The threat of outsmarting human brains by machine might be a distant dream for many technologies; it’s, however, a reality for search engines. The shift towards artificial intelligence in search engine queries has started showing result in 2017, and this trend is going to be even stronger. This is one of the most powerful high-tech –tech trends that every search professional is keeping an eye on.
How Machine Learning Is Changing the Search Engine Landscape
There are many reasons to be worried about this change since they believe that optimizing the website for search would become difficult when AI will be the main driving force in search engines. The shift had already started in 2016 when John Giannandrea stepped on to head the Google’s search engine department after Amit Singhal left, the man credited to the development of RankBrain algorithm.
To understand this development in context, John Giannandrea oversaw the deep learning project in Google and so people believe that machine learning is now going to be more mainstream in search engine results.
The gradual shift towards AI powered search from the rule-based algorithms had started happening since then. Now, even experts from Google believe that this will mean losing control of the search engine. In the past, Rank Brain system provided a greater opportunity for them to tweak the system.
However, Google is going ahead with machine learning as they believe this is the way to go. With machine learning rapidly changing the search engine landscape, engineers now don’t need to write rules anymore, search engine will do it on their own.
1. Forget Black Hat
The power of AI powered search engines to detect black hat strategies adopted by webmasters will increase immensely. Such bad behavior will be caught quickly and punished. These things will happen frequently because artificial intelligence catches the pattern faster and, its ability to detect manipulative link schemes would certainly be far superior. You should, therefore, forget about implementing such black hat strategies.
2. Less Support
In the Panda and Penguin era, it was possible to send requests to remove the penalty when your website got hit by due to algorithmic changes. There were people manning search engine support stations in Google. Artificial intelligence taking over search engines means, there’ll be fewer people manning the support desk. That means request to re-list in the search results and removing the penalty won’t be entertained. So your effort should be geared towards not to get penalized since the road to recovery will be slow and painful. Keep your website as clean as possible.
3. Exact match keywords will lose relevance
The Artificial Intelligence powered searcher will be better capable of understanding searcher intent, and they will deliver the result accordingly. The days of getting a higher result by using exact match keywords are going to be history. Artificial intelligence has increased the ability of Google to analyze the humongous amount of data from desktop searchers, tablet searchers, mobile searchers, and now voice searches.
This is much better placed to understand the variations of keywords phrases based on the searcher’s device. AI will understand that a keyword phrase being used inside a store requires a different result than those being searched in home.
4. Even Google and Bing Can’t Beat Their Own AI
That is true. With artificial intelligence taking the driver’s seat, it will be difficult for them to rank their own products and services higher in search engine results, so you can imagine how the world of search engines will change then. You can make it to number one only when you deserve it.
How to Win Against AI Powered Search Engines
You may not realize the gravity of the change powered by artificial intelligence, but it will put your search strategy upside down if you don’t prepare in advance, here are 6 tips to be on the top of the game in the era of AI:
1. Think About Keywords More Intelligently
The age of keyword density has long gone and now using exact match keywords phrase is not going to help you either. Google’s Knowledge Graph, which is based on latent semantic indexing, first changed the face of keywords research. However, RankBrain turned the whole game upside down. The process will further go deeper with artificial intelligence taking the charge. The suggested course of action would be to gather keywords data, which assists you getting grouped keyword based on your target keywords, and create the keywords having the highest potential of representing similar keywords phrases.
That means, you can create just one powerful page based on one most important keywords that has the power to rank on for all similar search queries.
2. Predictive Analytics Is the Key
Predicting the shoppers’ needs in advance will be much more important. You can raise sales by using tools that can help you predict shopper’s needs based on natural language processing and earlier browsing habits and past purchases. Most popular tools such as Google Keywords Planner, SEMrush and Google Knowledge Graph don’t have predictive abilities. They provide old data and might not be very useful in predicting future. They can’t forecast peak demand for target keywords in the future, which you need to increase sales and revenue in future.
You should find out some more advance predictive keywords research tools to analyze whether the search trend for a particular keyword is going down and can try to guess whether they will be relevant in future. You can select keywords that are cyclical in nature and have the ability to drive traffic in peak seasons.
3. Leverage the Power of Customer Reviews
User reviews are going to be more important than anything else. Comments posted by users in real language by real people will help search engines to analyze search queries more efficiently. If people post a feedback that ‘this workshop provides amazing service at affordable price in Anaheim, CA”. This may help Google show your company in the search result when someone types a query: “affordable auto workshop in Anaheim, CA”. Therefore, SEO professionals should capitalize on the power of a huge number of positive reviews for your business.
First of all, your business should be visible on Google My Business listing and work on Google Maps marketing to enhance local visibility. The crux of the matter is Google will pay more attention to user reviews, and you should take it seriously.
4. Work on to Get Correct SEO Data
Data hold the key and so you should make sure that you’re equipped with correct SEO Data. Taking the help of tools such as SEO PowersSuite or SEMrush will help you get the right picture. They will help you identify bad links and make it easier to stick with Google guidelines. You can quickly audit your keywords ranking, and keep an eye on competitors.
5. Use AI-Powered Chatbots to Pull Customers Toward a Sale
Many brands have already started using artificial intelligence enabled chatbots to help customers in making a sale. A chatbot engages in a friendly conversation like a human does. It serves customer 24/7. If you’ve not started using chatbots, start using them.
6. Pay Attention to Voice Search
Artificial intelligence along with voice search will hold the key to organic ranking in the future. Conversational keywords will become more important, and the proportion of voice search will increase considerably in the next 3-4 years. Since AI can learn and adapt instantly, the voice search will make its task easier. Therefore, your plan should be ready to include voice search in your Search Engine Optimization strategy in 2018.
The most important part of the artificial intelligence powered search engines will be that they will create own rules and ranking signals, which will not be known to even Google. Till date, the relationship between Google and websites has been like a cat and mouse game; but this will reverse in coming years.
You won’t be even able to know what ranking factors search algorithms are using and that’s why optimizing web pages will be more difficult. AI enabled search algorithms will be much smarter in finding out poor user experience than the existing RankBrain algorithm. So, you should have a relentless focus on keep improving user experience and content quality.
Vishal Vivek is Co-Founder & CEO of SEO Corporation, a New Delhi based SEO & Web agency. A motivational speaker, blogger, gut wrenching risk taker, pet lover and hard working soul. Credited for taking SEO Corporation from living room to immense heights with his vision and brute passion . Demystifying online marketing for startups and entrepreneurs is what he loves the most. When he is not writing or researching, you can find him deeply engrossed in books or playing with his pets. Follow him on Twitter @seocorporation