Google, AI, SEO And The Rise of The Machines

September 12, 2016

Holly Pavlika

SVP, Marketing & Content at Collective Bias
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This has been an interesting year for marketers and brands. First came algorithm changes on several social platforms that impacted visibility and engagement. The advent of ad block and the surge of adoption had many scrambling for other options to place their advertising. Then the FTC started cracking down on some brands for failure to disclose influencer sponsored content. Now, notorious for always changing the rules, Google has posted edicts for influencers to adhere to no-follow links and disclose affiliate links/associations, and most recently they issued a coming crackdown on popovers where publishers and potentially blogs cover user’s access to content. So if it’s not just about creating great content but promotion, and making sure that content gets seen by the right audience, SEO becomes even more important.

With this in mind I had to attend a session at Content Marketing World by Randi Fishkin, Wizard of Moz, titled “2016’s Seven Biggest SEO Trends And How Marketers Should React.” With a title like Wizard, I just had to attend.

But before I get into this whole subject of SEO, I have to provide context for the title of this piece. Why the “rise of machines?” Well the prior session I attended was all about natural language generation and it’s role in content marketing. If you’re not familiar with natural language generation think artificial intelligence (AI) and machines writing copy/content and doing so at scale. And this AI is getting more and more sophisticated down to the point where companies like Marketwise, Curata, Boomtrain and AtomicReach are being able to tell you how well your blog post will do as you are creating it.

The Wizard of @Moz shared valuable tips at #CMWorld to help sites get found in search. Click To Tweet

With this whole idea of machines taking over rolling around in my brain, I headed into the Fishkin presentation where he took us through the ins and outs of Google and how they are using machines and algorithms to determine what content rises to the top and gets the highest rankings. Yes, the rise of the machines is here so prepare yourself. But don’t worry, someone still has to tell the machines what to do. Keep in mind though that Google is still the 800-pound gorilla.


chart courtesy of Moz/Randi Fishkin

But don’t lose all hope. Fishkin had so many helpful hints for marketers:

Don’t just think about Google. There are other search channels.

Did you know YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine? And even Amazon is the place most consumers start when they start their product searches. And let’s not forget Bing and Yelp.

Check and see where your competition gets their traffic.

By using a tool like SimilarWeb.Pro you can check out the competition’s sources for traffic.

Create content for multiple search engines.

Moz uploads their videos to their own site first for classic SEO and a few months later uploads the video to YouTube for video SEO.

The inside scoop on how Google is now working.

Google is making it harder and harder. They would rather they provide the simple answer to your search query than have your potential visitors click through to your site.  And they are pulling more and more answers atop results to remove the need to click a third party site for information. So what should a marketer or even an influencer do?

  • Consider the click-through rates when choosing your keywords. By using a tool like Keyword Explorer you can get your hands on CTR opportunity scores.
  • Become the answer consumers are searching for.
  • Don’t trust Google’s Adwords as absolutes but use them for relative comparisons.
  • Search Google’s suggested and related searches for ideas including “people also search for,” “similar pages rank for”, semantically related terms, and topically related searches.

How do you do all that? Mr. Fishkin was kind enough to include this handy reference chart for the free and paid tools you might want to explore.


chart courtesy of Moz/Randi Fishkin

Fishkin covered so many other areas of SEO that there is no doubt in my mind that you need to develop skills in this to stay on top of this critical aspect of getting your content seen. You can see Fishkin’s complete presentation on slideshare here. And if you ever get a chance to hear him speak, I highly recommend it.  There’s no wonder he spoke over 85 times last year. He knows his subject inside and out.

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Holly Pavlika

SVP, Marketing & Content at Collective Bias

Holly oversees marketing and PR. Holly, also a blogger, founded MOMentumNation while serving as the Executive Creative Director and Managing Director at Big Fuel, a pure play social media agency. She is an award-winning creative marketing industry veteran who was recognized in 2012 by Klout as the “most influential agency person” and uses her voice for social good with 10X10 Educate Girls, Every Mother Counts, Global Poverty Project and the UN Foundation Shot@Life campaign.