Search engines have come a long way. In the beginning, it was easy and predictable: just use a bunch of keywords and acquire some backlinks. Now engines use so many ranking factors that it is impossible to detect them all and understand the level of their importance.
The situation has gotten especially unclear due to Google’s use of machine learning. In 2015, they launched RankBrain that uses machine learning to offer more relevant search results. It is now known as the third most important ranking factor in the search engine.
So what does it mean for SEO? How do machine learning and deep learning define its future? Let’s find out!
What are Machine Learning and Deep Learning in SEO?
Machine learning means that a machine analyzes algorithms and data sets to make decisions or perform actions. The more data it consumes or repeats the action, the better it will get.
Deep learning is a part of machine learning but its technologies are more advanced. Its aim is to reconstruct the way that the human brain functions. Consequently, it will take more layers and types of data into consideration. The line between the two technologies is quite hard to draw, considering that one is part of the other.
In SEO, machine learning analyzes the following data: user’s behavior, search inquiries in particular locations, phrases. For example, a user searches for something using keywords or phrases. Then they try different results and finally find their answer somewhere. The artificial intelligence behind machine learning retains this information: this web page is considered the most relevant. When another user searches the same keywords, the AI will push the relevant page higher up the results. The more users who look for the same keywords find the page relevant, the higher it will be on the SERPs the next time.
It can also mean analyzing the context of the search to drive better results, considering the location of the user, their demographics, etc. We do not actually know all the ways how machine learning can impact search results, that is why SEO professionals struggle now more than ever.
Unlike previous tools and their periodic rollouts, machine learning updates the algorithm every day while it learns from every search query. The more users are searching for the specific keywords every day, the better the results will look. Basically, users themselves are dictating new trends so pseudo-growth hacking techniques like keyword stuffing won’t cut it.
Why Does Google Use Machine Learning?
Well, Google works for users rather than pages. It wants to give the most relevant pages that will also correspond to the user’s intent. For example, it will not just push a random dissertation writing service to the top of the page but rather analyze what service is the most popular among other users in this location, with the same background in study, etc. Consequently, the overall quality of the results will improve: users will need to visit no more than 2 pages to find what they are looking for. It will definitely drive more people to the engine and more advertisers too!
What Does Machine Learning Trend Mean For SEO Professionals?
Machine learning changed the algorithms and the world of SEO as well. So let’s take a look at what SEO professionals should know about rankings in the AI era.
Keyword Stuffing Is Not Enough
As we have said before, the algorithm is much more advanced now. It means that keyword stuffing will not help but it also will harm your website. Machine learning, deep learning specifically, is able to understand whether the page was written for people or the machine. If it is written for a machine, then you lose your SEO points and may even be marked as spam.
It does not mean that you should forget about the keywords altogether. Just make sure to keep the density of the main keyword under 2% and naturally put it into the content.
Low-Quality Backlinks Won’t Do the Trick Anymore
A couple of years ago, it was still possible to rank high by having a massive number of low-quality backlinks. Now, it’s more about the quality of the backlinks, not their quantity. Search engine crawlers analyze not only the authority of the website where the link is placed but also the link’s relevance and the quality of the content surrounding it.
Neil Patel emphasizes the importance of checking the Domain Rating of a website where you want to place the backlink and make sure that this metric is not lower than 40.
High Organic Click-through Rate
Google uses its Quality Score algorithm to rate the quality and relevancy of your page. Click-through rate, the landing page quality and relevancy along with many other factors such as backlinks decide the quality of your page that overall results in higher ranking.
You can easily improve the quality of your landing page by using tools to build a responsive landing page that will render quickly and well on mobile. If your main site lacks the ability to do landing page conversion testing, there are many great drag and drop landing page builders available that will help you build a quality page in no time.
Content Should be Created to Meet Users’ Needs
Search engines repeat over and over again: do not hunt for the best SEO techniques, just create the best content imaginable. As we have mentioned, users play a huge part in the ranking now. If a machine-learning algorithm notices that no one finds the answer on the page, you will rank lower, no matter how many keywords you use. A proper SEO proposal will allow you to target potential customers according to their specifications and desires, which is crucial in any business these days when consumers have more alternatives than ever before at their fingertips.
Aim for straightforward answers, easy language, new perspectives, and uniqueness overall. It’s also important to update the old articles that rank high with the relevant information in order to keep your positions. According to research, updating old posts with new details or visuals has the potential to increase your organic traffic by up to 106%.
For example, a relatively new but a past growing field of audio content, podcasts, can be a great addition to your website’s content.
Only First Three Positions in SERP Matter
Currently, only 0.78% of Google searchers click on the results from the second page, and in the near future, the first 5-10 results are expected to become almost dead as well. Machine learning makes it unnecessary to look at more than five results and the number may go down to three in the future. The algorithm will be able to tell what is the most relevant for this user, with this background, in this location, and all answers will be in the first three results.
Technical SEO Stays
You may have the best content but if users will need more than 3 seconds to load it, you are not getting any bonus ranking points. The same goes for unresponsive design, dead-end pages, duplicate pages, and websites that are not secure. Make sure that your website is fast, mobile-friendly, secure, and has a good internal linking structure to win over users.
Goodbye to Long-Tail Keywords
Deep learning technology that is used in RankBrain sees “10 important ranking factors in the era of deep learning” and “deep learning ranking factors” as the same thing. Therefore, there is no need in trying to include this long-tail keyword in the text where it will sound very not human-like.
As for other types of optimizations… it is quite impossible to optimize for machine learning. You still should boost the authority of the website and use some keywords but you can not do much otherwise. The whole point of machine learning is to shift attention towards the quality of the content rather than the quality of optimization.
Machine learning and deep learning have become not the future of SEO but its reality. Big search engines already use both technologies in their ranking factors.
The main takeaway of the post is the same as any speech or tweet of Google’s employees: make sure that your site is in good technical condition and offers the most unique and easily digestible content. That is harder than to just add keywords but does wonders to your ranking.