Machine learning is a subfield of artificial intelligence (AI) concerned with algorithms that allow computers to learn.
It wouldn’t be an overstatement if we said that SEO technology is taking a new shape with machine learning.
When you think about it, few things in the digital landscape have remained unchanged over the last couple of years.
Online advertising is hardly what it used to be, isn’t it? Social media took brand communications to a whole new level. Once the online buying experience foundation, even SERPs have moved so far away from the original ten blue links.
What’s more, the rapid advancements in technology continuously push the envelope further and further.
And in this post, we will discuss another new aspect (well, not that new but still treated like one!) of today’s and the future of digital marketing – Machine Learning. How much SEO has changed got influenced by machine learning? And most importantly, Why is Machine Learning going to drive your SEO strategy in the coming times?
As machine learning and artificial intelligence become more ordinary in Search Engine Optimization, it’s necessary to understand how to apply machine learning to the SEO strategies.
Search engines receive more revenue from targeted ads when they provide users with higher quality content. As a result, the algorithm they use needs to be more focused on providing each user with content that will serve a specific purpose, rather than be packed with the right keyword density.
Therefore, you need to start thinking about your content’s quality as a ranking factor on search engines. However, as SEO algorithms change across significant Search Engines like Google, Bing, the searchable content insights may become more relevant than specific keywords in the search process, thanks to Machine Learning (ML) in Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools.
What Exactly is Machine Learning?
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Machine learning (ML) is a branch of artificial intelligence, and as defined by Computer Scientist and machine learning pioneer  Tom M. Mitchell: “Machine learning is the study of computer algorithms that allow computer programs to automatically improve through experience.”
So, in short, machine learning refers to building computer systems that can learn from and also make predictions based on the available data.
We can build computers that can act or make data-based decisions instead of carrying out specific tasks (like the computer or a smartphone you might be reading this article on does). They can analyze complex sets of predefined data and uncover general rules behind it (this is called supervised learning). More advanced machine learning systems can also find patterns and relationships in the unstructured data provided (and we refer to this as unsupervised learning).
All in all, machine learning allows us to create machines that can make decisions based on the data sets provided, and then learn from them to improve their analytical skills further.
All of this has dramatically impacted SEO. What was once an industry driven by link building and keywords has progressed to a field of contextual ads and voice search all in a mobile-first world? In fact, algorithmic advances
So, what does this mean for your SEO strategy?
Before we get into that, let’s address that one topic that cannot be ignored when talking about Machine Learning!
No blog/article on machine learning, primarily if related to Google, would be complete without mention of their first and most crucial implementation of a machine-learning algorithm to deliver relevant, engaging, and high-quality results. We are, of course, referring to RankBrain.
Machine Learning and Google RankBrain
Google RankBrain is one of many parts of the Google algorithm. As a search engine, Google’s overall goal is to eliminate search results that don’t serve their searchers’ purpose and ultimately provide the highest quality content.
Where does RankBrain fit in? RankBrain was explicitly designed to sort through pages of results when a user enters a query and choose the most relevant content using machine learning.
Machine learning is a form of artificial intelligence (AI) that allows a computer system to teach itself without a human being’s assistance.
RankBrain is a unique platform, as it possesses the ability to teach itself without human input, build on the knowledge gained and reference back for use in future queries.
SEO with a Mind of its Own
The introduction of Google RankBrain had an enormous impact on digital marketers and subsequent SEO strategy.
Google RankBrain thinks like a human, not like a computer. Before RankBrain, SEO experts emphasize the importance of keywords. While RankBrain still loves keywords (is an artificially intelligent system capable of love?), its capabilities stretch beyond matching just keywords or phrases. RankBrain’s ability to take keywords and reference other searches containing those keywords and other related topics are indeed what makes the system remarkable.
Since it’s been operating for approximately half a decade and has learned a lot about its searchers, RankBrain can now interpret a searcher’s intent based on a simple query. This gives Google the ability to serve the highest quality content to that searcher.
SEO Meets Content Marketing
Google has utilized RankBrain since 2015, but at its inception, it put some business owners on edge. The secret to surviving the switch to RankBrain? Invest in a strong content marketing strategy! Simple.
Building content for your business is crucial for your online rankings. The critical question: what is your audience searching for? The content is published to your site should provide information on the services or goods that your business offers.
