GenAI & SGE FAQ: Navigating the Future of Organic Search
By AJ Ghergich, VP Consulting Services, Botify
Like you, we at Botify recognize the transformative impact of Generative AI (GenAI) and Google’s new Search Generative Experience (SGE) on the organic search landscape. This rapidly-evolving field demands rapid – but also comprehensive – responses in turn. We owe it to our customers and the wider SEO community to provide guidance on how to navigate what’s already emerging and to prepare for further change.
We don’t have a crystal ball, but we do have seasoned industry expertise, unrivaled data sets and a platform built to provide holistic solutions to complex challenges. Although there are more questions than answers in this still “experimental” environment, here we address some of the most critical questions, head on. These FAQs are not our final word, but will be updated and constantly refreshed as this technology advances and impacts anew.
How is GenAI transforming both the search experience and search behavior and what does this mean for SEO?
Search is becoming a conversation: GenAI brings about a shift from traditional keyword-focused searches to more conversational and context-aware interactions. This shift is mostly impacting the top of the funnel at present. Some queries won’t require a click to a website anymore, as they can be answered in the SERP (or transacted when it comes to commercial searches).
Changes to customer buying cycles: The customer journey is becoming more complex and harder to track and attribute in this new environment. Therefore an organic presence in traditional listings and SGE will be important for every stage of the user journey. GenAI-driven search experiences may prioritize featured snippets, interactive elements, and chatbots. SEO strategies must optimize content for these new formats to enhance visibility.
The SERP Layout: The layout of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) will continue to evolve as the innovation gains maturity, new business models emerge, and users decide whether the new experiences add lasting value to their search needs.
What do brands need to do to be found in this new environment?
Don’t neglect the fundamentals: Brands need to adapt to change and embrace relevant innovation, but without neglecting SEO fundamentals. They still need to make it easy for search engines to find and understand answers, so these can contribute to the answers served on the new SERPs. Ensuring content integrity, quality, semantic richness, and relevance remains essential – whether you are optimizing for GenAI, traditional blue links or both.
Maintain a strong brand presence: It’s worth noting that SGE isn’t a search engine. So the reasons your brand can appear in SGE aren’t the same as traditional Google Search. However, having a strong brand presence (natural backlinks and brand authority) will play a role in appearing in SGE. Authority is a critical component of Google’s Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (EEAT) quality guidelines, which are now more relevant than ever.
Double down on URLs: Search strategies will need to embrace a much more holistic approach that shifts the focus from keywords to URLs. Focusing on URLs affords far greater stability and predictability for organic visibility and growth than keyword ranking and reporting.
Embrace AI & automation: As an SEO, you can’t scale humans, and you can’t outpace a bot. So AI-powered SEO recommendations (content & technical) must play a major role in optimization strategies.
SEO Velocity is mission critical: AI & automation accelerate speed to insight, speed to impact and speed to value. The ability to pivot your strategy and make changes at speed and scale is fundamental in this new era.
How can brands continue to measure performance?
As zero-click searches rise, traditional KPIs are likely to become less relevant. There are currently few clear and concrete metrics agreed on, but here are some things brands can think about right now:
- Advanced analytics: These can help you monitor changes in user behavior that may be attributed to SGE, such as shifts in the types of queries leading to the site or changes in the user journey.
- Adapting to zero-click search: This involves tracking brand awareness or engagement metrics that go beyond traditional click-through rates.
- More sophisticated and data-driven reporting: Enhanced reporting can better leverage first-party data, topical authority tracking, multi-channel attribution and brand tracking to attribute organic contributions across the entire customer journey.
What do these changes mean for content strategies?
Think beyond keyword optimization: To harness the full potential of SGE, content strategies must move from mere keyword optimization to a deeper comprehension of user intent and anticipated needs as informed by data. By focusing on predicting and addressing what users seek, content creation will become a proactive, user-centric endeavor, elevating organic search strategies to meet and exceed user expectations with remarkable precision.
Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (EEAT) is more relevant than ever: Google is still prioritizing these as the essentials of findability. The AI revolution in search should not encourage brands to create AI-generated content to spam the internet. Freshness and originality of content will be increasingly rewarded and win out in the end.
Hybrid approaches to content generation: Empowering human teams with AI capabilities is the winning combination for content creation. Using AI to improve processes and admin tasks whilst leveraging genuine experts on the source material offers the best of both worlds, enabling content creation to scale effectively in response to the new demands.
How can AI be harnessed to assist optimization?
Understanding user intent: GenAI can be leveraged to analyze search query data and user behavior to gain deeper insights into user intent. This goes beyond traditional keyword research, enabling a more nuanced understanding of what users are actually seeking.
Personalized & dynamic content creation: AI can also help to create personalized content experiences. AI algorithms can tailor content based on user demographics, past interactions, and predicted preferences.
Join the conversation: Focus on creating more conversational, question-based content that aligns with the type of queries GenAI is likely to prioritize.
Predictive content strategies: AI can help to forecast emerging trends, topics, and user interests, allowing brands to create content that aligns with future search demands.
Semantic richness and contextual relevance: AI can enhance the semantic richness of content, ensuring it is contextually relevant not just to targeted keywords, but also to the associated topics and user queries. This includes the use of natural language processing (NLP) tools to analyze and improve the semantic structure of content.
How can Botify help brands navigate this new landscape?
Botify’s platform and services provide a holistic approach to the complex and rapidly-changing challenges emerging from these disruptions.
Our unique unified data model: Meeting optimized demand at scale requires the comprehensive data sets only Botify has at its command, the result of working closely with the world’s largest e-commerce websites and the world’s most visible brands.
Our platform is built on a URL-first approach. This means for any given URL we have relevant data sets to inform more accurate recommendations. More complete, more holistic, and more granular.
Our commitment to relevant innovation: Developing, and integrating, AI and ML capabilities into our solutions, ensuring teams can move with greater certainty and velocity when optimizing for impact.
Our industry-leading in-house expertise: Our experts are at the forefront of SEO innovation, are dedicated to guiding our customers in not only adapting but also pioneering in this new era, thereby redefining success within the evolving AI and SGE-dominated landscape.
Doing nothing is not an option. Brands need to take these changes seriously and take the necessary steps to avoid being left behind.
As Gen-AI reshapes the search landscape, Botify remains committed to providing unparalleled expertise and solutions. This FAQ is your preliminary guide to navigating the complexities of this transformative era of search.
Be sure to stay connected for ongoing updates as we continue to share our perspectives, address the tough questions, and lead the way in organic search innovation.
Connect with our team of search experts for tailored guidance and support today.