How Artificial Intelligence Can Help You to Improve Your SEO

Online Marketing

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Self-driving cars, computers capable of beating the best Go players in the world, medical diagnostics based on CT scans… artificial intelligence is hotter than ever, and it’s getting more and more relevant as time goes by. WordPress is no exception and we can find this trend in the plugins we use, as some of them use AI to make our work a little easier.

Jerk hal
HAL 9000 is one of the first AIs that ever existed… And luckily for us it wasn’t real. Source: Giphy.

A couple of months ago, Ruth and I attended a Meetup in Barcelona of the WordPress & Marketing Barcelona group where the speaker, Gennaro Cuofano (whom we recently interviewed), talked about SEO trends and shared several tips and tricks. I found his talk very interesting and thought I should write about what I learned from him. So in this post we’ll talk a little bit about SEO, SEM, Inbound Marketing, and how an AI plugin can help us climb up Google’s rankings. Let’s get started! 🤗

SEO, SEM, and Inbound Marketing

Being one of the first results on Google is not easy. In the past we talked about what you need to do to improve your SEO and thus your visibility. There’s plenty of weird tips and tricks to improve your ranking and show up in the first page of a Google search, but I really think that, in the end, it’s all about writing quality content with people in mind and being patient so that search engines will end up giving you the privileged place you deserve.

Google
Being one of the first results in Google is like solving a Rubik’s cube: it’s not impossible, but you have to work hard. Source: Giphy.

The most common formulas to attract traffic to our website are SEO and SEM. Both formulas are based on positioning our content well in search engines. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and includes all those actions that we perform to improve the “organic” positioning in search engines. By optimizing parameters such as the quality and relevance of the content, the loading speed of our website, its adaptability to mobile platforms, and so on, a search engine will eventually rank our post as good enough to be on the first page. SEM, on the other hand, includes the marketing campaigns that we carry out in the search engines. The classic example that everyone knows is Google AdWords. In this case, we basically spend money to make our website appear as a sponsored result of a certain search query. It’s therefore the perfect complement to SEO: while we wait for our website to rank high organically, we make sure it’s on the first page via sponsored ads.

Another way to attract more traffic to our blog, which we have already discussed at Nelio, is Inbound Marketing. When implementing an inbound marketing strategy, you’re supposed to create useful and quality content and expect it to lure the traffic—there’s no need to look for visitors or spend money on ads here and there. As you can see, it’s related to classic SEO, as we create quality content that should eventually be accessible to our users, but its scope goes beyond search engines. We’re interested in achieving the maximum diffusion of our contents and, for this, we use anything at our reach: social media, Newsletters, search engines….

At Nelio we have great confidence in Inbound Marketing because, from our experience, it works. And that is why we created Nelio Content, to ease the implementation of Inbound Marketing techniques by creating marketing campaigns on social networks. But this is only part of the equation…

WordLift—A Plugin that Makes Things Easier

In the meetup I was telling you about at the beginning of this post, Gennaro told us about search engines and how they work. In essence, what he described is the same we’ve been talking today: Google and other search engines try to classify the content according to its relevance and quality. The key point of Gennaro’s talk, though, was the following:

Google‘s algorithm has become much more powerful in recent years. However, it still reasons on the basis of the crawl budget. That is, Google limits the time its crawlers can spend on each website based on authority, accessibility, quality, and speed. Therefore, the easier it is for Google to understand and index your content, the better it’ll like your website. After all, you’re helping them save money, aren’t you?

And it makes total sense: Google‘s job is to index the web, and this involves hours and hours of crawling, classifying, and indexing content. This takes time and a lot of resources. That is, it costs money. So, assuming our content is as good as anybody else’s, if we help Google, even a little, to understand our content more rapidly, we’ll be saving them time and money. And everyone likes that.

The question now is: how can we do that?

Enrich Your Content

Helping Google is easier than you think, as they tell you how to do it:

Google Search works hard to understand the content of a page. You can help us by providing explicit clues about the meaning of a page to Google by including structured data on the page. Structured data is a standardized format for providing information about a page and classifying the page content; for example, on a recipe page, what are the ingredients, the cooking time and temperature, the calories, and so on.

It’s no secret, then, that Google rewards those websites that ease their crawling and indexing processes. Let’s see how we can do that, shall we? 😇

Read beauty and the beast
Search engines might be very good at interpreting our websites, but you can make things simpler for them. Source: Giphy.

As we can read on WordLift’s website, Schema.org is an initiative launched in 2011 by the main search engines in the market to promote and facilitate the implementation of structured data on our websites. Basically, Schema.org is a database with a lot of concepts that we can use to anotate the content of our website. It’s a way to describe the content of our pages and help search engines to enrich the user experience by taking advantage of the extra knowledge these concepts provide.

The big question now is how to get this data embedded into your website. Although there are several plugins that allow you to include them, I don’t know of any that makes it as easy as WordLift doest. WordLift adds the following box on the post edit screen:

Suggested entities by WordLift
WordLift adds a new box in your post edit screen and suggests the entities you should link.

When the box is expanded, a background process scans the contents of your post and automatically tries to extract all the relevant entities from your content. The AI algorithm that the guyst at WordLift have implemented detects the relevant entities of your content (things, people, places, and dates) and searches them in databases like Schema.org. If it finds a match, it allows you to create the link between your post and the entity in that database with a couple of clicks. As a result, embedding the structured data Google loves is a completely automatic process.

You can see the result with Google Structured Data Testing Tool:

Screenshot of Google's tool to visualize the structured data included in a website
Screenshot of Google’s tool to visualize the structured data included in a website. In this case, you can see how our blog mentions certain entities like Promotion (marketing) or Content Media.

As you can see in the right-hand column of the previous screenshot, without doing anything more than simply confirming which entities appear in our post, Google can easily know it mentions (look at the keyword mentions) things like “Promotion (marketing)” or “Content Media”. Cool!

Create Relevant Vocabulary

WordLift also generates a database of all the entities we linked in our blog posts. This vocabulary database are like regular blog posts and define each concept in more detail:

WordLift Vocabulary List
List of entities created in our blog using WordLift.

WordLift will try to define these concepts automatically using the definitions found in Schema.org and other databases, but I’d recommend you spend some time tweaking all those concepts and trying to define them by yourself. The more accurate and original their contents are, the better for your SEO they’ll be.

Advantages of This Solution

I’m pretty sure that, by now, you’re quite convinced of the usefulness of enriching your posts with structured data, aren’t you? But you might still have some doubts… in the end, isn’t this a lot of work to do? 🤔

Come on whatever
What? Come one! It clearly isn’t… Source: Giphy.

As I just explained, adding the structured data to our post is very easy, as WordLift takes care of finding the relevant concepts in our content, looking for them in external databases, and suggesting the links. And the advantage of using it is quite clear: Google‘s own engineers are telling us that adding rich snippets to our website helps them index it better! So there’s nothing that should bother you, really.

Wrapping Up

Reaching our target audience is difficult. Search engines and social networks are two of the most common channels for implementing a good Inbound Marketing strategy. Search engines always try to give the best content they have indexed to their users, so our focus should be to create “the best content“. But there are a few extra things we can do to earn some “bonus” points. WordLift is a plugin that allows you to enrich your content with structured data easily. Use it, and search engines will understand the topics you cover easily and reward you for saving them time and money.

Featured Image by rawpixel on Unsplash.

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He obtained his PhD in Computer Science at UPC. David leads the analysis and design of our services and the user support area. He's interested in a variety of areas, including conceptual modeling, virtual reality, and 3D digital printing. He contributes to the WordPress community by participating in meetups, seminars, and the WCEU.

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