Riding the AI Wave: How Google’s Algorithm Changes Affect Your SEO
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has already significantly changed the way Google ranks and displays its search results. Google’s AI algorithm uses machine learning to understand the intent behind search queries and is able to show increasingly relevant results.
With the further integration of AI, you can therefore say with some certainty that search results will become even more accurate and personalized. But what impact will this have on existing content and future SEO strategies?
Over the past few months, I have delved into what threats and opportunities AI has in the field of SEO and listed below what you can be aware of in the short term.
Table of Contents
Differentiate based on E.E.A.T.
In the article on E.E.A.T. which stands for First-hand Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness, I elaborate on why this has become more important than ever. But the underlying reason is developments in AI.
Thanks to AI, all search engines are getting better at recognizing valuable, authentic content. This involves original content with relevant content that provides in-depth knowledge and experiences for users. In fact, all other content already exists in principle and can already be generated via Chat GPT, for example.
What AI cannot do is describe how good the food in a particular restaurant was, or tell how nice a holiday in Greece can be. Nor can AI generate content on those topics as an expert and from its own personal experience. If your in-depth knowledge and your own experience do allow you to write about these kinds of topics, you can still rank high within the search engines.
Focus on authorship and authority
An increasingly important part of ranking high is authorship and authority. AI helps search engines assess the authority of an author and the reliability of a source. Therefore, it is important to focus on building a strong reputation and authority in your field.
Therefore, make sure you have your own author page and link all your articles or other content to that page by name. Having a LinkedIn profile or publishing opinion pieces, research or books also contributes to the extent to which search engines start to see your content as trustworthy.
Focus on in-depth, quality content
Many a company has hired an SEO agency to produce content for their site. Unfortunately, all too often the focus was, and still is, on producing 400- to 500-word articles that are more of a promotion of a particular product or service, rather than providing relevant information.
A friend of mine had a number of articles written and 1 article was titled: “Everything you need to know when buying headphones.” Subsequently, the article consisted of 350 words with how good their product was and a few tips on what choices you have on his site. This is obviously not what the user is hoping to read when you use words in the title such as: “Everything you need to know”. In this case, you, therefore, want to tell everything there is to tell.
This kind of content will be penalized by Google in the short term. This is unfortunate for those businesses that have paid a lot of money to an SEO agency over the past few years, but from now on this content is more of a detriment than a contribution to rankings. AI will soon allow only in-depth and detailed content to rank.
Thanks to AI, search intentions are better understood
AI helps search engines like Google better understand the meaning behind search queries. Instead of simply relying on specific keywords, machine learning allows the context and intent behind a search query to be better understood.
An example of this is understanding synonyms and the context of search queries. Say someone searches for ‘Apple’ – do they mean the technology company or the fruit? AI can help determine what the user is likely to mean based on context.
Personalization of Search Results
Another major change we can expect is increased personalization. AI can use information about previous searches, online behavior, and other personal data to personalize search results. This means that two people using the same search terms may be shown different results depending on their individual preferences and behavior.
Improved Voice Search and Semantic Search
AI also improves voice search and semantic search. With the growth of voice assistants such as Google Assistant and Siri, voice search is becoming increasingly popular. AI helps to improve natural language processing, making voice searches more accurate.
User Experience and Interaction
AI also helps to improve the user experience. Using AI, Google can better track and analyze user behavior and interaction. This includes everything from click rates (CTR) to time spent on a page (dwell time). This data can then be used to influence the ranking of search results.
Thanks to AI, articles are better understood
Previously, keywords were one of the most important ranking factors. Metaphors and stories, for example, were rarely well understood by the old search algorithm. AI does understand this and as a result, many blogs can suddenly rank better. Especially if they comply with E.E.A.T.
Think anecdotes, travel stories, or stories about what you experienced during a particular event. If you have a lot of this kind of content on your site or blog and the site is SEO optimized, you can suddenly expect a lot more visitors just like that.
When can AI-generated content actually rank high?
With the rise of AI, and in particular Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Natural Language Generation (NLG) technologies, two types of content have emerged that are becoming increasingly distinct: AI-generated content and human-generated content.
AI may be able to generate content that resembles human language. This AI-generated content can be quite effective for certain tasks, such as writing short news stories, generating product descriptions, or even writing simple blog posts.
AI can also be useful in quickly and efficiently generating content on a wide range of topics, but it has its limitations. While AI can generate content that is logical and coherent, it often lacks the depth, insight, creativity, and perspective that human writers can provide. AI can also struggle to interpret and write about complex or abstract concepts.
Example 1: AI-generated product descriptions:
Suppose you want to generate a large number of product descriptions for an e-commerce website. The descriptions need to be informative, but also consistent and to the point.
In this case, an AI content generator can generate hundreds or even thousands of product descriptions in a fraction of the time it would take a human writer. Moreover, AI can ensure consistency and follow SEO guidelines to ensure each product contains the right keywords. While these descriptions may not have the creativity or flair of a human writer, they are effective for their purpose and can rank well in search engines because of their relevance and optimization.
Example 2: AI-written financial reports
AI can be used to write routine financial reports. For example, an AI can analyze a company’s quarterly or annual results and create a report that summarises core information such as revenue, profit, expenses, and trends compared to previous periods.
