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Does RankBrain change digital marketing?

RankBrain Portent SEO



All hail RankBrain! Remember this day when we’re all slaves to machines that barf information on us, filling up downtime and turning us into drooling screen addicts…


Since I’m too late to do anything about that, I thought I’d get one thing out of the way:

RankBrain doesn’t matter to marketers. Or more accurately, it doesn’t matter to good marketers. The guys that are more worried about future-proof quality, than exploiting fleeting loopholes for a quick buck.

If you’re an SEO, a digital marketer or a consumer, RankBrain makes zero difference in your daily life. Google will continue to deliver brand-biased search results replete with sketchy SEO tactics in the short-run. And it’ll continue to be by far the best search game in town, whether we like it or not.

Because they like watching us all lose our minds, Google threw out there that RankBrain is a ‘signal.’

Can someone tell me what the hell that actually means? RankBrain is a machine learning thingamabob that interprets searches and helps with synonyms. It’s a search refinement tool. How exactly does that change what we do for SEO? Does RankBrain change digital marketing?

It doesn’t.

Keep doing what you’re doing. SEO isn’t dead. Marketing is still here. And we’re no more enslaved to our screens than we were yesterday.

If you want more information, minus the PR, check out the post on Search Engine Land.

And, because I wouldn’t be a marketer if I didn’t foist my content on you: “Distance from Perfect” is a universal algorithm that won’t change, no matter what Google does. You might want to check it out. You can read the blog post here, and see the slide deck here.

CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at

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  1. I read the headline and thought, “No.” Rolled my eyes and took a look anyways.
    I was kind of disappointed by the news or RankBrain actually. Fancy name that related to fancy AI… things. New ranking signal!! Except… it just makes things more accurate for those who type in weird search terms.
    At best, it helps everyone equally.

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