AI for SEO: What You Need to Know
Do you rely on SEO to attract and convert relevant traffic to your content and website?
If so, you need to be considering how artificial intelligence can significantly increase the revenue you bring in from search-related marketing activities and reduce the costs of those activities.
AI-powered tools are being deployed today by brands to:
- Increase search traffic.
- Increase rankings for existing and new topics/terms.
- Effectively manage local and global search listings.
- Scale and automate common SEO activities.
In this post, we describe how AI can transform how you do SEO, then offer some practical use cases and vendors to start investigating.
What is artificial intelligence (AI)?
Artificial intelligence is an umbrella term that covers several different technologies, like machine learning, computer vision, natural language processing, deep learning, and more.
At their core, though, all of these technologies help machines perform specific cognitive tasks as well as or better than humans.
For instance, AI-powered computer vision systems in self-driving cars are able to identify obstacles just like people do, allowing the machine to take the wheel.
Your favorite voice assistant, like Alexa or Siri, understands your words just like another person, then responds in kind—all using AI.
Amazon and Netflix use AI recommendation engines to offer up products and movies you might like, making assumptions about your preferences just like a fellow product or movie enthusiast might.
While there are a ton of complexities to different types of AI, all you really need to know right now is that “artificial intelligence” describes many different types of smart technologies. And many of these technologies can have a serious impact your marketing career and performance.
That’s because AI isn’t just automation, though it may include elements of intelligent automation. AI takes things a few steps further.
These technologies analyze large datasets. They don’t just crunch numbers, though. They use advanced computer science techniques and superior computational firepower to extract insights from data. These insights can then be used to make predictions, recommendations, and decisions.
In the process, the most advanced AI systems actually learn to improve their predictions, recommendations, and decisions as they make more of them.
Why AI is relevant to SEO
Search engines rely on artificial intelligence and machine learning to serve up answers to natural language queries every day across desktop, mobile, and voice search.
In fact, AI models from companies like Google essentially determine how your content ranks and who sees it. Any time we talk about changes to "the algorithms" that govern search, we're talking about changes to a search engine's AI.
For years, human beings have been playing a game with rules set by machines. We try to gain insight into what signals search engines value (comprehensive content, topic clusters, keyword phrases, etc.). Then, we attempt to meet those standards so our content and websites rank favorably.
There's no doubt that plenty of talent SEO professionals play this game at an expert level, creating immense value for their brands. But, there a lot of ways in which machines can play this game better than people.
In fact, artificial intelligence is now being used to help individual companies do SEO better, faster, and at scale. AI-powered SEO tools are being deployed today by search pros to do more with less, and gain competitive advantages that manual work alone just can't match. That includes using AI to optimize existing content, suggest new topics to target, and even to automate existing SEO tasks.
Thanks to this power to augment and improve SEO, McKinsey analysts writing in Harvard Business Review estimate that AI can create $1.4 to $2.6 trillion of value in marketing and sales alone.
Use cases for AI in SEO
AI helps brands research, plan, and optimize content for search, as well as create content that answers the top questions searchers have about specific topics. AI also enables topic suggestion, so you know what to write about in the first place.
AI-powered tools help your content get found more by the right people.
Maintain accurate search listings
Search listings don't just mean your Google results. Searchers across different search engines, mobile search, apps, and voice assistants are served real-time results when looking for your business' information or locations.
If that information isn't accurate, your business misses out on potential conversion opportunities for customers looking right now for your products and services.
But that's easier said than done. Making sure your business' search listings are updated across local and global listings across platforms isn't something that you can do manually with the ease and speed you need. In fact, it's a major use case for AI, with AI-powered tools available that make near real-time updates across hundreds of platforms anytime you need to revise your business information online.
AI-powered SEO platforms can even help you scale up your SEO work at the speed the market demands. As marketers, we spend a ton of time on manual SEO efforts to optimize our content and sites. Much of this work can be automated, freeing up SEO professionals to work on higher value tasks.
Today, there are AI tools that automatically optimize content, fix orphan pages, self-optimize pages for mobile, and fix duplicate content issues.
Vendors that offer AI tools for SEO
Now that you know what AI can do for SEO, you might be wondering what solutions out there actually do it.
MarketMuse is an AI-driven assistant for building content strategies. The tool will show you exactly what terms you need to target to compete in certain topic categories. It'll also surface topics you may need to target if you want to own certain topics.
The result? AI-powered SEO recommendations and insights that can guide your entire content creation team.
BrightEdge is a global leader in SEO and content performance marketing that blends search intent discovery, optimized content creation, and performance measurement into one integrated solution.
The solution uses AI to discover what people are searching for and help you create a content strategy to capture traffic and consumer interest.
Frase is an AI platform that tells marketers which questions prospects are asking, then helps them create content around those questions. The tool can actively create content briefs on any topic, as well as catalog and respond to site visitor questions.
Companies big and small are currently using Frase to research content faster, drive SEO results, and build smarter content strategies based on actual consumer questions.
HubSpot's marketing automation platform has some SEO features that use AI and machine learning to make search optimization easier. Primary among these is HubSpot's Content Strategy tool, which uses AI to figure out what themes search engines are associating with your content. It also provides AI-powered topic suggestions for what to write about next.