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Yesterday at SMX West, I did a panel named Man vs Machine covering algorithms versus guidelines and during the Q&A portion, I asked the Bing reps Frédéric Dubut and Nagu Rangan what percentage of the core ranking algorithm is AI or machine learning based. To my surprise, they guessed over 90%.
I know Bing is proud of AI for rankings but I didn’t expect it to be 90%+. I would have thought closer to 20% or so.
Here are some tweets from the conference about it:

90%+ of Bing search results would be based on machine learning. LambdaMART is the core. @CoperniX #SMX
— Patrick Stox (@patrickstox) January 30, 2019

For those curious about the technical details and history of LambdaMART, you can start with this excellent article by @MSFTResearch #SEO #TechnicalSEO #MachineLearning #SMX https://t.co/XOgTRIDD9N https://t.co/mgi3sVfBvx
— Frédéric Dubut (@CoperniX) January 30, 2019
The second one is from the speaker.
So Bing is not shy about this figure. I’ve asked Google this question numerous times, and they always shy away from the answer. The closest thing I got was that we don’t need to worry, the algorithm won’t run away by itself, Google still needs to be able to debug ranking issues and if it is all ML/AI based, it is too hard to do that.
So I then used that tweet to get Google to answer the question – fast forward, it didn’t work – yet. But we did get some responses:

What are you measuring with that number?
— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) January 30, 2019

It is true that what matters ultimately is how well we (search engines) satisfy user intent. My answer was mostly saying our @Bing ranking algo is, by and large, ML-based (maybe the exact number is 91.56%, who knows 😄), which hopefully explains in part how we build our engine.
— Frédéric Dubut (@CoperniX) January 30, 2019
Will Google ever share that number? If they do, how high do you think it would be? I still would guess when it comes to core ranking of the “ten blue links” we would be at about 20% or so. But I was totally off when it came to Bing.
Why does it matter as Gary from Google said above? I guess it doesn’t but it is interesting to see how much each search engine trusts AI.
Forum discussion at Twitter.

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