SEO is currently changing and shifting thanks to things like Artificial Intelligence and voice searches. Do these changes mean that SEO is dead?
This is a highly controversial topic which brings up lots of questions like privacy issues to accurately finding results compared to search.
Are we there yet?
Or is it just changing, the same way it’s changed many times already?
There are some issues that we’ll have to delve into in more depth in order to discuss this question, and by the end of it, you should have a better idea of where SEO is heading and how to adapt and which changes are most significant.
How do search engines use Artificial Intelligence
AI is used by search engines to create a ranking algorithm. This can be used in many ways, such as helping search engine users actually find what they were looking for and protecting their platforms from external manipulation that might be going on. The machine learns to create a list of optimal results and learns from doing this over time.
We don’t know for sure how much of a role AI has because these things are not spoken about publicly. However, it’s known that AI is being used and its use is certainly increasing at the moment.
So what do we know about AI?
Search engines are using machine learning for pattern detections that help identify spam and duplicate content, machine learning is an ever-evolving technology, the more pages that are analyzed, the more accurate the results are going to be.
Search engines are identifying similarities between words in a search query because machines are able to predict our meanings behind the words we say and provide better information in the search.
Google RankBrain and SEO
Google and its algorithms have often been shrouded in mystery, but its latest addition, RankBrain, can’t be ignored from an SEO perspective.
In fact, it’s the third most important ranking signal according to a senior Google analyst, Andrey Lipattsev.
And it’s one of the latest steps Google has taken to introduce artificial intelligence into its ranking efforts.
It works by analyzing searches, figuring out the best possible results for the user and then measuring the user satisfaction with those results.
This feedback is then used to improve the algorithm so that it can gradually learn and improve over time.
It can also measure how successful the results were by looking at how the user interacted with them and, again, learning from that feedback.
The Impact of Machine Learning on SEO
Firstly, Google uses machine learning as a key aspect of its approach to ranking pages. If someone searches for “machine learning” and you’re trying to sell them services, you won’t rank.
However, if you write a long form blog post about the intricate details of machine learning, you will. This machine learning is taking millions of data points to understand how users behave on search engines and making snap decisions on what to show them.
Google is using machine learning to ensure their users find the content that they’re looking for, and that means understanding intent better.
As Google starts to rank pages based on the wants of users and their intent, it’s vital that content creators and marketers keep up with that.
What’s the Future of SEO?
There are a lot of people proclaiming SEO is dead, but how many times have we heard that old story before?
Back in 2017, SEJ did a survey asking “When do you predict AI will take over SEO?” and 55% of respondents believed it will happen in about 10 years. ( I’m among the rest 45%).
With Google’s algorithms changing 500-600 times every year, you need an adaptable, future-proof SEO strategy for 2019 and beyond.
On-page content and backlinks are still the top two ranking factors to Google, but RankBrain is not far behind.
Your 2019 link building and guest blogging strategies need to be focused on user intent, rather than keywords.
As search engines get smarter, you need to write better – it’s that simple.
You will find future SEO success by creating a group of highly-engaged readers stay on your page longer, don’t bounce, and keep coming back for more.
This is not to say that things are going to carry on the same because changes are clearly happening and adaptation is going to be necessary going forward.
But when Google and SEO change, the best marketers change and adapt as well.
That’s the way it’s always been and as artificial intelligence takes over in the world of search engines, what’s required for content to rank on Google is going to keep shifting and changing too.