Artificial intelligence is helping SEOs tackle some of the industry’s biggest challenges, and every digital marketer should be considering how AI can help them accomplish high-volume and data-intensive tasks.
The reality is that this will become even more essential to doing search-engine optimization effectively and at scale. Here is a breakdown of how AI is being used to optimize SEO workflows — and how digital marketers can use AI to stay competitive in search.
What Does AI Encompass?
Artificial intelligence is a bit of a buzzword right now. It’s a broad term that encompasses a variety of technologies.
Natural language processing (NLP): Training computers to understand human language
Machine learning: Using data and algorithms to imitate how humans learn
Deep learning: Analyzing data within logical structures to imitate how humans draw conclusions
In SEO, NLP and machine learning have the most practical application because search engines lean on both to understand web content and promote it to searchers. SEO software engineers like myself are using similar algorithms and technologies to build tools that help users better understand what Google’s crawlers are looking for when ranking and promoting web content.
What SEO Problems Does AI Solve?
SEO takes time, tons of resources and consistent effort on the part of marketing teams. Google’s algorithms continually update and evolve, meaning SEO is never really finished.
As a result, the use-cases for AI in SEO are significant. Leveraging AI well can make all the difference in scaling growth faster and outranking competitors in less time. For digital marketers who want to bring AI into their workflow, here are some of the primary use-cases in SEO.
3 Ways Digital Marketers Can Leverage AI for SEO Success
- Creating SEO content at scale
- Automating keyword research and clustering
- Providing SERP analytics
SEO Content Creation At Scale
Content creation is a fundamental pillar of search engine optimization. As Google gets better at understanding language, creating high-quality content that actually ranks requires more time and resources from content marketing teams.
Newer, more advanced NLP models like GPT-3 are empowering SEOs and digital marketers to create content at scale. GPT-3 is the largest language model ever created, and this past year saw more software engineers incorporating GPT-3 into their tools to scale content programs and equip writers to optimize their work at a far quicker rate.
Content tools can now generate meta tags, sentences, full paragraphs and even entire articles with just a few inputs. With AI copywriting tools, writers can multiply their conduct production and draft content in a fraction of the time.
A few examples of current content tools utilizing GPT-3 and other NLP models include:
But despite the growth of AI-powered writing tools, they still have a long way to go before being able to replace our content writers entirely. Some tools still give themselves away as robots with small, obvious errors — and even showing biases at times.
It’s best to use these tools as starting points. Building upon AI-generated content can be a great way to save time and scale content creation more quickly, but a human’s touch is still required.
Some ways to use these tools most effectively include:
Topic generation: Tools like CopyAI can speed up ideation — often generating hundreds of content pieces at a time to help SEO writers produce more topics or articles for content calendars.
First paragraph and first draft: Although some tools can generate entire posts for you, it’s best to work from titles, beginning paragraphs, or content briefs (like those generated by Frase) to make sure your content is still readable and valuable to users.
Content optimization: Tools like SearchAtlas’ SEO Content Assistant can help you generate SEO-optimized content that ranks better in search results. Adding the tool’s suggested Focus Terms into your content can give it even more ranking potential.
Meta tag generation: For enterprise websites with hundreds to thousands of landing pages, generating unique page titles and meta descriptions can be a Herculean task. Tools like Headlime can generate hundreds of variations of meta tags quickly and easily.
In addition to helping SEOs generate copy for landing pages, blogs posts and meta tags, AI-powered writing tools can also help digital marketers who need ad copy, social media posts or other content types at scale.
Producing original content on a daily or weekly basis is an essential part of an effective SEO strategy. For marketing teams that have smaller teams or fewer writers in-house, AI can help fill those gaps so teams can better compete.
Automated Keyword Research and Clustering
Keyword research is another pillar of SEO strategy. HubSpot estimates that Google processes 62,000 keyword searches every second, meaning there are endless ways that potential customers may be trying to find products, services and information.
Choosing which keywords to optimize requires vast amounts of keyword data and informed, strategic analysis from SEO professionals. The most skilled SEO professionals no longer choose a single keyword to optimize for, but form keyword clusters from lists of thousands of relevant keyword searches.
Machine learning is accelerating and automating keyword research. AI-powered tools help SEOs gather information quickly and make smarter decisions around keyword targeting. From a single input, SEO professionals can generate a list of hundreds to thousands of keywords to potentially optimize their content for.
Common features of AI-powered keyword tools now include:
Real-time keyword metrics: Search volume, cost-per-click, and keyword difficulty metrics to help determine realistic keyword targets
Related keywords: Terms that have a semantic relationship to the primary keyword, which helps with keyword clustering
Autocompletes: The suggestions related to the primary keyword, helping SEOs find relevant subtopics
Common questions: Including answers to those questions on the page can help web content appear in SERP enhancements like featured snippets or the “people also ask” box
The best keyword tools make it easy to segment keywords into lists or clusters, saving SEOs time and helping them choose industry-specific keywords that bring qualified traffic to their websites.
Since the beginning, one of the SEO industry’s biggest challenges has remained the same: not knowing exactly how Google ranks and promotes web pages.
Years of inference, testing and research have helped SEOs better understand Google’s ranking factors — but not perfectly. Now, AI and data science are helping SEOs gain more insight into the SERPs and how Google ranks and promotes web pages.
Making sense of big data is key to making smarter optimization decisions. Traditionally, SEO software has relied on bots to scrape the SERPs to gather keyword and ranking positions. However, with the help of open-source Google APIs, software engineers will continue to build better SEO tools that utilize the most accurate, comprehensive SEO dataset available anywhere.
With more comprehensive data, SEOs can see wins faster and understand performance with more granularity. More data also empowers digital marketers to implement A/B and multivariate testing to better understand which optimizations actually produce real results — empowering them to iterate more quickly.
Is AI Required for SEO Success?
Content marketers are applying AI to solve a huge array of problems in SEO, and those specific incarnations of AI technology are turning into their own SaaS companies. Although AI can’t yet replace search engine optimizers entirely, AI-powered tools are now essential to SEO success.
This is particularly true for newer or smaller websites with less brand recognition and site authority that want to compete with top-ranking brands. In the past, AI used to be something that only companies with vast war chests could afford, speculate on or invest in. But thankfully, the democratization of AI is empowering smaller players to leverage what were once exclusive technologies.
Anyone who is interested in SEO can access the power of AI at an affordable price point and through a user-friendly platform. Those webmasters, publishers and digital marketers who incorporate AI tools into their martech stack in 2022 are more likely to see optimized processes, smarter decision making and better SEO results.