Since the mid-1990s, search engines have come and gone—anyone remember AltaVista? Without search engines, it was tough to find anything on the internet, and with them, businesses like ours were able to harness the power of online shopping and marketing. Each search engine had a slightly different formula for gathering and returning results, but one thing was clear: the higher the result, the better. We became adept at figuring out what kind of site content bumped us up (easy navigation, use of certain keywords) and what made us disappear to the page 2 results (excess ads, weak content).
Just when we thought we had a perfect Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plan in place, Google announced its new search approach that is changing SEO as we’ve come to know it. They have created a new algorithm that uses a mathematical model called deep learning to imitate the way neurons work in the human brain.
Deep learning uses artificial intelligence mimicking human patterns to completely change the way Google searches for results. The more deep learning factors into Google’s algorithm, the faster the days of marketers simply optimizing pages will be over. Algorithms using deep learning tailor results based on a user’s previous search habits to build the list of results, rather than by aggregating the most popular or relevant as most search engines do now.
Deep learning background:
Google first implemented deep learning to train artificial intelligence to recognize speech patterns and images and applied this AI to its Google Translate capabilities.
It uses artificial intelligence based on human habits and language.
It will likely be applied to everything from vehicles and maps to search rankings.
What will change?
The search factors that drive rankings will be free floating and unknown to the public.
Errors due to the fragile nature of deep learning could occur and throw off rankings.
Results will be displayed based on each user’s personal search history instead of overall popularity.
Marketers will no longer be able to optimize pages.
Marketers will no longer be able to manipulate search results.
What could this mean for your business?
Social media marketing will become even more important than it already is. SEO has been a consistent driving force in how content has been created and distributed. Businesses have come to rely on SEO to provide higher visibility in search rankings, connections to their target audiences, and sales growth.
But let’s pump the breaks before we all go into panic mode. There are many things we can do right now that will set us up for success in the present and in an unknown future.
Strong content marketing Content will always be the primary focus of search engine algorithms, and you have the chance to make yours compelling and distinctive. Know your company, know your message, and know your audience. Who are you and what do you stand for? What sets you apart from your competition? What does your audience care about? Show your staff and show your personality. Blog and post on social media channels authentically. Be smart about the content you produce. Build relationships with larger companies in your content and posts; ask for content contributions from influencers or people with bigger followings; encourage your happy clients to leave reviews on social media; make your content easy to share; and build on content that has been popular in the past.
Using social media to drive traffic Your social media content is critical to your success now but will be even more so in the future. Facebook is also changing the way they perform searches, trying to compete with Google. Imagine never having to leave the social media giant’s platform – not even to perform a Google search! That’s what they want. The more your content is in line with your messaging, the more you will populate in Facebook’s search results in the years to come.
Paid advertising Organic reach—the number of users you can reach through unpaid efforts—is diminishing on social media. These companies need to continue making money in order to thrive and compete with one another – and instead of charging users, they charge businesses. In turn, they make organic reach less attainable. Test your ads, use various marketing mediums, and pay attention to your analytics. Unfortunately, there is no getting around this: you will have to pay to play on both your social media platforms and Google AdWords.
These changes seem scary, but only because by nature we fear the unknown. In all honesty, the current algorithms are a fickle beast, so in some ways this change could be a welcome relief. The reality is that SEO will always exist, but the question is whether it will exist in today’s iteration. Strong content, social media, and paid advertising are effective strategies that will assist your marketing efforts no matter what the future holds.
If you have any questions about SEO or Social Media, Aleja can be reached at email@example.com.