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Home » News » Farewell to search engines, here come the answer engines. From SEO to AEO: the turning point with Perplexity and Google’s SGE

Farewell to search engines, here come the answer engines. From SEO to AEO: the turning point with Perplexity and Google’s SGE

For a while now, Google’s supremacy in web searches has been challenged by a novel, potent tool with a different approach and logic. Named Perplexity, this technology promises to revolutionize our interaction with the web. Gone are the days when we used to search for websites through familiar search engines. With the advent of artificial intelligence, our web interaction is undergoing a transformation. We are no longer in search of information but answers. The surging success of Perplexity stands testament to this, becoming for many the primary means of web interaction.

The Shift in Searching

Until recently, web searches were based on search engines indexing web pages, guiding users through a list of relevant sites. For digital marketers, ranking on the first pages of search engines was crucial. However, with the rise of artificial intelligence, this strategy has undergone a radical change. Users no longer settle for mere information; they seek immediate and accurate answers to their queries. Perplexity embodies this new demand, becoming the main gateway to the web for many.

What is Perplexity?

Perplexity is an AI platform distinct from traditional search engines. Designed to understand and directly answer user queries with concise, relevant responses, its advanced natural language processing capabilities enable it to interpret queries’ complexity more sophisticatedly. This offers a new method of online information interaction.

The transition from SEO to AEO

Perplexity’s success underscores a fundamental shift currently underway in digital strategy: the move from Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to Answer Engine Optimization (AEO). Whereas SEO focuses on optimizing web content to appear in the top results of search engines through techniques like keyword insertion and backlink creation, AEO aims to optimize content to provide direct and specific answers to user queries. AEO, a subset of SEO, emphasizes the quality and relevance of information over mere keyword presence.

This approach is especially relevant in contexts such as AI-powered chatbots, search engine results pages, and voice search products. AEO is not meant to replace SEO but to complement it by enhancing online visibility, user experience, and engagement through a blend of both principles and techniques. Content optimized for AEO must be highly targeted, relevant to the user’s query, and include key phrases that activate the answer engine. AEO requires a deep understanding of how users pose questions and seek answers online. Optimizing content to effectively and directly respond to these queries can significantly increase a website’s visibility.

The key is to create content that is not only optimized for keywords but also informative, useful, and relevant to the questions posed by users.

Many websites are experiencing a decline in their visits because SEO alone is no longer sufficient. To be visible online today, it is necessary to understand that the goal has shifted from ranking on the first pages of search engines to optimizing content in a way that anticipates and understands what users will ask. Artificial intelligence, with its analysis of queries, guides the selection of answers provided to users, choosing the most relevant information from a vast landscape. Being able to provide the right answers to one’s target users requires a thorough knowledge of one’s market and audience, as well as an understanding of how new technologies operate.

Google’s response: the Search Generative Experience (SGE)

Recognizing the growing importance of AEO, Google has initiated a countermeasure with the launch of the Search Generative Experience (SGE). This new endeavor seeks to incorporate capabilities akin to those of Perplexity within Google’s ecosystem, merging the search engine’s extensive knowledge base with sophisticated natural language processing techniques to deliver more direct and contextualized responses.

This represents a significant shift in the way information is found and presented. By integrating advanced generative AI capabilities into Google Search, it reduces the effort required for searching, making it easier to navigate through the vast amount of data available online. It’s akin to having a personal assistant capable of reading and synthesizing vast amounts of content in seconds, then providing a clear and precise summary of what is most relevant to the posed question. For instance, a user planning a vacation and wondering whether a beach or mountain destination would be better, especially when traveling with a small child, will receive immediate service akin to true consultancy from AI. The artificial intelligence will analyze their needs and present the most suitable options, facilitating the decision-making process.

The expansion of generative AI in Google Search also extends to its integration with Google Maps. This integration allows for place searches based on conversational interactions, leveraging advanced language models to analyze and present detailed information about more than 250 million points of interest. This feature goes beyond merely listing raw data; it encompasses the processing of photos, ratings, and user feedback, thus offering a comprehensive and in-depth view that can enhance marketing strategies, customer engagement, and service personalization.

The adoption of generative artificial intelligence by Google not only improves information searching but also transforms the online shopping experience. By utilizing the Google Shopping Graph, which catalogs over 35 billion product listings, Google provides users with an effective summary of key points to consider in their purchasing decisions. This approach simplifies product selection, offering precise recommendations on what is important, and marks a significant advancement for the industry in improving customer interaction and elevating the quality of the shopping experience.

Conclusions

As platforms like Perplexity redefine digital engagement rules, the abilityto adapt and foresee these trends will determine the winners in the evolving digital landscape. AEO is more than a new term in digital marketing; it’s a call to fundamentally rethink how we create, share, and optimize content for the digital age. The focus is shifting from simply optimizing for search engines (SEO) to producing content that answers users’ queries accurately and contextually. This approach underscores the significance of content quality and relevance, moving beyond merely ranking high in search results to providing genuine value to users. Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) exemplifies how this trend is reshaping web interactions, making online searches and shopping more intuitive and fulfilling. The ability to anticipate and adapt to these changes will be increasingly vital for those looking to thrive in the digital domain. The future keywords will be effectiveness, contextualization, and, most importantly, the capacity to deliver added value to users.

The images were created by DALL·E.

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