AI & SEO: Can Artificial Intelligence Help Boost Website Rankings?
Artificial intelligence (AI) and SEO may seem like a natural pairing to some, but others are sceptical about how much difference harnessing AI capabilities will make to their SEO campaigns. In the movies, AI is often depicted in the form of sentient humanoid robots. In fact, AI is less Bicentennial Man and more covert marketing at this point. If you’re eager to find out which AI programs and features can boost your SEO campaign results and help you drive better rankings and traffic, these are definitely the droids you’re looking for.
The rise of the machines & early adoption
AI is no longer a new concept in digital marketing. According to McKinsey, approximately 50% of businesses are already using AI in some capacity. Hollywood paints it as a terrifying concept that is detrimental to the human race, but it’s actually extremely useful and innovative from a business perspective. In fact, if you haven’t already implemented AI as part of your marketing strategy, now is the right time to catch up with your competitors and start applying the most useful technologies to your advantage. Knowing where to start can be daunting. Luckily, our Brainy Bunch are well versed in AI SEO and how it works to deliver impressive ROI for your business.
What is AI?
The definition of AI has been poured over since Alan Turing published his Computing Machinery and Intelligence paper in 1950. In this paper, he posed the question “can machines think?” and went on to detail the Turing Test, which aimed to determine if a human could distinguish between text responses written by humans and computers. This is based on the concept that AI can understand and predict human behaviour when fed the correct information to learn from.
IBM defines AI as: “At its simplest form, artificial intelligence is a field, which combines computer science and robust datasets, to enable problem-solving.” It notes that there are different types of AI: artificial narrow intelligence (ANI) which focuses on a specific task (such as Siri or Alexa), and artificial strong strong intelligence (ASI) which rivals humans in terms of problem-solving skills, awareness/consciousness, and knowledge. ASI is still theoretical, but is being developed. It’s the stuff you see in the movies, but in your role as a marketer, you’re not likely to come across Commander Data or even anything close. ANI is where your AI focus should be.
Benefits of AI for SEO
So, if you can’t use AI to overthrow the human race like the movies promised, what can you use it for? Well, SEO! Pretty much for as long as search engines have been around, they’ve used AI. As technology has become more advanced, so have the algorithms (as you’ll know from trying to please the Google Gods), but you can play search engines at their own game using AI for yourself. Once you understand the fundamentals of how AI works, you can begin to leverage it to your advantage, as our SEO Brain, James Speyer, details:
“The algorithmic factors at play within Google – those that help your content rank – have grown ever more complicated over the years. While you’d be forgiven for thinking that makes it harder to succeed in the SEO game, the reality is that webmasters have their own ever-advancing tool that can match the rapid pace Google is currently setting: AI software.
Recent developments in SEO-focused AI software have allowed SEOs to do things in an instant that would have previously been either impossible or, at the very least, long and laborious tasks. AI can be utilised to perform actions, such as analysing content that currently ranks for your keyword, to identify the most important words and phrases, how they are used on a page and where, then build you a page plan of how to do it better.”
– James Speyer
With this in mind, the benefits of harnessing AI for SEO are far reaching. Here are just a few of the ways SEO can benefit from AI:
- Finding new keyword opportunities
- Improving your rankings, for both existing and new search terms
- Creating content that ranks well on search engines
- Getting a better understanding of your customers and their habits
- Automating elements of SEO for improved efficiency
- Optimising campaigns to perform as well as possible
Another key benefit of AI in SEO is that it leaves less room for others to manipulate the system and rank where they shouldn’t. There’s nothing more frustrating than pouring your heart and soul into a campaign and spending hours optimising it in line with the algorithms, only to never achieve the top spot because someone else has dishonestly blagged their way into a #1 ranking. As AI becomes more advanced, these grey and black hatters will be weeded out by machines in the same way Hercule Poirot weeded out small-town murderers – except it won’t be quite as entertaining.
This means your campaign efforts will be better rewarded, and users will see content that is more accurate and relevant to their search queries.
