In 2015, Google announced the integration of RankBrain into search algorithm. This strengthened the importance of artificial intelligence in search (and therefore SEO).
In 2018, SEO experts started using artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning systems to discover new insights, automate time-consuming tasks as well as personalise website user journey
For clarity and context, the following definitions are necessary:
Artificial intelligence is a vast area that covers tasks done by machines and which human intelligence can never do. Don’t be surprised if “artificial intelligence” is beeing used to categorize natural language processing, chess games, driverless cars …
Machine learning is often confused with artificial intelligence. However, it is in reality an application and a subfield of AI. Stanford University defines gives this definition “machine learning is the science that allows the computer to work without being explicitly programmed”. Therefore, we can consider algorithms as the cornerstone of any machine learning system.
Deep learning is a machine learning method based on the functioning of the human brain and uses neural networks to solve complex problems. Deep learning is the source of many advances in the fields of voice recognition and image processing, for example.
Today, technology giants are investing heavily in AI to deliver the best products and services to their customers. Indeed, AI is already around us, integrated into the products and services we use every day, like Netflix and Spotify.
For us marketers and SEO specialists, artificial intelligence is deeply rooted in search. Which opens up new possibilities for optimisation and insights.
The role of AI in Search
Artificial intelligence makes research more human. Search doesn’t yet “speak” to users as Google Duplex demo. But the objective is very similar.
RankBrain technology uses machine learning to understand the meaning of the content analysed. It infers intention / ambiguous search queries – and uses feedback to improve the accuracy of search results.
In other words, Google’s RankBrain technology listens and learns.
Although we don’t always have visibility into this process, we see the results very clearly. More and more queries return universal search results. This happens because Google uses AI to tailor / customize the layout of search results pages (SERPs) for the user.
Note that there are now around thirty different search results (Images, reviews, carousel, recipes, flighs, News, tweets, etc.). This number that will only increase in the coming years.
The pace of development on this front is accelerating. Google being aware that AI can offer consumers better and more personalized experiences.
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, has publicly announced that its goal is to be an “AI-first” company. As for Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google; told him that “Artificial intelligence affects each of our main projects, from research to photos to ads.”
In SEO, we need to pay close attention to these technological advances to take advantage of the new SEO possibilities.
How to boost SEO with AI ?
Artificial intelligence can improve SEO performance in three key areas:
1 – Insights
Artificial intelligence can process and interpret data models on a scale that humans could never reproduce. Thereby, it is an essential added value to any SEO because AI can provide valuable information from noisy and unstructured data.
Here are some common tasks in which AI can contribute to SEO:
- Analysis of market trends
- Site performance analysis
- Competitor benchmark
- Reporting user intentions
- Performance in SERPs
- SEO and SEA spend optimisation
In each of these scenarios, artificial intelligence can bring out new information that could have gone unnoticed. In addition, as research goes beyond traditional SERPs and becomes a multidisciplinary channel, AI will become increasingly important.
Furthermore, new developments such as visual research are also highlighting the central role of AI in handling new types of media.
Google Lens plans to use AR to merge the physical and virtual worlds, using objects like queries rather than keywords.
Concretely, how can you use artificial intelligence for SEO insights?
- Understand the underlying need in a customer journey
- Identify content opportunities
- Study opportunities in a competitive context
- Map intent to content
- Use structured data and tags
- Invest in longer-tail content
- Ensure that the content can be easily crawled by user-agents
2 – Automation
We all know that SEO is a job that requires a lot of human investment. That’s why, when it is possible to automate tasks while having the same (manual) results, you should make it a top priority. Time saved can be applied to areas that best require your expert skills, such as strategy and creative content.
For example, manual keyword analysis for a 50 pages web site takes an average of 5 hours.
Besides, here are some tasks ready to be automated in SEO:
- Technical audits
- Keyword research
- Content optimisation
- Content distribution
- Tag management
- Internal linking
In the above cases, computers (AI) replace humans, but you keep control of what they do. By doing so, you can free up valuable time to tackle the most difficult aspects of the SEO strategy.
Some tips to get started with AI to automate SEO
- Divide the tasks into subtasks, then note their automation potential from 0 to 10
- Use rules-based automation to manage simple but time-consuming tasks
- Find the right balance between human work and automation
- Make sure that machine learning algorithms are
well provisioned in data (quality and quantity of data)
- Focus on the user experience, monitoring the website’s web performance and alerts.
# 3 – Personalization
Personalization allows marketers to create relevant and useful experiences for each user. Achieving this goal on a large scale requires significant technological assistance – AI being an integral part of this process.
Amazon has long been considered the market leader in personalisation. The giant use user data to suggest new products based on their history. This allowed Amazon to highlight products that generally do not receive much visibility, depending on their relevance for each consumer … Many lessons are to be learned from this approach.
By mapping the content to different user intentions, you can sell additional products (cross-selling).
How to use AI for SEO customisation?
- Create content adapted to each persona, customer journey …
- Use semantically specific pages to combine a request and an intention.
- Take advantage of personalisation via data search and social as well as audience lists to treat “lead nurturing”
- Leverage AI to help you publish content at the right time and on the right networks.
The artificial intelligence revolution has already started!
The search landscape is constantly evolving and consumers leave large amounts of data, that can be transformed into information. Search specialists, you can boost your SEO strategies using AI in three essential areas: knowledge, automation and personalisation.