Search engines and the technology that powers them have been experiencing rapid changes and transformations. The central aim of these changes and developments is to improve users’ experience. Developments in AI have helped search engine providers to improve users’ experience by enhancing the quality and relevance of results.
Understanding how AI transforms search is essential for searchers but more critical for companies who employ digital marketing.
AI and Voice Search
In a 2016 research, Search Engine Land found that voice searches already constitute 20% of all mobile queries on Google. Recent research shows that the use of voice search for mobile queries on Google is now at 27%. From 2008 to 2016, there was a 35X growth in the popularity of voice search.
Smart Speakers like Google Home, Amazon’s Alexa, Siri, and Apple Home Pod are increasing the adaptation of voice search by the populace. In 2018, more than 34 million smart speakers were sold in the US.
Apart from smart speakers (devices), programs like Google Assistant and Microsoft Cortana are also increasing the use of voice search and voice assistant.
Voice searches are both faster and more convenient. Research shows that voice search is 3.7X faster than text search, and 56% of users love using them because of the comfort.
AI and Image Search
AI is also powering image search. Reverse Image Search is a search engine functionality where users can search for information through an image or an image URL.
Reverse Image Search is already accessible on platforms like Google, Alibaba, eBay, and Pinterest. Reverse Image Search extends the possibility available for users and enables us to search for information when we do not have the words to describe what we want.
AI and Search Results
The development of the Rank Brain algorithm was a significant period in Google’s history. The algorithm uses machine learning to deliver the best results to users for every search.
Rank Brain seeks to go beyond the keywords that the searcher is using to analyzing the intent behind the search. Every search has intention. While keywords may be the same, factors like location, time, device, and date can construe a different search intent. Searching for the best restaurants in Los Angeles, NY, when I am in Moscow conveys a different intent compared to carrying out the same search when I am in LA.
The algorithm uses machine learning to acquire data from the searcher’s search history to try to predict the intent behind the search and deliver the results accordingly. Similarly, machine learning enables Google to predict what a searcher is trying to look for while they are typing in the search bar.
The algorithm also changes how Google ranks websites for a particular search query. Now, Google can focus more on the relevance of content to the users’ intent. It is no longer purely about the number of times you use keywords in your content.
The Impact on SEO
Users are now using natural, long-tail, and question keywords. The use of voice search increases the use of natural conversational human language rather than a computer language. Searches like “how can I create Facebook ads” are becoming more popular than searches like “create Facebook ads.”
The use of natural language tends to increase the length of searches, which further indicates the importance of long-tail keywords to SEO.
Also, these natural keywords are mostly question keywords rather than phrases. You can expect more keywords like “where can I buy a tennis racket in Idaho?” rather than “tennis racket in Idaho.”
The increased use of voice search is changing the keyword research game for marketers.
To keep up with the changes in keywords use, marketers must adapt by producing content that uses natural language, incorporate long-tail keywords, and seek to provide answers to searchers’ questions.
Rather than stuffing keywords in blogs, marketers should prioritize providing value. Using a FAQ format to create subheadings that answer questions users can ask regarding the topic can be helpful. In an article about tennis rackets in Idaho, you can include subheadings like – how much is a tennis racket in Idaho, where can I buy a tennis racket in Idaho, etc.
The use of question, natural, and long-tail keywords will also increase your chances of getting a featured snippet for search queries that are important to your business.
AI is empowering voice search, reverse image search, and the development of algorithms that improve users’ experience. Marketers must understand how these changes affect their SEO, and seek to adapt to them for maximum returns on SEO investment.