What’s the Link Between AI and SEO?

Without knowing it, you most likely encounter artificial intelligence (or AI) daily. When you upload photos of your night out or your child’s birthday party, does Facebook offer tagging suggestions? When you ask Siri or Alexa a question, how do they know what to answer? When you conduct the same Google search twice, how does Google know which pages you’ve visited and which results you’ll find most helpful?

It seems like AI is this foreign, almost sci-fi concept, but it’s widely used today and its prominence is growing. Google is investing in AI technology to help ‘organize the world’s information’, improving Google translate–both text and via photograph–and their image searches in apps and in search. Facebook uses AI to identify content in photographs. And voice assistants use AI to tailor their results.

Let’s explore the link between AI and SEO, but first, let’s get a definition of what AI is.

What is AI?

We often think of AI as robots or computer programs to think and act like humans. AI differs between industries, but on a basic level, AI is a machine that can teach itself, getting smarter with each interaction, without human involvement. 

Humans have to program the AI to see, read, hear, speak, move, write (or whatever the function is designed to do) but to be considered AI they also need the ability to perform those functions better and learn to improve over time by themselves. 

For example, when you talk to Alexa via your Firestick or SmartTV, you may say, ‘Alexa, find me an action movie’ or when you’re at the gym you may say, ‘Alexa, play my running playlist on Spotify’. You’d reasonably expect that Alexa will acquiesce your request. Alexa knows by herself (for the most part) what you mean and what you want her to do. If she didn’t, she’d be pretty useless.

If you had to wait for a human to answer your request every time, then there’d be no point in using a voice assistant. Alexa uses machine learning and algorithms to get better and faster at human requests. 

How is AI used in everyday SEO?

AI interprets keywords when you type them into a search engine. Search engines use sophisticated artificial intelligence, machine learning, and algorithms to process searches and predict which results will satisfy searchers. We have written about how Google does this with AI-first and Google’s search journeys. AI affects how your content ranks even if Google doesn’t reveal exactly how their functions work.

Voice search also uses AI such as natural language generation and processing to work. Voice search is becoming more prevalent. We have written a few pieces on why it’s important to optimize for voice search such as Voice Search Marketing: Are You Ready for the Future?, Ways to Get Your Website Optimized for Voice Assistants, and Marketing in a Voice Search World. People use voice on their phones, tablets, and personal assistants.

In order to stay competitive, you’ll need a basic understanding of AI and how it will rank your website and help people find you organically.

How can you use AI tools to improve content marketing?

There are tools available like MarketMuse, Frase, and BrightEdge where you can use AI to find out what content you should write about. These tools use AI to select topics from search data to see what top-ranking websites are doing to appear first. AI can also work to help you optimize existing content to rank for queries. 

But, for now, these tools are a little pricey; however, it points to the fact that we hire many marketers to do tasks like topic discovery, content planning, and keyword research that are based on educated guesswork and trial and error. In the future, machine learning can complete these tasks much faster and more efficiently. Then, your marketers can focus on other essential tasks like writing content! 

How can AI improve analytics?

AI now and in the future can organize data in meaningful ways. We often don’t suffer from a lack of data. There’s lots of data, but often we don’t understand how to read that data and how to use it to improve results and analytics. AI will be able to tell businesses what data they have and what actionable ways they can use that data such as a visual analysis of search demands, personas based on user activity, and generating accurate customer reports.

Interestingly, 15% of searches haven’t been seen before, which means there’s no keyword data on specific keyword phrases. Google processes billions of searches per day and 15% of billions is a significant number. In the future, Search will get better and people will be able to be matched to exactly what they want to find out (because people will know what to write about to meet their customer’s pain points and queries). These new developments are exactly why keyword stuffing doesn’t work. AI will mean and continues to mean that you always need to write quality, helpful content to back up any keywords you use.

The takeaways

As AI technology advances, does that mean AI be doing everything behind the scenes? Will content writers and marketers become obsolete and everything run by smart machines? No matter how smart computers get, people will always need to be part of businesses. What roles they do will evolve. Just as we don’t have scribes, printing presses, or typewriters as part of every day, technology has always evolved and changed people’s lives drastically and subtly. It’s all a case of future-proofing yourself and your business, upskilling your workers in roles you do need and allowing computers to take over the roles you no longer need to do manually. It’ll be freeing to have AI take over some tasks, freeing up humans for creative, fulfilling tasks that drive businesses forward.

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Elaine, an SEO Specialist and Content Writer

Elaine Frieman holds a Master’s Degree and is a UK-based professional editor, educational writer, and former marketing agency content writer where she wrote articles for disparate clients using SEO best practice. She enjoys reading, writing, walking in the countryside, traveling, spending time with other people’s cats, and going for afternoon tea.