The Future of Digital Marketing: How AI Impacts SEO

Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to the new wave of technological breakthroughs that impart human-like intelligence to software. Till recently, search engines like Google delivered results matching assumed meanings of keywords. Intelligent self-learning software is delivering results matching the ‘intent’ of the user. AI moves beyond keywords to study the context of the search query. The search results are personalized to the user’s experience. With the entry of RankBrain, Google’s AI-powered algorithm, traditional search engine optimization (SEO) practices are undergoing a sea change – from keyword SEO to contextual or intent based SEO.

The AI algorithm will note your location, analyze previous searches, study favored websites, and outline what others are searching. Each search result is customized to the searcher’s individualized preferences. It doesn’t stop there. AI studies search behavior. It notes how long you dwelled on the landing page, which websites you pogo-sticked, and the information that captured your intent.

Under the old algorithm, a keyword search for “Chinese food” would give you a listing of websites that expand on the meaning of the term, and provide global restaurant information and food recipes. Much of this information would be irrelevant to the search. The bounce rate would be high as browsers alternate between sites, searching the right answer.

The AI algorithm, diving deeper into search history and browsing habits, provides a search page showing quality restaurants near you delivering Chinese food. To make sure your intent is satisfied, there are boxes highlighting what similar searchers are keying in. AI tempts you with information that makes you dwell on the landing page till you make the right choice.

Search listings and websites that don’t appeal to searchers are discarded. The next search using the same keywords yields relevant results The term ‘machine learning’ implies that AI is continuously educating and adapting itself to your browsing patterns, and is continuously improving searches without human interference.

AI-Enabled Algorithms Are Changing the Face of SEO

AI Is Responding Accurately to Voice Searches

It is estimated that over half the queries on the internet will be fueled by voice searches of users not seeing a screen. Built-in voice assistants like the Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple HomePod are fueling the voice search revolution. Unlike the structured language used in keypad searches, the voice search uses conversational language. A voice search, without a screen to present search options, will be under pressure to deliver a single result that is accurate and matches the search intent.

A voice search such as ’best restaurant near me’ is likely to list you the three most well-reviewed listings, the top ten best restaurant choices, and expand to suggest menu selections and choices in towns nearby. The AI search result contextualizes past browsing habits and food choices. The Google answer box appearing in the top right of your search page provides enough information to address most voice searches.

Action point:  People won’t stick around to read an entire article to get their answers. Create content that gives precise replies to specific questions.

AI Is Changing Keyword Search Parameters

Machine learning AI algorithms are transforming the way we use keywords. Previously, SEO strategists favored long-tail keywords and related phrases optimized to as many pages as possible to rank high in Google search. The latest buzz is “leaner is meaner’. Bloated websites and repetitive keyword stuffed pages are out.  AI favors medium-tail keywords that aptly describe the main theme or concept of the article. Such keywords should avoid extremes – being too generalized or too narrow in meaning.

Action point: Keep keywords medium-tailed; don’t fret too much about keyword density; focus on high-quality, high-value content accurately reflecting the searcher’s intent.

AI-Enabled Context Vectors Are Influencing Search Results

With the emergence of voice searches, search engines are becoming more conversational. The human brain, being a vast storehouse of past experiences, is very quick to understand the meaning and context of conversational queries. Google performs the same task using context vectors for embedding vast amounts of information relating to search words. AI intuitively understands the meanings of even obscure words that are rarely used. This paves the way for better search results.

RankBrain context vectors will typically examine and use information about:

  • Past searches related to the present session, and how you responded to those results.
  • Which information online accurately satisfies the unique context and intent of the searcher. And, what similar searchers looked for.
  • All related inputs that help to contextualize your query.

A casual searcher initiating the query ‘Oscar’ would be provided with myriad details regarding the ceremony and bombarded with irrelevant archival information. But context vectors used by        AI-powered RankBrain will provide details of Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director favorites if it senses that you’ve searched the topics in detail beforehand.

Action point: Closely study the targeted customers’ buying cycle. Post content that helps to satisfy the searcher’s curiosity at every stage of the journey.  

The Best Tips for Ranking High in RankBrain Monitored Searches

Tech SEO experts explain the best strategies to rank high in the face of shifting paradigms of AI-enabled search engines:

  • People connect instantly to a title that is more emotive and less generic. For example, “How to manage finances” would pale in comparison with “How to survive bankruptcy.” Highlighting practical measures or benefits is more beneficial.  
  • Sprinkle positive sounding words and sentiments to power your presentation. The metadata could use that power to make your presence felt in the rankings.
  • Use numerics to liven up your titles. ‘10 powerful headlines that captivated a thousand searchers’ is better than ‘Surefire methods to attract blog readers.’
  • Ensure that the keyword/phrase fits into the metadata. This is critical because Google highlights those words.
  • Aim to fill the visible page with information relevant to searches. Browsers should not be compelled to scroll down to find answers.
  • The introductory note should come to the point without beating around the bush.
  • Precisely structured content which has strong readability should grip the viewer’s attention and increase dwelling time.  
  • Skim readers can be harnessed with bold pics, concise paragraphs and bullet points.

Power Protocols to Boost RankBrain Rankings

  • Use a content audit to zoom in on your content pillars and to identify cluster keywords.
  • Use bold visuals and high-quality graphics to enable AI to understand and relate to high-volume context search.
  • Motivate searchers to leave valuable positive feedback in Google My Business Page. A sincere comment like ‘this is the best Chinese food I’ve tasted’ could be all that is needed to drive you up the “Best restaurant in my area’ search.
  • Get the movers and shakers of your industry to post videos, webinars, and podcasts in your site. This is useful in generating quality backlinks.
  • Restructure your metadata to include powerful keywords that attract specific search queries.
  • Keep content relevant and updated and archive anything which presents the site as old-fashioned or irrelevant.  

AI and Machine Learning Are Revolutionizing Search Results

AI and machine learning are making a huge impact on how corporates conduct their SEO. The focus is on enhancing user experience with the conversational language. RankBrain is already making waves and chatbots are chatting up users. Predictive analysis tools such as CRM are helping corporates to respond better to customer queries. The user’s experience is going to be enhanced using natural language to tap a wider range of relevant topics. Websites wanting to grow business need to leverage the power and potential of AI which is vital to SEO strategy.

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