ChatGPT has had significant impact across various industries – both positive and negative. What is certain is that artificial intelligence (AI) that truly speaks your language, understands context, nuance, and even humor is here and will only continue to get better. Also certain is that ranking in searches on Google will be affected. Google now incorporates AI into its Search Engine Results Page (SERP). There is a section at the top of the SERP that shows a ChatGPT-like conversational response along with related search results. A user can follow their search with a question and it will remember the context of the user’s previous search. In essence, AI has turned a one-shot-at-a-time Google search into an iterative dialogue. Appearing in AI-generated search results is highly sought after as these more intelligent search results will push the old-style search results farther down the page.
The technology is emerging and evolving rapidly. A lot has happened so far in 2023, and more will change before the year ends. There isn’t a simple, long-term answer for your SEO strategy yet. But given the direction of AI’s current advances, coupled with our SEO and paid search experience in how we work with AI in marketing technology today, we recommend several key moves you should begin implementing immediately.
Do Now: Write all future content for conversational searches – the way people speak and ask questions.
Over the past decade, the public’s sophistication and understanding how to use Google search advanced, leading to an SEO focus on long-tailed search terms. When voice search first came to the market, thanks to smart devices, we saw improvements in those long-tailed search terms that lead to significantly more specific-target SEO terms. We believe most of the things we do now for SEO will remain useful and relevant. What we don’t know at this point is which tactics will have the highest impact on rankings. We know that optimizing for conversational search queries is going to be critical. What we mean by “conversational” is that it’s about answering questions people ask, not just having keywords that search engines can crawl.
Think of how people search when they use voice…they ask “how do I…” “where can I…” ‘what do I…,” vs. how they search when they type, which is more caveman-speak than normal conversation. Natural language processing (NLP) means chatbots work to understand the meaning and context behind the intent of the searcher, so we will want to ensure that your content is optimized for a searcher’s intent.
Here are some helpful tips for writing in a conversational tone.
- Use You and I: Write in the first person. Keep it simple: Conversational writing should be simple and easy to read.
- Use questions: Engage readers with questions that could be picked up by search engines.
- Shorten your sentences: This keeps your message direct and easy to understand, both by your audience and the search engine.
When writing, keep your users in mind:
- Concepts: What is the idea behind the searcher’s query?
- Context: What is the intent behind the searcher’s query?
- Customer satisfaction: What are the most relevant answers to the user’s query?
Here are some conversational search query examples:
- Who are the best dentists for kids in Kansas City?
- What bakery makes birthday cakes in the colors of my favorite football team?
- Where can I get a bed liner for my pickup truck in Olathe?
- When is the best time of year to have my oak trees trimmed in central Missouri?
- How can I buy parts for my 1995 Chevy Camaro?
One helpful exercise is to write as many sentences as people may use to be able to find your business on Google. You can then combine them into one FAQ page, or break them out into individual blog posts.
Do Now: Write content that can be found on local searches.
An additional AI response area within the SERP could mean more people get their search questions answered without leaving the Google platform. Content on your website that once was a Featured Snippet answer that led to your website for more information is still likely to be the source for AI to draw from, and some visitors may also still click through to read the full background information for that answer on your website. But many more will likely take the answer from Google’s AI response and simply be done. That’s why being found locally will become more important.
Through our extensive testing we’ve concluded that Google’s new Spotlight AI functionality draws many of its results from the Local Map Pack, the map of local search results often shown at the top of the SERP. To best take advantage of this, we recommend that any businesses with a local presence have location pages with structured data. Structured data is data that has been organized into a standardized format, usually organized into rows and columns with known and predictable content. Each column contains a specific data type, such as dates, text, money, or percentages. Structured data is coded to help search engines understand what each field means, making it more accessible for the search engine to display in results.
We want to help you prepare without harming your current SEO, and without wasting budget doing things that may end up not being a factor in rankings. We don’t yet know what is going to have that highest impact on rankings – so we’re making educated, strategic assumptions while being practical and budget-cautious. At this point:
- Ensure your site contains informative, high-quality content using conversational language that users AND chatbots can easily understand.
- Optimize the user experience on your site.
- Optimize your content to answer questions or address needs rather than just ensuring keywords are included.
We anticipate the emergence of tools and bots that will scrape a website and guide revisions. And, of course, be ready to react and rework as Google will likely have a great number of algorithm changes, as they are always learning along the way.
AI is certain to continue to change how people interact with the internet. Data is going to be more critical than ever in guiding marketing decisions. EAG will continue to stay informed and keep its clients updated and ahead of the pack.