What Businesses Need to Know About the Coming AI Transformation in Search
It’s been said that not making a decision is the same as making a decision. The idea being that eventually something will change, forcing you to deal with the circumstances regardless of your desire.
And that’s the way it is with AI and machine learning. It’s happening, and in many ways, its impact is already being felt. Choosing to ignore advancements in machine learning won’t change the fact that it’s powering AI in new ways—and those new ways are bringing change to both you and your business.
As complex as the principles and operations of AI are, the choice to adapt is simple. You either dig in, get aligned with new ways of doing things, or you skip the moment and hope you’ll be okay. There’s no judgement here as every business is busy with daily operations, marketing efforts, customer service, and so on. It’s completely reasonable that new things don’t always get immediate attention. But you not paying attention does nothing to slow progress. And often, when you look back, the gap you sought to avoid originally is even bigger.
That’s exactly what’s happening today in the world of search. In fact, given how much it’s evolved, we may need to redefine how we think of the concept of search. If the word search still makes you think of typing into a computer and reading results on a webpage, you’re already behind.
Today’s world of search is about:
If we look at pure search results, AI is deep in the mix, helping to sort the results we do still read. It’s not deciding what makes the cut to be in the answers we get back (yet), but it’s working to sort the order in which we see those results, effectively acting as a filtering layer based on the search engine’s collective knowledge about us.
Did you visit X website in the last Y number of days? Google’s system knows — and seeks data on whether that visit was positive for you. If it looks to have been a good fit, the AI may decide to push an answer from that same website higher in the stack hoping to replicate your positive experience for others. RankBrain is Google’s name for their AI used to sort search results shown to searchers, so it’s RankBrain’s job to do the final sorting of what we see in our results.
Search Is Dead, Long Live Search
Today’s world of search is much more advanced than even just a few years ago. To be successful in search means you’re doing a lot well.
- You’ve moved your website to be secure
- You’re mobile-friendly
- Your page load speeds are very fast
- You’ve fully implemented structured data
- Your basic SEO is done well
- Your content is exceptional, useful, and authoritative
Those are the table stakes today, so if you don’t have big check marks next to each of those items, you can’t play effectively.
The Power of Voice and Visual
Today’s searchers are speaking to devices and expecting answers back—spoken and shown. It’s a voice and visual search world that’s powered by AI, and that means its ability to learn quickly is unprecedented. As these systems learn more about us individually, and watch how we respond to the answers provided to our requests, they adapt even faster for the next request. This means greater accuracy and increased usefulness for consumers.
And it means that you can no longer afford to wait and see what happens. Change is happening around you and your choices are simple. Learn, embrace, and grow fast with new technologies and opportunities — or risk seeing your market share dwindle as competitors adapt faster than you.
Stay Ahead With Digital Knowledge Management
To stay with—or even get ahead of—the pack means understanding the concept of Digital Knowledge Management (DKM). This is a process where you identify, curate, manage, and deploy all the facts about your business that the public can access.
Since you can be sure today’s consumers are better informed than ever before, that they research before buying and seek input from reviews and ratings left by others, managing your digital knowledge footprint is a critical factor moving forward. You’ve got to make sure that every marketing effort you manage is aligned and communicates the same message.
If you’re still trying to move forward with yesterday’s single-focus tactics, you’re about to witness your world change. In fact, it’s already changed. Now we need to try to keep up.
Want to learn more about voice search and its effect on business? Read How Voice Search Changes Everything and discover how you can build consumer trust, brand reach, and connectivity in the voice-enabled future.
About Duane Forrester
Duane Forrester is VP of Industry Insights at Yext, a company pioneering a new category called Digital Knowledge Management, which gives businesses control of all of the public facts that they want consumers to know across the intelligent ecosystem.