2016: A Google Ranking Odyssey

December 23, 2016|

Computer securityBy John Pope

The movie 2001: A Space Odyssey might seem like far out science fiction, but it is truer to our current technological environment than most know. Everyone who has seen this Stanley Kubrick classic should remember the perceived villain of the movie, HAL-9000. Well, earlier this year Google launched their RankBrain artificial intelligence website ranking system for their search engine. And guess what? It works and it learns.

RankBrain is technically a machine-learning artificial intelligence system. It was created, or more accurately born, to better increase the accuracy of Google’s search results. The advantage of this artificial intelligence (AI) over the standard algorithm Google has been using to rank search engine results is the AI’s ability to better understand and successfully rank long tail and conversational search queries across mobile and desktop platforms.

To give some background on Google’s existing ranking algorithm, in 2013 the Hummingbird algorithm was developed to better deal with conversational and long tail keyword searches and phrases. Basically, in non-nerd speak, you could better ask Google questions and get more accurately ranked and relevant answers.

There have also been some very concentrated changes to Google’s ranking protocols recently having to do with mobile searches. In fact, mobile and tablet services have been the dominant driving force in Google search solution development for the last couple of years. You may remember the “Mobilegeddon” scare of 2015. To better deal with the mobile search surge the AI has been given commands to better optimize and rank these types of results as well. So, Siri and RankBrain basically interact on your IOS to give you better Google results.

This is where I could start breaking down this major search result indexing change and forecast for the future of Google search, but that would all be speculation. The problem with predicting the behavior of AI is that it adapts and learns based on the data it is given and processes. Not to mention the interaction of the geniuses at Google and the searches of the average Google user.

How is this relevant to businesses and how they advertise online? Well, it basically means that you have to develop strong, relevant content that the pre-existing Hummingbird algorithm, the Mobilegeddon Google updates and the RankBrain AI can better understand, index and then rank. It doesn’t hurt to give complements to the young AI either. Flattery may get you everywhere with RankBrain once it achieves an understanding of its self and its purpose.

John Pope has worked in digital media sales and marketing for six years. His specialty is SEO. Contact his at pope@ontheleveldigital.com.

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