Online marketers work in an ever-changing landscape, constantly on the lookout for new changes to the online world, as it could drastically impact job responsibilities. This is especially true for search engine optimization (SEO), as the industry is largely dependent on Google’s evolving algorithms. Right now, Google is beginning to lean more on artificial intelligence, or AI. This means your SEO strategy needs to be aware of AI and how it's affecting search. We've been thinking a lot about this in the past year, so let's dive in...
The Rise of Artificial Intelligence
Over the past few years there has been enormous growth in the field of AI. Machines are becoming smarter than ever, and it’s amazing what this technology is now now able to do.
Voice assistants are a great example as many people have at least one device with a built-in voice assistant. Whether it’s Google, Apple’s Siri, or Amazon’s Alexa, millions of people can now use their voice to conduct searches, ask the weather, play a song, order products, or play games. These voice assistants are built with AI, which use machine-learning over time how to provide the best possible results.
As AI improves, we’ll begin to see how it's used and affecting our lives in more places. One place where we’re already seeing advancements is online marketing, particularly when it comes to SEO.
The Importance of SEO
Search engine optimization is more important than ever before. Most people turn to search engines when they have a question. In fact, the number of people using search engines has grown each year, with approximately 3.5 billion searches conducted on Google every day. If your brand isn’t appearing on the first page of search results, you’re potentially missing out on a significant amount of traffic.
To get your brand to the top of search results, a good SEO strategy is needed. Because search engines are so popular, there’s naturally plenty of competition for the top spots. Without an SEO strategy, however, your competitors will be eating your lunch.
An SEO strategy consists of many things, but one of the most important aspects is staying on top of the latest trends, which is the bread and butter of an inbound marketing agency. By keeping on top of what’s changing and what the new best practices are, you can regularly adjust your strategy to maintain your brand’s search presence. This is where AI and SEO comes in.
AI and SEO
Over the years, search engines like Google have adjusted the way they rank their results. About a decade ago, search results were largely based on the number of links pointing to a site and the amount of times a keyword appeared on the page. Then Google realized that people were taking advantage of this formula and changed the algorithm to place more emphasis on quality inbound links, valuable page content, and many other factors.
Google has continued to make changes to the way they rank web pages, and with the addition of RankBrain, AI is becoming an increasingly popular tool to do so. By leveraging AI, Google is better able to study human behavior and user interactions with websites and use these insights to adjust their rankings. For example, the length of time a user remains on a page can show Google what type of content keeps visitors around longer.
Furthermore, AI makes it easier for search engines to rank things like videos and images. AI can study the content of a video clip or an image and insert it into relevant search results. For a long time, Google was only able to analyze text, but now thanks to AI, video and images are getting their fair shake.
How AI Will Change SEO Practices
If artificial intelligence is changing how search results are ranked, this means inbound marketing agencies must adjust their SEO practices to fit this new system. So, how does one adjust an SEO strategy to make it better suited for AI-powered search results?
First, it’s not entirely necessary to place as much emphasis on keywords as in years past. Sure, keyword research is and has always been a major component of SEO, looking for the balance of popularity and low competition for your brand’s focus terms. But users don’t particularly care about keywords. They’re seeking a solution to their problem, and when they visit your website, they certainly aren’t counting the number of times a keyword appears on page. AI focuses search results more on things like user engagement, which means there isn’t as much urgency to get title tags, for instance, just right.
Secondly, an SEO strategy should now include a larger focus on the quality of content. Everything that’s produced for your consumers should provide some sort of value. This doesn’t mean 2,500-word blog posts must be published every week – short articles can provide plenty of value if they address a problem, answer a question, etc. Producing high-quality videos and images is also recommended to improve the breadth and reach of your brand’s search presence.
Do you have a team capable of spending time to create valuable content? Inbound marketing agencies have been focusing on quality content for a while now, but its importance will only grow as the intertwining of SEO and AI improves.
Using AI to Improve Search Rankings
Since artificial intelligence will determine how websites rank in search results, it only makes sense that AI should be used in marketing efforts. There are some great ways to use AI to help different areas of a marketing strategy, making everyone’s life easier.
AI and User Behavior
For example, AI could be used to study the behavior of your site visitors. By learning more about bounce rates, the devices consumers are using, which pages they’re visiting, and other insights, better decisions can be made for your brand. Tracking all these metrics for thousands of users manually would be impossible – ask an inbound marketing agency like First Page Strategy how to do it efficiently so you can get right to analyzing the results!
AI and Chatbots
A popular way to incorporate artificial intelligence on your website is via a chatbot, which provides customer support to visitors in the form of a small chat window on your website. With AI, a chatbot will analyze the question from the user and provide them with an appropriate response. Over time, your brand’s chatbot will get better at interpreting and predicting, thus providing even better responses to help facilitate a conversion.
Chatbots keep visitors on your website longer. If someone is unable to find an answer to their question, they’re likely to leave and potentially visit a competitor’s website. But with a chatbot, users can stick around to ask questions, improving your time-on-page metric and visit other pages on site.
Search engines are only going to become more intelligent in the way they rank results thanks to AI, so it only makes sense that you leverage AI on your side. There are plenty of tools out there that can help, it’s just a matter of finding the right one for your SEO strategy.
How to Get Started with AI and SEO
There are two main ways you can go about getting started with AI and SEO. First, you can do it on your own, revising your SEO strategy by placing more emphasis on quality rather than some unknown formula.
At the same time, find SEO tools that use AI to make the marketing team’s job easier. For example, if you’re looking to building intelligent strategies before even getting to the content creation stage, you could consider one of these tools (ordered alphabetically, not by endorsement):
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The other way to get started with SEO and AI is working with an inbound marketing agency. A good agency already has the best SEO tools at their disposal and knows how to get the most out of them. This partnership saves you money by not having to buy each tool and spend valuable hours training employees to use them. This also saves you time since you won’t have to manage your own SEO campaigns.
Ready to Keep Up with Technology?
For any brand to thrive online, the marketing team must keep up with the latest ways in which search engines evaluate websites. Artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly important to Google especially, and as a result, SEO strategies must adapt.