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GenAI SEO Strategies: A Comprehensive Guide

Published: February 27, 2024       Updated: April 23, 2024

16 min read

Generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) has taken the technical world by storm, introducing new processes, practices, and stakes. From content ideation to webpage design, GenAI tools can save you time and point you in the best possible direction.

Many major platforms now rely heavily on GenAI, making AI-aware search engine optimization (SEO) essential for your online presence. Fortunately, you can find the best GenAI SEO strategies by learning about and staying updated on AI's changing landscape.

Understanding the GenAI Era

"Generative AI" describes types of AI that can generate text, graphics, and other content. They do this using advanced algorithms and generative models that analyze patterns and attempt to derive new media from them. Combined with different programs and coding, GenAI can develop detailed analyses, replicate voices, create photorealistic images, and much more.

Businesses across nearly every industry have found direct uses for generative AI, such as automating basic tasks. Many of these features are especially beneficial in hybrid and remote workplaces that already depend on digital tools.

GenAI's Impact on Search Engines

AI developments have consistently revolutionized how search engines function. These advances give you more search results than just the sites that use your specific word choices. Instead, search engines' AI algorithms use various factors — including time, location, and which sites other users making the same search visited — to give you the most relevant results possible. 

This way, if you search for "football scores," you'll receive the most up-to-date numbers for the most recent NFL, college, or local games. Alternatively, if you search for "restaurants near me," the algorithm will use your location and other users' selections to give you the best possible results.

AI Text Generators

GenAI-powered text generators, including ChatGPT and Bard, can aid your creative process by researching and suggesting information. These experimental tools respond to your prompts by accessing relevant data across the Internet. This has made them beneficial for countless business and SEO processes.

For example, if you're brainstorming secondary keywords, you can describe your topic and request 20-50 relevant keywords from ChatGPT. Alternatively, you can skip multiple steps in the process by asking it to write 200+ words of copy with at least five of the search terms you want — though the quality may not be great.

Unfortunately, most AI text generators are prone to plagiarism and mistakes, so you shouldn't rely on them for your genuine content creation or copywriting process. Instead, the best ChatGPT and Bard SEO strategies should aid your brainstorming, keyword development, and goals. 

The Shift in SEO Dynamics

The best online businesses have consistently updated their SEO strategies to keep up with changing algorithms and dynamics. The boom of GenAI has created arguably the largest shift in SEO practices, including new tactics and search engine processes.

AI-Driven Search Engine Behaviors

Most new SEO tactics revolve around search engines' latest algorithm updates and behaviors. Today, most search engines use AI and machine learning (ML) models to give users accurate, relevant results. These are often based on relevant topics and other users' behavior. 

For instance, if almost everyone who searches for the same question clicks on an identical link, that webpage will move to the top of relevant search results. This level of learning guarantees the search algorithm can continue to improve and provide accurate results. 

AI in Content Optimization

Once you understand how AI functions in search algorithms, you can optimize it within your content using keywords, metadata, and other tools. For example, we know that search engines use semantically similar phrases and search terms to expand relevant results. So, integrating similar keywords — such as "pasta," "spaghetti," and "alfredo" — in the same blog post will improve its ranking in relevant searches.

Technically, you can use almost any keywords or search terms on your web pages, but not all of them will be relevant or useful. Asking an AI app, such as Bard, to list the most relevant keywords guarantees you only use search terms that AI models respond to. On the other hand, exclusively sticking to AI recommendations can limit your potential. 

Key Strategies for SEO in the GenAI Era

Online businesses hoping to succeed in the changing GenAI era should integrate AI tools into their SEO strategies. However, your organization's best practices depend on your needs and goals. 

AI can benefit your optimization strategies in various ways, including:

  • Tracking user behavior: Many analytical tools have incorporated GenAI algorithms to record website traffic and identify patterns and better strategies. For example, tracking the most-visited web pages and the average time users spent there lets you determine the most popular and overlooked parts of your online presence. These functions have also improved cybersecurity by identifying vulnerabilities and suspicious activity.
  • Developing keywords: Keywords or "search terms" are essential to SEO because they communicate to search algorithms that your content is relevant to users' queries. An SEO-focused webpage should have numerous secondary and relevant keywords, which can be tedious to compile. GenAI platforms can help with this by researching the most relevant keywords based on your topic, common searches, and similar content. 
  • Improving digital interfaces: By studying user behavior, SEO analytics, and other data, GenAI-enabled tools can recommend website updates and designs to improve visitors' experiences. For example, it may suggest a new sidebar layout or more headings with primary and secondary keywords on your home page. These strategies maximize the quality of users' experiences (UX) and help your website look better to search algorithms.
  • Creating base-level content: AI text generators can speed up your content creation process, including the more tedious aspects of your website. However, AI-generated copy is derivative and may include mistakes. You should fact-check, rewrite, and revise your AI-generated content, or only use it for inspiration.

Optimizing Content For AI-Driven Searches

Writing SEO-focused content is different from writing standard copy because you're simultaneously targeting two separate mediums. You must fluidly include keywords, links, and other optimization tactics for search engines while also keeping the content legible for readers — which is easier said than done.

