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August 14, 2019

How to Understand AI for Doing SEO Research

I am sure many of you have grown up watching sci-fi movies. 

In those movies, the benefits and dangers of AI and ML were showcased in an entertaining manner. 

However, AI and ML are not something that we are going to look forward to in the future. 

AI and ML are very much here!

Like most digital activities that need attention from agencies and brands, AI and ML are crucial to understand. Specifically from an SEO standpoint, agencies and brands need to tweak their optimizations to integrate AI and ML. 

In this article, we look at how SEO Research is evolving to keep pace with rapid developments.

Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and the Rise of Smart and Connected Tech 

Even though normal human beings do not see it tangibly, AI and ML run most of their lives activities. 

From their last order at Starbucks, to their next trip on Air BnB, the decision-making aspect of our lives use AI and ML in a big way. 

Some time back, there was a tendency to equate AI with complex and sophisticated interfaces that no one could understand. However, in 2019, some of the biggest tech giants are using AI and ML to help humans in-

  • Choosing their travel destinations and hotels. 
  • Shopping on an Ecommerce website. 
  • Offering suggestions on where to eat, based on preferences and eating habits over the last few months. 
  • Reading the news from a particular website that you individually like.

In short, AI and ML are very much a part of day-to-day human existence. For digital marketers and SEO experts, the use of AI and ML in SEO is necessary. 

The rise of smart and connected tech in our lives is also aiding developments in AI and ML. For example, according to experts, there were more than 2.5 billion voice assistants in use at the end of 2018. 

This figure is expected to rise to over 8 billion by 2023. Voice assistants work on the same keyword principle as text search. For SEOs, it is crucial that their websites are voice search friendly. 

Televisions, wearable tech, home assistants, security systems, vehicles, etc. are all part of the smart tech revolution. Almost all this tech actively involves the AI and ML component. 

AI, ML and SEO: What Agencies need to do in 2019

Before we begin to understand the direct effects of AI and ML on SEO, let us take a step back and trace the genealogy. 

The first wave of SEO saw the use of automation streamlining. In other words, tools, software and reporting platforms made it easier to do a lot of work in a lot less time. 

You could conduct an SEO audit for a 100 page website in no time. 

Such efficiency was not seen before automation came into being. Likewise, the second wave of improvements saw AI and ML helping automation through-

  • Data Collection
  • Data Analysis
  • Decision Making choices based on data

In other words, the company, which offers SEO tools, started depending heavily on data. 

This data helped to optimise performance, plan campaigns, spy on competitors and improve website performance. 

The biggest search engine of them all, Google, has invested heavily in AI and ML through its ‘RankBrain Program’. 

RankBrain uses complex AI and ML to help filter search intent, search behaviour and search suggestions. 

RankBrain converts Natural Language to Mathematical Equations, Codes and Data. 

This is then processed, analysed and updated on the search engine. 

The process involves RankBrain constantly learning from human search intent and offering the best solutions. 

Millions of algorithms sort search queries and filter them with the most appropriate answers. 

This is where SEO needs to understand how AI and ML can help improve performance. 

How SEO needs to Adapt to AI and ML powered changes

Digital is a constantly evolving domain. It needs constant learning and adapting to stay relevant. In this section we look at some ways in which SEO needs to adapt to AI and ML from a search perspective-

1. Optimise Websites for Voice Search

This means that SEO experts need to start understanding long tail keywords and question driven search queries. The way people talk is different to the way they type. By making your website voice search friendly, you will be taking a data driven approach to SEO. 

A great idea to aid voice search effectiveness is having Q and A type content on your website. This is because most people use- what, where, how and when at the start of their search. 

For example, a typical search query on Alexa is- How to boil an egg?

SEO experts need to use data driven approaches to optimise for long tail keywords and Q based searches. 

2. Keyword Optimization

How to do effective keyword research is something that keeps changing every three to four years. With the rise of AI and ML, keyword research too, is seeing a change. 

SEO Services can no longer just depend on one tool to do research. They can also no longer ignore Google Search Suggestions. 

Moz and Ahrefs are great. However, do they have the budget and the expertise to invest in search tools and software like Google? I think not!

For SEO experts, Google Search Console and Search Suggestions are becoming very important. 

No keyword study can be done unless it takes into account Search suggestions. 

Even though this is very basic, this is where RankBrain actually works. 

3. Quality Content and Google Quality Guidelines

There is a misconception that RankBrain simply helps users of Google search. This is not the case. RankBrain also helps Google’s Web Spam team identify websites and webmasters that are not adhering to its Quality Guidelines. 

If you have been producing average content and complimenting it by heavy link building activities, you might want to rethink the strategy. 

AI and ML prioritizes the best, most useful and informative content on the internet. It also identifies websites that are engaging in black hat or grey hat strategies. SEO services need to work on their content creation in a big way. 

Conclusion

If you still think we have a long way to go when it comes to AI and ML, you are highly mistaken. From a SEO standpoint, the need of the hour is to adapt to digital evolution. If we are not able to do that, then competitor agencies and brands are going to take advantage. 

The landscape of Google search is constantly changing. Most of this search landscape is dictated by data. As SEO experts, we need to take that data and use our resources to design the best SEO strategies for our brands. 

Tech giants like Google, Amazon, Facebook and others are showing us the way to the future. We need to improve our learning and move forward to usher in the latest wave of information technology. 


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Mashum Mollah is an entrepreneur, founder and CEO at BloggerOutreach.io, a blogger outreach platform.

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