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Although the jury is still out as to how LLM and AI search engines will affect SEO tactics and search rankings long-term, the widespread rise of ChatGPT indicates they are here to stay. As more individuals opt for these resources, it is important for marketers to adjust their content strategy to meet these changes and stay apprised of what generative search engines prioritize through proactive generative engine optimization.

Why is GEO Matters for SEO

Rumors in the hall suggest traditional search may soon be something of a relic replaced by AI search platforms. So should auld acquaintance be forgot? And how much stock should you put into preparing for these changes? Does this mean the last 15 years you’ve been optimizing your business for traditional search was all for naught?

Not hardly. Generative engine optimization and SEO are inextricably woven together through algorithmic integrations with large language models (LLMs). What serves one only stands to facilitate the other. Here at Mostly Serious, we are tuning our approach to the key of AI to keep our content strategies in harmony with the future.

Will Generative Search Engines Replace Traditional Search?

While we aren’t ready to say goodbye to the Google Search Bar just yet, more people are opting to use AI search engines. These search generative experiences (SGEs) save time while delivering more relevant, personalized search results due to their ability to parse user intent. With these platforms now readily available, traditional search's ability to provide a list of webpages, seems comparably limited. Even when accounting for rich snippets or featured questions, it still lacks the depth and responsiveness of SGEs.

Generative search engines (GSEs), currently available through platforms like Google’s beta SGE and Perplexity.AI, offer the promise of a better, more streamlined experience. Providing synthesized results that provide comparisons, summaries, and extra resources in a simple search. These results often eliminate the need to break queries into multiple searches. Coupled with interactive chat boxes for follow-up questions, GSEs often result in a faster more integrated experience.

Generative Engine Optimization

New platforms for search mean marketers must calibrate their approach to meet the needs of evolving trends. Never shirking an opportunity for a new acronym, enter generative engine optimization, or GEO.

We’ve previously covered the importance of developing high-quality content that answers search queries so your pages are poised to have best-fit answers. Focusing on GEO and its strengths continues to take this to the next level. Through natural language processing, these engines use context, semantics, and user intent to align results with search intent.

This renders traditional approaches to keyword optimization less effective for ranking in GSEs. Notably, a study conducted by Princeton University, Georgia Tech, Allen Institute for AI, and IIT Delhi, found optimizing content for specific keywords decreased a text’s rankings by 10%. Although less notable in traditional search, this finding aligns with SEO trends since Google's helpful content update.

How to Optimize for AI Search

A safe bet to prepare for this transition is to shore up structured data so GSEs can effectively crawl your pages. However, the aforementioned study additionally identified three current areas for improving visibility within generative engines:

  1. Referencing Citations
  2. Incorporating Quotes
  3. Utilizing Statistics

These attributes garner results likely related to improvement in specificity and credibility in line with traditional SEO guidelines. To that end, it makes sense that content that illustrates experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness using these elements is more likely to rank within GSEs.

A Cautionary Strategy

Before we revisit existing content, we might take a cautionary tale from the now detrimental practice of keyword stuffing. Rather than methodically peppering our writing with stats and quotes, remember Google’s central credo: write for people.

Keep in mind that while GSEs prioritize these techniques, nothing tanks a ranking like irrelevant information. Instead, consider how individuals ask questions and answer in turn. Learn from the past by adding elements only when they enhance the answer to a searcher's specific question.

Quote, "Rather than methodically peppering our writing with stats and quotes, remember Google's central credo: write for people."

2024 GEO Resolutions

It seems we won’t be singing Auld Lang Syne to traditional search anytime soon. Luckily for us, in this time of transition, optimizing for GSEs and SEO is more tea for two. Given that SGEs are still working out their own kinks, an immediate 2024 takeover is unlikely.

Even so, future-focused marketers do well to experiment with GEO by staying alert to factors that increase their chances of ranking within SGEs. As search algorithms equally benefit from strides made in LLMs, we can focus less on strong-arming keywords and more time understanding our audience as we embrace the New Year and new changes in search.

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