Is AI going to radically transform the SEO industry?

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is making its way into every industry imaginable. With it, we open the door to automation, better data analysis, increased productivity and a host of other business benefits. But we are also witnessing radical industrial transformations, certain market segments reinventing and redefining themselves in the wake of this new technology.

AI is already present, at least in some contexts, in the search engine optimization (SEO) industry. Should we be preparing for an industry-wide overhaul? Or will AI just improve on our already existing capabilities, without a lot of fundamental long-term changes?

AI in the SEO industry

There are a few main areas where AI is influencing the SEO industry today, including:

  • Algorithm changes and pace of search engine development. First, major search engines like Google are starting to incorporate elements of AI and machine learning into their algorithms. Starting with RankBrain in 2015, Google announced that it would use machine learning to refine its ability to deliver relevant and authoritative search results; RankBrain, in particular, is working to better understand user intent in ambiguous queries, but the future potential of AI in search algorithms is virtually limitless.
  • GPT-3 and AI-based writing. GPT-3 and similar AI tools are increasingly used to tackle repetitive writing tasks. Even hobbyist marketers know that content is at the heart of any SEO strategy, and some machine learning algorithms are becoming capable of replicating human-level writing on a large scale. However, this technology is still in its infancy.
  • Data analysis, predictive models and recommendation engines. AI and machine learning are also used for data analytics, predictive models, and recommendation engines. Well-trained AI systems can better analyze competition and keyword research volume, scrutinize the technical aspects of your website, and even recommend specific changes to be made for better results. These benefits will get even better in the future. However, they don’t have much potential to be fundamentally disruptive; they are able to strengthen and support optimizers, rather than moving them, replacing them, making them unnecessary, or redefining their roles.
  • Automation of tasks. In perhaps the simplest application, AI and machine learning can be used for the automation of basic tasks. If you’re doing something predictable and repetitive, like following a specific formula for writing meta descriptions for all of your pages, you can just automate it with the right AI tool. It is something that can be used by almost any business in any industry.

AI and algorithm updates

What is the impact of AI and machine learning on algorithm updates in the future?

It depends on how you define “impact”. Currently, AI is used to continually refine and refine Google’s algorithms; it’s learning new things and posting new minor updates on a constant basis. This is done at a much faster rate than what a human would be able to do manually.

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However, based on our current understanding, these AI tools are only used to execute human leadership. Google is not evolving dramatically or in new, unpredictable directions; it’s just getting better at doing what he always wanted to do. As a result, while Google search results improve for users, and Google saves time and money, it’s not currently having a huge impact on the SEO industry – and it doesn’t appear that that will change in the future.

AI and writing

A more interesting AI application in SEO is AI-based writing. Content writing is arguably the most important part of any SEO strategy, and it also tends to be the most expensive. AI writing of sufficient quality could put millions of writers out of work while saving businesses tons of money – and flooding the web with amazing written material at the same time. Law?

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Not exactly. While it’s hard to say what the future of AI-powered writing is, as it stands, AI writing algorithms are extremely limited. They can handle repetitive, low-level writing tasks, but even then it pays to have a human editor to review and polish the work. For the in-depth, high-quality strategic content needed for SEO success, human copywriters will continue to be needed for the foreseeable future.

Future capacities

Of course, it’s hard to say for sure what the future holds for AI. The rate of technological development tends to be exponential, and many of the sophisticated technologies we enjoy today would have been fundamentally unpredictable just 50 years ago. Over the next few decades, we may seem like major breakthroughs in AI and machine learning that completely reset our expectations.

That said, we can predict with certainty the evolution of AI development and its impact on the SEO industry for at least the next few years. Since AI has already made its way into the industry and is used by most of the major players, we can anticipate further iterative advancements of these tools. We can also predict that our current generation of AI is not able to completely displace or replace human workers; instead, it’s going to remain a powerful tool in the average search optimizer’s arsenal. As such, we cannot predict a “radical transformation” in the near future.


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