Achieving a top ranking on Google has been the utmost priority of SEO experts. Google is constantly changing the way web pages are ranked on its search result pages. To stay more unpredictable, yet relevant, to avoid getting gamed by thousands of SEO experts worldwide, Google is actively adopting new-age technologies the future belongs to. And, it’s Artificial Intelligence, aka AI, Google is relying on the most.
But, it’s not the AI alone that is changing the way things work with Google Search; The exploded adoption of high-speed internet connectivity has given wings to users to get surrounded with devices that are operated through voice commands. Hence, Voice search is also playing an important role in shifting the ways people use Google Search.
So, does it mean that all the tactics of Search Engine Optimisation, aka SEO, hundreds of thousands of SEO experts are practising worldwide have become null and void?
Or, to ask simply. has AI killed SEO?
While the straight answer to the question is very difficult, and controversial as well, the easiest way to understand is, No, It’s not dead. Albeit changed completely!
We are entering into a new era of a real-time ranking of web pages on Search Engines. Gone are the days when SEO gurus were confident about their traditional old practices that got clients’ websites ranked among the top ones on Google, and, more importantly, maintained their position for months.
With the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Google is able to analyze the context of content in a better manner and serve the result pages more accurately. As accurate as 89% of Google search engine users don’t explore results beyond the first page. Thanks to RankBrain that helps Google to understand users’ intent behind the query and plays an important role in generating impeccable responses to search queries.
RankBrain: The Secret Sauce Behind Top Ranking On Google?
In the last one decade, the exploded adoption of mobile and internet has resulted in a huge surge in the number of search queries Google attends with each passing second. Traditional methods of writing algorithm were failing fast to match the expectations, as it used to follow a strict set of rules set by humans (developers). The biggest challenge for Google, since long, has always been to keep the ranking mechanism unpredictable as much as possible. It was the time when Amit Singhal, the former Senior Vice President of Google, decided to go all-in on Artificial Intelligence. In early 2015, Google started rolling out a deep learning system that helps generate more accurate results to search queries. Google calls it RankBrain. Within a year of the major rollout, it started processing millions of search queries that are submitted by users to Google every second.
… RankBrain uses artificial intelligence to embed vast amounts of written language into mathematical entities — called vectors — that the computer can understand. If RankBrain sees a word or phrase it isn’t familiar with, the machine can make a guess as to what words or phrases might have a similar meaning and filter the result accordingly, making it more effective at handling never-before-seen search queries. …” explained Greg Corrado, from Bloomberg.
So, does it mean that RankBrain has taken over all the algorithm and mechanism that were followed by Google to rank a page?
No, it has not taken over completely. But it’s among one of the most important elements that decide whether a web page is perceived as relevant, and included in SERPs for a query. In a simple world, again, whether your web pages would be listed on Google for particular search queries or not.
Not officially though, it’s been said that Google captures over 200 signals to rank a particular page on its result pages. Each signal in the hierarchy is listed based upon its importance.
RankBrain is the third most important signals in the Google search algorithm and it was revealed by Google’s Andrey Lipattsev itself.
It’s important to understand here that RankBank is not a typical SEO factor. It’s just one of the influential factors.
Hence, it’s safe to say that Artifical Intelligence has raised the bar for the SEO and the brands need to adapt to stay competitive in the market.
Companies offerings SEO services need AI-powered automation to audit site content, resolve errors and suggest new optimizations on an ongoing basis, based on real-time data, and consumer behaviours. They need smart monitoring to identify content that is outranking their client’s site. And, still, all of these are just a small piece of efforts required to compete with AI-Powered ranking mechanism employed by Google.
In the last few years, Seach Engine Optimisation practices are redefined. Besides going on-page and off-page optimisation, there are hundreds of other factors that need to be taken care of to have a web page ranked at the top position. Nowadays we need to spend more time analyzing a web page and researching about the competing pages before we can show some progress to our client on grounds. And’s that’s impossible without having AI-powered tools.” says Bala Kumaran, Founder – BrandStory, one of the leading SEO companies in Bangalore, India.
Bala strongly suggests that companies offering an array of digital services nowadays must understand the interlinking of digital services with SEO.
“Be it on-page content creation to influence RankBrain or back lining to influence SERP, a company must have end-to-end offerings related to Digital services to compete with ever-changing AI-powered ranking mechanism of Google,” adds Bala.
In 2017, an interesting survey by SEJ revealed that nearly 55% of respondents believed that AI will take over Google Search completely in the next 10 years. And, there is no way the world could stop it. However, it’s may be too early to say that AI has killed SEO.
SEO is changed for sure. It’s even tricker, time-consuming, and evolving much faster than before. Google is, apparently, changing its algorithm 500 – 600 times in a year. And, that’s why SEO experts cannot afford to be late adopters in the AI arena and laggards in relation to real-time SEO. Today, they need to be able to anticipate searcher needs and have technology in place to trigger the optimizations that will return their clients’ content as the top answer for relevant queries.
In nutshell, SEO experts need adaptable, full-proof SEO strategy for 2019 and beyond. and, it’s high time when brands need to choose their SEO partners wisely, probably with the help of AI.