Search engine optimization (SEO) is a huge part of any marketing strategy. It brings long-term results and drives consumers to your business. It can help you get the word out about your company and reach consumers who didn’t even know you were exactly what they’re looking for.

Over the years, SEO has changed significantly. While it used to be possible to boost your rankings by stuffing as many keywords as possible into a meta description or webpage, that practice now comes with a penalty. In the last couple of years, search engines like Google have shifted their focus to optimizing for mobile searches, and they now give priority to mobile-friendly sites.

We can undoubtedly expect to see continued changes to SEO as technology develops and consumers continue to evolve. Artificial intelligence (AI) and voice searches are two technologies that are already affecting SEO but will likely have an even bigger impact in 2019 and the years to come. From narrowing down target markets to changing the way content is written, AI and voice search will have an ongoing effect on SEO moving forward.

How AI Will Affect SEO

Although we’re still exploring what AI can do, we have developed many ways to integrate it into various industries, especially marketing. AI is already impacting SEO.

Better targeting. AI can sort through massive amounts of information and give feedback and relevant data that can be used to narrow down a target audience. Targeting helps marketers create content and campaigns that reach their audiences more effectively. LeadCrunch has already harnessed the power of AI and is enabling sales teams to create and interact with smart personas to develop more intelligent campaigns.

Easier voice search optimization. Because AI can efficiently sort through data and offer insight, it can be used to analyze content, images, website layout, ad and marketing materials, and more and optimize those tools for voice search. As voice search’s popularity continues to rise, it will be more important than ever to have a website that is fully optimized to get results.

Eliminating black hat techniques. Black hat techniques like keyword stuffing are being recognized quickly by search engines. Some search engines have begun penalizing websites for using black hat, but some are still slipping through the cracks. As AI continues to develop, it will be easier to detect black hat techniques, which could result in the entire eradication of such shady SEO practices and make the playing field more level for all.

How Voice Search Will Affect SEO

In 2017, mobile searches accounted for more than 50 percent of all web traffic worldwide, and that number continues to grow. 41 percent of adults say they use voice search at least once a day, and experts expect that by 2020, 50 percent of all searches will be voice-based. That means it’s vital to start focusing on voice search technology now.

Focus on semantics. In a text search, you would probably type “best Indian restaurants in Denver;” but if you were to do a voice search, you would be more likely to ask, “is there any good Indian food around here?” From the words we use to the way we phrase our thinking, text and voice searches are quite different. As voice continues to become more prevalent, it will mean that you’ll need to write content in a more conversational tone to fully optimize.

Put an even bigger focus on mobile. Search engines are already shifting their focus to prioritize mobile searches; however, as voice search continues to rise, it may mean you will need to fully optimize your site for mobile and focus on mobile first. Choosing a responsive web design, compressing images, and getting rid of flash are all great places to start.

Optimizing for local search is more important than ever. If you have a brick and mortar location where customers come to shop, you already know how important it is to rank in local search results. With the rise of voice search, it will be more important than ever. Since customers say things like “near me” in voice search, you’ll want to be sure you show up near the top of the results.

Final Thoughts

AI and voice search have already begun to impact SEO, and as these technologies continue to develop, we can expect to see more changes in the way SEO is done. Optimizing your website now is more important than ever if you want to stay ahead of the competition and keep up with evolving consumers. If you wait even just a year or two, you may find yourself falling behind.