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Valerie Valerie Dec 01, 2016

Google’s RankBrain and Artificial Intelligence in Search

The nerdy stuff

google-rank-brainWelcome to the Age of Artificial Intelligence. No, you haven’t just entered The Twilight Zone, but artificial intelligence (AI for short) is revolutionizing the world of search. Google’s machine learning system, called RankBrain, is not bent on human destruction. It’s being used to better sort search results.

What is RankBrain?

RankBrain is a component of Google’s overall search algorithm, Hummingbird. It uses machine learning AI to evolve Google’s understanding of search queries. Machine learning allows a computer to “learn” by building onto a history of what it already knows.

If you remember, Hummingbird allows Google to return better results for “long-tail queries.”  RankBrain is an enhancement to this original algorithm.

Before RankBrain, it was a human’s job to analyze search results, make connections, and create possible synonym lists. Sounds like tedious work and it is, because Google processes more than 3 billion searches a day! RankBrain’s purpose is to produce the best results for even the most unfamiliar, long-tail expressions. Machine learning helps Google “learn” by recognizing patterns between common and uncommon phrases.

So, How Does it Work?

According to a Bloomberg article, RankBrain helps Google interpret less direct searches, such as “What’s the title of the consumer at the highest level of a food chain?”

In this case, RankBrain may compare this lengthy query with a common phrase like: “top level of the food chain” to understand the question and deliver accurate results. This is how the system “learns.”

By interpreting and understanding more complex, indirect searches, RankBrain is helping Google use its vast store of knowledge for popular searches to improve its results for uncommon or more colloquial questions.   

Is Artificial Intelligence Here to Stay?

It appears that way. Since its rollout, Google has already announced that RankBrain is being used to process all of its searches. Google is still working out some of the kinks with artificial learning, but RankBrain seems to be another sign of its continuous investment in improving search.

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