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Artificial intelligence (AI)—not the Skynet kind but getting there—is sorting out the winners from the also-rans in the music retailing.

Smart music entrepreneurs and store managers know how to attract AI’s attention and get it to say good things about their enterprises. Those who are on the trailing edge of the technology that is moving forward at ever-increasing velocity are getting buried, literally.

The AI that is changing the world of music retailing comprises that mathematics and computer science behind the world’s most popular search engine, Google.

Google is also the most popular search engine for people who are looking for business “near me.” That doesn’t need explaining. You’re on the internet, so you know how it works.

How Google decides the order of the search results is considerably more mysterious. The top slots go to websites that are optimized for AI recognition; everything else gets dog-piled by the winners.

Google’s Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence mimics human thinking by using statistical models that rewrite computer code in real time as it receives new data. And Google is on the leading edge of AI research and development.

An update rolled out in September 2022. The Multitask United Model (MUM) upgrade deepened the AI’s understanding users’ search behavior. The company said MUM was a thousand times more powerful than its previous algorithm update.

Since its release, Google has expanded its search analytics to text, video, audio, and images in 75 languages, as well as users’ feelings, context, abstractions. MUM also is learning how to understand users’ feelings, search contexts, abstractions, and intent to provide more relevant answers and serve up more valuable content and information.

The intended result was to improve the user experience by reducing the number of times users had to refine their searches to find what they were looking for.

For instance, users will be able to key in various media, including images, sounds, words, videos, and more to make their queries more dynamic. For example, uploading a photo of a guitar via image search will tell you what genres its suited for and recommend other guitars that are better for jazz.

SEO Becomes Smarter and More Sophisticated

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)—the website processes that improve search-engine results—are getting more advanced, as well. If your store is still focused on keywords and other old school search tactics, it’s time to play catch up. Everything about search is changing and SEO strategies have to keep up.

AI: It Speaks!

Voice searches are becoming more intricate as Google’s AI gets better at holding conversations.

Its machine-learning technology Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA) gives Google the ability to have organic conversations and gather richer, contextual data in order to deliver better-quality search results.

Excerpt ranking

Excerpt Ranking, Google’s functionality that evaluates content on individual pages in addition to the website as a whole, ranks specified passages. That means it can now factor in the stronger signals coming from a web page and deliver more meaningful results for niche queries.

Market saturation online and a progressively more sophisticated search algorithm has made ranking on the top spot for a query challenging. It’s not going to get easier from here. With the new zero rank position (snippets) competing for the top spot on the results page, expect that you will have to fine-tune your strategy to maintain your rank.

How music stores can prepare for Excerpt Ranking: In the world of music retailing, sellers whose websites are populated with relevant, authoritative images and content will be most pleasing to the AI.

Google Sets New Page Ranking Parameters

Page Experience is another relatively new twist to search engine tanking. Google defines it as “a set of signals that measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page beyond its pure information value.”

The measurement of the page experience is through Core Web Vitals, the metrics for a page’s load speed based on how a viewer experiences it.

  • First Input Delay (FID): This is the interactivity metric. An FID lower than 100 milliseconds would be your best bet, according to Google.
  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This metric looks purely at load performance. The search engine suggests that a page LCP should be under 5 seconds starting on load.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This refers to the measurement of visual stability. Google says that a website should maintain a CLS score no higher than 1.

Mobile optimization, HTTPS protocol use, and intrusive interstitials—pop ups that slow down page loading—also figures into the Core Web Vitals ranking.

Stores with websites that are updated regularly to feed the Core Web Vitals algorithms will stay on track with Google’s ongoing focus on user experience.

Google Challenges Amazon

At the depth of the COVID-19 lockouts, most people relied on and got used to shopping online. There’s no sign shoppers plan to shift back to old habits now that the pandemic is abating. This has finally made Google take online shopping seriously, an area it’s ignored for a long time. It’s positioning itself to steal some of Amazon’s thunder.

Music stores must take Google’s interest in online shopping very, very seriously.

Google recently announced Shopping Graph, which is a dynamic, artificial intelligence-based shopping model capable of understanding:

  • Different products, such as musical instruments, and variations, including models
  • Sellers, such as music stores and big box retailers
  • Brands
  • Inventory and product information
  • Ratings and reviews
  • And more.

This move will enable shoppers to find and buy products, including musical instruments, based on the latest retailer information available.

While it’s impossible to be sure of what Google will do before it does it, music stores can use the information in this article to begin planning for the future. Contact us if you need help preparing your music store’s website for what’s next with Google.