AI has emerged as a game-changer in the ever-evolving marketing landscape, altering the dynamics of SEO and digital marketing. At SOZO, we’re passionate about exploring these advancements and demystifying AI’s role in transforming marketing strategies for SMEs.
Demystifying AI for Marketers
AI is no longer reserved for tech-savvy experts alone. We want to debunk the myth surrounding AI’s complexity and explore its practical applications. We’ll touch upon using ChatGPT or Bard for content creation, leveraging AI beyond content writing, and mastering the art of prompting AI engines for optimal results.
Are AI assistants about to change marketing forever?
For the past 20 years, Google has dominated digital marketing. Over 80% of people still use Google to search for what they need and then click on a website to buy a product or consume information. Our job as marketers has been to get our clients onto page 1 of Google. We know the rules and strategies of this game. But this model could be about to change completely, and we could be witnessing the first real challenge to Google’s dominance in 20 years.
The first change we’ve noticed is the trend towards zero-click searches. This is where Google provides the information you need on its results page so that you don’t need to visit a website, e.g., Football results, cinema times, restaurant bookings etc. That’s already happening.
The next big evolution is coming in the use of AI assistants or Co-pilots to get information for us or even buy things on our behalf.
For example, you could ask your AI assistant, through either voice or on your phone “Book me a Thai restaurant for four people for 8 pm tonight” or “Book me a 4-star hotel in central London for this weekend. My budget is £250, I want a boutique hotel and make sure it has a pool”
“Buy me a pair of Nike Air Cross size 10 in white for the cheapest price”.
You could also expand into searches for services, “find me the top 5 SEO agencies in Cheltenham”, or “Who is the best digital agency in the UK?”.
This could completely change how we interact with the digital world and make a website less of a destination and more of a reference point for information.
We must consider that results are often very different from the Google results for the same question, even in Google’s Bard, but why is this?
Will AI and SEO use the same best practices?
In truth, no one yet knows. But AI does have some similarities with SEO in that it will search the internet (or a previous version of it), for relevant information.
At SOZO, we believe the main difference from how Google works is that AI will look more for ‘signals’ as opposed to keywords. (although Google is also moving in this direction). Signals could be a whole host of things, from reviews & ratings to PR coverage, social mentions, along with content on your website.
But it’s important to remember that generative AI does not have the same algorithms as Google (which effectively scores your website against a set of criteria).
Quality Over Quantity: AI-Generated Content and Its Impact
Contrary to concerns, we’ve seen no evidence to suggest that AI-generated content is getting penalised by search engines as long as it meets quality standards.
Google has a very fine line to tread here. It obviously has its own AI tool in Bard to generate content, so it would be hypocritical to then penalise the use of it.
Last year, Google said using pure AI for SEO content will be treated as spam if its sole purpose is to influence rankings.
It has since softened its stance to say it will favour helpful content (as opposed to penalising AI content). Google’s “Helpful content update” and its’ E-E-A-T Guidelines (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) all point towards incentivising exceptional content as opposed to penalising auto generated content. So it’s not how you create the content that matters but rather the overall helpfulness and quality of the content that is paramount.
As SEO professionals, we know more than anyone that when producing AI or human-written content, whether it is blog posts, product pages or landing pages, it is easy to forget that you should be writing for your audience and not for a ranking. Google has become smart enough to understand the aforementioned signals, and whilst keywords will get you to the top of page one, quality is what keeps you there.
Getting on page 1 of Google is one thing, getting users to stay on your landing page and buy from you is a whole other challenge. (See our article on landing page optimisation)
While AI offers remarkable efficiency, human intervention remains pivotal.
At SOZO, we believe it will become more important than ever to write well-written, well-researched, helpful content that is curated by humans and, at least in some part, written by skilled copywriters. We always advise against blindly churning out AI-generated content in the hope this will improve your rankings.
As has always been the case, you need a content plan and a proper SEO strategy to achieve the goal of higher rankings and engaging landing pages that convert traffic into leads.
What’s the Future of AI in Marketing? Extreme Personalisation
The future of marketing is poised for extreme personalisation. AI assistants are poised to redefine customer engagement, promising a marketing landscape deeply attuned to individual preferences.
Remember marketing before the Internet? We had to put adverts in newspapers and billboards, hoping someone relevant would see them. Then Google came along and flipped marketing on its head by empowering consumers to look for businesses. Although Google has become a lot more personal over the years, it still has a lot of limitations.
Now imagine an AI assistant who knows you deeply. It knows your likes, dislikes, buying habits, and preferences for food, clothes, and travel. Then imagine just how good it will get at delivering content, products, and services that are exactly what you want.
Add wearable devices and chips inside our bodies into this mix, all monitoring our heart rate and emotions; then, the AI could get to know us better than we know ourselves!
Some experts predict we will, at some stage, have a digital twin who will be an AI version of ourselves. We will ask it to perform tasks, do our shopping, find information, and it will know exactly what we want. In this scenario, our AI assistants will then talk to other AI bots from companies and other people’s digital twins to deliver such tasks… But that’s a whole other article!
So what can you do now?
The best thing that you can do for your marketing now and in the future is to look at how you can produce the best and most original content that shows you as a trustworthy and professional brand.
You should always stay focused on the user and provide them with the signals they need to be confident in your brand; this includes getting real customer reviews, writing or generating knowledgeable and unique articles, and building your brand across social channels.
If you are an SME and want help navigating this minefield of SEO and AI, you can reach out to us, and a knowledgeable member of our team will be able to help, or if you liked this article on AI, you can check out our others and discover how to use AI for your SEO strategy or read up on how to use AI in your content production while keeping the human touch.