We’ve placed some of our bets on AI and entity understanding – maybe you could too?
This post isn’t about chatGPT, “who” took our industry by storm making the potential of AI visible also to the laymen. In the context of digital marketing and search engines, AI has been frequently discussed for at least the last half a decade. However, too often has that discussion ended-up to the satisfactory and somewhat futile concept of “black-box”. Lately, together with one of our new partners, we have been peeking inside this mystery box in the context of search engines, and so far, we are pretty bullish on what we see as far as SEO automation and its value-add is concerned.
- AI acceleration has finally reached a point of concrete value-add automation solutions for websites, content and SEO
- Entity SEO is one of the most interesting paradigm shifts in terms of how websites and their contents are organized and ranked “below the hood”
- We’ve invested in both AI and entity SEO and are currently delivering exciting results for our portfolio of sites and clients; making us very bullish on future outlook
- No matter if your site is small, medium or massive in size, automation of “boring yet high digital value tasks” is something you are better off at leaving for AI and automation
What is entity SEO and all this AI fuzz about?
Those who have been in the industry for quite some time know that the graveyard of digital marketing trends is larger than the sum of bodies buried beyond Google’s first page. While the SEO space has also witnessed an endless flow of new tools (many very useful!) I’ve personally been a bit bothered by their similarity and particularly low level of actionability. Keywords have been dead for a long time yet they continue to dominate most of the attention. What we see is all there is!
To me, this is analogous to saying that the transportation industry and cars haven’t changed much just by staring at their design and wheels when at the same time the entire energy transformation system (i.e. the engine) is a completely different “entity”. Entities, as it turns out, can also be “optimized” and in the digital context they can be determined as:
”Unlike a keyword, which is ultimately just a collection of letters specific to a language, an entity carries meaning and is independent of the language and of the synonymous keywords that designate it.”
By analyzing and optimizing websites via the lens of entities (i.e. anything that carries a meaning) as opposed to keywords (i.e. well, just keywords) we can “open up the black box of AI” and – perhaps most importantly – enhance the factors which constitute a meaning to our website and thereby to our current and future customers. This sort of paradigm shift – a transition from keyword to entities – combined with an automated capability to action these insights make this field particularly interesting.
In concrete terms, an entity based approach to websites allows the deployment of meaningful changes to website’s internal linking, targeting and source code at scale – entirely from the cloud. We are looking forward to quitting the manual (yet often necessary) struggle with content management systems as well as developers and focus our attention on productivity – a school book example on what was promised from AI in the first place.
Why have we invested and why should you too?
Unless a business or website is making direct revenue with AI (i.e. developing and training AI systems, case OpenAI), investing in AI represents a cost with a highly uncertain future pay-off. The more transparent the costs and the more secure the pay-off of AI, the more likely the investment is likely to succeed. This sort of thinking, combined with our large international clientele, is the reason why we chose to engage in this AI endeavor.
As our portfolio of clients includes dozens of websites (some very large, some small) we are able to push the “cost per site” or “cost per deployment” quite low while at the same time ensuring our internal efficiency as far as all the platform’s features are concerned. Businesses also have an option to purchase a license of their own (the price tag is rather hefty) yet we preserve our exclusivity for the Finnish language since we are “training the model” and doing our part so that Finnish websites do not get left behind in their own hometurf.
And the results, please?
Generally speaking, the entity model and technology we use advertises itself with an average of 70% growth in organic traffic shortly after implementation . While this number is likely to be somewhat, even aggressively, inflated personally I think it’s impressiveness has to do with both the technology and its capabilities as well as correlation-causality mismatch (those using their product are likely to be more sophisticated in the first place and would have achieved good results even without “AI approach”).
We have had the pleasure and privilege of dealing with several sites of 500K – 1M organic entrances per month and so far the pilot results have been encouraging including but not limited to:
- ~50%+ growth in organic traffic for the key target pages YoY (internal linking alone, no content changes) while the entire site (control group) trends pretty much flat YoY. [pilot #1]
- ~100% direct revenue growth for the key target pages pre-post changes while the entire site (control group) was trending flat in terms seasonality [pilot #2]
- ~20 hours of productive work time savings per month from a content team of 3 people (including tasks which would have needed to be done anyway) [pilot #3]
The absolute numbers and uplift of these pilot cases exceeded 5K organic sessions per month and the industries varied from hyper competitive to competitive.While these results are not exhaustively statistically significant in the digital marketing space they represent gains rarely seen. It is also worth noting that in addition to the hard-fact business benefits automation entails inherent value of its own whether in the form of saved resources or more meaningful (pun intended!) work.
As a whole, convincing automation capabilities combined with impressive pilot results have made us confident enough to engage in “real-deal” partnership with this technology and its development with a higher than average focus on entity SEO in the upcoming months.
In concrete terms, we are – at least as far as we are aware – the first Nordic agency leveraging the entity automation approach’ most comprehensively for our portfolio of websites and clients. We are also investing heavily, together with our partner, in enhancing our AI capabilities further with the focus on Finnish language (yes, we know it’s hard!) to which we’ll have an exclusivity in the market in return. We very much look forward to on-board both our largest international accounts as well as those interested in the Finnish language into our suite.
Whom is this AI awesomeness best suited for?
While it would be naive to lay out the ultimate best use cases for this emergent technology (it’s AI, we don’t know), the reasons why have chosen to engage and invest in this technology in the first place, are its versatile use cases. Entity SEO certainly isn’t a panacea to all problems (performance or resources) but we see it adds most value to and yields a best ROI for
- Content sites or blogs which include a substantial amount of medium to high quality content pages (~100+ would be a good a heuristic)
- Ecommerce sites who are engaged in content marketing (within their own domain) and/or an ecommerce business who has a need to prioritize certain product items or categories either from a top-line or bottom-line perspective
- B2B (corporate) sites who are dealing with multi-service or multi-product offerings (and where centralization is impractical or very difficult to impose)
- Larger media and listing sites struggling to automate their internal linking and/or analyze their most potential topics at scale
- Finance and insurance sites beyond single product or service portfolio
- SaaS websites with growth or market expansion appetite and current landing page architecture beyond 100 pages (not a scientific heuristic)
- Larger municipal and governmental websites who do not possess the resources or discipline to focus on internal linking and topical approach
- Content marketing and creative agencies who don’t want to or need to bother with internal linking, topical approach and data-driven content
How does it work and how do I get in?
As the underlying model of the technology is, fundamentally, AI and its sub-field of NLP (natural language processing), the honest answer is that – in detail – we still don’t know. The difference to the “black box” mythology is that we can however see, control and “train” the output. And the output is what determines the results.
In the best case, the output is completely automated (very little manual labor, just results) and in some of the cases the underlying entity model requires more training in order to be effective. The value add manifests itself in efficiency (saving resources and manual labor) and effectiveness (deploying changes live at scale) and their respective business KPIs.
It’s worth stressing that for many websites either scarce or incompetent development resources are the root cause why little or anything can be deployed live, but this sort of (fully automated) approach circumvents these issues altogether. After the easy initial setup (best case 5 minutes) all the automation capabilities are production ready.
All in all we think there’s a lot of room for healthy optimism brought by a theoretically sound “paradigm shift”, actionable and scalable technology combined with proven benefits and results. As with anything new and innovative, the technology itself may still fail but in the meantime we continue to develop and leverage it further for great results as far as websites and clients in our portfolio are concerned. New sites and clients may either join our waiting list or start a learning journey of their own – see you on the other side!
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