Artificial Intelligence has been quietly transforming marketing for decades. In SEO it has been influencing results for a long time now. As search behaviors change, search engines innovate, meaning marketers and businesses must adapt. The rise of ChatGPT and Generative AI has accelerated this need like never before.
In this article, I will explore how AI has evolved in all formats and dig deep into how marketers can adapt to changing search behaviors and specifically capitalize on the huge Generative AI opportunity.
But, before I start, did you know that "artificial intelligence" has roots in ancient times?
Derived from ancient Greeks, the word "automaton" signifies actions driven by independent will, when inventors crafted mechanical creations called "automatons" that could move independently without human assistance.
Connecting AI evolution to the Generative AI and SEO explosion
In 1950, Alan Turing published a paper on Computer Machinery and Intelligence and asked the question, 'Can machines think?'
Fast forward to the present era of ChatGPT, Microsoft Bing, Google Bard, and all Generative AI applications, and what do we see?
A race to pass the Turing Test.
As we focus on search, we can see that AI in search has evolved from the introduction of expert systems (think PageRank in 2010), rules engines, data science, neural networks, and much more!
When we look at AI and SEO in particular, it’s important to focus on two key areas;
- Firstly, how Generative AI in search engines impacts results and how to react and adapt.
- Secondly, how marketers can proactively use AI and Generative AI for SEO success.
How Generative AI impacts search results and where to react and adapt for the future
Humans drive changes in search and technology, and humans should benefit from the results.
The human consumer is front and center of every algorithmic change, update, or innovation by search engines. Online consumers no longer have the patience to wait for answers or settle for irrelevant information. They want instant and accurate solutions to their questions and needs. They are also engaging with visual content. Short-form videos, in particular, have gained immense popularity among consumers. Platforms like TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts are now additional choices for brands looking to captivate their audience.
And as consumers become more conversational and demand more interaction in their online experiences, we have seen the introduction of ChatGPT, Bing, and Bard.
The great thing for SEOs is that people will always search. There are approximately 9 billion searches done every day on Google. It is just how they search that is changing.
More on that later in this next section.
Search Generative Experiences (SGE) – AI today and AI tomorrow
The introduction of Search Generative Experiences (SGE) and AI-led innovations through Search Labs is influencing search results and how content in SERP results is found. It does that now and will continue to do so far in the future.
Google's new stance on Generative AI states that they will reward high-quality content however it is produced. That's why they have also been diligently (in parallel) working on their Helpful Content Updates (HCU) and reinforcing their E-A-T guidelines with E-E-A-T.
The evolution of these transformative search engine experiences is something I spoke about with MediaPost earlier this year.
- Gone are the days of searching for a single keyword and hoping for relevant results.
- A single search in the future will accomplish what currently takes five separate queries as AI becomes an interstitial between your content and your user.
Let's take shopping as an example. Here is an area where we will see AI create an entire experience for shopping that reflects different stages of buying intent via multiple channels and multiple media types.
This means managing your presence in search will be more complex but more rewarding.
To adapt, I advise focusing on five key areas;
- Use data to understand user and conversational intent data as the trigger to Generative AI results.
- Building and optimizing multiple content formats types like video and images.
- Aligning campaign strategies with paid, social, and PR channels.
- Accelerating your audience focus and the human reader. E-E-A-T and E-E-A-T more.
- Focus on measuring traffic, engagement, and conversions to maximize the total value of search channel engagement.
The growth in conversational search is driving engines to expand the user search experience beyond traditional methods. As the boundaries between content, SEO, and AI blend, the importance of producing high-quality, relevant, and trustworthy content is more crucial than ever.
The core principles of technical SEO, such as site architecture, optimizing content for conversational search, Core Web Vitals, page speed, and structure, are now more critical than ever. We have also recently seen that structured data and schema are helping give search engines and AI entities signals that help them understand the context behind content for better rankings.
Learn more via SearchEngineLand on Schema usage up 4x among top ranking ecommerce sites.
How marketers can utilize AI for AI and SEO success
On the other side of the AI coin is how marketers utilize it to improve content productivity and search performance. There is no doubt that AI, in general, has already changed the way businesses approach both their SEO and content strategy, especially with insights, recommendations, and automation.
