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Does Google’s Updated Artificial Intelligence Mean We Don’t Need SEO?

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Google needs SEOsWe have seen some dramatic improvements recently in the way Google is using AI to deliver the best sites to its users, which raises a big question – if Google is now so good, why is SEO needed?

Google is a very complex search algorithm which uses around 200 factors to rank websites in the search results. In addition to this, Google makes approximately 400 changes every year – some are very minor and go unnoticed, others result in major changes. The biggest change in the last year has been the introduction of more advanced artificial intelligence to analyse these ranking factors and provide individuals with the best search results. However, Google still needs our help.

The argument that Google AI is so good that SEOs are no longer required is a bit like arguing that the market is so well informed that there is no longer any point in having a marketing department. In recent years, just about every Google update has resulted in blog posts from SEO reporters along the lines of “SEO is dead!”, along with advice to stop building links or attempting to optimise a website, for fear of getting a penalty. What is not clear to the untrained eye is that most of the articles on these topics are really just fluff to try to win some new readers on the back of an update. And why do people do this? Because it works!

The simple fact is, that without SEO consultants, most new businesses would fail to get any traction in the organic search results. This is why so many businesses resort to spending all their marketing budget on pay-per-click advertising, and then when their money runs out, they declare that “the Internet doesn’t work for me”. If more businesses invested equally in SEO and paid listings, they would have a greater chance of long-term success.

The problem that the SEO industry has is that it can take a few months to really see any progress, and years to start dominating the market. Many businesses expect rapid results, but this is never possible – PPC and paid social media promotions are the way to generate immediate traffic.

SEO’s Help Google Understand the Web

As good as Google is, it still struggles to understand what some pages are about, and to assign importance to rank a collection of pages on similar topics. Google admits that it uses hundreds of ranking factors to determine where in the SERPs a page will appear, and this is simply because no single ranking factor is good enough to provide a fair and balanced result.

This is where SEO comes in. We understand how different ranking factors can improve a website’s search engine positions, and work to improve these factors to achieve attainable goals for our clients. By doing so, we are helping Google to deliver better results to its customers. When it comes to local SEO, the results in Google search can really be a bit of a mixed bag. So many companies get local wrong that the results often show irrelevant businesses while ignoring some of the best in the area. By optimising a company’s website and search appearance, it is possible to ensure that more searchers discover it – this is ultimately the key goal of all types of marketing.

Tuning Your Business Engine

SEO is a bit like tuning a car engine. Even with all the components of your engine in place and operational, an experienced mechanic can “tune” your engine to get more out of it. By tweaking the carburettor, adjusting the fuel/air mixture, improving the distribution point gaps or adjusting the ignition timing, you can make a car go faster, without actually replacing any components. And adding improved fuel (backlinks!) can help even more.

As SEOs, we tweak a website to improve its performance. Adjustments may include improving the written content, optimising site navigation, compressing large images, fixing broken HTML, updating metatags, improving load time, or any one of hundreds of other small adjustments that will contribute to improving a website.

To get started on any SEO project we run a site through our manual 30 point onsite health check, which quickly highlights any major problems that might be negatively affecting ranking. We also identify pages with suboptimal content so that we can make changes early on in a new campaign – these are what we call “easy wins”, although in all honesty, the identification of problems and implementation of the correct solution is usually anything but easy!

Google Needs Good SEOs

Something Google will probably never fully admit is that it needs good SEOs. Without a network of digital marketers constantly striving to improve quality on the web, the cheats and spammers would win, and this would be terrible news for Google.

Luckily, most businesses can allocate a sizable budget towards their SEO campaign, whereas “web spammers” are often individuals who are working to improve their own websites – not only are they chasing the SEO curve and walking a fine line between what is acceptable by Google, and what results in a penalty, they are also working with limited resources.

So, SEOs really are helping Google deliver the best search results to its users. Without good SEO, there would be a lot more spam on the web, and fewer real businesses appearing in search.

Local SEO

This week over at Canada’s Search Engine People, Nevyana Karakasheva asked, “If Google Is So Smart, Do I Still Need Local SEO?” She raises a very valid point, and then goes on to explain exactly why you still need an SEO, even for just local SEO. Karakasheva talks more about the optimisation of local search, such as promoted pins, local ads and the search pack.

Today, it seems that local SEO is dominated by new, paid features. It is certainly getting harder in some respects, with fewer organic results on the first page of Google, but with a little knowhow it is certainly still possible to optimise a website to rank better – and this applies to global web search too.

Google needs good quality websites in its search index and as SEOs, we are experienced in improving and optimising sites to meet Google’s quality guidelines and perform better in search. Speak to our Freelance SEO consultants today to learn how we can help you help Google!

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