How Artificial Intelligence (AI) is Changing Search Engine Marketing & SEO Strategies

Artificial Intelligence is increasingly being used in SEO and an understanding of how this works ensures you are with the learning curve Google has introduced through Rankbrain, a new AI machine learning algorithm which is a game changer for how search results are processed.

There are currently three definitions for Artificial Intelligence which reflect it’s uses and developmental capabilities.

  • Artificial Narrow Intelligence is when AI is used for one focused, targeted outcome ie spam filters.
  • Artificial General Intelligence describes AI that can process information as a human brain would, with an appreciation of changing context and complex variables.
  • Lastly Artificial Super Intelligence is when AI is performing at a level beyond the human brain.

Pedro Domingos in the Master Algorithm identifies Google’s Rankbrain as based on thinking from the Connectionist school of thought. Connectionist’s work from the belief that knowledge is encoded through connection, similar to the neurons in our brains. Rankbrain is based on this belief process which is rebranded as ‘deep learning’.

This means the SEO environment is changing rapidly, loopholes are being closed and it is becoming increasingly important to be technically savvy to succeed in this new SEO environment.

What Is RankBrain?

Within Google there are a number of core algorithms. It is Rankbrain’s task to identify the optimal use and ordering of these for each search result. Each search result within Google becomes it’s own footprint for a unique mix of algorithms.

At the vertical level this changes how to analyse data over time where good practice becomes the new order of the day as dictated by Google. Therefore within your niche area it will become the trend to emulate the best examples of websites as a way of staying in the flow as Rankbrain learns what the correct settings are for each environment and promotes these ‘good’ sites and other sites as ‘bad’.

It becomes more problematic when you have a site that spans a range of industries or subject matter as this is more difficult for Rankbrain to respond to. So the prioritising of information in this case becomes more random with less predictable outcomes as the deep learning model struggles to classify sites of this nature. An example of this would be a site like the How to sites. It is worth following this trend to learn how this aspect of SEO and AI unfolds over time.

With regards to the future of backlinking, Rankbrain compares back linking profiles and identifies if something is ‘off’.  Rankbrain classifies and responds to something as being off if it deviates from what it has identified as ‘good’. This means organic traffic and new leads are more challenging for it to classify as they don’t conform to a pattern or type. It will become increasingly important to remain within your linking neighbourhood if you want to be understood correctly.

Finding ways of protecting your organic flow of traffic from a deep learning process that currently struggles to recognise value on what is not classifiable in its own terms will be one of the challenges that AI can hopefully resolve in the future.

Artificial Intelligence is an evolving, deep learning process. Understanding a bit about how it works and adapting your SEO Strategies to speak it’s evolving language is going to be crucial to survival in the changing AI environment led by Google’s Rankbrain.

I will outline a few strategies you can implement straight away to join this new learning trend through looking at 5 familiar areas in a new way.

Optimising for Rankbrain

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Niche

In the new Rankbrain deep learning environment to align with Google’s AI methodology it may be preferable to focus on one topic per website. This way Rankbrain can easily benchmark you alongside your niche tribe and you benefit from the upstream traffic as well as staying within and participating in the learning trends of your environment. There is survival in staying with your type in this new way of learning.

Backlinks

The quality of your back linking will become more important as AI can now analyse how long a visitor stays on your site. Therefore using the best backlinks and keeping the standard high and relevant is going to be increasingly valuable.

Linking is going to become increasingly relational and therefore the quality of your contact with your audience and other movers and shakers in your niche will also increase your credibility.

Keywords

Rankbrain uses a yardstick example of a ‘good’ site and benchmarks this measurement as a standard to follow. To get yourself into the correct linking environment it becomes crucial to mimic the keyword use of your niche tribe. This means instead of the scatter gun approach to keywords, it is much more important to use a central keyword positioned as a core pillar with nodal terms as offshoots that are nonetheless synonyms for the key concept and write your blog posts talking to the key concept in a range of interrelated ways.

Good Quality Content Is (Still) King

Due to the way in which keyword use is now changing, apart from reeducating yourself about the new use of keywords, another, deeper way of insulating yourself in response to Rankbrain’s highly responsive, dialogic process, is to ensure that your content also is pertinent and beneficial to the user. This means your content needs to be talking to a key concept that in turn references a keyword.

You can protect your business from AI driven changes by ensuring your content appears across a range of related platforms so that if one element is effected you are nonetheless protected from damage to the core of your business.

Branding

Branding is a way of establishing your offering within your tribal environment starting with your own blog or website and connecting to other social networks that reflect the same area of interest.  Bridging this offline into your local environment and being listed and visible there as well is all part of establishing and maintaining your responsive and developing presence in a credible manner.

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Providing a clear, actionable list of prioritised SEO recommendations, you can quickly pinpoint issues, improve website performance and boost search engine rankings.

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