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What is Generative Search and How to Prepare for it

Generative AI search refers to search engines that can generate their own content and answers, rather than just returning links and snippets from existing pages. This means search engines will be able to provide direct answers to questions, generate summaries on topics, and create content tailored to the searcher's query.

This shift promises to transform the search experience for users. No more sifting through multiple pages to find an answer. Generative search offers specific, customized direct responses upfront instead of a list of blue links. This reduces frustration and gets users the information they want faster.

With search engines generating their own answers, what role will traditional content play? How should SEO adapt? Overall, generative search represents one of the biggest disruptors in years. Understanding its implications and how to prepare for these changes will be vital for digital marketers.

So what does this mean for marketers?

Evolving Digital Marketing Strategies

As generative AI takes off and fundamentally changes SEO functionality, digital marketing strategies will need to adapt. Keyword-focused content strategies will become less effective and instead, marketers should focus on topics and customer intent.

  • Shift focus from targeting keywords to targeting topics and customer journeys. Write comprehensive, in-depth content that fulfills the user's need from start to finish.
  • Ensure content quality is high. Generative search engines will favor content with greater depth, accuracy and uniqueness.
  • Optimize for voice search queries. Voice search results favor long-form, conversational content that directly answers spoken questions. Format content in a scannable way for voice assistants.
  • Leverage interactive content like calculators, quizzes and configurators that allow two-way engagement. This content is harder for AI to recreate.
  • Continuously experiment with new content formats and ideas. Use A/B testing to see what resonates most with searchers.
  • Monitor search intent data and shift content focus accordingly. Search intent analysis will become even more important.

Just like all effective campaign planning, marketers need to think about their searchers first, not keywords. By fulfilling the user's needs and providing significant added value through content, comprehensive content will perform well in generative search.

Expanding to Omnichannel Marketing

As generative AI begins to create major impacts on search rankings, marketers should continue to focus on channels that consistently deliver results, such as social media ads, email marketing, and paid search. Rather than relying heavily on organic search traffic, it will become even more important to directly engage audiences on the platforms where they are most active.

Social media ads allow advertisers to target specific demographics and interests at scale, making them one of the most effective tactics for ongoing exposure and conversions. Email nurturing campaigns, when optimized for relevant and personalized content, can also reliably deliver ROI month after month. Pay-per-click ads should be monitored and funded to maximize high-converting keywords, especially as organic rankings fluctuate.

Generative AI's capabilities also present opportunities to test innovative strategies like optimizing website content for featured snippets, which can garner prominent placement in search results. While generative search impacts some tried-and-true SEO tactics, it opens doors for marketers willing to experiment with emerging formats and platforms. The brands that stay ahead of the curve and keep budgets flowing to their best-performing channels will maintain an edge.

Educating Clients on the AI Takeover  

Educating clients on the potential of generative AI and its impact on digital marketing will be vital. Marketers should take the lead in informing and guiding their clients through this transition, ensuring they understand the benefits and challenges of this new era.

Embracing generative AI search may require adjustments and investments in tools and expertise, but the benefits outweigh the costs. By aligning teams, managing expectations, and budgeting appropriately, marketing teams can smoothly navigate the transition to generative AI and capitalize on the enormous opportunities it presents.

Overcoming Implementation Challenges

Embracing generative AI will require some adjustments, but the benefits are well worth the effort. Here are some tips for smoothing the transition:

Managing Expectations Around Results

Generative AI is powerful, but it isn't magic. Marketers will still need to build strategic plans and set clear goals. Don't expect overnight success - be prepared to experiment and iterate to find what resonates. Focus on incremental progress, not instant transformations.

Budgeting for Experts/Tools 

While some generative AI tools are fairly inexpensive, others carry more significant costs. Work with your finance team to allocate budget for the appropriate tools and experts to set your team up for success. The investment will pay dividends down the road.

Aligning Teams on New Processes

Change management will be critical. Provide ample training and get stakeholder buy-in across departments to streamline adoption of new generative AI workflows. Maintain open communication and encourage feedback along the way. Recognize that it may take some time to adjust.

The bottom line is that generative AI brings enormous opportunities but also disruption. With proper planning and support, marketing teams can navigate the transition to generative AI. Maintain realistic expectations, invest in success, and keep end goals in sight. The future looks bright for brands embracing this technology in thoughtful ways.

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