The future of search marketers: Automation and AI

Search as a profession has changed drastically over the years. Those who have been in the industry long enough will likely recall the age of the one-man band SEO company, when, with a little keyword stuffing here and some forum signature links there, you could achieve decent results.

Various changes from search engines over time have rendered this style of search tactic all but useless. The eventual integration of PR and SEO led to a completely different focus for search marketers altogether. Fast forward to today and content reigns supreme (something which Google has pushed for a long time). If done successfully, it is the best way of achieving linking domains – the factor that correlates the most with higher rankings.

So what does the future hold for search marketers? What will be the impact of new technologies on the industry?

The recent release of Econsultancy and Microsoft’s Next Revolution of Search report (a survey of 2,500 digital consumers and 25 futurists, scientists and marketers) highlighted a couple of interesting findings which will impact the future role of search marketers. We will explore the findings here.

Search will become automated

The report found that 80% of consumers would find a digital assistant that does product searches for them “incredibly useful”. That’s just the search i.e. punching in the keyword, scrolling through the SERPs and viewing multiple sites.

In a nutshell, the search industry would be fully automated by digital assistants. A simple search such as “trainers” could be completely personalised, so that two people may be presented with completely different results, based on data collected by the assistant over time. Data could include age, location, style, preferences, income, ethics, hobbies, etc.

Coupled with automated purchasing, are we heading for an age where commerce websites are visited primarily by digital assistants, rather than people? We can already see elements of this with the quick answers and featured snippets in voice search.

Taking this a step further, in a session at Google I/O yesterday, we witnessed Google Assistant making a real call to a hairdresser in order to make an appointment. The two conversed back and forth, with Google Assistant even filling a gap with a casual ‘mmm-hmmm’. See the video below.

Marketer or data scientist?

The report goes on to predict digital assistants will lead to a huge amount of data across a massive spectrum. The upside of this is that marketing will become a science, as by applying the scientific method of testing and analysis, we will be able to produce better results and step away from the more artistic method currently in use.

The downside? Unfortunately, marketers aren’t capable of handling that amount of data. At this point, AI will step in and machine learning will continually improve how that data is used. Will this lead to agencies building and maintaining their own tools to use data? Perhaps start-ups will build digital assistance which will challenge the big boys currently dominating the market. Either way, perhaps it’s time to brush up on your Python and consider that Computer Science degree!

The search industry is continually evolving, and marketers will continue to evolve with it, regardless whether we’re even called marketers anymore. There are some interesting changes coming in the future, but there is one thing we can be certain of – it’s never boring (except maybe when writing meta-descriptions)!

To discuss the future of search marketing further, speak to our team of SEO experts!

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