For instance, long-form keywords are usually written as questions or phrases and can target precise search terms, such as "how to fix M54b30 engine." However, overloading your content with long-form keywords can distract from your message, make your content look unprofessional, and lose people's interest. You need to find a balance that maintains your content's quality and level of AI optimization; for example, you might choose to include longer keywords in headings.

You can optimize your content for AI-driven searches using the following tools:

  • Metadata: Meta titles and descriptions display your content in search results and play a significant role in SEO. These are often the first impressions you give potential site visitors, so they should accurately describe your content. Meta titles generally fall under 60 characters and are shorter than the titles on your webpage itself to ensure nothing gets cut off on Google. Meanwhile, your meta description can be up to 160 characters and should accurately summarize or introduce your content. Both pieces of metadata should include a primary or secondary keyword to stand out to search engines.
  • Headings: Search engines prioritize webpages with effective layouts and designs. Headings and subheadings play a significant role in this process by breaking up content and making specific information easier to find. Beyond that, headings communicate to search engines what your content is really about. Include your primary keyword in at least one major heading and add other search terms where possible. 
  • Internal and external links: Links keep your website from accruing "dead-end pages" by giving visitors additional reading material, resources, and calls to action (CTAs). Internal links lead to other pages on your website, while external links connect to important sources. At a base level, links make your webpage easier for search engine crawlers to find. Beyond that, site visitors may follow internal links to your services and products. This in-site traffic further boosts your relevance for GenAI-driven search engines, as it implies that you answered users' questions.

Leveraging SEO Insights

Generative AI has vastly expanded the capabilities of in-site data analytics. Modern algorithms can more precisely track patterns in site traffic and identify critical variables, vulnerabilities, and opportunities. With machine learning, they'll continue to keep up with modern SEO algorithms and changes in users' activities.

Many AI-driven programs use these analytics to recommend optimization options. For example, if the program notices one webpage received more traffic than others, it will analyze its word length, keywords, links, and other content details. It will then use this data to recommend a stronger SEO strategy, such as using particular keywords or breaking up text with headings.

Content Creation and GenAI

Though it can have many advantages, AI-created content is inherently derivative and unoriginal. Using ChatGPT to write an SEO-focused blog could make your content feel less authentic and believable to readers. Furthermore, search engines may not prioritize your content if every sentence is ripped from another source, defeating your SEO goal entirely. So you must be aware of when GenAI can help you and when it can hurt your goals and brand.

AI Content Ideation vs. Content Creation

The best GenAI and ChatGPT SEO strategies consider whether you need AI tools for content creation or ideation. "Content ideation" is the process of identifying and developing concepts for your content, such as relevant topics and target keywords. AI can improve this creative process by analyzing similar content and searches in your field. As a result, you may find tangential topics, searches, and target audiences that you can easily add content for, growing your market even further.

GenAI may benefit your content ideation processes in the following ways:

  • Identifying relevant topics and types of content, such as lists and "how to" blogs
  • Suggesting titles, keywords, and headings
  • Developing guidelines for word count and heading sizes
  • Researching trends and industry changes
  • Creating first drafts or similar jumping-off points

On the other hand, "content creation" is the act of actually making your content. Though it may seem easier to ask ChatGPT, Midjourney, or another GenAI app to generate your content for you, it's often better to create your final content yourself. This level of control lets you limit mistakes and keep your content true to your brand identity.

GenAI can still benefit many aspects of content creation, including:

  • Writing emails
  • Creating schedules based on strict criteria
  • Developing concept art and outlines
  • Adding to images and text you've already created
  • Conducting quick research to fact-check later

Technical SEO Considerations

AI-driven search engines find relevant links by tracking site traffic, users' activity, and link usage — a process known as "crawling." This means that Google, Bing, and other platforms likely won't find your SEO-focused content if the rest of your website isn't optimized as well.

Ideally, every page on your website should be optimized for search engine algorithms so that their AI-driven crawlers don't stop on dead-end pages. You can do this by adding keywords, headings, internal links, and metadata to any web pages currently lacking them. However, the most effective GenAI SEO strategies extend to your overall site design.

Structured Data and Schema Markups

AI-driven crawlers interact with different website structures and schema markups in unique ways. Unfortunately, many of these AI processes are quickly changing, so structuring your website for SEO should be an ongoing process.

"Structured data" describes your website's overall setup of information, including its readability, accessibility, and technical factors. Google uses websites' structured data to understand their content. This information is then compared with structures across the rest of the Internet, from blogs to e-books, to establish overall relevance. Sites with well-structured data use headings, sidebars, and internal links to help site visitors and AI-driven crawlers find the information they want.

Meanwhile, "schema markups" describe the coding that makes up your structure data, covering your focus, content, language, and user accessibility. These markups are often the first factors that AI-driven search engines will find and should accurately represent your web pages. Keeping your website's orientation simple will make your information easier for GenAI crawlers to find.

