Because Google never likes to miss an opportunity to keep your favorite SEO marketer and digital marketing agency on their toes, they recently announced that close to 15% of their search queries is answered by a robust artificial intelligence (AI) called RankBrain. RankBrain’s primary function is to more accurately sort through search requests – especially those that are difficult to interpret – and understand what and, more importantly, why people are searching. Cracking these questions allows the search giant to yield better, more focused results.
If you’re thinking to yourself, “Wait, what about the Hummingbird algorithm? I just got used to THAT update!” … Don’t worry. The RankBrain AI is only responsible for tackling more complex queries that don’t have clear SEO keyword mapping. The Hummingbird SEO ranking methodology is still very much in play, so no SEO company is off the hook – or out of work just yet. That isn’t to say that RankBrain won’t have a significant impact on search engine marketing itself, it simply means the old rules still apply too. Here are our top six predictions on how Google’s new artificial intelligence could change the game of SEO.
1. Keyword stuffing is out:
Keyword stuffing and link loading have always been a dangerous game, even in Google’s earliest days. With RankBrain, any attempts at black hat SEO strategy may become even more obsolete. Because RankBrain’s primary function is to break down difficult queries, it also has the ability to interpret “difficult” – or vague – search result content. The AI will be able to categorize content relevance more accurately to reveal query matches that were previously disconnected. This allows Google to hone in on better, more straightforward search results and eliminate any attempts at faking those rankings. Vague and wordy content simply won’t fly.
2. Pay to play paid search is in:
More accurate search results also means that the average advertising agency may abandon the pay-per-impression search model all together. Although this may seem like a radical statement, the potential is there. The less-expensive “spray and pray” model won’t be as effective if all content – from advertisements to search results – becomes more aligned with searchers’ expectations. Instead, the pay-per-click model will likely emerge as the favored (or even exclusive) paid search strategy. Because each click would represent a more engaged or qualified user, the price of this model will likely go up as well. Google will need to balance current paid search pricing with the emergence of better results to avoid advertising monopoly and give the little guys an equal opportunity to afford and participate in the new search order.
3. RankBrain offers a better user experience:
RankBrain will, without question, will lead to a better user experience. Google already has an excellent reputation for search results, but a more intelligent AI will only improve that reputation. Users can expect better results, more accurate information, easier access to information and knowledge, and a less frustrating browsing experience. RankBrain may do for Google what Google did for AskJeeves just a few decades ago. And, we just can’t wait.
4. Computer generated content (may be) king:
Have you ever noticed how marketers like to crown someone or something king? Every time a new marketing trend hits, the debate continues: is content still king? And the answer is most certainly yes, with one minor exception. As search engine marketing becomes more accurate, the quality of information will need to improve as well. Computer generated content may be a way for SEO agencies to supplement their traditional content creation to ensure they have a healthy mix of content that is interesting and personalized. We still believe in that human touch, but after all, you can’t compete with a computer when it comes to fact checking. Computer generated content can also close gaps around queries that currently don’t have content thanks to RankBrain’s ability to understand what users are actually looking for.
5. SEO marketers bringing their A-game:
SEO marketers will need to bring their A-Game if they hope to compete against artificial intelligence. The role of a strong content marketing agency will become even more important as the need for truly meaningful, relevant content emerges against a deluge of new content loaded with facts and figures. To ensure human generated content continues to rank and remain relevant, SEO agencies will need to raise the bar and generate more engaging content than ever before. Our bet is on the emergence of photo, video, and rich media assets to complement strict copy-based content. As consumers’ attention span decreases and appetite for information increases, this hybrid content approach may become a win-win situation.
6. Not just the what, but the why:
What makes RankBrain so fascinating is that it’s main goal is not only to understand what users are searching for, but why they are searching in the first place. Although Google has given no indication that they would share this information with your digital marketing agency, we suspect that learnings from this initiative will find a way into the market as Google finds secure ways to do so without violating their users’ privacy. As marketers, this prospect excites us more than any other because that “why” holds the key to brand loyalty, sales, retention, and advocacy.
Sometimes SEO marketing doesn’t seem as glamorous or sexy as traditional marketing, but we’re here to tell you this is one of the coolest breakthroughs we’ve seen in search history. How we search and discover information, brands, and connections is not only the heart of marketing, but the heart of most modern human interactions.
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