There is a newer buzzword in the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) lexicon that has been getting a lot of attention lately. Deep learning has become the most talked about the technology used by the major search engine companies to improve their algorithms and give their clients better results.

Deep learning is, fundamentally, using artificial intelligence programs to grant search engine algorithms the ability to learn and evolve. This evolution is designed to make the algorithms better and more accurate in ranking pages for content and relevance. Deep learning will make search engines better for the user by returning pages that have a higher chance of being what they are looking for.

How does this work?

Limited artificial intelligence has been in widespread use for years. The adoption of deep learning for search engine algorithms will not lead to Skynet and Terminators chasing down the remnants of humanity. Well, hopefully, it won’t, but the artificial intelligence in the algorithms is not that intelligent. What it does is learn over time how to detect relevant web pages per its evolving standards. The standards evolve, of course, as the algorithm searches out new pages and compares their content to existing pages.

The combination of keywords, solid, informative content and viable links and backlinks will remain the standard for SEO, but the algorithms will soon be able to judge how effective all that ties into their search parameters. Deep learning means that search engine companies like Google and Bing are trying to give their customers the best service they can.

What does that mean for SEO?

SEO companies are all about tilting the field to the wishes of their clients. In a perfect world, search engine results would be about the quality and content of the websites, but because not all websites are created equal, the balance can shift. SEO companies try to create the perfect combination of keywords, content and links to score high in the search engine algorithm and anything that makes it more difficult to fool or trick the algorithm is a good thing for the search engine users and the companies who want their business.

Specific search engines have their own version of deep learning, but Google’s RankBrain has been used since October 2015. In the ensuing year and a half, RankBrain has been, according to Google, the “third most important factor in the ranking algorithm along with links and content.” RankBrain is the de facto standard for deep learning artificial intelligence in search engine algorithms.

How does this effect ‘Black Hat’ and ‘White Hat’ SEO?

Deep learning has the potential to shut ‘Black Hat’ SEO out completely. As the algorithms become more complex, it becomes harder to fool them. With a learning ability added to the algorithm, the common tricks used to drive up page hits won’t work more than once. The algorithm will recognize them and score their website poorly once they are recognized, meaning fewer hits and a worsening score on SEO.

This is fantastic news for ‘White Hat’ SEO companies but does mean that they must work harder to create and support websites with consistently high search engine hits. As deep learning enabled algorithms to learn to filter out good information from bad, the quality of content and links becomes even more important.

Once Google rolled out RankBrain, other search engines were forced to follow suit or fall behind. The quality of links generated by Google search is the reason that they are the most used search engine in the world. When they make changes in their algorithm, their competition must keep up or lose even more of the market share to Google. Fortunately, most of their competition use similar software and concepts which makes it easier for SEO professionals to create websites that are popular across the spectrum of search engines.

The future is now

For the last year and a half, RankBrain has been affecting the results of Google search results. The updates and improvements generated by the improved algorithm have already made enormous changes in Search Engine Marketing (SEM) firms. The job of an SEO expert has gotten much harder with the changes that Google imposes with its algorithms. Before RankBrain you could target specific keywords with a solid chance of success. Now, though, you must predict the effects that entire phrases will have on the algorithm and adjust your entire strategy on the fly to respond to how website as the whole works together. It’s a much broader-based strategy.

New techniques and methods are appearing daily. Every time one of these new techniques appears, RankBrain looks at the effect it has on its website and makes a determination on whether it is a good change or bad. Over time, when it has learned what the results are and will be, the algorithm is updated to include this information. But the time between a new technique being launched and its incorporation into the algorithm is becoming shorter with each passing day. RankBrain and Google are making the internet more convenient and informative for their users.

To stay relevant, SEM firms are having to improve their skills and predictive ability all while conforming to the ever-changing algorithm generated by RankBrain’s deep learning artificial intelligence.


Amir Noghani is the general manager at His experience in digital marketing amounts to more than seven years. He has rich knowledge and skills in Online Marketing and Public Relations and also writing journal articles and blogs.