How Will SEO Be Impacted By AI Search?
AI has become a hot topic of conversation in recent months. In fact, it has become essentially impossible to engage with the news or look through social media feeds without seeing AI mentioned at least a handful of times within just a few seconds of scrolling.
Well, the primary reason for this is that we are now collectively coming to understand how it will impact every element of the online space.
AI search engines are evolving at such a rapid pace that the only certainty right now is that users will soon be able to interact with AI search results.
Sure, this is currently something that search marketers can ignore or get annoyed about. But the reality is that things change. So, failing to take steps to respond to this fact now means that you will be ill prepared to capitalise on the benefits it will bring when it officially launches.
AI startups are already experimenting with AI search results, however, these experiments are primed to become the norm within the next couple of years.
So, let’s move on to.
Preparing For The Arrival of AI Search
Yes, the likes of Bing and Google Search Generative Experience (SGE) are offering something similar to AI, which is essentially a combination of traditional search and chatbot technologies. However, there are many AI search engines out there already that are providing new ways to search.
Perplexity AI is just one example of an AI search engine that is making a name for itself online. If this model is the future of search engine results pages, then successfully attracting clicks will require a carefully constructed and highly descriptive title. However, as links are displayed at the top of the page, a website’s favicon also plays a large role in the process of successfully enticing clicks.
So, yes, we are all going to have to look carefully at precisely what AI search engines are doing and work to identify areas for improvement that will have a positive impact on click-through rates (CTRs).
After all, taking positive steps to boost our search performance is much more proactive than simply sitting back and complaining or panicking about how things are changing.
Let’s also take this opportunity to think about what the big players are offering.
Google Search Generative Experience
Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) provides a user-friendly and smart way to search by simplifying the process of identifying information.
Some search professionals have stated that they believe click-throughs to websites will be significantly reduced when using Google’s SGE. However, as Google SERPs have progressed far beyond simply providing a selection of 10 links per page, there are many professionals, like myself, who don’t believe this will be the case.
Local search was introduced in 2004, closely followed by fast facts in 2005. Then, in 2014, Local Packs and Featured Snippets first made an appearance. Each of these new additions sought to make the search experience better for users, namely by providing the most pertinent pieces of information directly within the SERP itself.
The fact is that we should all have stopped thinking about SERPs in terms of positions four, five, and six, a long time ago. Because, let’s be honest, only the top three positions have really mattered for over a decade at this point.
So, here’s what we know.
1. Typically, the top three results on a SERP drive the most click-throughs.
2. In addition to the top three results, ads are also successful at attracting clicks.
Does this mean that results in position four onwards are essentially pointless? The harsh truth is, yes. But if we’re really honest with ourselves, that’s not a new development and has been the case for years at this point.
Let’s also not forget that the top three search results aren’t particularly important on SERPs for vague queries because Google is taking steps to populate those results pages with featured links, video content, and its highly effective People Also Ask feature.
SGE and The Top Three
With all that in mind, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Google SGE results pages contain three organic search results. But they also include an arrow button that provides easy access to even more results.
So, is AI really going to completely destroy everything we know and love about SERPs? Clearly not.
I believe it’s reasonable to assume that the inclusion of the top three results in SGE results pages is because those are the results that have always been the most important to the overall user experience.
What Does Good SEO For Google SGE Look Like?
For many years, Google has been striving to become a search engine that swaps keywords for natural language. The arrival of SGE has essentially cemented this change.
But what does this mean in real terms for SEO strategists looking to get ahead of the curve?
Well, one thing isn’t going anywhere. The need to create high quality content that provides searchers with the authoritative information they are looking for is still critical to securing SERP success.
However, there are many other elements that will require some careful consideration in order to successfully drive clicks in what is a new search results environment. So, you may find that you need to think more critically when selecting a featured image to capture people’s attention. Notably, this is something that could be worth investing time into now as part of your Google Discover traffic strategy.
What Does The Future Look Like?
I know that I’ve been very straightforward with you here, but I also recognise that none of these new developments are trivial. They will have a huge impact on the day-to-day lives of search professionals in every sector and industry.
Right now, we know that AI search leverages a combination of traditional algorithms and generative search. But this might change in the future. After all, there are startups out there who are already prioritising AI over anything else.
But as with everything in such a fast-moving space, we can only cross that particular bridge when we know what it looks like. Which we will do successfully. We always do because there are always significant benefits to adopting new strategies in order to capitalise on the innovative opportunities that new technologies provide.