Rank Ranger Blog

Related Search Awakens! Meet the Brain Update

There's been a lot of speculation around Google updates in Search results recently, for example, Barry Schwartz mentioned in Search Engine Roundtable articles a December 10th shift and a potential Google Search Update on December 16th.  There's been an equal amount of buzz in the Webmaster Forums as well.  
Basically, the search experts have seen evidence of it, and the webmasters and site owners have noticed considerable changes in traffic and click through rates, both up and down.  We know that Google continuously updates the algorithm and it doesn't have to be an "animal" as Google Trends Analyst Gary Illyes refers to Panda (continuing to roll out slowly), Penguin (which not expected until early 2016), or any of the recent smaller updates, like "Hacked Sites" or "Phantom Updates".  Google has not confirmed a major algorithm update, yet something big is happening based on our analysis. 

Google Desktop SERP Fluctuations

In this snapshot from our Rank Risk Index, we're seeing an unusually high increase in SERP fluctuations in Google Desktop during the last 30 days.

Rank Risk Index Google SERP Fluctuations

Google Related Search is Growing

Further analysis shows that between November 30th and December 10th there has been a large increase in the percentage of search queries that include Related Search results.  This Rank Ranger Features Graph analyzes SERP page 1 features data and stability for more than 100,000 select keywords per day, and it's reporting that RankBrain has ratcheted up its influence in Google’s Special SERP Features, in this case, Related Search. 

Google Related Search Tremors

20% more search queries were served Related Search results

Related Search Trends

It could be that Google's newly minted RankBrain algorithm's machine learning technology is helping Google deliver more intelligent and precisely focused Related Search results.   Queries that previously delivered a more vague understanding by the algorithm now have a more focused result.  Let's analyze an example together...

RangerBot has recorded these Related Search results for the query "Burkesville Kentucky Hotels" during the past 4 weeks:

  • 3 results with an average word count of 3.0 on November 26th
  • 3 results with an average word count of 3.0 on December 3rd
  • 3 results with an average word count of 3.0 on December 10th
  • 8 results with an average word count of 4.5 on December 17th

Related Search Trends

The 8 Related Search results in the above screenshot are longer phrases than previously displayed for this keyword, which gives us the impression that Google may be able to pull more data across all of their channels and has utilized that power to entirely revamp their Related Search.

Google Related Search Hastings New ZealandEqually, if not more, impressive are the keywords that had zero Related Search results until this week. RangerBot recorded Related Search results for the query "Hastings New Zealand" during the past 4 weeks as follows:

  • 0 results with an average word count of 0.0 on November 26th
  • 0 results with an average word count of 0.0 on December 3rd
  • 0 results with an average word count of 0.0 on December 10th
  • 8 results with an average word count of 4.63 on December 17th

Google Trends Analyst Gary Illyes, said at SMX Israel that RankBrain can be defined by its powerful ability to connect words and ideas together, RankBrain's, "better at synonyms.” 
We analyzed numerous examples like the one above and we believe that Google's RankBrain algorithm is gaining clarity and demonstrating the power of artificial intelligence. Related Search improves user experience and is also a powerful indicator for SEO keyword research

RankBrain is a Citizen of the World

We took our analysis to the international search engine level to determine if RankBrain's AI was only being tested on Americans, and were excited to find similar Related Search improvements for all the country-based Google Search Engines that we tested.

Google UK Related Search Trends

Similar to the Google.com trend, we're seeing an 18.4% increase between November 30th and December 11th in the number of search queries that include Related Search results for UK searches.

Google UK Related Search Trends

Google Germany Related Search Trends

The Rank Ranger Features Graph indicates a 13% increase in Related Search results for German search.

Google Germany Related Search results trends

Google Australia Related Search Trends

In Australia today, 96% of SERPs included Related Search, an 8.4% increase over November 30th.

Google Australia Related Search Trends

Google Brazil Related Search Trends

Google Brazil scored an amazing increase of 30.8% in Related Search results between November 30th and December 17th.

Google Brazil Related Search Trends

It could be that Google Search feels more confident with the new Google RankBrain algorithm's ability to provide smarter related search terms. Previously if you searched using long tail keywords or included characters and numbers you got a mix of results. And when the algorithm didn't seem to know which direction to give results in, it excluded Related Search completely and served a mix of results perhaps hoping that one of them would fulfill your query.  That's been rectified. By increasing the algorithm's ability to deliver Related Search by 20%, a full 95% of Google.com queries contain Related Search results today.  This is an indicator that Related Search is a more powerful tool than ever for keyword, key phrase and content research.  

Google Algorithm Brain Update

As Google's RankBrain continues to learn exponentially, we can look forward to additional improvements across all Google channels and that's why the Rank Ranger Team has been calling this the Brain Update. What do you think - catchy name?  Or do you have a better idea? If so, share it in the comments below and we'll consider renaming this blog post.  May the Force be with you!

About The Author
Michael has his sights on being a Rank Ranger scout. Always searching for the perfect website, scouring the world for SEO tips, optimizing photos, content and links. Whatever can be projected from an LED screen, can be a marketing tool.

Michael believes that Rank Ranger is the ultimate haven for SEO warriors and is passionate about guiding them to find the best way to use our SEO software - reports, graphs, tools and white label features - to improve the way they manage SEO and digital marketing!

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