If you believe most popular representations, artificial intelligence is scary. We see it take over the world in Terminator. It murders its creator and escapes in Ex Machina and it just goes insane in 2001: A Space Odessy.
We’ve been taught our whole lives to fear the singularity. But we’re barging ahead with AI development anyways.
And it’s invading our everyday lives. Even our cell phones will have artificial intelligence chips soon.
But one area you would never expect AI to touch: SEO. But it’s happening. And Google’s machine learning algorithm is changing the way we do SEO. Let’s take a look.
1. Machine Learning vs. Artificial Intelligence
The idea of artificial intelligence has been around for a long time. The man who built the first full-sized computer created the most ubiquitous test for determining how human-like AI really is. If it passes the Turing test, it’s fooled a human into thinking it’s human.
Contemporary chatbots are able to pass the Turing test. That’s how far we’ve come.
When Turing imagined machines that could mimic humans, AI was just a dream. No machine was complicated enough to fool a human.
But computers have advanced lightyears compared to Turing’s first machine. And now we have machines that can learn. Eventually, we will no longer program computers, but train them like animals or children.
This sub-genre of AI is called “machine learning.”
The Science and The Algorithm
To understand the difference between AI and Machine Learning, you have to understand what AI actually is.
Artificial intelligence is the science of making machines intelligent. Machine learning is the way we implement that science. It’s the algorithms that allow the machine to learn and retain knowledge.
Basic machine learning won’t fool a human in the Turing test, but complicated machine learning algorithms will. This means that machine learning is being used in places you wouldn’t know.
Anything connected to the internet of things will use machine learning, your online banking, your smartphone, etc. It all uses machine learning in some capacity.
2. What Does SEO Have to Do With Machine Learning?
For a while now, we’ve referred to Google’s ranking system as “the algorithm,” or as it should be called “the algorithms.” In essence, Google has been using artificial intelligence techniques since 2012. But only recently has machine learning become complex enough to incorporate it into search engines.
But what does it mean for SEO now that machine learning is part of the picture? How will the future be different? Should we be worried?
Machine Learning Will Take Care of the Details
In some ways, machine learning will make an SEOs life easier. We won’t need to know as many technical things about websites and sitemaps and scripts. The machine will take care of most of that for you.
Right now, if there is an error on your site an API notifies you. But it doesn’t fix the error for you.
Google’s Search Console will be able to help you out rather than merely alert you.
Machine Learning Will Make New Details Important
Now that people use voice search and Google Home and Alexa more often, websites need to be optimized for these platforms. If they aren’t accessible, machine learning has nothing to learn from.
This means a whole new layer of SEO that previously didn’t exist. But if you do implement these new aspects of SEO into your website, the benefits will outweigh the cost in time and complexity.
While some aspects will be easier, you will still need your SEO technical knowledge in the future. Don’t let your continuous learning slide.
Content Will Be Emperor
When content was king, you thought that maybe someone would dispose it. But content wasn’t content to be king. It wanted more power.
Now it will have all the power.
At the moment, other on-page factors still influence SEO. But as machine learning takes over, links and technical factors will become meaningless.
User intent is the ultimate goal here. Google wants to give users EXACTLY what they want. And as the machine learning algorithms study how people search, it will quickly realize the exact kinds of content people are *really* searching for when they type in a query.
SEO for Chiropractors and other fields that know nothing about the technical side of search will get easier. A company can focus on creating awesome content for their page rather than artificially inserting links and spending time on backlinks.
Some Scary Thoughts
Is this scary? For those unwilling to adapt, yes. Your bread and butter will come from different sources.
Quality will be of utmost importance. And learning what the algorithms consider “quality” will be the ultimate task of the SEO expert.
You will ask whether the page provides a positive experience more often than whether it matches some technical aspect of website design. You will be measuring utility and conversion power. And you will find ways of measuring intent.
Why? Because Google’s machine algorithm will be able to “read” content just like a human. But it will have the capacity to compare and learn from content better than a human.
Yes, this will make our jobs more challenging. But the situation isn’t nearly as dire as you might think. The sky isn’t actually falling.
We Will Outsmart the Machine
Links that provide zero benefit to a user will be painfully obvious to an intelligent machine. If it sees that people bounce back from a link immediately, then that link is worthless.
It will be able to read context and understand whether it was placed there as an actual reference or as an attempt to fool the algorithms.
Search engine optimization will have to get smarter before it can win against the machine.
If you’re interested in more SEO content, check out some Shoemoney.