Is Your SEO Strategy Effective In The New Digital Age?
Here’s the underlying principle of the SEO game: People use the internet to find stuff or information, and if you provide the best answer, you get the sale. Marketers who master the technique win the game. And now, we have accessible AI content to make everything perfect. Or do we?
The internet is increasingly being smothered with pulpy AI content. Researchers are already sounding the alarm over concerns that training AI on AI-generated content may have unpredictable or catastrophic results. Have we already entered that danger zone where ChatGPT starts recycling factually inaccurate content previously written by Google’s Bard? Is it wise to rely entirely on AI-optimized SEO?
If we retrace the long journey of those powerful algorithms that made SEO the driving force behind global marketing, there may already be some red flags.
The evolution of SEO
Initially, SEO meant incorporating a few keywords into your website content. Later, search engines refined their algorithms to consider metrics, like page speed and increasingly complex signals like content quality. Algorithm changes have periodically transformed the SEO landscape overnight.
For instance, the Panda update in 2011 caused thousands of top-ranking websites to drop from the SERPs instantly. Suddenly, keyword stuffing was out, and high-quality, authoritative content was in. The update ended content farming and black hat SEO tactics, but many honest, competent marketers who had just used a few keywords too many paid a heavy price.
Another major shakeup was the 2013 Hummingbird update, a complete rewrite of the entire core algorithm. It caused Google to ignore certain words in queries to understand better what the searcher was really looking for. The new algorithm answered the queries; it did not just match keywords.
These developments laid the groundwork for today’s focus on the Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) principles in SEO. Search engines refine their algorithms through frequent tweaks rather than major updates. Nevertheless, the industry has learned that even minor changes can significantly impact website rankings.
If introducing AI-generated content into the SEO game is not a minor change but a complete pivot point in the industry, can we expect things to keep chugging along?
AI writing tools are using algorithms to create content for AI algorithms
Natural Language Processing (NLP) is the ability of machines to understand and generate natural written and spoken language. It’s a fundamental requirement for hyper-personalization, the holy grail of marketing. It can be hard to distinguish AI writing from human writing, so many marketers feel increasingly comfortable leaving things to AI. It adheres to all the SEO rules and meticulously addresses each SEO marker and ranking signal. Job done, right?
Not so fast.
AI-generated content is merely a regurgitation of everything that has come before. AI cannot experience frustration, irritation, fear, anger, or hurt – the feelings that drive people to look for (your!) products and solutions. AI cannot form an opinion; it merely summarizes humans’ opinions and mansplains them in a way that makes you think it ‘understands where you’re coming from.’ And yet, marketers expect it to discover new approaches and create opportunities to solve our customer’s pain points.
However, the main danger is that the creators of the algorithms are training AI to write content that will be a perfect match to their algorithms. It’s happening at the same time as research is starting to show that tools such as ChatGPT are getting dumber, not smarter.
Will we start seeing AI fatigue soon?
The burning question is: At what stage will it affect how the algorithms work in this closed loop of regurgitated information? After long years of hard slog to make search experiences better, it’s unthinkable that companies like Google will allow the internet to degenerate into a muddy, jumbled pool of mishmash.
When will Google start tweaking its algorithm to compensate for the lack of fresh, new viewpoints and unique content? What are the signs and signals that will indicate AI-content fatigue? Could a subtle tweak to the algorithm cause your brand to tumble overnight or cause a slow, inexorable slide on the SERPs?
New rules for content in the age of AI?
The developers of those algorithms will change the SEO landscape over the next few years. To protect their income, they’ll have to prevent scenarios where good brands are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of poor AI-driven content.
Initially, marketers may only be able to spot changes by becoming obsessives in the competitor analysis game. Did your competitor launch a new campaign, or are they getting better engagement because they have better content?
Surviving the series of upcoming SEO changes
Watch the SERPS like a hawk and analyze the root cause of movements and changes. And if you’ve increasingly relied on AI-generated content to feed that AI algorithm beast, start looking for signs that your users are turning elsewhere for better, original articles or blogs.
- Define goals: Set up tailor-made key performance indicators (KPIs) to guide you toward success.
- Keyword research: Update your keyword lists. It’s the bedrock of your marketing strategy.
- Invest in authoritative content: Steer clear of mass-generated AI content where possible. Ask hard-hitting questions, answer them in-depth, and build credibility as an industry leader.
- Competitor analysis: One of the first places you might spot AI fatigue is your competitors’ performance. Watch them like a hawk, but be judicious about adopting trends willy-nilly. Don’t use a static IP address: use a VPN to ensure you can sneak in and out of their digital profiles without getting blocked or limited.
- Optimize link juice: Create valuable contacts to earn heavy-weight backlinks. Pursue a strategy of cooperation across complementary industries with guest blogging and referrals.
- Social media marketing: Despite privacy- and AI-related backlashes, social media marketing will continue delivering value if integrated into your overall SEO strategy. Don’t ignore the older marketing channels like PPC advertising and email marketing.
- Use reliable data: Google has just gone cookie-less, so be careful about what your data sources. Depending on your industry, it may take a while for newer data analysis companies and techniques to mature.
- Learn new skills: Get a grip on AI and ML technologies. Once you understand how they work, it’s easier to understand future limitations. It is – at least currently – not the panacea it’s made out to be.
Conclusion: Don’t forget the reason why SEO exists
While AI and ML will make SEO easier, their existence may soon change how search engines rank websites. Marketers would be wise to use AI tools cautiously. Genuine subject matter expertise will always stand out, so keep doing comprehensive keyword research, optimizing website structure, and producing high-quality content.