The importance of SEO has been stated time and again . However the future of SEO can still be a tricky thing to predict. The issue that arises pivots around the ever-evolving nature of SEO. Businesses understand how important the future of SEO is, but keeping up with the best practices can feel like a game of catch-up, especially now that artificial intelligence has been thrown into the mix. Artificial intelligence is already changing the face of SEO as we know it, and we’ll be sure to see even more changes in the future.
What Does the Future of SEO Look Like
The Brain of Google
Google uses something called RankBrain; an artificial intelligence system that helps process search results. RankBrain is a machine-learning system, meaning the computer “teaches” itself to do something rather than being programmed by humans. RankBrain is part of the algorithm that determines what website appear on SERPs and where. It helps provide the most relevant results to users, making the search experience a more helpful one. What’s most impressive is that RankBrain can make educated guesses about what type of content to bring up if a word or phrase is searched that it hasn’t seen before. This makes RankBrain interpretive in a way that SEO practices generally aren’t. RankBrain is just one part of the Google search algorithm, however, it is not clear how large of a part the system plays in determining search results.
What Makes RankBrain Different
RankBrain, as an artificial intelligence system, functions intuitively in a way that algorithms haven’t been able to in the past. RankBrain works to provide search results that may not contain the exact phrase being searched but are still relevant. This is more interpretive that we’re used to for a search algorithm, making RankBrain a potential game changer. RankBrain takes queries that have never been seen before and uses its intelligence to connect the search to relevant results.
In addition, the system has started filtering websites for usability. For example, the deep learning system can now try to differentiate between “good” and “bad” websites and display search results accordingly. Google knows how certain websites should look and compares the settings of known good websites to other sites in order to determine their relative “goodness” or “badness”. RankBrain then uses these categories to decide what websites to show users; if a website is determined to be bad, it will be less likely to appear in any search results.
RankBrain doesn’t just automatically know how to filter these searches that are rare or yet unseen. Rather, Google gives the system batches of previous searches and it learns how to make predictions based on these. The updated version of the system goes live once it has been successful. This way, Google knows that RankBrain is going to make helpful predictions and keep the search algorithm successful.
What This Means for SEO
RankBrain’s function is to bring up websites that don’t necessarily have any keyword matches for searches but still answer the user’s query. SEO has historically been very keyword-driven, with search engines displaying results that match with the words users are searching for. However, RankBrain is changing the future of SEO by making searches smarter, so content can be smarter too. Websites that offer smart, specific solutions are more likely to do well with this new type of SEO, and SEO strategies will have to get a lot smarter. Here’s how SEO can evolve to keep pace with artificial intelligence:
- No shortcuts. Don’t try to outsmart the computer. Take the extra time and effort to create long-term SEO strategies based on good content.
- Examine keywords. Think more about long-tail keywords and using language that every day humans do. This will help RankBrain when searching for relevant websites.
- Look to others. Pay attention to what high-ranking websites do well. Apply those strategies to your own website.
- Be an expert. Know your niche and know it well. This is a way to both avoid misclassifications and to increase your chances of appearing in similar searches.
Google has stated that RankBrain is the 3rd most important piece of the algorithm that makes up search results. The first two are presumably content and links, so quality content is still the groundwork for any good SEO strategy. Artificial intelligence is clearly becoming an important factor in the future of SEO and how websites get ranked in search results. However, there’s no need to panic at this change. As long as you continue to use the best practices for SEO and do your due diligence, you have nothing to fear.
This new face of SEO has the potential to make things both simpler and more complicated. Artificial intelligence like RankBrain has the potential to fully shift the future of SEO to a more human perspective, assuming the systems perform search functions in the way a human would. There can’t be loopholes for high-ranking websites; you’ll need genuinely good content. However, as SEO becomes more and more technical, it becomes more complicated, and keeping up can be hard to do. One thing is for sure: as artificial intelligence continues to grow, the impact it has on SEO and web design will be massive.