For decades, science fiction writers have been wondering what effects supercomputers and artificial intelligence might have on society. However, as technology advances, it’s those of us in internet marketing that end up the most affected.
In fact, there are some who think artificial intelligence will replace an online marketing staple in the next few years. But could AI really render search engine optimization obsolete? And should you be worried as a marketer?.
To find the answers, here are a few things we have to keep in mind…
Supercomputers Can “Read” Your Websites
Google’s RankBrain and other emerging supercomputer platforms (such as IBM’s Watson) are getting better at synthesizing data in a way that helps them to “read” and “understand” information on the web. Once they get to the point where they can take in natural language and draw topical associations, they’ll be able to scour the internet for high-quality content in a way that would be equivalent to having millions of trained humans doing the same job.
Digital Assistants Are Bypassing Search Results
At the same time that supercomputers are getting better at analyzing web pages, digital assistants like Siri and Cortana are interfacing with search engines in a different way. In many instances, they bypass search results altogether—in the sense that the user isn’t shown individual page listings—and simply provide the information they think is most relevant to the question asked. Users love the convenience, but it means more and more traffic is headed to websites that are already considered credible and trusted.
Social and Engagement Factors Are Being Balanced by Algorithms
Supercomputers aren’t just evaluating web results for accuracy, they are also looking to see whether ideas are current and popular. This can be demonstrated in the way that Facebook and other social platforms are using social engagement formulas to determine which types of content are valuable enough to be shown in a user’s feed, and which can be largely ignored. As more and more search and social browsing becomes automated, expect that activity and engagement are going to become indicators of quality.
Traditional SEO is Already Being Affected
As we’ve mentioned, Google and other companies are already using supercomputers to analyze an ever-growing mountain of online content. By placing more weight on current content, link quality, and contextual relationships between keywords, geography, and social indicators, they are already changing the way search algorithms function. Further updates are likely to come quickly and decisively. So, it’s not a matter of whether SEO will be affected, but by how much more and when the changes will take place.
Looking at these facts, and using them to draw some reasonable conclusions about the future, it seems as if SEO is bound to change in the coming years. It’s going to become less and less about keywords and links, and more about having the best ideas, the most relevant pages, and the most popular platforms.
But, that’s a way of saying that online visibility is going to be different, not that it’s going away. Search engines are likely to continue to exist and be important for quite a while. They’re just going to do a better job of matching up customers with the businesses in information they’re looking for. For savvy marketers, that’s going to be a great thing.