Artificial Intelligence and SEO

It was only going to be a matter of time before Google’s algorithms used machine learning to determine the best results to serve to a particular user and whilst this is by no means a stand-alone rank signal, artificial intelligence is influencing search results now more than we realise and will only continue to evolve.

Previous rank signals by Google have based relevance of results on elements such as content quality and link credibility. These rank signals are still very much alive, with updates on the Google Penguin (backlinks) and Google Panda (content quality) algorithms still being rolled out.

But it’s Google Hummingbird and RankBrain that have added a new dimension to the way Google ranks sites – algorithms that use machine learning artificial intelligence (AI) to help influence search results.

Google Hummingbird Algorithm

Released in 2013, Google Hummingbird was developed to understand user search intent. Search Engine Land Founder Danny Sullivan said ‘Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring the whole sentence, or conversation, or meaning – is taken into account’.

The algorithm was designed to work with Google’s Knowledge Graph – a knowledge base that uses semantics to deliver a richer set of results to a person searching. This semantic data is gathered from a range of sources, allowing Google to return informative answers to search queries about things, places and people.

Google RankBrain

Google RankBrain was launched in early 2015 and according to Google, is their most significant algorithm to influence the SERPs. Originally, this artificial intelligence system was created to help Google to process and to understand more complex search queries. However, it’s now also used as one of the major ranking factors globally.

RankBrain looks at the semantics of new searches and puts these into context based on a person’s previous search history. It then finds relevant results that match to that person’s intent. Using AI to find data trends this way is a very powerful way of getting into the mindset of a user by understanding their behaviour and subsequently their intent.

What’s Next for Google and Artificial Intelligence?

Tech conferences around the world predict that AI machine learning will eventually take over from the traditional rank signals we have so far been familiar with, using intelligence as the sole driver of the SERPs.

Google is already beginning to predict what kind of visual preferences a user may have in terms of web design, returning more text based or more image based webpages based on user history and engagement levels with particular sites.

Google’s DeepMind researchers are teaching computers how to solve things by themselves to think more like a person, even requiring sleep patterns to recharge and become more effective at analysing data. Earlier this month Google’s DeepMind supercomputer learnt 3,000 years of human knowledge in just 40 days. This is a powerful advancement in AI technology and certainly changes the game in terms of what Google can achieve over the coming years.

Watch this space!

Interested in finding out more about Google’s algorithms and how they affect SEO? Call Whitefish Marketing on 01303 720288. With offices in Folkestone, Kent, we help businesses across the south-east to grow their online presence.

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