|Will RankBrain fundamentally change search marketing?|
What it's not: RankBrain is NOT a new Search Algorithm. That came along over two years ago and was named Hummingbird in 2013. RankBrain is simply a way to sort through all the noise out there in the form of many billions of pages on the web. It is a part of Hummingbird rather than a replacement for it. According to the Bloomberg article BrainRank is the third-most important signal contributing to how the results are organized and sorted. If you are like me, you probably asked, well...what are the first two? It is my opinion that links are and will remain #1 for the foreseeable future and would agree with Danny Sullivan that the second-most important factor is the proper use of words within your site's content.
Alright, so what does this new piece of the ranking puzzle do? Well, referring again to Danny and a conversation he had with Google it seems:
RankBrain is mainly used as a way to interpret the searches that people submit to find pages that might not have the exact words that were searched for.This is different from the existing technologies such as LSI and the Knowledge Graph by no longer relying on a person or website to curate the "strings not things". Think of how schema.org is an effort to organize data but relies on someone to create the tags and add them is subject to misuse (spam) and/or improper implementation.
This type of technology was unavoidable if Google wanted to stay relevant. Why? Because of the sheer volume of queries being performed every day (3 billion per day, 1 trillion per year!) along with the percent those queries which have never been searched before (15-25%). There is no way that manually manipulating the algorithm to filter out the duplicated, outdated, and spammy content is sustainable.
When will you see changes? Well, as with recent releases Google acknowledged the update has been live since the beginning of 2015. The changes will be gradual but will be noticeable over time. Time will also tell how many people are affected by this, or blame their ranking losses on RankBrain.