How AI can be used for SEO
If you’re still thinking of AI as a human-like robot created to take over human tasks it might be difficult to pinpoint exact uses for AI in your everyday role. Rather than looking at AI as competition, look at it as a collaborative partner that can help you across several aspects of your campaign endeavours. For context, here are some of the top ways AI can be used to improve your SEO campaigns.
1. AI Keyword research
One of the main benefits of AI copywriting is that it can save you a lot of time when it comes to keyword research. You’ll likely use tools like SEMrush to do natural keyword research, and you’ll combine your organic findings with your industry knowledge and common sense search terms to form your content strategy. Whilst effective, this manual method is labour intensive and can take hours depending on your content retainer, not to mention the fact anything that is manual leaves room for blind spots and missed opportunities.
AI can help close the gap and find keywords, terms, and topics that you might have otherwise overlooked. This puts you in a position to potentially increase the number of phrases and terms you rank for and increase your organic exposure. On top of increased keyword opportunities, AI keyword research tools can help you refine your strategy and approach by highlighting terms with attainable difficulties and search volumes. You can also use AI to determine keywords that neither you nor your competitors are ranking for, and those that you’re not ranking for but your competitors are.
Content is the backbone of your website and your SEO efforts, but it has long been one of the most arduous aspects of digital marketing to get right. When used correctly, AI keyword research tools can take the hassle and man hours out of keyword research, but still ensure you have a list of terms that are relevant to your industry and that will get your website ranking for all the right things.
2. AI Link building opportunities
Every SEO strategist will know the importance of link building. If you want your website to perform well on search engines, it needs to have authority, and to get authority, it needs to have backlinks from other websites that have a good domain authority. You can reach out to websites manually or hope you get linked to organically, but this isn’t always effective and leaves room for spammy links that can penalise your website instead of helping it.
AI backlink audit tools can be used to discover link building opportunities, by showing you websites where you have some content that has been published and there is no backlink present. They can also show you good websites for backlink propositions, helping you to curate an effective outreach strategy that doesn’t take hours to compile or result in bad links.
3. AI Publishing schedules
Have you ever posted an Instagram post at 3pm in the afternoon and received little to no likes on it? If so, that’s because you’ve posted at a time when most people aren’t active. If you want your Instagram post to do well, you need to post it either first thing in the morning, at lunch time, or late at night when people are most likely to be scrolling. SEO is no different. When you publish content, social media posts, or emails will dictate how well your campaign does based on your audience’s behaviour.
Knowing when your audience is most likely to be active and engage with your content is no mean feat; you can make an educated guess, but like everything else, this leaves a margin of error that could see your content get overlooked. AI software collects data and uses it to come up with accurate predictions on your audience’s behaviour. These predictions will include when they’re most likely to be online and interact with your content, giving you a more accurate, fact-based publishing schedule.
4. AI Voice search optimisation
Much of your SEO campaign will be based around short text phrases, but more and more people are starting to use voice search (Siri, Google, and Alexa). This means your website needs to be optimised for both written and spoken search terms. Spoken search terms are longer and more detailed, and tend to be centred around questions.
As an SEO marketer, you’ve probably been trained to stick to short-tail keywords as they’re your bread and butter, but AI software like AnswerThePublic can help you come up with long-tail keywords that resonate with people searching by voice. This will help you better optimise your content to cover all platforms and all types of users, no matter how they’re searching or on what device.
These are four of the main ways current AI technology can benefit your SEO campaigns. As the technology becomes more advanced, we’ll likely see more manual tasks become automated and refined (but that doesn’t mean your job is at risk of being stolen by a robot – the robots still need us to tell them what to do, and they’re not all-knowing or always right).
AI and SEO Final Thoughts
Marketing is an ever-changing landscape and there’s always a new trend to jump on, but AI is one that is set to become an integral part of your role and your life as a whole. This means it’s less of a trend and more of a core facet. With this in mind, embrace AI in the same way Tony Stark embraces his Iron Man suit – it’s potentially one of your greatest marketing weapons.
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