The latest news from Google is that the tech giant is now using a machine-learning artificial intelligence system called RankBrain.
Every change to the company’s search algorithms has a major effect on the entire online industry, so what does the new development mean for website owners, designers, SEO specialists and digital marketers?
Using machine learning to help deliver search results is quite a big step forward, and RankBrain certainly looks like shaking up the world of rankings.
Google confirmed the RankBrain name to Bloomberg and online news site Search Engine Land, and the new approach it uses is firmly based on an artificial intelligence model.
Although Google hasn’t built a self-aware computer (yet), artificial intelligence in this sense means a computer system that learns from mistakes and makes new data connections of its own.
RankBrain seems to be a new part of Google’s overall Hummingbird search algorithm, rather than a replacement for it, and doesn’t handle all searches on its own. This is in line with more familiar names such as Panda, Penguin and Payday.
PageRank was actually the first name that Google gave to a part of its ranking algorithm as long ago as 1998.
As only a part of the greater whole, it seems that RankBrain mainly interprets searches that are submitted by users and then tries to find pages that may not have the exact words that were used in the search term.
Although the search engine already uses this approach on a limited scale, the new developments are expected to create a more intelligent way of handling technically different words and terms that might actually have a connection, or no connection at all.
Multi-word queries, or long-tail queries, are likely to be most affected by RankBrain’s introduction as it can see patterns between seemingly unconnected complex searches.
Together with a learning capacity to build on previous data it has collected, future complex searches can then be associated with results that RankBrain thinks users will like the most.