In 2015, Google announced that it had added RankBrain to its algorithm, cementing the importance of artificial intelligence (AI) in search. Fast-forward to 2018, and search marketers are starting to use AI, machine learning and deep learning systems to uncover new insights, automate labor-intensive tasks and provide a whole new level of personalization to guide website visitors through their purchase funnel. We have now fully entered the AI revolution.
For clarity and for context within this article, I find the following definitions helpful:
Today’s technology giants are all heavily invested in the potential of these AI methods to deliver better products and services, as they provide scale and computational power that humans alone could never offer.
Of course, this technology has risen to prominence in the age of big data. To make the “big data” concept a bit more tangible, in 2017, people took 46,000 Uber trips, made 4 million Google searches and shared 456,000 Tweets — according to an aggregation of data performed by Domo.
Behind every one of these interactions lies a person, an intention and a context. Moreover, every one of these interactions produces the data points necessary to understand consumers at a deeper level than ever before. That sort of knowledge is invaluable to marketers, with many now viewing data as the most important currency we have.
However, if data is indeed the new oil, we are still in the process of inventing the combustion engine. Without the right tools at our disposal, all of the insights our customers are revealing will simply go unnoticed.
In such a data-rich, time-poor environment, modern-day SEOs have an unenviable task. Some of the most common challenges faced on a daily basis include:
Too often, these restricting factors can lead SEOs to make sacrifices in order to hit their targets. The resources just aren’t available to tap into the power of our consumer data, manage our budgets and delegate tasks all at the same time.
However, all of these objectives can be managed much more effectively and profitably with the assistance of artificial intelligence.
If we refer back to each of those challenges, AI can provide a fast, effective solution for each:
The unifying thread through all of this is the fact that AI can deliver highly relevant insights automatically, at huge scale, and in a manner we can easily share with other departments in our organization. Without the right technology, we could only achieve this with the support of hundreds of analysts and an infinite budget.
It is worth noting that the difference between a valuable insight and a simple observation is incredibly significant for any business. A true insight illuminates something new and guides future action based on the moments and metrics that matter. For example, the knowledge that consumers are struggling to access our content could lead us to make technical changes to the URLs in question. The impact of this can be monitored very clearly, and we can attribute a dollar value to the original insight.
Conversely, much of what arises through manual research falls into the category of observation. The knowledge that mobile traffic from users in California has increased since last week may be interesting, but without context or clarity, it does not produce any guidance.
Search marketers should seek out a platform that employs deep learning technology to sift through search, social and content marketing data from a range of analytics platforms to produce these insights. This should be achieved across all territories, devices, and demographics, allowing new information to surface that would typically slip through the cracks.
When evaluating technology for these purposes, marketers should ask these questions:
In all walks of life, including search marketing, machine learning can lead to better results — if we know how to use it to our advantage. That starts with understanding where our data comes from and what it could be used for, then deciding which business problems we want to use these assets to solve.
The proliferation of data should open up a new era of opportunity for all marketers, but only those who understand the potential of artificial intelligence will tap into these resources fully. By incorporating the power of AI and deep learning, search marketers can move beyond simple observations and find new patterns in user behavior. The result is faster, more accurate and actionable insights to deliver on the metrics that matter.
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