To those not well-versed in technology, the concept of artificial intelligence (AI) may be difficult to grasp, but at its core, it’s a machine that mimics cognitive functions like learning or problem-solving. It used to be that machines were only capable of specific tasks they were programmed to do and could not adapt to unprecedented obstacles or errors. However, nowadays, machines can adapt by testing various solutions and filing the most effective course of action for future reference. Another impressive skill demonstrated by AI is when a machine holds a decent conversation with a human. They do this by studying dialogue from different source materials and using that knowledge to formulate appropriate responses.
The scope of the impact AI could make on our world is massive. So much so that not even scientists and engineers can fully encapsulate the extent of its applications and potential. According to the best Cincinnati SEO companies, one of the fields that could be significantly shaken up by AI is search engine optimization or SEO.
Evolution of SEO
The birth of SEO was around the same time as the birth of search engines. When the internet started, there were so few websites that there wasn’t any difficulty navigating the worldwide web. However, as their numbers grew, it became clear that a system needed to be developed to help users find specific websites. This system is what we refer to now as a search engine.
When creating search engines, the developers faced a problem: what determines the order at which websites appeared on the search engine results page? Back then, it was simple criteria that the algorithm used to decide the ranking. It included relevancy to the search keyword and positive site reputation, among others. However, some site owners gained insight into the algorithm’s criteria and used this information to launch their website to the top rankings. This process of using various methods to improve your search engine ranking is known as SEO.
Not all SEO tactics are legitimate. Keyword spamming, domain hijacking, and link farms are just a few ways unethical SEO strategists are cheating the search engine algorithm into thinking their website is more deserving of a higher rank than it actually is. Over the years, search engine algorithms have improved so that illegitimate techniques are easier to detect, but another way search engine algorithms are improving is through incorporating AI.
AI in modern-day search engines
In the past few years, you may have noticed that Google is now attempting to finish your search for you through a series of autocomplete suggestions. Autocomplete is an example of AI at work. The machine takes your and other people’s previous Google searches and uses that information to offer suggestions that likely match your search intention. This feature is helping SEO companies conduct better keyword research.
Another way AI has penetrated search engines is through voice-prompted technology. Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and other similar technologies are changing the way users conduct searches. When using a keyboard, users tend to type in shorthand, using disjointed words like “car maintenance LA” or “auto repair near me”. In contrast, people using search engines with their voices will say, “Where’s the nearest auto repair shop?”. This drastic difference has had companies scrambling to target long-tail keywords. For the longest time, SEO experts only covered short-tail keywords since longer keywords were seen as having too low of a search volume to be worth it. However, with the growing shift in user search habits, there is also growing competition over long-tail keywords.
AI is also helping search engines improve their ranking algorithm. Back then, you have to consider two things when optimizing your website for SEO: human users and search engine crawlers.
Search engine crawlers are bots sent by the search engine to navigate and index your entire website. However, due to coding limitations, these bots sometimes encountered difficulty navigating sites that used too many flashy and multimedia features. This usually meant that you were stuck with a planer, HTML-friendly website if you wanted to prioritize SEO.
The way a bot navigates a website is very different from a human, so it was quite a tough balancing act to create a website optimized for search engines and human users. AI changed the game significantly by mimicking how a human user would browse a website. You no longer need to worry about if your site is not-friendly, but there was an increased emphasis on user-friendliness. This opened the door for more creative website designs that incorporated unique multimedia experiences, in addition to increased loading speed and site accessibility.
In addition to helping search engines be better at navigating your websites, AI is also helping them index your non-text content better. Search engines utilized a text-based algorithm, which was bad news for video since there was no way for the algorithm to access the video’s contents unless the video description held a video transcript. But innovations in human speech processing made it so that even if your video doesn’t have a transcript or closed captions, AI can still lead search engine users to your video based on a self-generated transcript. The AI will watch your video from start to finish, create a transcript, and if someone did a Google search and their keyword matched with something in the transcript, your video would be included in the search results page. This meant more exposure for videos, which is great since consumer preference for video as a content format is at an all-time high.
SEO companies are holding their breaths in anticipation of how else AI could change SEO. As this article is being written, thousands of SEO strategists from the best Cincinnati SEO companies are researching and making backup plans to prepare upcoming innovations. Technology is developing at such a breakneck pace that things seem to become obsolete in a matter of months. It is important for companies and digital marketers using SEO heavily in their strategies to constantly keep an eye on any changes in the landscape so they can adjust outdated strategies as needed.