One of the biggest, scary enigmas in digital marketing is Google’s algorithm used to rank search engine results. It’s a Da Vinci’s Code of sorts that leaves many of us scratching our heads. But alas, Google has finally announced its top three factors used in the search rankings process. Among their newest additions is RankBrain, and we’re about to examine why.

The 3rd Most Important SEO Signal broke the story that RankBrain now serves as one of Google’s primary signals (a factor that goes into Google’s algorithm to sort out its search rankings). According to the company, it is the 3rd most important SEO signal behind inbound linking and webpage content. The difference? It is a machine-learning, artificial intelligence system that systematically processes search queries for better rankings placement. In other words, it can decipher what users are trying to type into a search even if not initially apparent.

Decipher Difficult Search Queries

So if you’re typing in, “consumers at the top of the food chain,” RankBrain will understand that you’re looking for something related to the animal kingdom. You know, instead of a “consumer of goods.” This difference is important as it can greatly affect search engine placement by filtering out the confusion.

A Move To AI

While it still remains crucial to build backlinks for your site (as we mentioned before, linking remains one of the top two Google signals), it’s apparent that the company’s move to AI is going to alleviate the burden of many websites looking to rise above the pack. RankBrain aims to sort together previously unresolvable queries, potentially generating you more impressions. The technology also helps alleviate the strain placed upon Google employees in Mountain View, CA responsible for manually reviewing brand new queries. They used to have to deal with the 15 percent of queries each day that their systems had never seen before. By removing the human factor, efficiency should greatly improve.

Beating Out Top Google Engineers

Thus far, RankBrain is outsmarting the human beings it seeks to replace. In a side-by-side test with real life Google search engineers, the employees guessed which pages would rank at the top of each search 70 percent of the time. Sound impressive? Well, not compared to the 80 percent success rate of RankBrain.

Hummingbird Still Rules

After Google made the announcement that they had added this new element to their search algorithm, people were in a frenzy thinking Google had replaced ALL other signals with RankBrain. Just to be clear, RankBrain is merely a part of the larger Hummingbird algorithm. This overall algorithm contains hundreds of signals that are constantly being altered. As we stated above, RankBrain still sits behind the two signals that a) require publishers to build backlinks to their site, and b) forces publishers to create quality content that drives user engagement.

RankBrain Is A Sign Of The Future

Creating a smarter algorithm, and eradicating human error, is always a part of Google’s search engine strategy, and RankBrain is a massive step in that direction. But while it’s important to learn as much as you can about these new signals added to Google’s algorithm, it’s also critical to master the two basic (and essential) other elements – link building and content marketing and SEO strategy. Because if a website lacks engaging content and proper linking, its pages will fall so low in the search rankings that even RankBrain won’t be able to help.