Artificial Intelligence and SEO | How To Use AI for SEO | Spot Studio
SEO and Content Writing
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Artificial Intelligence and SEO

The use of AI in SEO is not entirely new, but it is rapidly developing…

Currently AI is used in digital marketing to gather data on ad targeting, to determine the relevancy of content, to identify customer segments for cross-selling, for streamlining marketing campaigns, and analysing which emotional values have the most impact on their target audience. But very few companies are using AI technology to improve their search engine rankings – yet.  

An Introduction to AI and SEO

artificial intelligence and seo

AI is not based on a static formula, instead it is a constantly evolving system designed to identify, sort, and present the data that is most likely to meet the needs of users at that specific time, based on a multitude of variables. The capabilities of AI will greatly improve the function of SEO beyond simple keyword phrases.

When you search for something using the AI/SEO technology, the results displayed will take into account a number of considerations like your location, search history, favourite websites, and what other users clicked on for a similar query. AI improvements mean ranking factors can change from query to query, as the algorithm learns from how people are clicking on the search results, and decides on the most relevant factors to take into account for each search.

Up until now, the nature of search algorithms has meant that SEO practitioners have been able to misuse the system – thinking of ever more creative ways to skirt Google’s authority. As user experience has moved to the forefront of online businesses, there has been a great effort to make search engine results more holistic and effective for both the user and the search engines themselves.  And this is where AI is going to become a key component.

Artificial Intelligence

There are three different classifications of AI – ANI, AGI and ASI.

Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI) is used for one particular thing (e.g. beating the world champion in chess). Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) is the title given when the AI is able to perform on the same level as a human. Artificial Superintelligence (ASI) is the title given when the AI has reached a capacity that is beyond the capabilities of a single human.

ANI has been utilised for some time in our online activities – it is how email SPAM filters work, as well as Google Translate and IBM’s Watson. The latest addition is RankBrain, Google’s machine-learning AI system that helps to process all of Google’s search results.

Rankbrain

RankBrain aims to understand the context as well as the content of a site. It works by embedding vast amounts of written language into mathematical entities called vectors, which is information that the computer can read and understand. This means that should RankBrain come across a word or phrase that it hasn’t encountered before, it can make an intelligent guess as to its meaning based on similar words or phrases that are already in its system. This makes RankBrain extremely effective at handling never-before-seen search queries.

Systems such as RankBrain will greatly change how SEO is undertaken; it will no longer be effective to repetitively include keyword phrases into your content in order to gain a higher listing in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP). Through the use of AI, Google will be able to rank a webpage based on the content that it contains, but also based on information that isn’t even on the page.

This is possible due to the AI’s intuitive understanding of interlinking – it ranks pages on what information they offer, or link to, in a broader fashion, making keyword phrases a far less important factor in a successful SERP ranking. Rather than specific words or phrases, AI ranks pages more highly that include related terms and concepts, as these actually add value for the user – improving their experience.

The Yardstick

Source: Unsplash

In order for the AI to understand what a good, and therefore high-ranking, website is, it uses a ‘yardstick site’. Websites that have a similar infrastructure to the yardstick site will rank higher in search engine result pages. Understanding that different sites need to offer different types of content, the yardstick websites differ across sectors, meaning that a website that publishes content about psychotherapy will be expected to have a different infrastructure and depth of content than an ecommerce site selling kitchen utensils.

AI in the world of SEO is therefore able to highlight the best and most relevant strategies for your website – which is a hugely helpful tool in outperforming the competition. The AI/SEO system will also help shape content and web layout for success with both the SERP and with users.

How To Improve Your SEO Ranking With Artificial Intelligence

Get The Right Tools

SEO Powersuite

SEO PowerSuite

A complete SEO software solution like SEO PowerSuite will ensure that you are getting quality links and optimizing your website, and will protect your site from the penalties and algorithm changes that the AI may perform. SEO PowerSuite is a tool that will help you stick to the guidelines, to not get bad links and to help you quickly audit your site for problems, monitor your keyword rankings and keep an eye on your competitors to see if you can get their best links.  

SEMrush SEO and AI Blog

SEMrush

A tool like SEMrush finds on-page problems and fixes them, allows you to evaluate your competition, identify opportunities for growth, enrich your keyword list, create content and track and report results. This is a tool used by eBay, Overstock and ClickZ, for the robustness of its service.

Adapt Keyword Phrases

As the way we search has changed – being performed on different devices and in various locations – it seems only natural for the use of keyword phrases to change too. It is advised to choose one main keyword phrase, and adapt and optimise it for related phrases throughout. This means using the keyword phrase in different ways – for example if your keyword phrase is ‘link building’ then it is best to avoid repeating the exact phrase over and over, and instead to include variations of it throughout out – ‘to build links’, ‘build a link’ and ‘building links with’…

Brand Yourself

Branding is hugely important – start with your website and branch out to the most relevant social networks for your customers. If you have a local business it is important to carry the branding into the local directories that suit your business.

