One of the first things any website owner needs to understand is SEO. How well the website will do in search engines is solely dependent on how well it was optimized for Google. If your SEO is good and in place, you have a higher chance of finding yourself in the SERPs first page for the keywords you used or when someone Googles products similar to the ones on your site.
But to do this, you have to understand how SEO works, how to SEO optimize your site with SEO and what factors affect your ranking.
For one, SEO changed a lot over time. While it started as a simple optimization of landing pages on desktop computers, now it’s a complicated process of constant content adaptation and development of engaging content that will indeed speak to the readers. Google has focused their services specifically on the users and helping them find top-notch answers to their questions. SEO used to be all about packing a ton of keywords into a short article. But now it’s all about the type of content that’s valuable and meaningful to the readers.
Some basics remain the same – for instance, related keywords in the content, meta tags, and an impressive link building strategy. But there are many other things that changed and provided more challenges to anyone looking to build an audience online. For instance, now it’s crucial to have a mobile responsive website, interactive user experience, and detailed quality content.
Now, after increasing popularity of Artificial Intelligence, SEO shall evolve yet again. It will become more challenging to website owners, but the readers will have more quality content to read and an impressive UX.
What is AI?
AI or artificial intelligence is a technological advancement, a combination of hardware and software to work like the human brain. Artificial intelligence, however, has some advantages over the human brain and thinking. For one, it has no flaws in logic or subjectivity in judgment. It also has a large memory capacity, which is not true for humans.
This large memory that AI has, enables it to analyze large amounts of data and get significant information from that data. These insights provided by AI are usually faster, larger in scale or simply more insightful than they would be with human involvement. These insights can help create better results.
The more information you feed AI, the more it learns. The more information it receives, the better it gets at finding the right solutions and providing proper information to the users.
There are generally three types of AI:
- Artificial Narrow Intelligence or ANI – This type is focused and programmed only for one action. For instance, playing chess.
- Artificial General Intelligence or AGI – This AI has a general, overall function equal to the ability of a single human.
- Artificial Super Intelligence or ASI – As its name suggests, this AI is super intelligent, surpassing the abilities of a single human.
“While you may initially think that the best type of AI for Google and SEO is ASI, they are actually using ANI – a connection based system which mimics how people learn or deep learning. This means that the ANI uses back-propagation to find flaws and mistakes in the system and uses those mistakes as a learning material for further output.”, says a technical writer at Draftbeyond and Writinity, Leia Woods.
Google RankBrain has been in development since 2015. It is an AI that prioritizes quality and relevance in its output. Before this, Google mainly focused on algorithms designed by humans.
While the development and implementation of Google RankBrain took time, it’s now in charge of the majority of the search engine system. But with it comes several changes.
RankBrain is now the third most important ranking factor with other factors declining. You can expect that all the elements indicating how useful your content was to the user will now be the most important for the ranking of your page:
- Time on page
- Bounce rate
- The depth of the scroll
- Pogo sticking
User Experience is Crucial
User experience has always been an essential element of a website. And now its significance is even more prominent. It’s all about the user and how the user perceives your page. Search engines are getting more and more sensitive to assessing how good the user experience on individual pages is. They take user engagement and linking patterns into consideration when evaluating a site, and the user experience is their top priority.
To make things as smooth as possible, they have added new updates to their algorithms.
- Pigeon which improves local search.
- Mobile friendly which gives priority to mobile-friendly pages.
- Panda and Penguin which fight against spam
- Top Heavy which excludes pages with bulky ads
These are just some of the most important updates and there will surely be more of them in the upcoming year. Google pairs RankBrain and these updates to ultimately make sure that poor links and content are diminutive in search results. A better user experience on site leads to better rankings.
This means getting to know the audience and how they interact with the online world and what they are looking for.
Marketing is already shifting directions
Even though RankBrain is changing SEO, some algorithms that Google used before still exist but the way those methods are applied has changed. RankBrain is there to determine which combination of those methods and algorithms will work best. The mixture of methods and algorithms varies with each search item.
So, what makes a website ‘good’ in the virtual eyes of RankBrain:
- Keywords and density of keywords
- Site structure – generalized vs niche site
- Backlinking – linking to properly related sites vs linking to unrelated sites
There are many more elements that RankBrain is considering and to make sure that your site is deemed ‘good’, you need to know all the factors taken into consideration.
Relevant content experience
“While SEO is becoming a game of cat and mouse between Google and the website owners, one thing remains. It’s content relevance and the importance of quality content. As long as you are creating the type of content that’s valuable and useful – not to mention, relevant – to your user, you should be good. “, says Fawn Beeks, an SEO specialist at Last Minute Writing and Researchpapersuk.
There are SEO elements that you should make sure are there, such as proper and relevant backlinks with anchor texts that make sense, keywords placed in a way that is natural/ organical and not randomly placed.
You are probably more than aware of the importance of mobile responsiveness. But Google took it a step further by making it a decisive factor to rank a site. Fortunately, it’s just for authority sites that they know can afford this at this point. In the future, you can expect some sort of mobile-only policy to replace this mobile-first policy. This means that only the websites that have responsive websites – if not completely optimized for mobile – will be able to rank on Google.
RankBrain is taking this into serious account when judging the relevance of your site. However, this should come as no surprise considering how many people are consuming content almost exclusively on mobile. Make sure that your site matches their expectations.
Google is changing and evolving with each passing year. You only have to look at the past few years to see how much. SEO is getting more and more complicated, especially for inexperienced users. To stay on top – or even rank – you need to follow trends and keep up with current SEO factors.