Google’s Vice President & GM of Search, Elizabeth Reid, recently announced the incorporation of generative AI into its search engine.
This huge step signifies a potential shift in how users will interact with search engines in the future. While the new technology offers opportunities for a more interactive, dynamic, and intelligent search experience, it also raises important considerations for SEO professionals.
Understanding Generative AI in Search
Generative AI is a powerful technology that can create human-like content. In Google’s search context, this technology will be used to synthesize information and provide a more comprehensive response to complex queries.
Such an application could revolutionize the search experience, making it more conversational and context-aware. However, it’s crucial to understand that while the technology is promising, it is not without its limitations, which Google acknowledges. The generative AI models are being fine-tuned to meet Search’s quality standards, and they will not be applied to all types of queries.
Implications for SEO
The integration of generative AI in search presents a potential paradigm shift for search engine optimization (SEO). Traditionally, SEO strategies have focused on optimizing for keywords and creating backlinks. However, with AI generating synthesized responses to queries, the traditional approach to SEO might need a reevaluation.
Content Quality and Depth: With generative AI, Google will place a premium on content that provides comprehensive, in-depth information that the AI can synthesize into detailed responses. This means that websites offering detailed and valuable content are likely to be favored. Thin content, which Google already hates, is likely to get even less love.
User Experience: Since the new system will offer suggestions for follow-up questions, sites offering an excellent user experience, with easy navigation and logical content progression, could see higher traffic. Google might suggest viewing a related topic on a site as a followup from a previous generative response.
Contextual Relevance: As context will be carried over from question to question, ensuring your content is contextually relevant and cohesive will be crucial. To draw on Google’s example, if Google is looking for travel advice to feed into its generative system, it’s probably going to source that info from a travel site. If your site isn’t focused on a specific topic, it’s probably less likely to get chosen.
Authority sites could see a boost.
Good and Bad for SEO
While these changes might seem daunting, it’s essential to remember that the introduction of generative AI to Google Search is in its early stages. Its current application is limited to certain query types and will initially be rolled out via Search Labs for user feedback and improvements. Moreover, it’s worth noting that Google remains committed to driving traffic to websites across the web and continues to see ads as a vital part of the web ecosystem. The company is quick to point out in its announcement that it still plans to prioritize sending traffic to content owners’ websites.
That makes sense. If Google kills content sites, they won’t have any content to feed into their AI!
As SEO professionals, it’s crucial to be prepared to adapt strategies as needed. Remember, SEO has always been about providing high-quality, relevant content to users, and that principle remains at the core of successful SEO, even with the introduction of generative AI.