Why AI can excel at this: AI can process data quickly and accurately and turn it into a coherent report. The content of such reports is usually standardized and does not require in-depth interpretation or creative thinking. Using AI saves time and ensures consistency in reporting.
Human writers have the ability to think creatively, make sense of complex ideas, and share insights derived from personal experiences or observations. These types of content can include elements of storytelling, emotion, and personal flair that AI cannot currently produce.
While AI can help create human content, it cannot yet provide the level of expertise and depth that human writers can. Especially when it comes to complex or niche topics.
What AI tools can be useful for is creating lists or enumerations that are easy to find such as all the capital cities of a country or brand names of car manufacturers.
Example 1: Psychological effects of Covid-19
Suppose you want to write a detailed, thoughtful article on the psychological effects of long-term isolation due to COVID-19. This is a complex and sensitive topic that requires in-depth research, empathy, and possibly personal experience to do full justice to the subject.
A human author can tackle this topic with the required sensitivity and depth. They can cite academic studies, include interviews with experts, and perhaps even share personal stories to illustrate the impact of isolation on mental health. This kind of comprehensive, empathetic, and expert content is likely to rank higher in search engines because it is valuable to readers and demonstrates that the author is trustworthy and knowledgeable (Google’s E-E-A-T principles).
Example 2: Human author writing an opinion article
Imagine you are a human author writing an opinion article on the ethical implications of AI in healthcare. This is a complex and sensitive topic that requires deep analysis, critical thinking, and empathy.
A human author can make nuanced arguments, explore ethical issues, and express their personal opinion in a way that AI cannot (at the moment). This type of article can lead to deeper reader engagement and demonstrate a high degree of expertise and authority, which can be beneficial for SEO.
Example 3: Human author writing a personal essay
A human author can write a personal essay about their experiences growing up in a multicultural environment. This kind of essay requires self-reflection, creativity, and the ability to share personal experiences in an engaging and meaningful way.
While AI can technically write a “personal” essay, it will always lack the personal experience and emotion that a human author can bring to it. Such pieces can resonate with readers on a deeply personal level and encourage strong engagement and shared experiences, which can contribute to a website’s SEO performance.
Strategic SEO tips in an AI era
Of course, keywords will remain important, but in today’s AI era, the so-called ‘personal touch’ becomes much more important. Below are some suggestions to implement within an SEO strategy to keep ranking.
Use narrative elements
Stories are inherently human and difficult for AI to replicate effectively. By incorporating narrative elements into your content, such as personal anecdotes, case studies, or examples, you can create an emotional connection with your readers and make your content more unique.
Stay up-to-date with the latest developments in your field
AI can generate information based on existing knowledge, but it cannot predict the latest trends or innovations. By staying up-to-date with the latest developments and incorporating them into your content, you can ensure that your content is current and relevant.
Engage your audience
Try engaging with your readers by inviting them to respond to your posts, ask questions or share their own experiences. This can not only increase engagement but also provide valuable insights that you can use to create future content.
Offer value above all else:
Your main focus when creating content should be to provide value to your readers. Whether this is answering their questions, solving their problems, or providing unique insights, make sure your content is extremely to the point.
Be transparent about your intent:
If you are creating content with the aim of promoting a product or service, it is important, to be honest and transparent about that intention. Try to strike a balance between providing valuable information on the topic and discussing your product. Make sure your title matches the content of your article, and try not to mislead your readers with clickbait-like titles.
Upgrade low-quality content:
Google’s search algorithms have the specific task of identifying and penalizing low-quality content. Sites identified as producers of such content may receive manual or algorithmic penalties, which can result in a drop in rankings or even a complete de-indexing of the site by Google. Therefore, update low-quality content by adding current and more in-depth information on the topic.
What is the relationship between AI and SEO?
AI and SEO are interconnected in today’s digital landscape. AI helps in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of SEO strategies by providing insights, automating tasks, and personalizing user experience. On the other hand, understanding SEO helps in training AI systems to optimize search engine rankings.
How has AI changed SEO?
AI has transformed SEO in many ways. The introduction of AI algorithms like Google’s RankBrain has made search engines more intelligent. They are now capable of understanding user intent, interpreting complex search queries, and providing more relevant search results. This has made it important for SEO strategies to focus on user experience and high-quality content.
How does AI affect Google’s search results?
Google uses AI to interpret search queries and deliver more accurate results. For example, AI can understand synonyms, context, and natural language queries. This helps Google to match search queries with relevant content, improving the overall search experience for users.
What are the challenges of SEO in the AI era?
SEO in the AI era has become more complex. Traditional keyword stuffing techniques are no longer effective as AI algorithms prioritize high-quality content that offers genuine value to users. Additionally, AI has increased the importance of variables like user behavior and engagement in ranking websites.
How can content creators adapt their SEO strategies for AI?
Content creators should focus on creating high-quality, relevant content that provides value to the reader. SEO strategies should be user-centric, focusing on improving user experience. Techniques such as optimizing for voice search, focusing on long-tail keywords, and using structured data can also help improve SEO in the AI era.
What is the future of SEO with AI?
The future of SEO with AI looks promising. With advancements in AI technology, search engines will continue to become smarter, delivering more personalized and accurate search results. SEO strategies will need to continually adapt to these changes, focusing on providing high-quality, relevant content and an excellent user experience.