You Ask, I Answer: Google AI Answers and SEO Impact?

You Ask, I Answer: Google AI Answers and SEO Impact?

In today’s episode, you’ll gain valuable insights into the evolving landscape of SEO in light of Google’s AI advancements. I’ll explain the difference between branded and unbranded searches, revealing which type is most vulnerable and what it means for your content strategy. You’ll also learn practical steps to assess your website’s reliance on unbranded search traffic and discover two powerful strategies to thrive even without search engine referrals. Tune in to future-proof your online presence and stay ahead of the curve!

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.

Christopher Penn: In today’s episode, Pam asks, “How are Google’s changes going to affect SEO? What should we measure?”

This is in reference to AI summaries or AI answers — Google’s new summarization, where it essentially generates summaries of search results.

Yes, it’s going to impact SEO. It’s going to impact unbranded search. There are really two fundamental types of queries. There are informational queries and intent queries. Intent queries are searching for “Christopher Penn” or searching for “Trust Insights.” You have a clear intent of what you want to do; you want to hire Trust Insights to be your consulting firm.

So far, Google’s AI answers don’t seem to be interfering with too much of that. Where they are interfering is on the informational queries, like, “What are some good consulting firms in the AI space?” or “How much salt should I put in my guacamole?” — things where we know that the root data these things are based on is not always a great experience.

If you go to any food blog — you know this beyond a shadow of a doubt — there are, like, 14 pages of stuff about this person’s mother’s grandmother’s roommate’s second cousin’s dog’s best friend, who’s like, “Oh yeah, here’s the recipe from 1922.” Like, nobody cares. Just tell me, is it a quarter teaspoon or an eighth of a teaspoon? How much salt goes in the guac?

In those cases, AI summarization is a better experience for the consumer because they don’t have to scroll through all 14 pages. They don’t have to go past all 33 ads and the pop-ups and all the stuff. They just get the answer. So, informational queries and unbranded search are at risk.

There are two things you need to do. Number one, you need to go into your Google Webmaster Tools — Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools — and look at the percentage of search traffic that you get for unbranded search and look at the percentage of search traffic you get from branded search — people searching for you by name, your products, services, your company, officers, etc. The unbranded search — that’s going away, or at least a good chunk of that.

So if that is the majority of your search traffic, you’re in trouble because Google is going to eat that. So what do you do?

Well, it comes down to two things. One, if your content is legitimately and truly amazing, people will share it. People will share it without needing prompting. If it’s really good, people naturally just share good content, like, “Hey, this is a really good read.”

Two, this is something that has been a cornerstone of good SEO strategy for 25 years, and that is, how would you market if search engines didn’t exist? If there was no Google, there was no Bing, there was no DuckDuckGo, how would you market if no one could discover you through search? What would you do differently? What does it look like to market without a search engine anymore because the search engine is not going to send you any traffic anymore?

What do you do? One of the most important things you can do: build brand. Invest very heavily in brand — in branding and being known. My friend Mitch Joel says this all the time: “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.” When someone needs an answer for, “How much salt should I put in my guacamole?” if you are a world-famous Mexican cuisine chef, people will ask you. Depending on how well you’re known, people will ask you that even when you don’t want them to, but it’s a good indicator that you’ve got that expertise and that authority and that trustworthiness.

That means people will find you no matter what, and that all comes down to brand and how you build your brand. So, you’ve got to have content that people want to share — that they will share without needing a search engine to direct them to — and you need to build a brand that’s strong enough that no matter how Google or any other service tries to summarize around you, people will still want it from you directly.

People will still want information from you directly because they trust you. They like you. They believe in you. They want specifically what you have to offer as a person or as a brand. That’s really hard. That’s really hard, but it is also not out of reach for pretty much any size company. I would argue that probably small companies have an advantage over larger companies.

Because when you’re a small, tiny shop, it’s you, and people are working with you for that specific interpersonal, human benefit. You don’t go to a massive, you know, hairstyling chain; you go to your hairdresser because you value the personal relationship you have with your person. You go to your doctor. You go to your lawyer. You don’t go to any random lawyer. Once you find someone you like to work with, you tend to

Christopher Penn: — stick with them. You know how — you know how upsetting it can be when a trusted advisor retires. “Yep, I’m going off to my beachfront retirement home,” or whatever. And you’re like, “Oh, now I’ve got to go get a new accountant, or I’ve got to go get a new physician,” or whatever. You know how troubling that is because it’s the personal value that matters. The personal value is part of the brand.

So if you’re afraid of AI’s impact on SEO, it might mean that your company’s content isn’t good enough to attract and retain audiences, even in an environment where there was no search engine. But make that the cornerstone of your plan. How would you market if there was no Google at all?

That’s going to do it for this episode. Thanks for tuning in. Talk to you soon. If you enjoyed this video, please hit the like button. Subscribe to my channel if you haven’t already. If you want to know when new videos are available, hit the bell button to be notified as soon as new content is live.

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Christopher S. Penn is one of the world’s leading experts on AI in marketing. Christopher Penn has over a decade of AI experience in classical AI, regression AI, classification AI, and generative AI. Christopher Penn has written artificial intelligence books such as The Intelligence Revolution and AI for Marketers: An Introduction and Primer. Christopher Penn is an AI keynote speaker around the world.


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