In 2015, Google used RankBrain for less than 15% of search queries. Now, it is used for every single search.
Google’s confidence in its RankBrain algorithm has increased, leading the machine learning system to now be used to process every single query that Google handles. As a result of this, rankings for a lot of queries are changing.
The news first came about in Steven Levy’s story on machine learning efforts at Google. Where he wrote in regard to RankBrain:
Google is characteristically fuzzy on exactly how it improves search (something to do with the long tail? Better interpretation of ambiguous requests?) but [Jeff Dean, computer scientist at Google] says that RankBrain is “involved in every query,” and affects the actual rankings “probably not in every query but in a lot of queries.”
What’s more, it’s hugely effective. Of the hundreds of “signals” Google Search uses when it calculates its rankings (a signal might be the user’s geographical location, or whether the headline on a page matches the text in the query), RankBrain is now rated as the third most useful.
As previously announced by Google, RankBrain is one of the most important and effective search ranking signals. As Google has become more confident in its RankBrain ranking signal, it has started to use it for more and more queries. Google says RankBrain is now used to help with ranking every query that comes through the search engine – which is more than two trillion every year.
As a result, Google’s RankBrain ranking signal has changed the ranking of many search queries. The reason for this is that RankBrain will pick out two similar queries, such as “best flower shop in Los Angeles” and “Best LA flower shops” and realise that these two results are asking for the same thing. RankBrain will then – behind the scenes – change similar queries to the most popular one. This would mean in this instance that no matter which of the two flower shop queries you type in, Google will search for, and present you with the same results, in turn changing the ranking of pages that would have previously ranked higher or lower for every different variation of a search query.
Search Engine Land advises that SEOs and search marketers that are worried about rankings changing as an effect of the RankBrain ranking signal, should not change anything, and should not attempt to work around RankBrain. They should simply focus on creating high-quality content, as this is a leading factor that RankBrain checks. As long as content is deemed relevant and high-quality, this should result in RankBrain ranking you high in the SERPs.