How Artificial Intelligence is Driving Rapid Change in Strategic SEO Initiatives
Marketers and advertising experts face a multitude of challenges as they help clients successfully navigate the modern economy. Many of these challenges originate around search engines and the constantly evolving technologies working behind the scenes of platforms such as Yahoo, Bing, and DuckDuckGo. But as anyone operating in the industry knows, there isn’t a player in the marketing and advertising industry more influential than the Google search engine. Ensuring that your search engine optimization strategy is optimized for the future of how AI relates to Google will be of increased importance.
With more than 86% of the search engine market share as of early 2020, changes and updates to the Google platform’s search engine and algorithms have been the source of massive shifts in digital marketing strategies across every industry. In some instances, such as when Google reduced local search results from the top 7 results to what became referred to as the local 3 pack in 2015, marketers saw almost immediate changes in consumer search behaviors.
In the wake of the Local 3 Pack, businesses have spent the past six years adjusting content and page structures in response to the subsequent increasing importance of local SEO in the SERP.
A more modern shift has been the rising importance of artificial intelligence and the application of machine learning tools due to the 2019 launch by Google of a strategy known as the Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, or BERT. The BERT update to Google’s algorithms was intended to improve the platform’s ability to process natural language through the use of advanced AI technologies and machine learning techniques.
The intent was that through AI-driven processing of user requests, the platform would over time come to better understand user intent in the searches being performed and provide more accurate search results. While this might mean a better user experience, it requires an entirely different approach to the technical and on-page SEO strategies being employed by service providers.
In this discussion, we’re going to talk about just how significantly SEO and content marketing initiatives are being altered by the introduction of AI and machine learning into search engines and software solutions across the marketing and advertising sphere. In our approach, we thought it most helpful to break down trends that emerged before the pandemic but have continued to be influential and show signs of continuing into and beyond 2021.
Recent Shifts by AI-Driven SEO Tools Will Continue into 2021
While COVID-19 quarantines decimated vast portions of the economy throughout 2020, they also had the effect of putting a pause on technological innovations throughout much of the year. This means that many of the trends and changes marketing experts predicted in 2019 to bring about innovation in 2020 are still innovations we are seeing drive marketing strategies even into the start of the second quarter of 2021.
Create More Powerful Content With AI-Driven Keyword Optimization
Identifying the most relevant topics and keywords to your target audience can be a tricky undertaking without the use of online analytics tools such as Google Ads. This and other keyword identification resources are becoming more advanced through the integration of AI-driven analytics, helping content creators create content that better meets the three most important requirements to Google’s search engine:
- Content should show your team’s topical expertise.
- Content is considered stronger if it reflects your brand’s authority in your industry.
- Content that builds up brand trust with readers is considered stronger.
In addition to helping identify topics, keywords, and key phrases, more AI-driven tools are emerging that help content creators analyze written content and provide insight as to where to position keywords in headers and how to best structure their articles to be navigated by search engine web crawlers. These tools combined with insight gleaned from reader analytics can help test and refine content headlines and calls to action to improve the performance of the final article.
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Track User On-Page Behaviors to Serve Up More Personalized Content Creation
Depending on the services and products you provide to your customer base, it’s likely your target audience can be parsed into several distinct groups. Rather than throwing all of your information on your website and expect users to find what they’re interested in, you can use real-time AI-driven analytics to provide your marketing team with insights into on-page behaviors to show you what each audience segment reads, how they navigate content, where they spend the most time on your site, and what sorts of calls-to-action they respond to best.
Pairing this information with your calls-to-action and inbound marketing infrastructure, you can better guide readers to the content on your site that matters most to them and create a more personalized on-page brand experience and a clearer cut content strategy that is optimized for what your customers want.
Set Your SEO Up For Future Success By Optimizing For Voice Search
The market penetration of smart speakers has been incredible over the last few years, with trends showing that 55% of households will have a voice-activated system in their homes by the end of 2022. That trend has certainly been reflected in how users are changing how they engage with search engines, especially on mobile devices.
Last year saw almost 50% of searches conducted by voice, with 20% of mobile queries being performed through verbal engagement with virtual assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri. Across industries from B2B services to eCommerce, voice search is on the rise.
Searchers are directly impacted by the algorithm changes and improvements to search being driven by the BERT Google update, and requires companies to take multiple steps for improving their site’s performance in such searches:
- Voice search plays a large role especially in local searches, so integrating “near me” and “local” to your keyword and keyphrase strategies on-page and in your metadata can go a long way in optimizing for voice search queries.
- Voice search is more organic and based on natural speech patterns, as users engage with voice assistants as if they are talking to another person. Creating content and strategies that embrace conversational search patterns will score better with search engine results as AI focuses on natural language processing.
- Use AI-driven analytics tools to determine what questions your target audience is asking online, and once you’ve identified the most influential questions, create a “Frequently Asked Questions” page around those inquiries. These FAQs can contribute positively to your ranking factors or become a part of a Google featured snippet.
- Browsers crawl your page according to how content is formatted, which is why so much emphasis is put on seeding headers and subheaders with proper keywords. Optimize your content around this strategy not only makes it easier for browsers to navigate but also shows the web crawlers that your content has more relevance, increasing your overall search rankings.
Creating Video Content Visitors Care About
In the marketing industry, there are several heavyweights we all turn to as knowledge leaders. Some of the most influential, such as HubSpot, Moz, and SEMRush, provide the industry with a plethora of data, research, best practices, and guidance. Over the last 5 years, as video marketing has emerged as a powerful driver of client behavior, the team at wyzowl has become one of the go-to resources for insight on the state of video marketing. In the 2021 edition of their “State of Video Marketing” survey, the company found that 86% of businesses are using video as a marketing tool, and of those using video, 86% report that it has had a positive impact on website traffic.
While video content must absolutely be a part of your marketing strategy, especially in 2021, you have to ensure you’re creating the right marketing material. From the shifts in consumer behavior that we have witnessed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen explainer videos – content designed to provide more information about a product or service – emerge as a user favorite, with 96% of people saying they’ve watched this type of video in order to make a purchasing decision. As with other marketing initiatives, AI-driven analytics can help determine what sort of content and services your target audience is looking for in online searches. Your team can subsequently work with your marketing team to create highly targeted video content they can then post on the right platform, at the right time, using the right tags and search terms.
Trends in the Current Marketing Environment Prove There is No Success In Your Future Without Access to AI-Driven Analytics
As we broke down the most influential trends driving the strategies of marketing and advertising professionals, you might have noticed one very important underlying theme: data is king. With so many organizations looking to streamline operations and be as efficient as possible across every internal and external initiative, they’ve come to increasingly rely upon a steady stream of data to inform daily operations.
As this trend evolves and search algorithms become more intelligent, more and more organizations are coming to rely upon technology to drive strategic planning and inform their every action across social media and the whole of their digital real estate. From optimizing your Google My Business page or backlink profile to utilizing automation to deliver the right social media post to generate more leads, everything we do is now informed by the analytics being gathered behind the scenes providing us with insight into consumers’ every behavior and action online.
This makes AI a force that marketing professionals must keep up with. As Google and other technologies increasingly become reliant upon and driven by deep learning and artificial intelligence, marketing, and advertising experts need to keep informed on how these technologies are driving innovation and improvements in our own sphere. Only by keeping pace with the technology will we successfully help our own clients successfully navigate and adapt to the rapidly evolving demands of consumers.