Website Accessibility

Professionals should consider accessibility across all aspects of their businesses, including their online presence. Unfortunately, websites with poor mobile optimization and other user issues may immediately turn potential customers and clients away from your business.

Most modern web development programs let you create different data structures based on users' devices. This way, people visiting your site from their smartphones don't have to zoom in to read landscape-style paragraphs. As a result, they'll be more likely to stay on your page or follow an internal link, which communicates to search engines that your information is relevant and valuable. 

Your website's look and style also play a role in its accessibility. Though it's fun to play around with different colors, similar tones and shades can make some text difficult to read or practically invisible. You must make sure your text and backgrounds contrast significantly and be aware of how any additional changes impact your legibility.

Voice Searches

Many people now use Siri, Alexa, and other voice-recognition AI to search the web. These voice-activated searches are often phrased and conducted differently than text searches. For example, someone who'd otherwise search "basketball scores" may instead ask, "What are the latest basketball scores?" during a voice search.

These voice searches naturally have different SEO needs and strategies, such as adding more long-form keywords. A critical aspect of this is considering how you want your content depicted in an answer box. Like standard Google searches, Siri and Alexa will usually show users a non-meta excerpt from your webpage that answers their questions. This answer box should be reliable enough to earn their trust, but enticing enough to get them to still click on your link.

Ethical Considerations and Best Practices

The GenAI era isn't all positive, especially when viewed from different angles. Search engines' continued reliance on AI easily restricts high-quality content if it doesn't meet strict SEO standards. This stresses the need to adhere to the evolving SEO guidelines and standards — otherwise, you may lose your place in the Google results.

This reliance also raises ethical concerns, as many small and medium-sized businesses can't keep up with technological changes as quickly as larger corporations. Furthermore, Google's platform has reportedly blocked more results than the company has disclosed in the past. This history makes it challenging for developers to have faith in their SEO strategies, as their content may be restricted in ways they'll never know.

GenAI's Ethical and Legal Landscape in Content Creation

Many GenAI SEO strategies have their own layers of ethical and legal concerns. The copyright ownership of AI-generated content is still undecided in the United States. Furthermore, ongoing lawsuits debate whether AI-generated text falls under fair use protections or illegally rips content from other people's work. These questions threaten the sustainability of AI-generated content but are crucial to consider nonetheless.

Beyond copyright concerns, generative AI is not a reliable fact-checker. ChatGPT and other AI tools can and will make mistakes. You must carefully review and revise all AI-generated content, as any misinformation you publish puts your brand at risk.

Preparing for the Future

Following the latest changes in GenAI SEO strategies is essential for your brand and online presence. At times, new practices may require you to revise previously published content or change your approach entirely. Establishing a dependable SEO plan early keeps you covered for whatever changes may come. Simple and clean structured data is easier to revise later and gives AI-driven crawlers plenty of entry points over time.

Working with tech-focused partners and platforms is one of the best ways to stay prepared for the future. However, nothing can replace continuous learning and essential soft skills, such as adaptation, problem-solving, and organization — so you should always seek out new SEO strategies and resources to keep up with the changing landscape.

Case Studies and Success Stories

With every new development, people wonder what else artificial intelligence can possibly achieve for them. From healthcare workers using AI for scheduling to college students using ChatGPT to cheat on homework, GenAI has both beneficial and potentially harmful applications. Following others' stories can help you gauge which GenAI SEO strategies will and won't benefit you.

Forever 21's AI Search Tool

The concept of integrating search engine behaviors into business platforms isn't anything new. In 2018, Forever 21's online fashion store featured a "Discover Your Style" search tool using early GenAI models. Rather than only searching for products with text prompts, customers could select visual styles that they'd be interested in. This way, they could choose their favorite colors, necklines, and patterns without scrolling through irrelevant results.

These in-site search algorithms have advanced significantly since Forever 21 introduced "Discover Your Style." Different tools let online retailers optimize their internal search engines based on their products and customers' interests. The traffic from these search engine behaviors is then easier to track, since all activity is on their own website.

CNET's Early ChatGPT SEO Strategies

In January 2023, CNET issued a public apology over AI-generated misinformation that was published on its website. The tech-focused media site had reportedly used ChatGPT to write about 75 articles while the AI tool was still relatively new. One of these AI-generated pieces misreported readers' potential savings account earnings by $10,000. CNET reviewed all of its AI-generated content in response, but the company's brand as a reliable tech expert presumably took a hit.

Improving Marketing Potential

Countless business leaders report that GenAI tools have revolutionized their marketing strategies, from expanding research to simplifying menial tasks. AI's insights have made it easier for businesses to structure their websites for customers and keep up with search engine developments.

Revamping Your GenAI SEO Strategies

Despite its challenges and ethical concerns, generative artificial intelligence is undoubtedly here to stay. AI itself isn't anything new, but GenAI's advancements pose many benefits and obstacles for modern businesses.

The best GenAI SEO strategies are often proactive and change with the technology. Integrating GenAI into your SEO practices will help you stay ahead in your industry, no matter what innovations we see next. You may even discover other ways that GenAI can help your business outside of content creation.

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