Artificial intelligence (AI) has come to organic search, and it’s changing the way marketers approach search engine optimization (SEO). Google began rolling out its AI-based search called RankBrain in early 2015. Since then, this new application of machine learning has proven to be an effective way of bringing users the kinds of results they’re looking for. So, how do you optimize your online content for AI? The simplest—and best—answer is essentially the same as it always has been: Give your audience what they’re looking for.
So, what’s different? The difference is that as search engine technology evolves, it more closely mimics the way the human brain works—which means it’s becoming progressively less vulnerable to “black hat” SEO tricks as well as less dependent on exact-match keyword phrases to understand what kind of content is on a web page. Here’s why.
How is Google RankBrain different from other updates?
In the past, when Google would come out with a new algorithm, it simply meant that human programmers had changed some of the rules that the search engine followed to determine how to prioritize sites in the results pages for specific queries. SEO professionals could learn about those specific changes and adjust practices accordingly.
RankBrain is different because it uses machine learning to develop new ways of categorizing content, much the way the human brain creates neural networks to make sense of what we take in through our senses. Rather than relying on rules laid out by coders, RankBrain is able to recognize patterns in language and use those patterns to develop understandings of new things. As Cade Metz explains in Wired,
If you feed enough photos of a platypus into a neural net, it can learn to identify a platypus. If you show it enough computer malware code, it can learn to recognize a virus. If you give it enough raw language—words or phrases that people might type into a search engine—it can learn to understand search queries and help respond to them. In some cases, it can handle queries better than algorithmic rules hand-coded by human engineers.
This capability makes RankBrain especially useful when handling queries that Google hasn’t seen before, which accounts for approximately 15% of the searches it conducts each day. It also makes it easier for Google to recognize relationships among words, so it’s becoming less important to prominently feature keywords on your web pages that closely fit those people most often use in search queries to find similar types of content.
How does AI change how we should approach SEO?
The rise of machine learning in organic search doesn’t mean that keywords aren’t important anymore, but it does mean that content writers can feel at ease using creative language that engages their audiences rather than sticking to commonly used phrases out of fear of sacrificing Google rank. It also means that spammy-looking text that contains obvious keyword phrases every few sentences will increasingly send low quality signals to search engines. So, if you have been cutting corners on content quality for the sake of inserting prized keywords, this is likely to become less effective over time.
Our advice at Blue Frog Marketing has always been to focus on creating quality content first, and delivering quality content has always been the goal of Google’s search algorithms. As search engines become more adept at figuring out what content represents the best responses to a query, the more important it will be that you do exactly what your readers want: Give them relevant, well organized, thoughtful, quality content that directly responds to their needs.
If you’d like help enhancing your website’s SEO, building a new website that meets the demands of today’s users and search engines, or implementing a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy to attract new customers and convert them into leads and sales, contact us to request a free consultation. For more information on how inbound marketing works, click the link below to access our free ebook on how your website can become your #1 salesperson.