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May 27

SEO Strategies in the Age of AI


Are the current SEO strategies still relevant today in the age of AI? Or, do we need to completely overhaul our approach to SEO?

A while back, I wrote a post that mapped out the rationale behind my SEO strategies. 

This philosophy, if you will, is simple yet it has produced incredible results for me and my clients over the years. It goes like this.

Search engines are basically answer machines. 

When someone types a question into a search engine like Google, they’re hoping to find the most relevant answer right at the top. 

For us in higher education marketing, that means if we can anticipate those burning questions and address them directly through our content—be it blog posts, videos, or newsletters—we boost our chances of landing right in front of their eyes. 

It’s all about crafting content that not only answers their questions but also engages them enough to explore what our institutions have to offer.

To successfully engage prospective students and their families, our content has to be relevant, authoritative, timely, and emotive

This isn’t just about stuffing keywords into articles; it’s about creating genuinely helpful and engaging content that resonates on a personal level. 

Ok. So that’s the foundation of the SEO strategies I’ve been using to build my blog here as well as how I’ve cultivated the audiences of my higher ed clients.

Question is, now that AI is here, does any of this rationale still apply?

It certainly does!

How AI is Changing SEO

Like all industries, the fast-paced evolution of AI is changing the landscape of SEO.

But while some of the rules are being rewritten, the content marketing game—and by extension, our SEO strategies—is very much still the same at its core.

Here are some of the ways AI is changing SEO marketing

Integration of AI in Search

AI is now a big part of search engines like Google. 

It’s getting better at figuring out what people really mean when they search for something. 

This means we need to make our content even smarter and more detailed, not just focusing on keywords but also on the full story and context that people are interested in.

AI as Direct Answer Sources

New AI platforms, like ChatGPT, let users chat directly to get answers, which can bypass traditional search engines. 

This means people might use these AIs for deeper or more conversational questions. 

We should think about how our content works not just in articles or webpages, but also in these AI-driven chats.

Voice Search and Digital Assistants

More people are using voice commands with devices like Siri or Alexa to find information. 

They tend to ask questions more conversationally, like they’re talking to someone. 

So, we need to be ready with content that fits this more natural way of asking questions, making sure we understand and answer exactly what they’re asking.

Even as AI transforms how we do things as higher ed marketers, it’s important to realize that it’s not fundamentally changing what we are doing.

Successful SEO strategies—even in the age of AI—still depend on our ability to anticipate our target audiences’ questions and answer them through our content in a way that motivates them to take actions that help further their personal dreams while helping us attain our institutional goals.

SEO Strategies that Go Beyond Keywords

AI is reshaping SEO marketing by making search engines even smarter and more intuitive. 

These days, AI doesn’t just match keywords. It understands context, predicts user intent, and even suggests content based on past behaviors. 

This means our SEO strategies need to be more nuanced. 

We’re not just targeting keywords but weaving in answers to the questions our prospective students are likely to ask in ways that resonate on a human level. 

Here are some practical ways to update your SEO strategies as AI continues to develop. 

Embrace AI-Driven SEO Tools

First of all, we’ve got to change how we are approaching AI. 

It’s not here to replace us! It’s here to help us. I like to think of AI as a “cobot” as opposed to a “robot.”

So, let’s embrace AI tech by using AI-driven SEO tools to analyze search trends and user behavior. 

Tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs come with features that help you understand what your target audience is searching for and how they interact with your content. 

SEM tools like these use complex algorithms to analyze search data and predict which keywords will be most effective for targeting. 

They can suggest long-tail keywords that are less competitive yet highly relevant, improving the precision and effectiveness of your SEO efforts.

Also, these tools use AI to evaluate the quality and relevance of content on your website. 

They can identify gaps in content compared to top-ranking competitors and suggest improvements or additional topics that should be covered to better meet user intent.

Focus on Intent, not just Keywords

With AI, search engines are getting better at understanding the ‘why’ behind searches. 

Make sure your content addresses the underlying intent of questions. 

For example, if a prospective student is searching for “engineering programs,” they might be looking for courses offered, career outcomes, or even practical projects included in the curriculum.

Again, here is where AI-driven SEO tools can help. 

AI technologies are excellent at understanding the intent behind search queries. 

This means they can help categorize keywords and queries into informational, navigational, or transactional intents. 

By understanding intent, you can tailor content more effectively to meet user needs at different stages of their journey.

Create Engaging, Conversational Content

AI loves content that engages. 

As voice search becomes more common, think about how your content sounds aloud. 

Engage readers with stories, make it relatable, and ensure it flows naturally.

Also, some AI tools (like Crazyegg) can analyze user behavior on a website to identify patterns that indicate satisfaction or frustration. 

This data can be used to optimize website layout, speed, and content placement to improve user experience, which is a critical factor in SEO rankings.

Stay on Top of AI Trends

AI is constantly evolving. 

Keep yourself updated with the latest advancements in AI and machine learning that can impact SEO. 

If you want to dive deep into the geeky stuff (way beyond what you need to know for marketing), language models like Google’s BERT and other algorithm updates focused on understanding natural language are fascinating.

Leverage Data for Personalization

AI can crunch a vast amount of data to offer personalized content suggestions. 

Use data analytics to tailor your content to meet the specific needs and preferences of different segments of your audience.

One way AI can make a big difference for personalization is in how it can predict what user’s want to know based on their past browsing history or interaction with the AI platform.

For example, AI-driven chatbots can offer users links to other content you’ve created that may interest them, leading them to further consider your education brand

The Heart of SEO Strategies

While AI is transforming the landscape, the heart of effective SEO strategies remains the same: connecting with your audience by providing valuable, relevant answers to their questions. 

By integrating AI into your SEO strategies, not only are you staying relevant, but you’re also enhancing the ways in which prospective students interact with your content. 

For more information or even some hands-on assistance in optimizing your higher ed marketing strategy with AI, contact us today

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