The algorithm may have the ability to think like a human, but it cannot figure out which services your business offers unless outlined somewhere in the content on your website. For example, say a landscaping business does not have content on their website regarding power-washing homes or decks. Though this business does perform those services, RankBrain cannot draw that conclusion since the content does not exist.
Being under a lockdown makes you appreciate all the little things in life that you used to witness in everyday scenarios. You start to miss even the situations that probably instilled irritation, such as traffic. Remember how you looked at maps when stuck in a traffic jam and wished you would have checked them before taking the particular route? Well, those revelations about where there’s high traffic and which would be the fastest route are based on machine learning technology. It uses real-time and historical data to provide you with recommendations for the best way to reach a spot.
Machine Learning is now also being used for SEO marketing. The neural networks and deep learning that are a part of machine learning applications greatly enhance the overall search engine optimization process. According to Think with Google, 66% of marketing leaders agree automation and machine learning will enable their team to focus more on strategic marketing activities.
What is even more interesting to know is that the total funding allocated to machine learning worldwide during the first quarter of 2019 was $28.5 billion, states finacesonline.com.
However, the story remains grim as many marketers out there are still unaware of the wonders that AI and machine learning can do for their organic traffic building.
So circling back to the main point: The question arises, how can SEO with machine learning algorithms be utilized to achieve outstanding outcomes? And more importantly, why should this combination be put in place to start with?
Let’s look at the top 5 reasons why combining your SEO with machine learning is a good idea.
1) Automated Suggestions
Machine Learning is known for its ability to learn and adopt patterns and behaviours. The machine learning language is directed so that it cleanses the system by blocking spammy content or links. This combing activity helps in delivering relevant and clean data. The machine further studies this data, and patterns are drawn out. These patterns are used to identify the most used keywords and their surrounding meaning. The machine learning search engine then shows automated suggestions in response to the query’s meaning, rather than just the keyword installation.
The Search Engine Results Page has been upgraded several times to make it more accurate. Various ranking factors are used based on AI machine learning algorithms to understand the query’s context and study user engagement to seek the most optimized and quality content and visitors. The regular up-gradation makes the machine smarter and makes it difficult for someone to outsmart the machine using unethical tactics.
The latest Google algorithm that makes use of ML tech offers SEO marketers a broad scope of personalization. It is because of the SEO with machine learning combination that we see personalized results. Let’s take an example – Pixel generally means a picture element in a graphic image. But let us check what happens when I first look for “Upcoming Google Phones in Canada” as my query.
Image Source: Google.com
After this, I looked up the word “Pixel.”
Image Source: Google.com
The algorithm realized I was looking for information on Google mobile phones and gave me results for Pixel phones as those of Google’s mobile device products.
4) Voice Searches
If you have read anything about the Voice Assistants, you know they are all based on the machine technology. For machine learning search engine optimization, voice searches are a great source to rank your product at the engine’s top. Many now search their queries using voice searches. And optimizing those searches with ML will help you increase your CTR.
5) Machine Learning Feedbacks
ML and analytics plugins are available in the market, leveraging and using them with your excel sheet to derive prediction models and functional patterns. Machine learning with SEO can declutter the patterns and give you feedback about your meta tags and meta descriptions for designing your future models and strategies.
You don’t have to know a ton of coding to harness machine learning for SEO purposes! It just has to be put to use effectively to generate efficient results.
Machine Learning for Your SEO Strategy
So, how do you differentiate yourself from the competition in the world of machine learning in SEO? I offer a simple, three-step approach: Understand, Build, and Deliver.
To come out ahead, you need to understand what, how, and why people search for in the first place.
Then, build the best possible content around that topic that fulfills the searchers’ needs better than anyone else.
All of this is being done while you deliver an experience that is quick, seamless, and error-free.
As Google continues to advance its processes, ranking factors, and overall operations, it will be interesting to see where machine learning takes the search engine in the years to come.
But always remember that even though AI and machine learning are continuously advancing, it’s never the right move for your SEO strategy to chase Google’s algorithms. Instead, use the information on how the search engine operates to create a website that offers the best user experience possible and always go back to re-optimize.
SEO is far from a one-and-done game – especially with the rate of change we’re seeing. And that’s the key to rank higher on the SERPs.