How to win in the age of AI-powered search

How to win in the age of AI-powered search

We’ve all been there: lost in a web search hole, overwhelmed by irrelevant results. But that frustrating experience will soon be behind us.

Last week (May 14), Google started the general rollout of its Search Generative Experience (SGE), bringing about a significant change in the way hundreds of millions of users in the United States discover and interact with information online.

Think of the Internet as a large library. Traditional SEO is the library bibliographic index (what some of us may remember as the card catalog 😉), a useful tool that points you in the right direction but leaves you browsing the shelves.

SGE, on the other hand, is more like having an expert librarian by your side. It understands the “why” behind your search, recommends and locates the perfect resources, summarizes key points, and even anticipates your next question.

SGE doesn’t just streamline search; customizes the experience to each user’s unique needs – a win for users and a game changer for marketers, offering new and powerful ways to engage your target audience.

But with traditional SEO as a card catalog and SGE as a librarian, the question that demands marketers’ attention and creativity now is this: How can you transform your brand into the resource that librarians consistently recommend?

Understanding EMS

SGE leverages artificial generative intelligence (GenAI) to analyze search queries and provide AI-generated answers and source recommendations directly to search engine results pages (SERPs). Instead of a long list of links, users will start seeing AI-generated summaries of relevant information, key takeaways, and even interactive elements.

Imagine you’re looking for a quiche recipe. Traditionally, you would get a list of websites with the word “quiche” somewhere. But in the SGE era, you’ll see people’s top-rated recipes, baking tips, a shopping list, and answers to common follow-up questions like “Can I substitute spinach for broccoli?”

In short, SGE offers a more personalized and interactive search experience. says Google upcoming updates will include:

Adjustable overviews to simplify language or provide more detail

Multi-step reasoning to better handle complex, nuanced queries

Built-in planning capabilities for tasks like meal prep and vacations

AI-curated search results pages to explore ideas and inspiration

Visual search query through uploaded videos and images

These upcoming features give us insight into the type of content that will thrive in the AI ​​search experience: highly informative, exploration-oriented, accurate, and multi-format (especially rich text with useful images and videos).

Thrive in the age of AI-powered search

While it remains to be seen how Google’s AI-powered search will fare with the wider universe of search users, it’s inevitable that SGE (and similar AI-powered search experiences) will become the new standard.

These algorithms are redefining the criteria for quality sources in search, presenting marketers with new challenges and opportunities to optimize content for visibility.

A big concern is what will happen as AI Overviews, the AI-generated answers presented directly on search engine results pages (SERPs), take the coveted “position zero.” Your top-ranking content could see a decrease in click-through rates (CTRs) and organic traffic as it is replaced or reduced in scrolling.

To give you an idea of ​​the scope of this change, a recent study by the Authority tested 2,900 keywords in Google Labs’ SGE and found that over 91% of results showed AI-generated content in position zero. Despite this, Google launch announcement claims that links included in AI overviews receive more clicks compared to traditional web listings for these searches.

AI overviews aren’t the only reason your content CTRs can change. Studies like this one from Onely have shown that almost half (45%) of the content sources that SGE highlights for users did not rank on the first page for the same query on “regular” Google. In other words, current rankings do not guarantee placement or preference in the SGE experience.

At the same time, SGE presents exciting opportunities for marketers who adopt user-centric multimedia content creation strategies. Like Google’s Knowledge Graphs and interactive features, SGE promises to display high-quality web content in new and engaging formats. Check out Google’s example of an AI curated results page here:

To win in this landscape, brands must maximize quality and technical SEO best practices, which emphasize creating content based on user intent, providing clear answers to complex questions, and prioritizing rich media content fresh with a proper layout and agile UX. At Skyword we will closely study queries with IA Overviews to uncover additional optimization opportunities.

By understanding the principles of SGE’s exploration-oriented search and optimizing your content accordingly, you can achieve search gains now and secure an advantage in the future of generative search.

Here are my tips to help position your brand as the go-to resource in the SGE era:

Target user intent with long-tail queries: SGE prioritizes accurate answers to specific questions. Ditch the general keywords and focus on long-tail queries – specific multi-word phrases that your target customer would use at different stages of their research and buying process. Instead of targeting “quiche,” target “vegetarian quiche recipes with whole wheat crust.” Consider tools like Skyword’s Accelerator360™ to identify long-tail opportunities and optimize existing content for more competitive and trending searches.

Create engaging multimedia experiences: Don’t just text! Infographics, explainer videos, and interactive content (as long as they’re optimized for speed and technical SEO) are the primary source material for AI-generated summaries. In fact, according to the DEPT, 71% of SGE snippets contain a YouTube video as part of the cited source material. These are the types of media assets that text-based large language models (LLMs) cannot easily replicate on their own.

Become a Preferred Authority: SGE takes Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EAT) to a new level. In this new era of super-accurate search results, the depth of your website’s topic authority and the ease of use of your content become even more crucial to getting Google’s AI. Dig deeper into topic coverage in your niche, check out experts as authors, conduct original research, and establish your brand as a thought leader with insightful content and data that can’t be found anywhere else. It is important that you structure the content for easy consumption. Use bullets, clear headings, FAQs, data snippets and visuals (images, videos) to make it scannable and ensure users can quickly grasp the information they need.

Adopt a pillar and cluster content strategy: Develop pillar pages (comprehensive resources on broad topics) linked to cluster pages that delve into specific subtopics. This aligns with users’ exploration journey and increases the likelihood that your content will appear in AI overviews and SGE follow-up question suggestions. If you have existing high-performing content, Skyword’s ATOMM™ can help you quickly and efficiently transform it into specialized cluster pages and multi-channel content.

The arrival of SGE marks a significant change in the digital landscape, which demands a strategic response from marketers. While traditional SEO tactics may be less effective, the playing field is wide open for those willing to adapt.

This new search landscape demands original, high-quality content that matches user intent in multiple formats. For brands that prioritize a focused, comprehensive (“360-degree”) content strategy, SGE will be a powerful tool.

Are you ready to transform your brand from a name on a search engine page to the go-to resource for your target market? Let’s connect

Featured image of Anastasia on Adobe Stock

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About the Author: Ted Simmons

I follow and report the current news trends on Google news.

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