People think of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning as one and the same. They are not. But they do both have an impact on SEO…only to a certain extent.
But first, let us do a quick definition what is Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
Artificial Intelligence (AI ) is a technology that that enables a machine to simulate human behaviour to perform any task like a human.
Machine Learning (ML) enables a computer system to make predictions using a massive amount of of historical data of a given subject or topic to generate accurate results or predictions based on that data.
Watch video for a comprehensive understanding:
SEO and AI - Impacts, Implications, Influence
Google uses machine learning to fortify its algorithm to render better results to its users. Thus, it affects SEO responses to their algorithm changes as a result of continuous machine learning. But instead of reacting tactically to each and every algorithm tweak, the SEO community should take a more holistic approach like..see video!!!!
Artificial Intelligence is a buzzword and in all reality is here to stay. Our daily lives are impacted by AI more than we can imagine. AI and SEO is already happening, with self-learning algorithms and deep learning. But first, let’s clear a misunderstanding. Applications that we generally refer to as AI are in fact automation or machine learning. It is important to realize the nuanced difference between AI and machine learning to have a better grasp of how AI in general impacts SEO.
So, against this emerging backdrop, would traditional, manual, human-centered SEO practices be impacted (replace or help) by AI?
Let’s ask ourselves a few questions.
1. Will AI make SEO obsolete?
SEO is a breathing fluid endeavour premised on best practices such as keyword research, web development, natural content development and link building, all of which are essential for search engines to crawl contents efficiently to begin with.
AI serves only to automate, to remove the tedium of certain SEO processes thus making life a little easier. Planning a marketing strategy with elements unique to human nature like curiosity amend empathy is still very much a human endeavour and currently out of AI’s reach. AI can help us optimize, we can however make use of automated tools brought on by AI’s machine learning such as better UX, create efficient reports, target conversational keywords clusters etc. to implement SEO strategy more effectively. Still, at the present moment, AI cannot replace decision making capabilities that have been developed over years of human experience. That is the key differentiator. In fact, AI reinforces the importance of SEO, not replace it.
2. How much of an impact does AI have on SEO?
Where SEO is concerned, AI can be thought of as being in its infancy. What AI can do, for now, is to displace a system that be easily manipulated for higher rankings and integrates the ever changing technology to the know, like and trust society we have become. Google is using AI to understand users and provide a better user experience.
That means there would be rapid changes to its ranking algorithm that in turn compels us to design and build our websites that would complement those changes. It forces us to be “user centric” in our approach. Thus in the scheme of things, we make smarter decision about our SEO.
Another perspective to be taken is that instead of viewing AI as a threat, it should be thought of as helping us make processes faster, give us more accurate data and thus helping us build more robust SEO strategies. It will also ensure that genuine best practices would prevail over bad ones.
3. Using AI for SEO - What are the advantages and disadvantages?
The power of AI tools and human touch should be engaged. The only ones to suffer with the emergence of Ai are the ones who try to game the algorithms. The clear advantage of AI is that it offers automation benefitting speed, efficiency and in the longer term, cost savings. This frees up our time to focus on the critical areas that will improve user experience. However a misinterpretation of AI can quickly lead to bad decisions. Still, human input and analysis are needed to control the AI and audit the results. There could be a blind reliance on AI. It should be used as a reinforcement and not a replacement to SEO. Currently, AI is a prohibitive cost.
4. What are the areas that AI would cover in SEO and the areas that still required human SEO specialists?
Google’s search algorithm veers towards understanding and satisfying user intent. That means marketers should focus on developing contents aimed at satisfying a user’s wants rather than chasing after Google’s algorithm. We have to decide what AI can or cannot do for us. For instance, AI cannot replace human creativity and responsibility in the running of a campaign. Let AI process the data but leave it to humans to seed the ideas and communications them. The machines have their value but let the humans run the show. If you blindly rely on AI for implementations and outcomes, you would be in for a nasty surprise. There are spaces well beyond usual SEO information channels that AI has no coverage over.
It is undeniable that trying to achieve a balance of utilizing AI mixed in with human touch is challenging when Google is constantly shaking things up. For example, if you use AI to do keyword research, you still have to use your human experience to check for quality and uniqueness of the keyword data because, to AI, it’s just plain cold data, whereas to you, it is content that must speak to users.
5. What are some of the best tools to use to optimize for both AI and SEO?
The best tools are those that allow SEOs practitioners to check on-site technical issues , on-site audits, competitive analysis research and keyword rankings. SEMRush for the technical aspects and Buzzsumo comes to mind for research into successful content topics that rank well. Others that are useful would be Conductor and Ahrefs for competitive research and content development; Screaming Frog for technical issues with your site.
Google itself too has tools that help you predict user intent via queries and understand user behaviour. It would be useful to understand the machine learning beneath Google’s umbrella AI such as Google Machine Learning kit for mobile, Google Assistant, Google Home, and Google Ads to understand how AI deals with the relationship between keywords and relevant content. Understand how voice recognition works too. Just stay focused on your users, customers, their intents and what sort of contents would resonate with them. Don’t expend too much of your energy chasing AI and their tools because they shift constantly.