Artificial Intelligence Has Transformed SEO Forever
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly changing a multitude of processes in many economic sectors. Also in Marketing and, especially, in SEO: a discipline based on handling large amounts of data to be more effective in its results. We have lived alongside AI for years and without realizing it. In a multitude of actions that we carry out on a daily basis, AI is involved, making our lives easier. For example, when we search for a specific image in Google Photos or when we use a voice assistant to find the best route to a destination point, Artificial Intelligence intervenes so we can get the best answer. What happens is that we do not notice AI as users. In the same way that we do not think about the technology necessary to run the dishwasher, turn on the TV, use an eBook reader or make a video call. We do not think about the technology behind the increasingly intelligent, real-time responses that fulfil our information or service needs. As author Arthur C. Clarke wrote: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." In other words, most people want things to work and not know how they work. That is why we are not aware of how Artificial Intelligence is really impacting us.
How Does AI Work?
In a simple way, we can say that Artificial Intelligence is a set of technologies. Among those technologies is machine learning, which allows the creation of intelligent machines.
The difference between conventional software and software that uses Artificial Intelligence is that the conventional software must be programmed by a human to improve its performance.
The software that works with Artificial Intelligence is capable of improving its results on its own and in an automated way. In addition, it is also capable of learning from its operational analytics and over the course of time.
The implications of this automatic improvement capacity are:
- Better processing of vast amounts of data. - Obtaining better insights. - Reducing the time and costs required to achieve these results.
Due to these benefits, more economic sectors and organizations are choosing Artificial Intelligence as the basis to sustain their businesses and to obtain sustainable competitive improvements. A research carried out by PwC shows global GDP could be up to 14% higher in 2030 as a result of AI. This makes AI the biggest business opportunity. In fact, this growth will occur thanks to improved productivity (as AI reduces manual processes and automates procedures) and thanks to increased demand for products and services, which will be upgraded by AI. Definitely, the use of AI has a huge impact on digital marketing in general, and on SEO in particular.
The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on SEO
If anyone has doubts about the impact of AI on SEO, these doubts should disappear when they know that Google has been applying Artificial Intelligence to improve search results for years.
Google makes hundreds of small changes annually in order to deliver more successful search results. Although, every once in a while, one of these changes is not small and clearly has a big impact.
For example, this can be seen with Rankbrain in 2015, and with BERT in 2018. Both cases related to Artificial Intelligence.
RankBrain is a component of Google's core algorithm. How does it work? It implements an interpretation model to the user's queries that can apply possible factors like the location of the searcher, personalization, and the words of the query to determine the searcher’s true intent.
Thus, it is able to offer better results.
BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. It is a technique developed by Google to better understand the language that users use when conducting a search with phrases.
Both Rankbrain and BERT are focused on improving the answers that Google offers to the 15% of daily searches that are new to the search engine and have never been done before.
Many of those searches are long tail (long sentences). Therefore, the improvement has a particular impact on voice searches (much more natural than written queries). Actually, typed queries are very often carried out unconsciously, modifying our human way of asking and using keywords to obtain better results.
Rankbrain and BERT seek to improve the satisfactory results for long questions such as: "Do I need a visa to travel from Brazil to the United States?"
If Google uses Artificial Intelligence to improve search results, SEO can also do it to get better results.
The Use of Artificial Intelligence in SEO Processes
As we have seen before, Artificial Intelligence is characterized by facilitating smarter processing of vast amounts of data.
If we think about the different actions that SEO professionals take to improve the positioning of websites, we will see that many applications are involved, because data analysis is an essential part of an effective SEO strategy.
For example, this happens in keyword research, in thematic cluster enhancement and also in the analysis of a link profile to detect possible improvements.
With software based on Artificial Intelligence, it is faster and more efficient to analyze large amounts of data on a massive scale. In addition, it establishes which topics are trending and finds content generation opportunities based on this analysis.
However, AI is not only useful when defining the topics that can help us with our positioning. It also provides a lot of help in creating the necessary content to cover that opportunity thanks to the good understanding of the user intent.
AI and SEO: Dissecting the User Intent
Modern SEO strategies are based on understanding the user intent in the best possible way.
Until recently, this was not an easy task because only the identification of words used in searches was available. Now, with the use of Artificial Intelligence, it is much easier to understand what the users intend with their queries, and to know where they are in the conversion funnel.
This allows creating content that is much more personalized and appropriate to those queries, and more useful for the user. Precisely for this reason, AI is much more relevant for search engines.
SEO specialists spend a lot of time in manual efforts for keyword research, and for content creation and optimization. However, much of those efforts can already be automated.
Thanks to AI's data analysis and intelligence gathering capabilities, SEOs can dedicate their time and expertise to higher-value tasks.
There are already SEO tools that automate content optimization, solve the existence of orphan pages, optimize pages for mobile and solve problems related to duplicate content.
AI and Local SEO
The larger a website is and the more topics and geographies it covers, the greater the benefit that an AI-based SEO tool can bring, because it will add to the automation the ability to scale its capabilities.
Almost half of the searches carried out on Google have a local component. This requires great efforts to adapt the content to the different geographies or locations of a business. So far, they have been made manually.
AI helps manage these efforts in an automated and large-scale way, obtaining much better results.
Yext, a company specialized in local searches, bases a large part of its service offer on Artificial Intelligence. This enables Yext to distribute accurate information from its client companies throughout the search ecosystem, including maps and voice assistants.
AI- and machine learning-based SEO software offers SEO professionals enormous advantages. It is a solution that learns and improves thanks to the analysis of results and successive iterations.
Therefore, this software makes it easier to adapt to the rapid changes that occur in today's market; in a much faster and frictionless way. And it always tries to satisfy the user intent (no matter how dynamic it is).