In a perfect world marketing is easy: it delivers the right kind of information to the right person at the right time. The brand makes a sale, the advertiser takes a cut and the consumer is satisfied with the choice that was on offer. Everyone's happy.
We all know the world is not perfect but machine learning is promising to find ways to fix that, at least as far as online advertising and search are concerned. There is probably no better example of artificial intelligence creating a better tomorrow than when it comes to Google's unveiling of its artificial intelligence initiative in responsive search ads.
Put artificial intelligence to work for you.
The premise behind the new machine learning algorithms pioneered by tech companies like Google, Adobe and Saleforce is simple: Use artificial intelligence to better understand the nuanced information provided by the massive data sets they can get their hands on and better understand customer pain points and customer intent. Then leverage this advanced knowledge to create a better connection between businesses, marketers and their customers.
Relevance is key. Data, customer motivation, customer intent, and artificial intelligence mean nothing if they are incapable of converging at the time and point where they are most applicable, i.e. when a person is looking for a local plumber, a business owner wants to design an ad or a marketer is interested in serving a product or service to the most relevant person the moment they most need it.
This convergence, in the past, was a hit-and-miss affair that required the elaborate creation of gross generalizations of the target audience, called marketing personas. It then used a shotgun approach in reach and advertising that needed to be as broad as possible in order to produce results. We don't live in that past any more. Google's new, smart algorithms make specific suggestions to improve existing ads. They are also able to construct search ads from scratch that better match an ad-buyer's services or products to the search queries, needs and intent of the target audience.
Google's AI mines all the relevant information and determines what to show, when and how, based upon its nuanced understanding of searcher needs and searcher intent. The information each time comes from the website of the business that is using Google Ads and its Google My Business listing (if available). The fit apparently is so much better that conversion rates increase by up to 15 percent when compared to human-created ads.
Search is changing fundamentally.
While Google makes its money from advertising on the web, it is its search technology that makes the company valuable to the millions of users across the globe who use it to navigate the web. When Google shows how artificial intelligence can take indexed content and present it in a way that will most perfectly match a search query the entire concept of search engine optimization changes.
In the past it was important to optimize a website to appeal to a search engine. Now the focus is on creating content that accurately and clearly describes what a business does, and how to get hold of its products or services.
In the pressure to outrank competing websites in search many businesses focus on what is new, gimmicky or different and forget to clearly explain the core of what they are about. While Google's use of artificial intelligence has led to improvements in natural language processing there are other, more technical issues that can create indexing issues for a website that lacks coherence.
Make your business search engine friendly.
Take the time to do a little strategic thinking before leaping into action and you can actually enjoy a natural, competitive advantage in search. The five steps to keep in mind here are:
1. Clarity. Focus on clear messaging. A car dealership whose website advertises that it "sells affordable cars" is failing on every count possible when it comes to reaching its audience through search.
2. Details. Opening times for a bricks-and-mortar business, reviews, directions on how to get there and contact details including a telephone number aren't just good for customers, they can also determine whether a site is ranked in search or not.
3. Content. Create content that reflects customer needs not business initiatives or advertising.
4. Breadcrumb trail. Join the dots. Make sure what is said and how it is said on the business website reflects and matches what is listed on social media platforms where the business is represented and its Google My Business listing.
5. Website Layout. Rationalize what you put on the business website. Ask yourself what you expect from it. This creates a more meaningful, impactful structure.
The need for SEO knowledge is more real than ever and the opportunities to capitalize on changes in search are only increasing.