Google is getting smarter – not least thanks to RankBrain. But what exactly is RankBrain? What does RankBrain mean for SEO and content marketing ? And where is the trend going?

What is Google’s RankBrain?

RankBrain is part of Google’s algorithm which, since 2015 , has been using machine learning , a sub-area of ​​artificial intelligence , to translate content-related search queries into a simple query and answer them. By converting human language into mathematical vectors , RankBrain helps Google better understand the intent behind search queries. Over time, the search engine learns better and better what exactly we mean when we conduct a search and can draw conclusions from the context of a search query.

Google receives billions of searches every day , 15 percent of which are completely new. New search queries in particular pose a challenge, since answers cannot be found with existing routines.

RankBrain as Google’s ranking factor – yes or no?

Whether RankBrain as an extension of Google’s search algorithm itself is a ranking signal – i.e. helps to evaluate documents – or “only” helps to improve the interpretation of search queries is controversial. Google employees have made different statements about this in the past. According to Google’s Webmaster Trend Analyst Gary Illyes , RankBrain helps Google better understand search queries, but has no impact on website crawling, indexing or ranking. Greg Corrado, a researcher at Google, however, called RankBrain the third most powerful signal that contributes to the result of a search query.

Despite this ambiguity, one thing is certain: RankBrain has a major impact on how search queries are evaluated. Therefore, RankBrain should also be considered in search engine optimization and content creation.

That’s why RankBrain is so interesting

The artificial intelligence of the algorithm makes RankBrain particularly interesting. Up to now, changes to the Google search algorithm went something like this: An idea for a change was initiated by a Google developer. This change was then tested, further optimized and finally released. The algorithm was then repeatedly adapted and further developed through updates. In addition, this form of algorithm was mostly not situation and context-specific, but universal. New, unknown situations, such as search queries that had never been entered before, could overwhelm this static algorithm.

Things will look different in the future: Algorithms can evolve and adapt themselves . RankBrain uses machine learning to make evaluation criteria and their weighting more individual and flexible. The algorithm can recognize the context of search queries, better understand the intention behind the search query and respond to it in a targeted manner. According to Google’s Eric Schmidt , at some point we won’t even have to ask the computer any questions because it will have learned what interests us at what point in time.

The requirements of SEO and content marketing with a view to RankBrain

Currently, the effects of machine learning, RankBrain & Co on everyday SEO and content marketing are still manageable. In the future, however, the influence will increase. Thanks to RankBrain, Google is getting better and better at recognizing the search intent of the user, placing it in its context and understanding the relevance of the search query.

This means specifically for you as an online marketer:

  • The optimization specifically for the search engines is becoming less and less important. Create your content for your readers , then Google will rate it well too.
  • SEO is no longer a game in which you use unfair methods to cheat your way to number 1 in the search results. You should clearly focus on the quality of your content and the website , and not just since RankBrain .
  • Classic ranking signals such as B. the page title or anchor texts tend to become less important over time , but are still important signals for the relevance of content.
  • SEO still needs to become more audience -centric , and content needs to be created for specific audiences and context of users to rank high in search results. Get these people’s attention by covering topics that interest your customers and users.
  • Create meaningfully structured and detailed content where you can provide answers to users’ questions.
  • Create content that sounds natural : Move away from optimizing for individual “keywords” and optimize even more for the search intent of your users or customers. Use the language of your target group as well as synonyms and related terms .
  • Include trustworthy sources in your texts, e.g. B. Case studies or authorized websites and present facts. As a result, Google understands the intention of the content better. They also add credibility to the content and help Google understand why it’s useful to readers.
  • For every URL that you, as the site operator, allow to be indexed, it will be even more important in the future than it is now: You must individually assess which specific user intention the site content should and can satisfy. URLs with content that does not satisfy any specific user intention have no place in the index.
  • Use tools such as Google Analytics or the Tag Manager to specifically measure the quality of your content . Continuously optimize your content to achieve good rankings.
  • In the future, successful SEO strategies will differ more than before depending on the website, industry and device . Therefore, use the best cases from your industry as a guide. provide information e.g. B. the industry  studies by Searchmetrics.


In the future, it will be even more difficult to get low-quality content to rank well with Google and Co using SEO tricks. Incidentally, simple optimization measures and shortcuts such as maintaining a certain keyword density or content that is invisible to users and was written solely for search engines have been out of fashion, and rightly so, not just since RankBrain. If you want your website to be successful in the future, you have to deliver. Therefore, design technically flawless websites with outstanding content. Use tools that analyze user behavior and thus the success of your content, and based on this knowledge create suitable content that is individually tailored to the needs of your customers and readers.

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