The artificial intelligence revolution has rocked our world in a few short months. OpenAI launched ChatGPT. Bing released a chat feature. Google opened access to Bard and the experimental Search Generative Experience. As these new tools emerge, almost everything about how we seek, access, and interact with online information changes. And it begs the question…
Could all these AI-enabled changes mean SEO is dead? The answer is a hard no; it’s just different. The days of optimizing websites exclusively for crawlers and bots are far behind us. We, as SEOs and marketers, must embrace the shift toward optimizing websites, content, and online experiences for humans and their information needs. As such, search engine optimization is alive, and will become even more important in your web strategy as AI tools advance in this new era.
Living in the moment: Understanding SEO, AI, and SGE
SEO, AI, and SGE are three of the most important technologies today, and they’re all becoming inseparably linked. AI is already used in a number of ways to improve SEO, from generating high-quality content to identifying and targeting the right keywords.
As AI develops, it will likely play an even more significant role in SEO, helping businesses reach their target audiences more effectively. By staying ahead of the curve with these technologies and strategies, companies can position themselves for success in the future of search. Before we dive into the details of what comes next for SEO, let’s look at broader definitions and how these technologies and strategies impact each other today.
What is SEO?
SEO (search engine optimization) is nothing new. In fact, both the concept and the term have been part of the web-based world since 1997 — before Google existed. At this time, search engines functioned as directories or virtual yellow pages. And as more consumers adopted the Internet, more businesses became invested in making themselves visible on the Internet.
SEO is a complex and ever-changing field, but it is essential to any online marketing strategy. Your web presence depends on organic SEO. Traditionally, SEO depends on fundamental factors that increase website traffic and search engine placement, which include:
- Creating relevant, keyword-optimized content.
- Optimizing the website’s title tags, meta descriptions, and header tags.
- Building backlinks from high-quality websites.
- Ensuring that the website is mobile-friendly.
- Improving the website’s loading speed.
What is AI?
AI, short for artificial intelligence, is a technology that mimics or simulates human intelligence. There are a variety of applications for AI, from self-driving cars to automated manufacturing processes. Machine learning, deep learning, and cognitive computing all influence how AI works.
Conversational and generative AI tools like ChatGPT, Bard, and Bing are natural language processing tools and can communicate in a human-like way. They provide information quickly and can generate new text, code, images, and other kinds of creative content.
What is SGE?
SGE stands for Search Generative Experience. It is a new set of search and interface capabilities that integrates generative AI-powered results into Google search engine query responses.
SGE is still under development, but it’s designed to make searching for information online even more helpful, instructive, and insightful. By nature, SGE hinges on providing users with a more personalized and conversational experience. It is intended to do this by:
- Generating concise and informative answers to complex questions.
- Providing relevant visual content, such as images, charts, and graphs.
- Suggesting follow-up questions to help users explore their topic of interest further.
- Translating search results into different languages.
Here are some examples of how SGE can be used:
- If you search “how to change a tire,” SGE might generate a step-by-step guide with images and videos.
- If you search for “best restaurants in Phoenix,” SGE might generate a list of restaurants with user reviews and links to their menus.
- If you search for “what does life even mean?” SGE might generate a summary of different philosophical perspectives on the topic.
SGE is revolutionizing the way we search for information. Using generative AI to produce more personalized and informative results, SGE can help searchers (consumers) find the information they need more quickly and easily.
The current state of SEO: ‘It depends’
We can’t ignore the fact that AI’s emergence and proliferation are rattling to SEO as we traditionally know it.
According to Search Engine Journal’s 2024 State of SEO report, today’s digital marketers and SEOs expect disruptions from three major trends:
- Generative AI
- Google’s E-E-A-T ranking criteria
- Automation tools
For many SEO experts, these new and rapidly evolving advances challenge how we think about what it means to optimize for search.
These concerns check out, too. Google’s recent Helpful Content core algorithm update, which began rolling out in August and has extended into September 2023, is making one fact glaringly obvious: SEO no longer means optimizing content and website experiences for search engine crawlers and the only way to win top-ranking spots, boost CTR, gain qualified organic traffic (and lift conversions) is to optimize for the human experience.
While AI, generative tools, and even search algorithms gain a better understanding of what kind of content is helpful and informative to people, the notion of keyword-stuffed web copy created just for search engines is on its way out, and helpful content written by people, for people, has gained momentum as what it takes to win in the competitive SEO space.
Welcome to the future: Embracing content strategy with SEO, SGE, and AI in mind
As more web users turn to AI and SGE tools to do research and make informed decisions, it is increasingly important to be visible to searchers no matter the medium they’re using and aware of how your business is perceived by both artificial and human intelligence in this new virtual realm.
The only way to achieve this goal and prepare for future advancements is to embrace a website content strategy intricately interwoven with forward-focused SEO. This is evident with each Google core algorithm update as they increasingly move toward rewarding sites that relay information in an easy-to-understand, conversational, and unbiased tone.
Next steps for content strategy, SEO and SGE success
It might sound counter-intuitive, but embracing an organic content strategy with a human element is vital to success in today’s AI-driven landscape as SGE emerges. This especially rings true when your business and website tie into YMYL (your money or your life) topics like health, medicine, finance, and current events.
Google’s algorithms are designed to reward websites that provide high-quality content that is informative, comprehensive, and relevant to users. To appeal to Google’s E-E-A-T criteria, comply with Google’s Helpful Content updates, and succeed in SGE, businesses need to focus on creating content that is genuinely helpful to humans with UX and CX in mind. There are a few ways to accomplish this:
- Understand your customers’ journey. Linguistic profiling and search journey analysis can help you define your target audience’s journey. Where are they in their conversion journey? Understanding their needs and offering solutions improves their experience on-site and with your brand.
- Write for your target audience. Before you start writing, take some time to think about your target audience. What are their needs and interests? What kind of content would they find helpful? What are the values that drive their decision-making?
- Do your research. Make sure that your content is accurate and up-to-date. Cite your sources and link to other relevant content.
- Be clear and concise. Get to the point quickly and avoid using jargon.
- Write in a conversational tone. Imagine that you’re talking to a friend or colleague.
- Break up your text with images, videos, and headings. This will make your content easier to read and scan.
Does this sound familiar? We’ve touched on the factors you see above before and it’s helped drive success landing at “position zero” in the SERPs. Learn more about featured snippets in SEO strategy.
Take the next steps in SEO and SGE now
AI is poised to revolutionize SEO, empowering businesses to reach their target audiences with unprecedented precision. Businesses must ethically embrace AI and other innovative technologies and position themselves as leaders in this rapidly evolving field. This requires an online strategy inextricably linked to forward-thinking SEO created by humans for humans.
Offering SEO solutions and website and content strategy is just part of how Tallwave wants to drive your success. As a leader in providing integrated marketing solutions and more to both established and up-and-coming brands, Tallwave is ready to deploy our customer-centric and cohesive approach in a way that is unique to your vision and creates exceptional experiences for consumers of all kinds.
From conversion rate optimization to paid media services to product design and beyond, we’re ready to partner up and strategically future-proof your digital strategies.