When Larry Page and Sergey Brin first came up with the search algorithms that evolved into Google, the concepts they used were revolutionary. In the years since, they’ve been tweaked, refined, and even overhauled. Through it all, however, the main determinant of keyword and inbound link combinations have remained largely constant.

That’s changed recently, as artificial intelligence and the concept of semantic search (which evaluates content in context, rather than standalone pieces) have begun to influence search results in a big way. The net result is a formula that looks nothing like the one many old-school SEO practitioners would recognize.

This is interesting to those of us in the web design industry, but it has big implications for business owners and everyday marketers, too. As search algorithms evolve, our strategies for getting in front of new potential customers have to change, too. To help you stay ahead of the curve, here are a few of the things you should know about the effects AI and semantic search are having on SEO…

Keywords Aren’t Everything Anymore

Keywords and exact match search terms still matter, but not nearly as much as they once did. That’s because Google’s artificial intelligence systems can read and understand webpages, putting together topics and themes to find relevance to a particular subject. So, even if you don’t have the exact phrases a person searches on your webpage, they may still find you at the top of their listings.

In fact, focusing too much on keywords could actually harm you in your effort to attract search traffic, since Google’s algorithms now penalize websites that seem over-optimized.

User Experience is Front and Center

Google is using supercomputers to analyze user experience in a couple of different ways. First, it’s looking at the layout and structure of a website to figure out whether it will be a hassle for searchers to get from one subject to another. It’s also using automated software to search for broken links and other red flags that point to a poorly-maintained web presence.

At the same time, Google is also analyzing searcher behavior. When someone visits your website, automated software pays attention to how long the visit lasts, and how many pages are viewed, to help gauge whether the result was useful or not. All of those little interactions are put together so the most helpful webpages show up more frequently within the search listings.

You Need Strong Links and Credibility Indicators

It used to be enough to simply have lots of links point at your website. Google has gotten wise to link spamming, however, and de-emphasized the role of inbound links on search results.

There are exceptions, though, when it comes to high-quality links from pages with topic or industry relevance. At the same time, adding external links to your website (in the form of citations) could help you by showing that your pages are source of credible information. These tell Google’s artificial intelligence system that your ideas are well-researched.

Having trouble keeping up with the latest trends in web design, search engine optimization, and Internet marketing? Call the Biondo Creative team today to set up a free consultation and see how we can make things easier!