Content marketers with a lens on winning in SEO have a massive opportunity. AI can help increase content productivity and performance by enabling marketers to create and optimize their content better and more effectively based on targeting different audience segments.
You can learn more about blog content via our recent research on winning SEO factors here.
However, one of the most significant challenges that content marketers face is to create content that resonates with their audience. Businesses must keep the momentum and push out content quickly to stay ahead of the competition.
AI success is centered on data where quality matters more than quantity
Before you put any AI application in action or Generative AI pen to virtual content paper, it is vital to understand that success relies on data.
“The key to success in application AI is data. The importance of quality data cannot be understated in AI. It encompasses accuracy, connectivity, completeness, and reliability - all vital aspects for successful search results. Content creators, digital marketers, product developers, and sales teams all rely on accurate information to make informed decisions. As search technology advances, reliable data becomes even more crucial in driving intelligent business strategies. And let's not forget the quality of generative AI outputs hinges greatly on the quality and connectivity of the data it is fed.
If a dataset is not designed for your purpose, don’t expect it to work for your purpose.”
Cassie Kozyrkov, CEO at Data Scientific and Google's first Chief Decision Scientist
To utilize AI for SEO and content success, I advise focusing on five key areas;
- Use AI-led data insights to understand the most granular details of your audience's needs and wants.
- Leverage automation to help with SEO anomaly detection, site fixes, internal linking, and repetitive tasks.
- Work closely with Generative AI for content ideation, creation, and optimization.
- Understand what use case works best for complete automation and Generative AI collaboration.
- Always ensure humans are the front and end of all AI projects and inject human expertise.
Learn more on 15 ways to get smarter with your content, SEO, and AI here.
AI in action at BrightEdge: Insights, Interaction and Automation
Since BrightEdge began and launched the industry's first enterprise SEO platform, we have solidified our core data, SEO, and AI foundations. Our AI journey started over a decade ago and has been accelerating.
As we built the market's first, all-in-one platform to meet the demands of large enterprises, we introduced the Data Cube, the industry's largest content repository and most unique and extensive data set that connects critical search, social, content, and digital media data points that also tracks performance across the web.
We then invented the industry's first technology to measure share of voice (SOV) in SEO. As we grew, we connected data pipes from hundreds of systems for thousands of customers with BrightEdge Connect.
We now have over 2,000 customers using our AI solutions, built around leveraging insights from Data Cube and our deep learning AI engine DataMind.
BrightEdge Insights: Acting as a marketers' personal data analyst, it recommends critical actions to improve success. It highlights competitive opportunities and helps marketers focus on key activities that drive the biggest, immediate impact.
BrightEdge Content: Enabling B2B and B2C marketers to deliver smart content that is search-friendly, mobile-optimized, and accelerates marketing performance.
BrightEdge Instant: Allowing marketers to conduct real-time research and understand conversational search, it provides recommendations to optimize multiple content formats within a single enterprise platform.
BrightEdge Autopilot: Zero-touch technology that helps marketers identify and perform SEO tasks that don't need a human touch. This includes duplicate content, broken links, mobile issues, and page and infrastructure performance improvements.
BrightEdge SearchIQ: Combining deep and machine learning to act as a virtual data scientist to help pinpoint key SEO priorities, simply research and workflows.
BrightEdge Copilot: Streamlining content creation for impactful SEO titles and descriptions through collaborative AI with a human touch.
Brands leveraging our AI to future-proof their marketing efforts are seeing the most positive effects. For example, customers using our Autopilot zero-touch technology have seen, on average, a 65% uplift in performance.
And, with the launch of BrightEdge Copilot, 98% of customers reported significant improvements in their productivity.
The future looks bright for SEO AI marketers; over the last year, we have seen a 3X increase in the adoption of our AI products. In addition, 85% of new customers have started using our Generative AI innovations within their first 90 days of onboarding.
Leveraging AI in the Future
AI is changing search behaviors, and businesses must adapt to these changes to stay competitive. As we look to the future, expect more experimentation in Generative AI, so ensure your business has people and processes that are agile and primed to adapt. Ensure you are aware of data regulations, best practices, and changing ethical and regulative AI policies and avoid common pitfalls in Generative AI.
Leveraging AI alone will not future-proof your marketing efforts.
Utilizing proven AI based on high-fidelity data foundations that can show validated success will.