The Difference Between RankBrain & Neural Matching

The terms “RankBrain” and “neural matching” have been floating around the internet a considerable amount as of late, not least because of a tweet posted by Danny Sullivan, Google’s public search liaison. However, with similarities between both, you may be questioning whether there is actually any difference between the two and why they’re such hot topics currently. Here at Digital Pilots we’re clearing up the confusion and taking a closer look at what RankBrain and neural matching are, and what makes them different from one another.

Neural Matching

As explained by Google, “Neural matching is an AI-based system Google began using in 2018 primarily to understand how words are related to concepts.”

“It’s like a super synonym system. Synonyms are words that are closely related to other words,” 

Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan first spoke about neural matching in a tweet posted in September 2019. He stated that:

“Last few months, Google has been using neural matching, –AI method to better connect words to concepts. Super synonyms, in a way, and impacting 30% of queries. Don’t know what “soap opera effect” is to search for it? We can better figure it out.”

How Does It Work?

In short, neural matching helps better relate words to searches in order to provide users with a better experience, which applies “even if the exact words aren’t used,”.

How Is It Used?

While we are unable to confirm exactly how much neural matching is used, Google stated that the AI-based system impacted approximately 30% of all queries back in September 2018. However, with the latest Google algorithm updates including the March 2019 Core Update focusing on the likes of neural matching, aggressive spidering, and exact match anchor text, this percentage is likely to have increased.

What Is Google RankBrain?

In 2016 Google announced that RankBrain is also an AI machine learning-based system that enables Google to better understand search queries.

The search engine stated that:

“RankBrain uses artificial intelligence to embed vast amounts of written language into mathematical entities — called vectors — that the computer can understand. If RankBrain sees a word or phrase it isn’t familiar with, the machine can make a guess as to what words or phrases might have a similar meaning and filter the result accordingly, making it more effective at handling never-before-seen search queries.”, which is where the confusion initially began.

H2: What’s The Difference Between RankBrain & Neural Matching?

Following mass confusion over what the difference is between Google RankBrain and neural matching, Google stated that:

  • RankBrain helps Google better relate pages to concepts.
  • Neural matching helps Google better relate words to searches.

Despite there being no real fix, Google is getting smarter at identifying the words used naturally on a page and matching them to a query, indicating that search marketers may not have to spend as much time making sure that specific keywords are visible. However, Google’s advice to “create useful, high-quality content” remains.

Google’s Gary Illyes explained that:

“Optimizing for RankBrain is actually super easy, and it is something we’ve probably been saying for 15 years now, is – and the recommendation is – to write in natural language. Try to write content that sounds human. If you try to write like a machine then RankBrain will just get confused and probably just pushes you back.

But if you have a content site, try to read out some of your articles or whatever you wrote, and ask people whether it sounds natural. If it sounds conversational, if it sounds like natural language that we would use in your day to day life, then sure, you are optimized for RankBrain. If it doesn’t, then you are ‘un-optimized.’”

Why Is High-Quality Content So Important?

Knowing that your website needs to feature useful, high-quality content is one thing, but understanding why it is so important is another. It all comes down to Google’s search quality rating guidelines, which is a 164-page document outlining how website owners can improve the ranking of their site.

The guidelines state that:

Common helpful or beneficial page purposes include (but are not limited to):

  • To share information about a topic.
  • To share personal or social information.
  • To share pictures, videos, or other forms of media.
  • To express an opinion or point of view.
  • To entertain.
  • To sell products or services.
  • To allow users to post questions for other users to answer.
  • To allow users to share files or to download software.

Founder and Editor of The SEM Post Jennifer Slegg stated that:

“Google’s focus with this addition is on wanting to ensure content that is created by creators with great reputations is ranking well, especially in a world of fake news and conspiracy theories. Great for those creators with great reputations, but does mean some work for those without a great reputation or a limited one.”

How We Incorporate RankBrain & Neural Matching Into Our Strategies

Content plays a crucial part in everything we do here at Digital Pilots. Our team of Content Account Managers has a clear understanding of every aspect featured in Google’s search quality rating guidelines, meaning that each piece of content that we produce is informative and engaging in order to receive a high rating. This is especially important as Google has very high Page Quality rating standards for YMYL pages because low-quality YMYL pages could potentially negatively impact users’ happiness, health, financial stability, or safety”. To ensure that this requirement is met, our teams take the time to research each topic to ensure that each piece encapsulates professionalism.

For more information about our services or how we can help you optimize for RankBrain or neural matching, get in touch with a member of our expert team on +91 141 267 09 08, today.