Artificial Intelligence in SEO

2018
Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a hot topic right now, with many important industries, including health, science and technology, making use of it in various ways. Its application in digital marketing has been around for quite some time and shows no signs of slowing down; from ad targeting using gathered customer data, to segmenting consumers in order to cross-sell, to deciding whether content is relevant, finding knowledge gaps and suggesting alternatives.

Whether we are aware of it or not, AI is now also embedded deeply in the way we search, opening up new opportunities for SEO companies and individual marketers to innovate and improve by embracing this type of modern technology.

We discuss several ways to adjust SEO strategies for AI in order to future-proof your website and continuing ranking effectively.

What is AI?

The words AI and machine learning are often used interchangeably, and although they are closely related, they do mean different things. AI is the concept of a machine carrying out human jobs or demonstrating human-like intelligence. Machine learning, on the other hand, is a type of AI and is based on algorithms, using intelligent data to make decisions.

RankBrain

Launched in 2015, RankBrain is viewed as the first official step by Google towards using a machine learning AI system in the search world. RankBrain now forms a part of the overall algorithm used by Google to help them sort through the colossal amount of pages available and display to the user those which are most relevant for their particular search query.

The RankBrain technology works by crawling content and trying to understand the meaning behind it, making connections between themes and categories, much like the human brain does. It is also smart enough to deduce the user’s intent when faced with vague search queries.

Moreover, RankBrain uses the data fed back to it in order to improve the accuracy of the search results in future. In essence, it is a technology which has the capability to listen to users and learn about their search patterns.

All of this is, as always, Google’s endeavour to create a great user experience in which the most relevant information is displayed to the searcher.

Voice search

It is predicted that by the year 2020, 50% of searches will be made by voice. As such, preparing your website or your client’s to accommodate this modern change will be highly advantageous.

Research shows that voice searches are usually between three and five keywords long and are more likely to ask a question. They are also more likely to demonstrate an intent to act on or purchase something.

Optimising for standard searches is different to optimising for voice searches. Instead, content should be natural and conversational, seeking to answer all the specific questions that customers are asking and the problems they need solving. It is therefore beneficial to cover topics in great depth. Advice guides, FAQs and other supportive content are all great for this and will only strengthen the chances of your website appearing in the voice searches for specific queries.

Moreover, experts recommend targeting long-tail keywords within your SEO strategy, since voice queries are lengthier - much like natural speech patterns.

Personalisation

If there is one thing we know by now as digital marketers, it’s that customers like personalisation. From Amazon suggesting suitable products to shoppers based on past purchasing and on-site search activity, to Netflix recommending new shows to watch based on what the user has already seen – personalisation is now a key part of the consumer experience.

Consequently, internet marketing strategies need to change and should focus on creating relevant, valuable experiences for every individual consumer. This, however, is not something that can be carried out on a large scale without the help of technology, and AI, in particular, has formed a key part of it in modern times.

Google makes use of personalisation to narrow down search results based on various factors, including the searcher’s location, certain demographics (e.g. age, gender) and their previous search history, to tailor results specific for them. It is, therefore, essential to know exactly who your customers are and work to tailor content for that specific audience at each stage of the journey.

Visual search

Not only has Google managed to develop a complex and intuitive understanding of user intent through language, but it is also rapidly improving its understanding of content in visual forms too, by being able to infer what a video, picture, or audio clip is about.

This means that for good AI SEO, we should now be optimising the descriptions, tags, keywords and video and audio lengths of our visual content in order to improve its search visibility. So, wave goodbye to keyword-spamming into your image descriptions as a sustainable strategy moving forward!

Staying focused

Success in the search results is still about providing a great user experience, which is underscored by high-quality, relevant content that is engaging to users.

With Google now embracing AI technology, which will only become more intelligent as time goes on, search marketers need to stay at the top of their game and keep up-to-date with the latest trends and technological advancements in order to continue ranking effectively for their clients.

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