With search engines becoming increasingly sophisticated, your business must start preparing for the future of SEO. That way, you can be sure your site can be found whenever your target audience searches for your products or services.
The Rise of AI on Search
As everyone has seen so far, artificial intelligence has dominated the conversation regarding digital marketing. With models such as ChatGPT and Google’s Bard, it’s clear that they’re here to revolutionize our experience when it comes to search.
However, while it has become big news starting this year, it’s essential to know that it has been Google’s goal. Since its beginning, Google has wanted to become an AI answer assistant by giving users exactly what they need.
All of Google’s algorithm updates have been towards this goal. For instance, Google’s Panda update in 2011 aided the search engine in better understanding which sites are trustworthy enough to show to their users. We later had the Hummingbird update, revolutionizing its algorithm by helping it understand users' queries semantically. Finally, the Rankbrain update in 2015, the first AI system implemented in their algorithm, further Google by understanding the connection between words and concepts.
All of these changes led to Google becoming AI-first in 2016.
As of right now, we should expect AI-generated results to be fully rolled out on Google by 2024. These would work using a technique called Retrieval-Augmented Generation, which streamlines the research process by gathering all information through a search engine’s knowledge base.
As such, users will save much more time using Google as they won’t need to go through multiple pages looking for information, as all of it will be synthesized through one AI-generated result. This could cause users to make more and more detailed searches over time. As a result, businesses should prepare accordingly to ensure they’re found at the right time.
Evolution of SERPs So Far
Google’s algorithm has become more and more sophisticated throughout its multiple core updates.
According to Moz, we have seen a constant increase in Google Search changes being reflected year over year, with the most drastic changes starting from 2016 on, similar to when Google became AI-first:
With so many changes, seeing these reflected in SERPs is natural when it comes to trends in SEO.
Among these changes, we have been able to see results such as:
- Featured snippets
- Local Pack
- People Also Ask Section
- Knowledge Panels
- Continuous scrolling
- And more.
And, as you might expect, the next big change in SERPs now is AI-generated results.
Currently, you can see how results might show in 2024 by using Google’s experimental Search Generative Experience, or SGE in short. From what we have seen so far with Google’s SGE first suggested prompt, “great gifts for home cooks who love pasta,” SERPs push the AI-generated result first:
When clicking on the option to show more, results become more diverse, offering elements such as:
- A list of some potential gifts and a description of why they might be a good option
- Guides found online about the topic
- And additional prompts, such as asking follow-up questions and related searches.
This demonstrates how Google and overall search engines are trying to merge many elements we have seen previously into one result.
However, these results are primarily shown when making informational types of organic searches. Whenever you’re trying to make a more commercial or transactional search, we see a more diversified SERP that isn’t too dominated by AI.
Instead, we have a more familiar SERP with elements such as Google Ads results, the Local Pack, and the option to generate an AI-powered overview. When clicking on this last option, we see a result that summarizes major results found in the SERP, including things like the Local Pack and multiple review sites.
As you can see, AI-generated results are not meant to hide your business to be shown to potential customers but rather can help bring exposure to your brand. For this reason, business owners must adapt to Google’s changes appropriately, as it’s a technology that’s here to stay.
How to Prepare for the Future of SEO
Preparing for the future of SEO is essential if you want to use AI for lead generation. Here are some important things you should start doing to prepare for 2024:
Use Google SGE Often
Getting to test SGE, even though it’s in its early stages, is a must to help understand how you can still appear for searches in 2024.
Google’s Search Generative Experience aims to address around 75% of search queries, potentially impacting many sites and losing 44-75% of their organic traffic. In other words, it’s to be expected that competition will sharply rise as more and more businesses will want to be featured in these new results.
Hence, to stay on top of your SEO game, you must continually monitor what’s showing up to your potential customers. That includes analyzing any competitor names, content types, and related prompts provided.
Experimenting with SGE will require you to log in through your personal Google account and use Google Chrome as your browser.
Optimize Your Content
Next, you want to ensure your site has high-quality content through content optimization or creation. By doing so, you can raise your site’s topical authority.
Quality content is often among the most important ranking factors for any website. From blog posts to landing pages, your site’s content must be in-depth and helpful to demonstrate experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T).
Along with creating content, your site’s old content must be updated periodically to ensure it’s still relevant. And, if necessary, remove any content that doesn’t bring any value to your target audience, as it might hurt your site.
Prioritize Keywords That Really Matter
Some predictions SEO professionals are making regarding Google’s SGE is that search queries might become more and more specific. For this reason, to address these particular queries, you must choose long-tail keyword variants and focus on making your content as exhaustive and relevant as possible.
Likewise, as shown previously in this article, transactional and commercial don’t automatically show AI-generated content unless a user directly chooses for the result to show up. As a result, you can still have great visibility by ranking with keywords related to your products or services.
By focusing on the right keywords, your business can show up to potential searches performed by your target audience.
Don’t Neglect SEO Fundamentals
While we might be seeing major changes in Google’s SERPs, it doesn’t mean that the foundation of your SEO strategy should change. Elements such as optimizing your core web vitals and applying the right schema markup are still essential as they play a big role in enhancing user experience on your site and helping search engines understand your site better.
Likewise, other ranking factors such as citations and link building also help raise your brand’s and site’s authority in search engines.
Focus on an Omni-Channel Approach
Lastly, consider having an omnichannel plan to take your marketing strategy to the next level.
From social media to shopping campaigns and even brand marketing, counting on an omnichannel marketing strategy helps create a unique and favorable experience for your target audience, ensuring that you are found at multiple touchpoints to your potential clients and their experience is as consistent as possible.
Likewise, emphasize gathering reviews among multiple touchpoints available for your target audience. As we reviewed previously, reviews will significantly determine your visibility for transactional queries and gain your potential client’s trust.
Start Mapping Your 2024 SEO Strategy
With the future of SEO looking a bit uncertain with the rise of AI, it’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed. However, with the tips mentioned above, you should be able to receive this upcoming year with a solid SEO strategy.
If you wish to prepare your business for this holiday season and get more sales, we encourage you to check out our video below, in which we go over the latest tips on PPC, SEO, and Facebook:
Take your marketing strategy to the next level in 2024 with White Shark Media. Our team of experts ensures you get the right leads and increase your ROI through our wide range of digital marketing services, including putting together a marketing plan with all the right strategies.