Search Engine Optimization has been around ever since the 90’s and after more than two decades later it is still here today, but with the evolution of technology it has brought along with it a new type of digital marketing. These days, there have been more and more voice searches, which has turned search engines into “answer engines” and this requires a different strategy than before. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but in order to adapt to the ever changing and growing digital landscape, you have to pick up some new tricks, and you got to do it fast or you’ll certainly get left behind.
What is Answer Engine Optimization?
Those of us that has been in the industry for a while has noted on the shift that is happening in search engines, particularly Google, that is now more focused on providing users, one definitive answer to their search query, without the need for the user to click through links that will lead to many different websites.
This shift is emphasized by the growing number of voice searches, since the majority of voice searches will give out a single answer that is read out by a digital assistant. For mobile users, when there isn’t a definitive answer to the search query, it will display a results page. That’s why search engines are now required to provide users with a definitive single answer or none at all and that definitely raises the stakes a bit.
Techniques to optimize answer engines overlap with some of the techniques used in order to do search optimization, but even with their similarities, there are still underlying differences.
The most crucial part in answer engine optimization is in the specifics; you need to let the answer engine have a clear understanding on what exactly it is that you are offering.
In order for an answer engine to give out a specific answer, it will require a very detailed set of information. Like for example, if a user asks their digital assistant for “the cheapest Chinese restaurant in the area” then the answer engine will need to know the prices of the Chinese restaurants in the area. The answer engine will also need to know the menu that the restaurant offers, for instances when the user asks for something specific on the menu. For example, if a user asks for dumplings and the answer engine is certain that a specific Chinese restaurant has it, and it isn’t certain the others in the area have it then it will present the one that it is certain of.
Why is answer engine optimization important?
SEO isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but marketers also need to learn how to optimize answer engines if they don’t want to get left behind because of the rise steady rise of voice search.
In the UK, 42% of the populace are using voice search on a daily basis, and that is up from the 25% from four years ago, and voice searches with digital assistants Siri , Alexa and Cortana have increased up to 4x in the past year. But there are still a lot of people that have never used voice search that is why search practitioners are actually divided on whether or not they should optimize for voice search. But it never hurts to learn something new.
How does AEO differ from SEO?
As we previously mentioned, AEO and SEO have overlapping techniques, and that’s why you don’t need to forget everything you know in order to do AEO. Communication and credibility are fundamental to both SEO and AEO, since you need to communicate what exactly it is that you offer and are required to be credible.
Even with all their similarities, SEO and AEO have their differences; SEO is driven by tactics, while AEO is driven by strategy. What this means is that SEO is a tactics-based approach to digital marketing, where you use specific marketing tactics in order to increase your online presence, while AEO is more focused on the overall vision. Marketers have an obligation to utilize both AEO and SEO in order to give their brand an online presence on all platforms.
Voice searches will eventually become a bigger part of the market, but this doesn’t mean that you should solely focus on answer engines; you still need to continue SEO, since it will still continue to exist.
Credibility is another important factor when it comes to AEO. The more credible the source, the search engine will be able to trust that it is an accurate answer and provide it to their users.
Whether it is a voice search or type search query, it’s a search engine’s job to answer the user’s question or the solution to their problem, and do it as quickly as possible. With this in mind, the search engine will have to put the best answer at the top of the list. Once the search engine has determined that you can provide the answer to the question or the solution to the problem, if it can trust you that you have a credible answer then it will put you at the top of the list.
Domain authority is one of the traditional markers to determine SEO credibility. Now, brand authority will be able to determine a brand’s credibility and increase their reputation from markers that do not require a link such as mentions and user reviews.
Google doesn’t rely solely on links, but it still relies on it. Once it determines who you are, it will be able to link a mention of your brand name to you. Positive feedback from your clients from reviews and social media mentions will increase your credibility with Google. That’s why improving brand authority is vital to the mid to long-term success of your AEO strategy.
Here are some tips in order to help you establish credibility for answer engines:
Reviews: it’s about quantity as much as quality
Customer feedback is important, that’s why you need to make sure that you have mostly positive reviews, but prospective customers will also look at how many customers the brand has served. People are more likely to choose a brand that a lower rating but has served more clients and has more reviews than a brand that has a higher rating but fewer reviews.
Add yourself to trusted sources
Getting a mention from a reputable source is a very important factor in AEO. WikiData is the database of Wikipedia, is a credible source of information for Google, which you yourself can add info to. Google also takes into account government websites and business associations as trusted sources that can confirm that you are indeed credible.
Niche mentions still carry weight
If you brand gains a positive mention on another website that is relevant to your niche then it can help out a lot no matter how big or small it is.
Make sure that all the information that you post about your company and brand are 100% correct and accurate. You should also make sure that every information about your brand from external websites are also accurate, and if you find out that there are some inaccuracies then you should make sure to contact them in order for them to correct it.
Tips in order to improve your AEO
Here are some basic tips in order to help improve your answer engine optimization strategy:
- The information that you provide must be corroborated by a trusted third party source.
- Make sure to improve your credibility through mentions, links, and reviews on:
- Social media platforms
- High-traffic sites
- Authoritative sites
- Third-party review sites
- Relevant niche brands
In conclusion, the most crucial aspects of AEO and SEO is to communicating, protecting, and promoting your brand. Since Google and other search engines aren’t as sophisticated yet and are still struggling to understand brand, which is why it is important for you, the marketer to help the search engines understand your brand. If you can explain to the search engine about your brand and make it understand that you are credible then you are already on your way to AEO success.