In an interview with Bloomberg this week Google has reveals that they have developed an artificial intelligence (A.I.) program they have dubbed “Rank Brain” that is playing a major role in determining search results.
While Google wouldn’t divulge the exact amount of searches impacted they did state it was a “very large fraction”.
So What is Rank Brain?
Rank Brain is a learning system that uses artificial intelligence to sift through masses of historical data using mathematical vectors. Simply put it allows the Rank Brain technology to make calculated guesses around related results for search queries. The analogy used in the interview was that of a busy pub. While you may not be able to hear everything clearly, you hear enough of the conversation to guess what the other person is saying and respond accordingly.
The big benefit to Google is the assistance this can give with the approximately 450 million (15%) search results it processes each day that have never been searched for before.
According to Google Senior Research Scientist, Greg Corrado, Rank Brain is now the third most important factor in determining search results in the Hummingbird algorithm. That is a big deal for something that has only been quietly rolled out this year.
Facebook and Microsoft both already use AI in managing news feeds and search results and Google has been investing in AI research for a number of years.
Why should you care?
Site content should once again be on the rise in importance as the A.I. systems process content and data to become better at connecting the dots for relevance. This reaffirms the need to have a strong focus on having relevant and up to date content on your website. Also with common language changing so rapidly it is critical to understand what your market is searching for and how they are searching, rather than what products or services you have (and industry terminology). The old adage of meet the market demand rather than build it (or stock it) and they will come still applies.
This also raises the question of whether A.I. technology such as RankBrain could be used by Google to assist the Panda and Penguin updates identify and penalise websites that do not comply with Google best practice.
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Glenn is a Partner and Senior Consultant who has had a very successful career building growth companies in the private equity arena. He has a wealth of experience in both the digital space and strategy development. Prior to becoming a partner in SureFire Glenn built one of the largest digital teams in New Zealand for a NASDAQ listed global online marketing company & Google's largest premium partner.