Marketers are clamoring to see how much value they can get out of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, and for understandable reasons. There’s been a recent explosion of capabilities and interest in the AI field, with tons of new applications and room for experimentation. But when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), how much can AI really handle?

The Basics of SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO)

In case you aren’t familiar, SEO usually involves attention to the following:

·       Keyword research and strategy. Initially, most campaigns begin with a phase of keyword research and strategizing. It’s important to figure out which keywords and phrases you want to optimize for, so you can target phrases that are both strategically valuable and competitively viable. Once you have a strategy in place, you’ll have a much easier time developing the content and links you need to succeed.

·       Technical onsite optimization. Websites need to be optimized from a technical perspective to reach peak SEO performance. This includes modifications to increase page loading speed, mobile optimization tweaks, and alterations to certain types of onsite content.

·       Content creation. Content serves multiple functions simultaneously, allowing you to optimize for specific target keywords while simultaneously building your brand credibility. It’s important to produce high-quality content regularly if you want to remain competitive and continue climbing the rankings of the search engine results pages (SERPs).

·       Link building. Link building is one of the most important elements of SEO, since it’s the primary way you’ll build authority – and you’ll need to develop as much authority as possible to outrank your competitors. Your links have to be natural and high quality to be effective, so the best way to achieve good results here is to build links with quality offsite content.

Let’s see how AI can help us in each of these categories.

Keyword Research and Strategy

Already, developers are producing AI-powered tools that can assist with keyword research. Using bigger data sets and predictive analytics, AI seems more than capable of making smart keyword recommendations, even based on minimal inputs.

That said, there still needs to be a human at the helm to operate these tools, interpret the analytics, and ultimately make the final decisions on strategy. In short, AI tools are useful for saving time and crunching the numbers, but they still require human oversight.

Technical Onsite Optimization

Similarly, AI tools can be used to analyze the technical integrity of various webpages, and even make recommendations for tweaks to improve SEO performance. Even better, these AI tools can naturally evolve in accordance with changing Google standards. We even have tools that can assist with technical implementation, such as mobile optimization.

While some human operation is still necessary, technical onsite optimization is one area of SEO primed for AI assistance.

Content Creation

Generative AI is all the rage, so content creation is probably the element of SEO that warrants the most discussion in this article. When the most recent generation of generative AI tools first proved capable of producing coherent written content, people lost their minds. And to be fair, this content is quite good compared to previous generative AI efforts. When utilized properly, these tools can produce thousands of words of content in just a few minutes – and it’s perfectly readable.

However, the content produced by generative AI engines pales in comparison to the quality of top, human-generated posts. AI content tends to be clunky, highly repetitive, formulaic, and (in some cases) flat-out incorrect. It’s a mistake to rely on AI for your SEO content generation, even if Google allows it to be published on your website without penalty.

Generative AI does have a place in the content creation component of SEO; however, it should be mostly used for idea generation, outlining, and drafting. Human content creators should still remain firmly at the helm – at least at this time.

Link Building

We’ve already covered AI in the context of creating content, so what about the other aspects of link building? AI may be useful in backlink profile analysis and identifying new opportunities, but it’s not especially capable of automating outreach and building relationships in this touchy area of SEO. Don’t hold out for full link building automation in the future, either.

Should You Use AI in SEO?

AI definitely has some potential applications in SEO, and it’s only going to get better in the future. But at the same time, there are inherent limitations to what AI can do – and those limitations probably aren’t going away anytime soon. If you want to boost the value of your SEO campaign to the maximum, and avoid costly penalties, your best course of action is to use AI tools as supplementary options, while focusing most of your attention on your own, organically human work.