AI and SEO

What is the role of AI in SEO, and how can businesses leverage AI to improve their search engine rankings and website performance?

It is a particularly exciting time for businesses looking to leverage recent AI developments to get ahead in their organic performance.

Tools like ChatGPT, Bing’s AI module and Google Gemini have been at the forefront of the conversation in how AI could potentially change SEO significantly. The latter in particular could potentially bring on huge changes in how users interact with search results, with a large chunk of the search result real estate set to be taken up by AI-generated answers. Given how these AI-generated answers are trained on existing content assets on the web, businesses will need to consider their topical authority and content marketing strategies in the industries they occupy in order to secure AI search result attribution.

In the wider sphere, AI can be a huge productivity enhancer for businesses looking to speed up their SEO procedures. Used correctly with considered prompts, AI can help with generating keyword and content ideas and can even spin up on-page SEO elements (such as page titles and meta descriptions) quickly and at scale. This can be a vital time saver and can help you ahead of the competition in terms of content optimisation for improved search rankings.

AI can also assist your developer teams and generate and troubleshoot code snippets (such as Schema) at scale, saving precious resource time.      

How can businesses use AI to identify new keywords and topics to target in their content marketing strategy, and what tools and resources are available for keyword research and analysis?

Logging into tools such as ChatGPT and entering prompts such as “give me a list of key categories and their associated keywords in the organic farming niche” can be a great way for your SEO and content teams to quickly ascertain some great initial ideas for content topics. 

While tools such as these can speed up the processes in generating keyword ideas and clusters, they can’t (yet) return crucial data on monthly search volumes, competitor analysis and keyword rankings. 

This is where your team will still need to supplement such brainstorming using tools such as SEMRush and Ahrefs to layer on this data onto your AI-generated research to help you tighten your focus in terms of what will rank well and drive commercial leads. 

As well as SEMRush and Ahrefs, other keyword research tools, such as Keyword Insights, also leverage the use of AI in their keyword data mining processes to help you form content strategies with reduced manual input. 

Investing in one of these tools as they look to layer in the use of AI into their tech stacks can really help power up your business’s content strategy.    

How can businesses use AI to improve their website’s technical SEO, and what tools and resources are available for analysing website performance and identifying areas for improvement?

Much like their content productivity capabilities, many AI tools can also speed up your team’s work in assessing technical SEO issues and opportunities. 

Tools like Sitebulb, ScreamingFrog and Google Search Console utilise the power of AI in their website crawling capabilities to deliver your SEO teams ongoing reports on issues such as 404s, page speed, broken links and mobile optimisation.

Outside of popular third-party SEO tools, the utilisation of plugins in AI tools like ChatGPT can also allow your teams to visualise elements such as internal linking and site architecture and even server log analysis. 

This again can offer real breakthroughs in terms of productivity and the ability to partially automate a good amount of everyday SEO auditing, saving you time and money.

What are some common misconceptions about AI and SEO, and how can businesses separate fact from fiction when evaluating AI-driven SEO solutions?

Despite all the enhancements in terms of productivity, ideation and resource optimisation, there will always be a need for businesses to deploy human expertise to steer the final output in terms of commercial strategy and decision.  

Asking an AI tool to deliver you a content strategy to deploy tomorrow will only get you so far. The output will lack the human expertise needed in your business, whether this is the ability to drive commercially-focused decisions from the data or to create something truly original, authoritative and creative.

Interestingly, Google have signalled that the use of AI-generated content is acceptable, as long as the overall output ticks the boxes in terms of being helpful, reliable and people-first. This means that AI can be used to help automate some elements of content creation, though the final product will likely need the input of human experts in the field.       

AI tools such as ChatGPT and Google Gemini have been known to produce AI-generated answers that have carried misinformation or factual errors in their output, whether this is from opinion-based answers or overview information on a topic or location. To help combat this, brands should take care to double check the information produced from reputable sources, as they would normally when researching and producing content.           

How does AI impact the user experience on a website, and what strategies should businesses use to balance SEO and user experience when optimising their website?

AI can be a great addition in your user experience activities and can help boost conversion rates and bring in more revenue.

For example, AI can help with personalisation and A/B testing campaigns by analysing user behaviour on your site to produce highly personalised content based on their browsing history. AI can help assess user responses to different variations of content and website layout, and this can really help in achieving data-driven decisions to heighten your conversion rates. AI can also tailor content recommendations to a user based on what they have historically interacted with on your site, keeping them engaged longer.

While AI has fantastic potential to enhance your UX, there does need to be a trade off in terms of SEO best practice. High-quality, user-centric content that answers user intent should still be kept in mind, as should areas such as page load speed. AI-generated UX enhancements such as chatbots can contribute to page load speed, so this needs to be optimised where possible by your development team. 

What are some best practices for using AI to optimise content for voice search, and how can businesses ensure that their website is optimised for voice search queries?

