Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence: Robot SEO on the Rise

If recent tweets from this year’s Search Marketing Expo SMX West event are any indication, the tech community is making confident strides towards the ultimate goal of genuine artificial intelligence. The realm of AI uses is limited in the popular imagination as ways to make robotic servants or more interesting video game opponents. More often than not, this line of thought degenerates into sci-fi fantasies with AI villains the likes of HAL 9000, Skynet or GLaDOS.

Yet, AI and the technological concepts that could lead up to it are far more invisible. Ideally, intelligent programming could help us make behind-the-scenes decisions at a greater rate than us humans are capable of. AIs could also forego limitations like training, job turnover or the need to go take their fifth smoke break that day. As companies like Google push the limits of AI technology, expect embedded programming to get better at what it does while providing less friction between device and user. Better search results are just the beginning.

Open the Pod Bay Doors, RankBrain

While the idea of inserting an AI into a search engine would prompt most people to imagine their smartphone saying “I can’t do that, Dave,” after a query, the results so far are pretty mundane. Google’s announcement of their RankBrain machine learning/artificial intelligence last fall was met with as much speculation as it was actual insight, mostly because Google was fairly mum on the finer details.

Yet, one thing we do know is that RankBrain has been working. “I was surprised,” said Google senior research scientist Greg Corrado. “I would describe this as having gone better than we would have expected.”

RankBrain’s success has been helping out Google’s hand-coded search algorithms by responding more agilely to never-before-seen queries. That way, if someone asks a complicated, vague question like “what is the name of that little bloke from the telly show what has swords and dragons in it?” RankBrain could hopefully pull up “Peter Dinklage.”

Right now, that exact query is not able to pull up the mighty Dinklage, but it does impressively retrieve “Arya Stark” and other Game of Thrones related materials starting at position six.

Currently, RankBrain’s AI prowess is limited to “exceptionally complicated, ambiguous, or poorly worded long-tail queries,” according to Forbes, but the program has shown promise in its general ability to identify search terms that are “rankable” according to Google’s more general algorithm and results-ranking practices. In fact, RankBrain had a better idea of what was rankable than Google’s human employees, guessing top-ranking terms correctly 80 percent of the time, compared to the mere mortals’ 70 percent. Expect that percentage to only increase over time.

How Artificial Intelligence Affects SEO

Right now, RankBrain’s limitation to long-tail-esque queries leaves it way in the outfield for small business’ SEO priorities. In the future, though, AIs like RankBrain could color much of the processes behind the scenes. Intuitive understanding of AI programs’ aims and how their implementation could alter SEO best practices for small businesses will no doubt become a deciding factor for digital marketers in the years ahead.

As AI and robot SEO becomes closer to being a reality, it’s imperative for companies to keep up with the latest developments. New algorithms are introduced seemingly monthly, and with AI in control, it could be even more often. If you simply don’t have the time to adapt to so many changes, let EverSpark Interactive help. Check out the services we have to offer, or contact us today to learn more. 

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