Google's AI Aftershock: Expert Explains How to Thrive in the New Search Landscape

8 Jul 2024

Google recently dropped a bombshell on the search world, shaking the foundation of how we find information online. Forget scrolling through pages of blue links; now, an AI oracle sits atop the search results, dishing out answers plucked from the web's vast expanse.

Google promises this AI genie will grant users' wishes for quicker, more comprehensive answers. But for content creators and publishers, it's a nightmare scenario. Will anyone bother clicking through to their sites if the information is already laid out on a silver platter? What happens to the carefully crafted marketing funnels, the ad revenue that keeps the lights on, and the lucrative affiliate marketing world?

Google, naturally, assures everyone that this is all for the best. More diverse websites will see traffic, they claim, and links within the AI overviews will be boosted. But let's be honest: Google needs our content to feed its AI beast. So what does this tectonic shift mean for those whose livelihoods depend on search?

The digital landscape is shifting beneath our feet, and the tremors emanate from Google's AI-powered search revolution. AI-generated summaries now occupy the coveted top spot in search results, potentially overshadowing the familiar blue links that have guided our online journeys for years. This seismic shift has left many content creators and website owners reeling, their hard-earned organic traffic seemingly hanging in the balance. However, within this upheaval lies a world of opportunity, especially for smaller businesses and niche websites willing to embrace change and adapt their strategies.

I spoke with Anna Lebedeva, a seasoned expert, marketing consultant, founder at Tribume Media, and former Head of Marketing at Semrush - the SEO tools company - about the ramifications of this search engine optimization earthquake.

"Overall, it might potentially lead to a decrease in organic traffic," Lebedeva acknowledges, "as users may find the information they need directly in the AI-generated summaries without clicking through to individual websites."

However, Lebedeva emphasizes that this doesn't spell disaster. Instead, it's a call to action, a challenge to rethink and re-strategize.

Strategies for Visibility in the AI Age

To remain visible in this AI-dominated landscape, Lebedeva emphasizes the importance of high-quality content that is informative, engaging, and structured in a way that search engines can easily understand.

"Implement structured website data to help search engines understand your content and thus increase the chances of getting into AI-driven results," Lebedeva advises. Essentially, she says, "speak the AI's language."

Lebedeva further elaborates, "It is even more important than before to focus on enhancing Local SEO, optimizing Google Business Profile with up-to-date information, and getting into local directories." For smaller businesses, focusing on local SEO can be a game-changer. By optimizing their online presence for local searches, they can attract a targeted audience and establish themselves as the go-to experts in their community.

Additionally, Lebedeva suggests leveraging long-tail keywords that are less competitive and more specific to your niche. "Regarding keyword optimization, being even more effective with leveraging less competitive long-tail keywords that a small brand can own," she advises. This allows smaller businesses to rank higher for specific queries that larger competitors might overlook.

Differentiation in a Crowded Digital Landscape

While optimizing for AI is essential, Lebedeva emphasizes that it's equally important to maintain your brand's unique identity and voice. "The only way to stand out is to keep your uniqueness and not be afraid of being different, express your expertise, and be creative in all types of communication to get remembered by having a strong brand identity," she states.

A strong brand identity can set you apart in a world where AI-generated summaries might seem generic and impersonal. Invest in visually appealing content, infuse your communication with personality, and foster a sense of community around your brand.

"Maybe make your communication more personal and slightly emotional to make it look even more from human to human," Lebedeva suggests. This human touch can make a difference in a digital landscape dominated by AI.

Community Building as a Competitive Edge

Building a loyal community is another crucial aspect of differentiation. Lebedeva emphasizes the importance of "building your community to support loyalty and keep investing into social media visibility that you more or less own. You can foster a loyal following beyond search engine results by engaging with your audience on social media platforms and creating a sense of belonging.”

The Future of SEO and Content Creation

While the rise of AI-generated summaries may seem daunting, Lebedeva remains optimistic about the future of SEO. She believes that Google will continue valuing original, high-quality content and will likely introduce measures to ensure content creators are fairly compensated.

“Pay attention to being as local as possible - local search, Google Maps, social media, reviews, and just be creative to get remembered. Build your brand," Lebedeva advises.

The future of SEO is uncertain, but one thing is clear: it will require adaptability, creativity, and a willingness to embrace new technologies. Smaller businesses and niche websites can survive and thrive in this AI-driven era by focusing on quality content, brand building, community engagement, and local SEO.

This article was originally published on Dataconomy and is reproduced with permission.