Search engine optimization (SEO) is a mission-critical function for nearly all (99%) US marketing professionals surveyed by digital marketing technology company SearchDex. The company’s 2017 SEO Proficiency in Marketing Survey, among 100 marketers, also revealed that building and managing an effective SEO strategy and team is difficult to achieve and that the vast majority of marketers believe their SEO strategy would greatly benefit from artificial intelligence (AI).
Managing An SEO Strategy And Team
Nearly all marketers (91%) surveyed by SearchDex agreed that building and managing an effective SEO strategy and team is difficult to achieve. More than half (55%) of marketers said they found it challenging to build an expert SEO team and 45% indicated that they had difficulty working with the IT department to execute the company’s SEO strategy. Another 45% said they were having difficulty finding time in their schedules to examine analytics reports. Still others (35%) pointed to the lack of SEO tools to execute the tasks at hand and another 32% cited lack of access to proper service providers as a barrier to success.
When asked what tactics currently were missing from their SEO strategies 62% of the survey participants cited automation of frequent changes, followed by the continuous creation of new unique content (53%), competitive keyword research (50%), incorporation of big data (49%) and the use of artificial intelligence (47%). Full infographic at the end of the post.
Retail Website SEO
Due to their frequent content updates and transactional nature retail websites are facing a specific set of SEO challenges. When asked what SEO challenges they face, two-thirds (66%) of marketers with retail websites cited keeping up with changes to product pages and 55% mentioned dealing similar product titles to competitors in the search results. More than half (54%) of survey participants pointed to not updating pages based on search demand as a difficult task to accomplish; 51% mentioned insufficient product reviews and 43% lack of product descriptions.
When asked what consequences retail websites face if they fail to implement a sound SEO strategy, 71% of survey participants revealed that it would lead to lower profits and a loss if interest among consumers; nearly two-thirds (63%) said that their brand would be perceived as a commodity rather than unique; 54% faired loss of brand loyalty; and 42% loss of consumer trust.
Artificial Intelligence and SEO
Artificial intelligence is increasingly being tapped for a growing array of core business applications and search is no exception. It is, therefore, not surprising that nearly all marketers participating in the SearchDex survey felt their SEO strategy would benefit from AI. About 73% cited the ability to focus on SEO, and offload data analysis to AI technology as a major benefit and almost two-thirds mentioned the potential of AI to search for anomalies in their current SEO strategy and fix them. Another 58% believed AI technology may keep their company’s SEO strategy up-to-date based on what competitors were doing; slightly less than half (49%) felt AI could help them outperform Google’s RankBrain technology, and 41% believed AI removed the need for exact keyword phrases.
But despite the hype over using machine learning and AI in search, Google has not implemented much of it in their search technology. Most of their efforts have been focused on implementing elements of machine learning (RankBrain) to better understand user intent and evaluate content quality. Google’s Gary Illyes has repeatedly said that ‒although RankBrain is a ranking signal ‒ he doesn’t see machine learning and artificial intelligence taking over most of the Google ranking algorithms because it is too hard to debug.