Artificial intelligence, or AI, can be a bit scary, but it can also be the key to the future of digital marketing! Either way, it’s an interesting subject.

But, what does artificial intelligence have to do with digital marketing? More than you’d think!

You already know that marketing and technology are intertwined and that is especially true when it comes to digital marketing. As technology rapidly advances, we have to keep up with the times and also push the envelope a bit. To understand artificial intelligence’s role in digital marketing, you have to understand what artificial intelligence actually is. (Disclaimer: It is not robots trying to destroy the universe, Will Smith is a liar.)

Siri, what’s artificial intelligence? Get it? Siri is an example of AI. She’s not great, but she’s improving every year! You can ask her for yourself if you use an Apple product. In fact, you might have noticed that she is co-authoring this blog post. (Don’t bring up her sister Cortana, they aren’t getting along).

If you look up the definition of artificial intelligence you will find the follow description: “the theory and development of computer systems that can perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as perception, speech recognition and translation between languages.” The way I see it, there are three forms of AI.

Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI) – This is AI that is designed to perform one specific task. 

Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) – Think of Watson from IBM. Watson is design to answer a wide array of questions about any topic. 

Artificial Superintelligence – Computer intelligence that is beyond the capabilities of the human mind.

In digital marketing we mainly experience ANI, intelligence designed to perform one specific task. The best example would be Google search algorithms. Google’s rankings are continually updated, it’s the whole reason that SEO exists. Google updates the search algorithm every 18 hours. They couldn’t do that without AI.

Hello There RankBrain

If you can crack Google’s search algorithm then congrats, you are a genius and you should start your own billion dollar company. If you can’t then you should learn as much as you can about this guy called RankBrain. (He’s German or something). RankBrain is a mechanism that creates an algorithm for search optimization by interpreting data. RankBrain took every old SEO strategy and rendered them obsolete. RankBrain (RB) looks at each search index individually and filters that data for search results based on that search, it is not influenced by similar searches. So what’s happening there is brands / companies / SEO strategists are creating ultra specific websites with content focused on specific keywords and phrases and the result is that they are getting on top of their competition in search engine pages. It sounds mildly complicated, but it’s actually extremely complicated. Some searches place credibility on the metadata (the text that appears on Google under the link) from the search, while others might be strictly looking at the URL. If you were seaching for say the symptoms of a common cold, the website would probably be the top result. Why? Because, over time Google has given the URL credibility. The way I look at it is: Google wants to show us the best results, or else we’d use Bing. If I searched for symptoms of a common cold and the top result was, I’d delete the Google app. Obviously.

RankBrain is intelligent. Anybody who has a business with a website has to respect that. This is what’s happening today. You’re in a place you’re not familiar with and it’s lunch time. You look on your smartphone for options. So you go to Google and you type in “lunch options near me”. RankBrain surveys nearby restaurants and RankBrain only judges restaurants by their web presence. RankBrain is looking for customer reviews, menus, local listings and phone numbers. Your restaurant isn’t on Yelp? That’ll cost ya. Your phone number and menu aren’t listed in your ad extensions? That will also cost ya. Your website is terrible and hasn’t had an update since 2014? That’s going to cost ya.

You can’t write a blog post about SEO and not bring up backlinking. Everybody hates backlinking because it’s the method used by black hat SEOs on link farms in Sketchytown USA. Backlinks are external links to and from other websites. If a lot of websites are linking to your website, that’s a sign that you have a relevant website and RankBrain likes that. Links are good, but if you try to cheat the system and just link to websites that are irrelevant, that’ll cost ya! It could cost you big, as in penalty from Google, but that doesn’t happen that often.

As I mentioned earlier in this article, RankBrain is a form of ANI, the weakest form of AI. Here’s the thing though, those other powerful forms of AI are going to come to digital marketing in the near future. AI will turn cold leads into warm ones and will have a significant impact on the digital marketing landscape.

Carl De Lucia – Digital Marketer and Web Developer – Thanks for checkin’ the blog.

By the way, I tweet – @CDeLucia !!!!!