UX. This can also be seen through RankBrain. Nevertheless, this is a system which can be exploited. Do you think that this will lead to new types of malpractices?

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