Have you heard of Alphazero?
If you use SEO to market your business, you need to know about it. But, before I explain why, let me give you some background …
Alphazero is a chess algorithm created by Google. And, last December, it won a match against the reigning world computer chess champion.
OK, chess computers get stronger each year so, so what?
There were two things that were unusual about Alphazero …
#1: It taught itself to play chess … and did so in less than 4 hours. All the programmers did was give it the rules of chess and let it figure out the rest.
#2: It didn’t play like a computer. Chess computers are notoriously materialistic. Alphazero isn’t. It played in a way that seemed “intuitive.”
OK, enough of the background, what’s this got to do with search engine marketing?
About 8 years ago, I made a prediction about SEO. I predicted google would start using non-ranking factors to spot sites that had strong backlinks, but lacked the profile you’d expect from a true authority site.
SEO’s dismissed this. (Many claiming I was only saying this to “talk up” PPC.)
In 2012, we saw an early version of this when Google rolled out the “Panda” update. One of the key principles of Panda was to look at the anchor text in a site’s backlinks. If they were too keyword heavy, the site was deemed to be link spamming – and got demoted.
SEO’s were outraged (but less outraged than their clients – who’d now lost their organic traffic!)
No longer able to do SEO, a lot of SEOs quit the industry. (Many of them, after years of rubbishing PPC, rebranded themselves overnight as “AdWords experts.”)
But here’s the deal: Panda was nothing compared to what’s coming.
You see, there’s a gulf between computer programming (Panda) and real artificial intelligence (Alphazero).
I know that because I was a programmer for 4 years in the 1990s. Programming needs the programmer to come up with the algorithm. That puts a limit on the intelligence and sophistication of the programme.
AI doesn’t need that. In AI, the machine figures out the algorithm.
And that’s the point.
All Google has to do is feed the machine a list of a few thousand genuine authority sites, and feed it a list of a few thousand artificially SEO’d sites – then let the machine figure out the difference between the two.
And it’ll do that better, faster and cheaper than any team of manual reviewers could.
When will this happen?
I don’t know when they’re going to do this, but they didn’t build Alphazero to win a chess match – they built it to improve their search results.
So, if your business is dependent on SEO – and your SEO is reliant on link-building, I reckon you have three choices:
#1: Stop being dependent on SEO. Figure out how you can make more money from paid traffic than you ever made from free traffic. (Yes, this is possible – talk to me if you want to know more.)
#2: Change your SEO approach. Instead of trying to trick Google, become what Google wants you to be. If you want to look like an authority site, become an authority site.
Sure, this is more work. But, if you want long term results in business, you can’t rely on tricks, you can’t rely on “out-smarting” Google – you need to do the work.
#3: Continue on with “typical SEO,” hoping that google never applies its AI expertise to the SEO rankings. You might get away with it, but it puts Google, not you, in control of your business. And just ask the site owners who were hit by Panda how that works out …
All the best,