The ongoing development of AI engines brings some quite interesting innovations to online marketing. We've already covered how content creation is changing, and how it is likely to continue to change as AI progresses. And we've often outlined our concerns about what implications AI brings when it comes to jobs and society. Now, in this article, we will shift our focus towards online search engines, and the upcoming effect of Generative Engine Optimization.
What is Generative Engine Optimization
It should hardly come as a surprise that search engines, like Google or Bing, are closely related to AI development. After all, if there was ever a need to process substantial data and filter it to find something of value, it has to be with SEO. But, it is only now do we see a true integration between SEO and AI, which comes in the form of GEO (Generative Engine Optimization).
Through GEO, you start your optimization by assuming that your content will be processed and ranked by AI. Therefore, the whole process of optimizing your content needs to be seen in a slightly different light. While in 2022 one could follow the guidelines of specific search engines like Google, and modify their content as needed, now you'll need to be more crafty. AI algorithms are not as see-through as previous SEO engines. Therefore, it will not be as easy to figure out what AI values. And, it will be especially difficult to find a specific "hack" to quickly boost your value. Luckily, modern marketing analytics and researchers have come up with specific tasks that should bring you the most value in GEO.
Who will benefit from it?
In our view, GEO or something similar to it will replace SEO. Seeing how AI develops, it is only a matter of time. Therefore, every company that wishes to have any sort of online presence will have to figure out how to approach it. As it stands, the brands that stand to benefit the most from GEO are the smaller ones. In fact, the smaller the brand is, the more it can benefit from implementing GEO practices. According to the original paper by the researchers, smaller companies experience as much as a 115% increase in visibility, while top-ranked websites only slightly improve their ratings. Why this is so remains largely a mystery, as the inner workings of AI remain as obscure as ever. But, if you are a smaller company looking to quickly boost your brand in 2024, this is what you should focus on.
What you should focus on in 2024
If you have any experience with content creation and SEO management, tackling GEO in 2024 shouldn't be much of a problem. Most of what we'll mention are things you already make use of or pay attention to. The difference will be in your focus and how you choose to prioritize certain aspects. So, according to modern marketing research, here is what you ought to focus your content on:
Apparently, having informative statistics isn't only good for your marketing analytics, but also for your viewers. According to researchers, you should look to add statistics to your content. Quantitative statistics tend to bring more weight to your content, in general, as they give a more precise idea of what you are trying to say. Of course, adding statistics whenever possible isn't a solution, as doing so will devaluate the important ones. But, trying to quantify and outline your ideas will make your brand shine in 2024.
Another important aspect is to add citations. It seems that the more citations you have, the more grounded and well-founded your content seems. Again, you shouldn't add citations halp-hazzardly. But, a thought-out, well-placed citation can bring your content some relevance.
Similarly, quotations are a welcome addition to modern content. If you have an idea that you've developed based on someone else's, you do both yourself and them a favor by quoting them. The more natural you are with inserting quotes, the better.
Lastly, you want to make your content easy to understand. Keep in mind that you should still use technical terms and industry-specific vocabulary. But, when you decide to explain something, you should try to be as concise and understandable as possible.
Why does AI favor these practices?
If you wish to get your head around AI and where it is currently at, we would invite you to do further, more in-depth research. In essence, it is important to keep in mind that AI doesn't really understand what your content is about. At least not in the way that regular humans understand. On the other hand, AI does have an incentive to provide users with interesting, well-informed content that suits the reader's taste. So, as it seems, AI is looking for tell-tale signs of such content. And, as it seems, quotations, citations, and statistics are such signs. At least for 2024.
SEO in 2024
While GEO is still in development, SEO will likely remain a highly important factor in 2024. As such, we feel it necessary to outline the most important aspect of SEO for 2024 and help you develop your brand presence as much as possible. While there is always room for change, we feel that the following trends will shape the SEO of 2024.
AI and machine learning
To reaffirm what we've already been through, search engines may increasingly use AI and machine learning algorithms. Hopefully, this will enable them to to understand content better, interpret user intent, and deliver more accurate search results. Therefore, we again strongly advise that you make use of GEO and keep close tabs on future updates. Even a seemingly minor change to your content can yield surprising results.
Voice search optimization
Voice search optimization isn't only a matter of convenience. More and more people are getting accustomed to hands-free, voice-activated search engines. And with the growing use of voice assistants and smart devices, optimizing for voice search will become crucial. If you haven't so far, you'd be smart to adapt to conversational queries and long-tail keywords that match natural language queries. Also, don't shy away from using AI to help you with voice analytics and processing.
While on the subject of convenience, it is important to note that user experience comes first. Regardless of how big or small your brand is, it will be paramount that you optimize your content so that it is as enjoyable as possible. Even now, search engines increasingly prioritize user experience. And we have every reason to believe that the prioritization will become even more notable in 2024.
Visual and video search optimization
While it is not as much of a hot trend as it was in previous years, visual content still stands out as top-ranked. Whether you use a visual-based platform, like TikTok, or remain steadfast with Facebook, you will need to rely on visual content to help present your brand. Even now, it is important that you adopt visual content into your SEO management in order to keep everything on the same track.
Content formats and quality
As the last piece of advice for 2024, we would simply remind you that quality over quantity is still the norm. A high-quality, relevant, and comprehensive piece of content will bring you far more quality traffic than mountains of uninteresting, irrelevant content. There is a strong case to be made that, however, AI changes SEO, content quality will still remain the norm.
What researchers did in regard to generative engine optimization stands as an interesting glimpse into the future of SEO. The trouble with that future is that it is, essentially, unpredictable. What factors will AI use, and how it will measure those factors is beyond our knowledge. Keep in mind what we are talking about LLMs (large language models) and black-box algorithms that are both too big and too obscure for us to understand.
So, how are we supposed to orient our marketing efforts if we don't know what we are dealing with? Well, in a sense, the future doesn't have to worry us much. The main goal of AI-driven search engines will be to provide quality, relevant content that viewers would find interesting. And, fortunately, AI will likely never be able to create content that mimics the feel of one created by a talented person, which is an ease of mind for publishers. So, as long as you create quality content, you don't have to worry much about what AI finds relevant now, or how it will develop in 2024 or 2025.