Voice search may not have taken off and dominated the search engine industry as much as some may have predicted, but it still retains a place worth considering as users continue to use voice activated searches on smartphones and virtual assistants. 

To capture this demand, your team can look to AI to research and optimise your content for informational based queries that are typically prefixed with words such as “who”, “what”, “why” or “when”. Incorporating these keywords (which can be gathered from AI tools such as ChatGPT) into your content along with the relevant structured data schema can really help your chances of capturing the demand of those voice searches.  

Voice search results are hard to ascertain and there are no guarantees, but it’s worth experimenting as a business to see if there are ways to cut through. Tweaking some of your content by prompting AI tools to make it more “conversational” in tone is a relatively quick and easy experiment to run if you’ve got the time and resources available.  

What are some ethical considerations when using AI in SEO, and how can businesses ensure that they are using AI in a responsible and transparent way?

Many AI models are trained on data that is already existent on the internet. This means that if your team are asking AI to write a full blog post on a certain topic around a certain commercial keyword, the resulting output will be an amalgamation of what’s already there on the web.

While this isn’t strictly regulated (yet), businesses would take heed to ensure that any AI-generated output is enhanced or edited by a human expert. This will not only give it an additional sheen of expertise but will also seal its originality credentials, which is important for improving search rankings. In addition, this will also help you mitigate any bias or misinformation that is generated by the AI output that may stand at ends with your tone of voice or company culture. 

There is also the overarching question on the impact on human resources. AI can automate a lot of tasks in SEO, which has led some to question the need for dedicated resources on the payroll within businesses. 

With this in mind, AI should be viewed as an enhancement tool to upskill your existing resources and focus them on tasks that can bring in more revenue to your business. Complementing their work streams with the use of AI to tackle tasks such as keyword research and on-page optimisation can free them up to consider more strategic and commercially-centric activities.  

What are some resources and tools available for businesses to stay up-to-date on AI and SEO trends and best practices?

Keeping an eye on Google’s Search Central blog is certainly a good way for your business to keep abreast of all the latest AI developments when it comes to SEO. This includes guides on best practices as well as announcements on developments such as Google’s SGE (Search Generative Experience). 

The OpenAI blog is another great resource for this, and will keep you up to speed on the improvements and capabilities of ChatGPT. 

From a more specific SEO lens, many of the major SEO publications such as Search Engine Land and Search Engine Round Table now routinely produce in-depth content on AI best practices for businesses looking to leverage it for SEO, and this can really get your team ahead of the game on all the latest trends and use cases.

How can businesses use AI to automate repetitive SEO tasks, and what are some best practices for optimising workflows and processes?

Of all the potential use cases for AI, getting it to aid your SEO and marketing teams with repetitive SEO tasks, whether that’s meta description writing,  internal linking or even contact prospecting for link building should be something to consider today.

Your team will be familiar with the use of AI in your existing toolsets by generating SEO performance reports and delivering automated technical audits or keyword ranking reports on a recurring basis. 

AI can help deliver an extra step in productivity by automating various areas of keyword research and content creation, and automated internal linking (to take a few examples) if the correct and detailed prompts are inputted.

The key process for you as a business owner or CMO is to identify which of these repetitive tasks are consuming too much time within your team, and to identify the correct AI tools and plugins to automate these. Are there any AI tools you can integrate into your content management system that applies automated redirects on certain rules? Can some AI tools automatically deploy the use of schema markup based on the content on the page? This can really save your team time and allow further growth to your business organically. 

  • What are some cost considerations for using AI in SEO, and how can businesses ensure that they are getting the most value for their investment?

Many AI tools offer free iterations with plenty of functionalities, though to get the best out of them (such as more up to date data and the ability to use plugins) it is worth investing in paid subscriptions. Some of these (such as ChatGPT) only cost $20 or so a month, so these are worthy considerations if there’s a clear business case to automate certain repetitive and time consuming SEO workflows.  

If you’ve got a trusted and capable team, the use of AI can really upskill them in terms of their workflows and potentially allow junior members of staff the opportunity to step up and take on more senior, strategic approaches in their work.

AI SEO Case Study

Software company with large back catalogue of old content utilises AI to identify content culling and enhancement opportunities.

Problem: A global software company with thousands of legacy URLs had recently redesigned its website, and as part of the redesign was looking to clear up old pieces of content that weren’t generating any traffic or value for the user. The task was huge as it meant pulling in various associated metrics tied to these URLs over time with a view to make a decision on each page.

Solution: The business was able to use an AI tool tied to their reporting frameworks to pull in metrics associated to each page within a matter of minutes, and create pre-determined redirect rules on what to do with legacy content that was to be culled. This was handed over to the development team who were able to action it swiftly. The resulting tidy-up saw an uplift in crawl rates and organic traffic and revenue to more focal pages.

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