SEO Machine Learning: RankBrain Myths Debunked

From Penguin, Panda, Hummingbird, Pigeon to Fred, it seems we SEOs are forever just barely catching up with Google’s algorithm improvements. And along comes RankBrain, the ultimate machine learning (artificial intelligence) that baffles many digital marketers.

Ultimately, you cannot optimize for RankBrain via black hat tactics and techniques, but through good ol’ high quality content marketing, and marketing best practices.


What We Know About RankBrain.

Since it’s launch in 2015, we all know that RankBrain was taught how to read, process language and deduce meaning by Google Engineers. We also know that it’s smarter than Google’s Engineers, scoring 80% on search quality accuracy test compared to 70% score achieved by the engineers. And that since early 2016, it has been handling 15% of all search queries.

It is the 3rd most important SEO algorithm and has 2 primary objectives. Which are to understanding search queries, followed by measuring how people interact with the search results.

There’s a lot we know about RankBrain. Or perhaps, a lot we (think) we know about RankBrain.

What We Think We Know But Are Actually Myths.

RankBrain Myth #1: Natural Language Processor

RankBrain is ‘not yet’ a Natural Language Processor (NLP), but arriving at the level of NLP is perhaps the ultimate goal. What that means is that RankBrain isn’t yet able to understand the context and meaning of language like a human does by just the words it reads (yet), but still requires a complex network of vectors and database of information to make a best guess what each word might mean.

RankBrain Myth #2: RankBrain is Taking Over the Entire Algorithm

RankBrain isn’t overriding Panda, Penguin or any of the other algorithms and ranking factors, let alone Hummingbird which is an infrastructural update. However, RankBrain is enhancing on the search results by feeding into the system what it has learned, i.e. websites users seems to like and dislike, in order to improve the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).

RankBrain Myth #3: RankBrain is an Advanced AI (Artificial Intelligence)

Actually, RankBrain is the lowest form of artificial intelligence (AI). There are 3 types of AI: Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI), Artificial General Intelligence, and Artificial Super Intelligence. RankBrain is the first, Artificial Narrow Intelligence. ANI basically means the ability of a computer to do a single task very well, but not at breadth and not at the level a human being is able to.

RankBrain Myth #4: RankBrain Means Microdata Markups Won’t Be Needed Anymore

RankBrain is a low form of AI, meaning it isn’t yet able to completely understand words, phrases and context of paragraphs on its own. Mircodata ( will still play a very important role in ensuring Google understands the content you are presenting on your website.

There has been very little official statement about RankBrain from Google since it was launched, but we can confidently guess that improvements are being made every day, in-line with technological improvements we are seeing everywhere. It would be interesting to see how RankBrain impacts the world of SEO 10 years from now. More even when RankBrain reaches the level of NLP!