With 3.5 billion daily searches to process, Google uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help deliver more relevant results to users. AI uses machine learning, which is the ability of machines to use data to teach themselves. As more data is accumulated, AI is helping searchers get better information. For businesses, AI is determining how often and in what situations your brand is being shown to consumers.
Google’s main AI tool is RankBrain, an AI algorithm that is one of the most important ranking signals for its search engine results. The RankBrain processing algorithm uses machine learning to provide the best search results it can glean. RankBrain is used on every single search, Search Engine Land reports.
When it is unsure of what the query means, RankBrain uses its collection of data concerning similar queries to provide a best guess answer. This greatly relates to voice search, as Search Engine Journal reports 15% of searches each day are new searches. This means, sometimes search results might include results on vastly different topics, because they relate to the same keywords RankBrain was examining.
With AI determining search results, those who work in search engine optimization (SEO) should be aware of what this means for their strategy. AI also has implications for how search marketers do their own work. Here’s how.
Ways AI Is Impacting Google and Search
Because AI is using data from all search sources – not just searches that are typed in on a desktop computer – search marketers must factor in mobile searches and voice searches into content. There are more than 1 billion voice searches a month. This makes searches – and how AI determines rankings – more conversational.
While phrases like “best restaurants in Boulder” might be prevalent on laptop computers, a question like, “Where is the best place to eat in Boulder?” might be more likely in voice search. Question starters like “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” “why” and “how” may be applicable to include in some content.
As AI becomes more intelligent, search marketers should also be cognizant that AI is learning how to master video and visual content. This includes both crawling headlines, tags and descriptions of photos and videos to include them in search results, as well as knowing what types of searches would benefit most from a photo or video result. Search marketers must make sure all photos and videos are optimized for search. This especially applies to videos on YouTube, which is owned by Google.
Since mobile website views surpassed desktop views in 2016, mobile search is also a dominant factor in RankBrain results. Google has already made a move toward mobile-first indexing, so to make an impact with RankBrain, search marketers must also consider what searches related to their brand that people are typing into a smartphone.
How AI Can Help Search Marketers
In addition to making content and website optimization recommendations that are more AI-friendly, search marketers can use AI to:
- Monitor search engine results performance
- Deliver personalized experiences based on web user behavior
- Generate content ideas via trending topics
- Make budget recommendations, for paid advertising, content marketing and more
Most search engine marketing tools use AI to help marketers make smarter decisions. The Google AdWords platform offers real-time insights into ad performance, so marketers can pivot their keyword strategy. Tools like the Salesforce Einstein use customer data to make predictions and recommendations that help businesses anticipate and meet customer needs, which can help search marketers adjust SEO strategy.
Best Practices for AI and Search
The good news with AI is that it’s actually helping to weed out frowned-upon “black hat” SEO tactics, like stuffing content with keywords and links, building backlinks through irrelevant sites, and producing low-quality content. Gary Illyes, webmaster trends analyst at Google, says “optimizing for RankBrain is actually super easy.” Try to write content that sounds human. Use natural language that is conversational.
Here are some more best practices for SEO and AI.
Optimize videos and photos for search.
Add full transcripts, tags and descriptions to every video, which also serves your hearing-impaired leads and customers. Make sure photos are tagged appropriately, too.
Build relationships with better sites.
Getting an article or your website linked on dozens of spammy sites is of no value to you, and can actually penalize your rankings. Make sure your backlinks are to relevant sites, or else run the risk that RankBrain and other AI algorithms will identify your site as low-quality, as well.
Focus on relevance, value and quality.
These are ultimately the most important factors to optimize to rank higher on Google. Creating content with these factors in mind makes your content more engaging and shareable. It improves the likelihood the content will be linked on more high-quality sites, and improves time spent on page. To be considered for RankBrain, your domain needs to be authoritative, so work on making what is on your site valuable.