AI and the Future of Search

The term artificial intelligence might summon up visions of the far future, but AI—as it is more commonly known—is very much a part of our current world. What AI really means, after all, is that our computer programs are getting smarter and more nuanced. Even businesses that don’t rely heavily on computers in their day to day work are still affected by AI in important ways. Chief among these is the search engine, the virtual pathway that delivers most companies’ potential clients and customers to their online doorsteps.

AI is fast changing the way we think about a concept that is central to online marketing: search engine optimization (SEO). Search engine algorithms grow smarter and more human-like in their methods every year, which means that businesses have to evolve their approach to SEO if they want to keep on top of their online marketing campaigns. No matter what type of content you are distributing online, the changing nature of AI is sure to have an impact on your company.

How Smart Is AI?

When most people think about artificial intelligence, they tend to imagine super-intelligent computers that can outthink any humans. But artificial intelligence is all around us, and many of its manifestations are as mundane as the filter in your email that weeds out spam. The type of AI at work in search engines is known as Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI), which means that it is designed to do very specific tasks extremely well. In this case, intelligence simply means that search engines’ algorithms are doing better at identifying the factors that lead people to click on links from search results. The algorithms then use the data they have collected from the numerous searches happening every second of the day to adjust the search results that come up in response to queries, giving preference to the sites that seem most relevant and useful. This means sorting through billions upon billions of pages of search results to find the most suitable ones for each query. It would be an overwhelming task for any human, but it’s a simple one for the calculating power of a computer program.

How Will AI Affect Your SEO Approach?
  • The context of your content matters more. The more effective search engines are at identifying search intent, the more important it becomes to have relevant content on your site. If the content you provide has value for your site’s visitors, search engine programs will be more likely to recognize its relevance and reward it in their search rankings.
  • Fresh content will be rewarded. You may already know that having fresh content is essential if you want to attract the attention of search engines. But simply updating your existing content isn’t enough—you need to provide new pages and more backlinks. The most efficient way to do this on a regular basis is to add a blog to your website. Not only will a high-quality blog help you retain an audience, but it will also help you rank better in search results.
  • Staying inside your niche will benefit you. Search engines like Google have learned to compare your site to others in the same vertical. This means that if your website appears to take on too many verticals at once, your site may inadvertently end up being penalized for it. Sticking to one category of information will help search engines know how they should classify your site.
  • Link relevance is more important. While link building remains critical to increasing your site’s reputation, search engines have learned to distinguish between backlinks that are relevant to your content and backlinks that are not. To ensure that your site isn’t penalized, you’ll need to ensure that the outside links you seek out are both high-quality and relevant to your business.
  • Visual content needs to be optimized. As search engines have gotten smarter, they have also gotten better at identifying strong, relevant visual content. This means that you’re going to have to start thinking about visual content—including videos, sound clips, GIFs, and even infographics—in SEO terms. This means optimizing alt text, file names, meta descriptions, and other important SEO factors.
  • Voice searches are becoming more common. More and more people are relying on their smartphones and smart speakers for searching on the go, and they’re becoming more likely to do voice searches than typed searches. As a result, the trend is shifting toward content that is written in a more conversational style, with key phrases that are more likely to match common spoken queries.

If you’re in need of a new and smarter approach to content marketing, the team at Pennington Creative can help. We provide business blogging, website copy, email newsletters, and a wide range of other online content services to help you forge a stronger, more lasting connection with your audience. To discover our services for yourself, schedule a free consultation.

About the Author

Justyn - Digital Marketing Manager, Special Projects
Justyn Dillingham

Digital Marketing Manager, Special Projects

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