What Is RankBrain and How Does It Influence SEO

Google’s newest addition to its algorithmic line-up is not a Panda, Possum, or other woodland creature. It is called Rank Brain.

Rank Brain is an artificial intelligence designed to handle millions of search queries that are geared to an end-user. Already handling an enormous amount of queries per second, it specializes in the unknown.

In other words, with all the new ways to search the internet such as voice search, or home assistants like Alexa, there has been an ever-increasing problem Google has been facing. Simply put, there are millions of new and never before seen queries that Google’s core algorithm could not handle efficiently.

It can efficiently decipher the different meanings of words and compare them to that of the person searching. The AI acts as a detective and analyzes the words used and the intent of what the user wants. In the early days of the internet, search engine spiders had a hard time determining the different meanings of words and the results could be less than satisfactory.  With so many synonyms and different meanings in the world, Google saw an ever-increasing problem.  If someone is searching for “big apples”, how does Google know if they want large fruit or the statistics about New York?


Enter Rank Brain

Rank Brain uses AI (artificial intelligence) to encapsulate every word written into a formula of mathematics in which it can understand and extrapolate based on the end user’s persona. From location to search history the AI performs its best work to identify what the person wants from their search.

With items like voice search in mind, Rank Brain was born.

It is said that by 2020 voice search will take up 50% of the search market which is staggering.  In fact, a recent study by Infront Webworks concluded that 22% of people have bought something using voice search. Google recognized this early on and to stay true to its mission statement, “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”, they began to implement.


RankBrain and Voice Search Strategies for SEO

Assuming you have great on-page SEO in place and a healthy website, this is a great place to start for increased website rankings.

Based on the way that Rank Brain operates and its relationship to voice search, it is vital to optimize for these types of search queries. Never before searches that Rank Brain handles goes hand in hand with voice search. People tend to become more conversational in nature thus creating VERY long-tailed keywords.

In the past Google, in simple terms would find pages that coincide with certain and more specific keywords placed in content to get a match. Lining up keywords with meta titles and H₁ tags as it sorted out your web pages.

Instead, the rank brain focuses on external factors such as location and history as well as the content. With this in mind writing for Rank Brain is more important than ever.

Creating Content That Rank Brain Loves

The first step is content and per usual, content is king. Start by developing personas for your content.

  • Who is the ideal customer?
  • Where do they live?
  • What questions do they ask about your product or service?
  • How old are they?
  • Are they well-educated?

By knowing who you are writing for, you want to edit your content for them. You are answering the questions that they want answers to. Do this and search engines will love you.

When you begin to write, be clear and concise. You may use industry-standard vernacular for your products, but your customers might call it something completely different. Do you know what that is and have you included it within your text? Appeal to the searcher and not your ego.

Next, jot down questions that your customers ask you constantly and then answer them with all you have. Throw the kitchen sink at them.

This does 2 things. First, they might stop pestering you with the same question over and over (all kidding aside), and second, when these questions are answered on your website you are solving a related search query for someone and satisfying Google with a good result to serve people. Common questions answered can lead to more site visitors. It is as plain as that.

By doing so, Rank Brain will take a cumulative snapshot of your content and ensure that it matches with the person searching. It takes into account location as well as specifics about the location. From things like zip codes to the metric system depending on where the person is located.

Typical voice search patterns tend to include words like “near me”, “in zip code 80634”, so a conversational search may sound something like, “Where is the best Dentist in zip code 80634 that takes QDP?”

And below would be the final result:



I know what you are thinking, “But there is no search volume for that?!?”. You would be right. The search volume is lousy for this particular search.


What is happening is you are creating authority on a specific subject, and by doing so you will not only answer this original search but many other original queries similar to it. This could be in thousands if implemented correctly. On top of this, this is someone who needs a Dentist and needs a Dentist that takes this type of insurance. Would you turn this probable new customer away because of the wording they used during their search? We wouldn’t either.



Refining Your Content to Reflect Your Business

This next item with voice search and Rank Brain is a must. Continue to revamp your content and edit it consistently to capitalize on this type of search.  You will want to test out your new content to be sure it delivers results. Rank Brain is still fairly new and you can be sure Google is changing something daily within the AI itself to improve its capabilities.

I would recommend using Google’s Search Console to see how you are ranking for these types of “longer” tailed keywords. Search Console provides a wealth of information that is highly actionable.

When you are logged into your website’s search console dashboard you will want to click on Search Analytics.



From there, you can sort through the list of queries for your website and their positions by checking the positions box and sorting the column. What you want to look for are queries that fall between pages 2 and 3 or spots 20 to 30.

Take a look at the results and think about your content again. Pick out keywords that are longer than three words and decide how you can make this content better to address this type of search. You might even want to write an extra blog about the topic and link it back to the ranking page for added results.

Lastly, practice. As you continue to make revisions, your content will become more refined, more to the point, and answering the searches questions and landing you in those top spots.

This will continue to help your site grow and become an authority in its niche. The hardest part for novice SEO’s in optimizing for this type of search tends to be the lack of searches for these queries. Once you are able to set that aside and realize that these searches compound upon each other the better off you will be.

Many fear Rank Brain thinking that is the thing that will kill SEO, but this could not be further from the truth. The bottom line is that Rank Brain is not our enemy but our friend. Learning to understand how search engines work and operate is the key to search engine optimization. The easy part is implementation. The SEO industry is just changing like it always has. White hat SEO will always thrive as long as there is a need for better search placement. By taking steps with your website in an ethical manner, there will always be a need for proper SEO. Every website on the planet, including those that rank #1 will always have an SEO issue to take care of. SEO is not going anywhere. It only grows and changes as it always has. Rank Brain is no exception.

The days of picking one keyword per page have gone to the way-side. Instead, a new era of search has come upon us. Content that is written for humans instead of machines and machines that can understand the difference. Google wants websites to favor humans, natural speaking jargon and serving up the best results for its users.


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