In 1956, legendary science-fiction master Isaac Asimov wrote of artificially intelligent computers that processed massive amounts of data, fed by humanity over millennia. Throughout, “The Last Question,” the Multivac was asked an ultimate question of how to save the universe. Each time, the intelligent machine responds that it still has insufficient data to provide a meaningful answer.
We can only wonder if Asimov knew how much the Multivac would more closely mirror artificial intelligence of the 21st century than any of his android creations. After all, you’re a lot more likely to encounter AI processing data that improves the performance of autonomous vehicles, scientific experiments or marketing insights in 2021 than to meet a friendly neighborhood android.
Ironically, insufficient data continues to be the bane of modern AI, as vast amounts of information continually allow even chatbots and search engines to improve their performance.
In the most basic of terms, AI performs cognitive tasks more efficiently and accurately than humans, primarily to make both professional and lifestyle activities quicker and easier.
The possibilities of AI continue to expand endlessly, and now incorporate elements of machine learning, natural language processing, computer vision and other technologies.
Even the most non-technically oriented consumers regularly interact with AI every time they talk to Alexa or Siri or check out a recommendation on Netflix or Hulu. Each of these technologies analyzes big data sets to provide insights far more in-depth than a human brain could process. Those insights can then be used to make decisions, predictions and recommendations.
One area being revolutionized by AI is the process of search engine optimization. It only makes sense to integrate AI with SEO since search engines like Google and Bing already rely on AI and machine learning to provide search results. In doing so, the technologies utilize natural language processing to improve their understanding of search queries, and they incorporate machine learning with sophisticated analytics to scour the entire World Wide Web and provide increasingly accurate results and intelligent solutions.
The primary goals of almost any website are not only to attract visitors, but also to attract the right type of visitors to view their content. Search engine optimization adjusts content and settings both on and off web pages to increase both the quantity and the quality of website traffic through organic search engine results. The end goal is to boost traffic with target users without paying for a sponsored ad or search placement.
When Google or other search engines crawl the web, they gather information about any content they find. The search engines compile all of this information to create an index, which they then feed through a complex algorithm that matches the appropriate data with search queries.
An SEO professional will try to place as much pertinent content as possible on their website so that Google most frequently matches it with the most relevant search queries. Companies spend millions of dollars every year to try and apply the best SEO techniques to their websites.
SEO strategies include optimizing factors found both on and off of a web page. Off-page factors are those that occur outside of a website, including external links, content marketing and social media signals. On-page SEO, on the other hand, covers any tactics used on a site that help search engines rank its content.
Examples of on-page SEO factors include each web page’s domain and URL, blog content focused on relevant keywords, internal links, title and meta tags and image optimization. Other on-page SEO factors include technical elements like a site’s loading speed, the structure of its data and its XML sitemaps.
The perfect SEO strategy continues its elusiveness thanks to Google’s top-secret search algorithms. Thus, how better to crack the algorithmic code than to fight fire with fire and use AI to determine the best ways to master the AI and optimize a website for better search ranking?
AI and SEO
Google and other search technologies have been utilizing artificial intelligence in their algorithms for decades now, so it only makes sense that more AI can determine website additions and changes that will most efficiently boost its rank for various search queries. After all, basic keyword stuffing hasn’t worked since Google’s Hummingbird update back in 2013.
A big part of designing an effective SEO strategy is analyzing mounds of data, and AI-powered software completes these tasks infinitely faster and more accurately than human intelligence.
It’s not as if a person can possibly scour the entire web to see what works best for ranking among an endless possibility of queries – that would require examining all content on each of the more than a billion websites currently online. And without knowing the content of Google’s latest algorithm, SEO professionals can’t possibly become aware of every hidden ranking opportunity they might have missed.
“AI is able to extract insights from data at scale,” BrightEdge CEO Krish Kumar told the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute. “That makes the technology perfect for SEO, which generates tons of data and is driven by insights. And AI isn’t just making it easier to extract better insights from search data—it’s making it possible to do so in real-time.”
AI-powered software also can predict the best-possible keywords to target and the best link-building opportunities quickly and accurately. AI tools can even determine the best types of content to boost results for various search queries, provide a list of trending topics on which to focus blog content and even suggest the most effective number of sections to include in an article. It’s no wonder why 60 percent of marketers now say that AI has guided their data strategies.
AI and On-page SEO Factors
While AI can be incredibly useful when developing off-page SEO strategies like external link building, brand building and content marketing, it’s of particular benefit when optimizing on-page factors for better search results, thanks to its ability to accurately analyze billions of web pages and predict how to best modify a website to boost its ranking signals.
As anyone can see from the above checklist that’s been republished with permission, on-page SEO factors can be categorized into four groups:
- Site structure includes factors like a website’s URL, its mobile compatibility, navigation structure and its security certificate. AI can assist with some of these tasks, such as software that suggest the best titles to optimize the web address of each page.
- Content metrics measure what people see on a website, such as articles, landing pages, images and videos. SEO strategies can optimize a website’s content to make the best use of the most relevant keywords, content layout, title and heading tags, as well as other content-related elements. AI-powered software has revolutionized how effectively and precisely SEO professionals can predict the best content strategies to maximize search ranking.
- AI-powered tools also can help to optimize the link structure of a website, which refers to elements like internal links as well as authoritative external links, the variation of anchor text found on a site and even whether it contains broken links. AI can quickly evaluate a website and identify linking issues and opportunities.
Be the end of “The Last Question,” Asimov’s Multivac finally analyzed enough data to predict the best way to save the universe. Unfortunately, by that time the end had already come and gone, and there was no one left to receive the last answer. Fortunately, AI solutions like those available with SAP’s Business Intelligence suite promise to provide valuable insights when they matter the most.