Think Mobile

As mobile search becomes more and more frequent, it is important to improve your brand’s specific strategy for the device. Google has put more pressure on sites to become increasingly mobile friendly, and by doing so it is possible to increase exposure and brand awareness.

Voice Search

Voice searches are typically longer and more conversational in tone, and so it is important to think about this as part of your sites SEO strategy. Content that shares the informal, conversational tone of possible voice searches is one way to optimise for this, and performing some keyword research for conversational queries will also lead you to making content that can be easily found through voice search as well as written queries.

Visual Search

As well as a more intuitive understanding of language, search engines are getting very good at understanding visual content too – working out what a video, audio clip or image is actually about. Content writers had to learn ways to optimise their headings and keywords, and a similar process will now be necessary for visual content creators. Optimising keyword targeting, descriptions, tags, video length as well as other factors will greatly improve the visibility of your content. Additionally, spamming keywords in image descriptions will no longer be a viable strategy.

The Importance of Content

SEO and Content Writing

Creating great content is the key to online success – and this holds true in the world of AI and SEO. Engaging, interesting content across a variety of websites, blogs, videos and guest blogs means that should one piece of your online presence be affected by an AI-related shift then it won’t affect your business to the same degree.

Your content should focus on being relevant and valuable to the user – keyword phrases should be replaced by content that is centred on a key concept (that is itself related to a keyword). This means that instead of repeating the same keywords in your content it would be better to write a blog, or series of blog posts, that all relate to one another, that focus on a single topic but take a more broad approach to the subject.

Become Niche

In an AI/SEO world, the best option for your website is for it to focus on a single topic. This will help RankBrain learn which niche you are in, and will also narrow the competitor pool because Google will compare your site only to others in the same niche, so you will have better chances of ranking and getting traffic. The importance of being niche carries over to backlinks too.

These smarter search engines will analyze whether the people who click on your link stay on your site and actually read the content. This means that SEO marketers will need to focus on making relevant and good quality backlinks. Be selective with your link building – keep your backlinks in the same category and industry as your own site to improve relevancy. It will become more and more important to build links in the ‘traditional’ way, by building real relationships – find influencers that are involved in your niche and connect with them to find link opportunities.

Interestingly, both Google and Bing have failed to place their products first in their own respective SERPs – proving that SEO is an incredibly complex process. You shouldn’t be disheartened if you aren’t ranked at number one, particularly when Google and Bing can’t even guarantee the top spot for themselves…

CASE STUDY: IMDB

AI and SEO case study with IMDB

A website like IMDB ranks highly in the Google SERP because its layout and content provide a good user experience. This is achieved as the site intuits the user’s next question or need. All of their information is interlinked so that any questions that arise as the result of your initial search can most likely be found without ever leaving the IMDB website. They have anticipated what their visitors might need after their original search has been completed.

Issues With The Use of AI and SEO

AI Democracy And SEO

By creating websites that will rank highly within the new AI/SEO system it is possible for businesses to see great results. However, it is also possible for the system to exclude businesses to a detrimental effect.
The method of using a yardstick website will work well for sites that offer a product or service that is clearly defined. However, for sites that cover a plethora of topics or sectors, how will these be judged and ranked in the SERP? It is possible that sites that have more general content could be unfavourably judged against a yardstick site that is not the best fit with regards the sector or category. Until there is a solution, you would be best advised to stay niche.

Another more conceptual problem with using AI for SEO is that once it is running itself – continuing to teach and adapt – then it has created its own guidelines and essentially it has a determination between right and wrong. This could become problematic should it begin to penalize websites for using techniques or content that it disapproves of based on its own reasoning.

It is predicted that as AI begins to dominate the search and SEO worlds, it will require fewer people to man the search engine support stations. In terms of your own site, this will mean that reconsideration requests, and other request that you put through to Google when your site is penalised will take longer to process. As this is the case, the goal is to do your utmost to not get penalised in the first place. But that should go without saying.

How Search is Changing in the Long Term

In combination with voice search, AI will dramatically change the landscape of search within a few years. The learning capacity of AI is a good fit for voice search, which improves its speed and accuracy through user experience and big data. The Internet, along with search engines and websites, may see huge changes in its structure with the advent of AI.

Even the idea of a piece of content having its own URL may be replaced by a more data-centric concept – it will look less like HTML/CSS and will instead be based some other structure that is yet to be invented. As AI becomes bigger and better they may be able to simply extract the data that is most likely to meet the user’s needs and present it to them directly in place of offering a list of potential matches…

SEO will eventually become an extremely technical field, dealing with big data and analytics, as well as being governed by an AI whose agenda is essentially unknown (due to its self-perpetuating nature and its continuous self-adaptation). On the other hand, content creation may become easier thanks to an AI that is able to point out the best keywords to use in real time, and by having an easily discoverable website structure, both of which would lead to far higher SERP rankings and revenue across the board.

Success in an organic search, powered by AI, will ultimately come down to providing a positive user experience that puts the emphasis on providing amazing content that is easy to access across all devices.

by:

Alice Page

Digital Project Manager

Digital project manager, Alice smashes PPC campaigns and getting the developers into gear...