This is an answer I contributed to the Monetize article “50 SEO Experts Roundup — Where Should We Focus Our Efforts in 2017.”
Artificial Intelligence is the next big thing in the search results but many still don’t fully understand what that means to the future of search. In short, it’s personalization to a degree that we’ve never seen before.
Personalized results sounds great to the user but it comes with some inherent issues. The biggest is confirmation bias. Search results will inevitably become less varied as the algorithms seek to please visitors by giving them more what they know they want. But what search engines can’t give them is what the searcher doesn’t yet know he or she wants.
This means exposure to the searcher before the search is ever made will be essential to showing up in the searcher’s set of results. Search will no longer be a way to find something completely new but to find information from within the sites one has already been exposed to or those very closely similar to it.
This means that marketing out side of search (social media, content, etc.) will become increasingly important. Businesses will need to get in front of more visitors outside of the buying cycle in order to get in front of the visitors when they are actively searching for a product or service.
Of course, all this assumes that Google won’t recognize that there is value in delivering results outside of one’s already established personal preferences. But until then, this is where we are headed.