Graph similarity search is a common and fundamental operation in graph databases. One of the most popular graph similarity measures is the Graph Edit Distance (GED) mainly because of its broad applicability and high interpretability. Despite its prevalence, exact GED computation is proved to be NP-hard, which could result in unsatisfactory computational efficiency on large graphs. However, exactly accurate search results are usually unnecessary for real-world applications especially when the responsiveness is far more important than the accuracy. Thus, in this paper, we propose a novel probabilistic approach to efficiently estimate GED, which is further leveraged for the graph similarity search. Specifically, we first take branches as elementary structures in graphs, and introduce a novel graph similarity measure by comparing branches between graphs, i.e., Graph Branch Distance (GBD), which can be efficiently calculated in polynomial time. Then, we formulate the relationship between GED and GBD by considering branch variations as the result ascribed to graph edit operations, and model this process by probabilistic approaches. By applying our model, the GED between any two graphs can be efficiently estimated by their GBD, and these estimations are finally utilized in the graph similarity search. Extensive experiments show that our approach has better accuracy, efficiency and scalability than other comparable methods in the graph similarity search over real and synthetic data sets.