SEO in mid-2017 – AI & Machine Learning?

Read this to get an initial understanding of the changes being wrought to organic search in 2017 (or not, as the case may be), by AI & Machine Learning.

Enjoy and if you’d like to discuss further, please get in touch.

#SEO #ArtificialIntelligence #MachineLearning

AI & Machine Learning SEO: The Bots are Coming


Everything for the last couple of years has been all about AI (artificial intelligence) and what is known as Machine Learning. In a number of instances AI should actually be Very Clever Algorithm, or even worse Just Lots of Data. There has been lots of chatter about Google’s algorithms, such as RankBrain using Machine Learning or AI to self-improve. This has been true to a certain extent, but it appears to be clear from Google that firstly “AI will never write the algorithm”, and that people at Google “understand the algorithm”. Indeed, if you look at Google’s services, AI and Machine Learning are used for very specific services, not the wider algorithm.

State of SEO 2017 Machine Learning and AI

  • AI & Machine Learning: Buzzword Bingo
    • AI and Machine Learning are big buzzwords currently, in the same way that Big Data was a few years ago, and they are equally misused. Essentially, a lot of organisations that use data to run their businesses or sell services are saying they use “AI” to derive results. In fact, what they tend to be using are more sophisticated algorithms designed to compute more factors because of the scalable nature of cloud computing. Very rarely are they actually using AI, or even machine learning. Some are creating great things with Machine Learning, although I suspect some of it is really just more data to throw at middle managers.
  • AI, Humans and Google SEO
    • Google’s comments about AI and humans are interesting; this is a big company with lots of interest in AI. Indeed, at the last Google IO they said they would become an “AI-first” company. In the front-facing search engine, we’ve seen big issues with fake news and ads being placed next to offensive content, which indicate their usage of AI is not as prevalent as imagined or that it’s not very good.
    • One issue I would note about Google understanding the algorithm is that this is true to a certain extent, but it is not wholly true.  There have been numerous examples of unintended consequences of algorithm updates, where big sites have been demoted only to reappear a few days later. This, and the flux seen in SERPs in the immediate aftermath of a Google update, are indicative of a large-scale algorithm not quite working the way it was thought it would.
    • Based on the evidence today, the major tech players have a way to go before we have AI. This won’t stop a lot of vendors from claiming that everything is AI.

Key Actions to Take:

  1. Monitor the situation regarding AI and Machine Learning. It is coming, but it is likely still a quantum leap away or two.
  2. If vendors claim to use AI to produce data, query it; don’t believe the hype.
  3. Google for the minute is still a human algorithm. This is unlikely to change soon.
  4. Get in touch if you’d like to discuss further.

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TL;DR AI & Machine Learning

AI & Machine Learning are big buzzwords at the moment. Be careful you’re not sucked in by the hype.

If you’d like to discuss further, please get in touch.