Most people think of artificial intelligence in futuristic terms. They imagine robotic best friends, or machine-driven uprisings like you see in Hollywood films. Whether the notions are inspiring or apocalyptic, however, they all tend to take place at some blurry point in decades yet to come.

The more mundane reality is that artificial intelligence is already here. In fact, it’s already altering a number of different industries and processes – search engine optimization included.

In the last couple of years, Google has been developing a set of supercomputers that are transforming the science of search in a way that simple algorithm changes never could. Here are a few of the details every business owner and online marketer should be aware of…

Google Uses AI to “Understand” Search Queries

Google used to bring together search strings with found keywords and phrases on the web. Now, it’s using linguistic and contextual clues to determine the intent behind a given search query. That might sound like a small shift, but it can lead to very big changes in the way search results are delivered. It’s one thing to simply match up a piece of language, and another to give the user the information they were looking for even if they didn’t use precise wording.

AI Computers Crawl Websites Differently

Because searcher intent is being factored into the mix, Google’s supercomputers can’t simply identify keyword matches anymore. Instead, they are crawling websites looking for context, trying to figure out what a website is actually about in a topical sense. That’s a big departure from simply logging in certain phrases, links, or bolded terms. And once again, it somewhat diminishes the role of traditional search engine optimization.

Content Strength Matters as Much as Quantity

Until recently, marketers could dominate the search engine listings by having lots of content on their websites. Content quantity still matters (especially as it relates to the context of a website), but things like authority, reader engagement, and recency have all emerged as powerful search signals. In other words, it’s not enough to simply have lots of text or video on your site; now you have to have relevant information that’s verifiable and invites comments or reactions.

Ultimately, AI Adjustments are User-Driven

Google’s computers are using all of these factors to deliver better initial search results. The real trick of the AI-driven approach, however, is in the way these platforms can study user behavior after search listings have been delivered. If a searcher stays on a page, click some links, and interacts with the website, that’s an indication it was a “good” result. If they immediately leave and seek answers elsewhere, the AI platform learns the result was a “bad” one. Ironically enough, that means real people have an outsized influence on search in the artificial intelligence age.

Put all of these details together, and you have a situation where every search is individualized. Things like location, search history, and observations from prior similar queries are all factored in so that rankings can be determined in real-time. Moreover, it turns traditional search signals like keywords and links into starting points rather than set determinants.

Are you ready for this new computer-driven world of search engine optimization? If not, now might be the perfect time to call our team and set up a free consultation.