Weekly News Review: AI and RankBrain, App Ranking Factors and More


It was a busy week for e-commerce news. In typical fashion, Google occupied the majority of the headlines, and for good reason. From algorithm news to a recently unveiled feature that makes live blogging even more impactful, there was much to take note of. And we’ve conveniently aggregated the news that should matter most to you right here to bring you up to speed.

Understanding RankBrain and its Potentially Huge Impact

One of the hot topics in search rankings is RankBrain, Google’s artificial intelligence system that helps process search results. In a recent article from Search Engine Watch, RankBrain’s machine learning process was analyzed for its potential benefits and drawbacks in the SEO world.

Because of its ability to associate unfamiliar phrases and words with familiar search terms, the folks at Search Engine Watch have deemed RankBrain to be a (mostly) friendly presence. Its ability to pull in more relevant search factors will be a big boost for smaller sites that previously had trouble ranking well. What remains to be seen is how SEO agencies will adapt — possibly by finding ways to subvert RankBrain’s algorithms for their own benefit. In the case of such a development, it’ll be interesting to see how the landscape is shaken up by Google’s AI.

Google Exec Speaks on App Ranking Factors

Meanwhile, Google’s App Indexing was covered this week over at Search Engine Land. In a conversation with Rajan Patel, Google’s director of mobile search, some key differences in how Google ranks app content versus web content were explained.

Because Google doesn’t have access to links, anchors and PageRank signals from within apps (especially app-only content), they largely turn to the Google App Indexing API for the info needed to rank app content. Because this tool also detects how long users spend on specific views or actions within the app, it’s a good indicator of importance and authority. The bottom line: if you want your app content to rank well in Google, take advantage of the App Indexing API.

New Google Feature Bringing Live Blogging to Search Results

On a final note, live bloggers now have access to a game-changing tool from Google. As reported on Search Engine Land, Google has released a red “LIVE” label that allows publishers to mark their content as a live blog format. Content marked with the label can then be displayed on Google’s publisher carousels section.

For publishers looking for new ways to reach their readers regarding the latest news and unfolding events, this is an easy way to promote content on the Internet’s most popular search engine. Currently, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Washington Post and platform provider ScribbleLive are already participating.