Entities, Search, and RankBrain: How it works and why it matters | SearchLeeds 2018

Who is Kristine Schachinger?

Kristine Schachinger is the founder and CEO of Sites Without Walls, Digital Strategist & SEO Consultant and a regular speaker at events like SMX Advanced and SMX East.

Kristine Schachinger has almost 20 years of experience in website design, development and implementation experience and has helped design/code/implement sites for everyone from SMBs to Reba McEntire, AOL, Superpages.com, and USA.gov. Kristine also has nearly fourteen years experience in accessibility and over a thirteen years experience in website visibility and SEO.

In addition to all that, Kristine Schachinger is a Subject Matter Expert with columns in Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch, SEMPost, Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Watch, and State of Digital.

Kristine Schachinger with Juan González and Dawn Anderson
Kristine Schachinger with Juan González and Dawn Anderson

What is RankBrain?

RankBrain is a machine-learning artificial intelligence system, the use of which was confirmed by Google on 26 October 2015. As a true machine learning system, RankBrain can teach itself how to do something, rather than being taught by humans or following detailed programming.

RankBrain uses machine learning (and arguably artificial intelligence) to answer queries that have never been answered before by the search giant.
This system converts the search inputs by the users in the form of mathematical patterns which are further processed by the search engines.

RankBrain also uses semantic search – which was implemented with the Hummingbird update – to associates unfamiliar words semantically to already known linguistic entities. This means that RankBrain no longer just looks at keywords (and keyword density) but rather, it tries to understand the meaning behind any given search.

Although Google never really told us what RankBrain looks at if I had to guess, then I would say RankBrain looks at:

  • Organic CTR (Click Through Rate)
  • Time-on-Site (aka. Dwell time)
  • Bounce Rate
  • Domain Authority (in terms of number of pages with a ‘good’ CTR)
  • Pogo Sticking (when you quickly leave a page and go back to the SERPs) – made famous by Rand Fishkin.

Based on these SEO factors, RankBrain is constantly shifting pages around until each page has achieved its deserved spot on the SERPs.