AEO: What is Answer Engine Optimization

June 14, 2024 -

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What is Answer Engine Optimization - Tech Cloud Ltd

The rise of AI-generative chatbots has undeniably disrupted numerous industries in recent years. With the increasing availability of free large language models for public use, many individuals have begun to rely on these tools instead of traditional search engines like Google.

Furthermore, the popularity of AI voice assistants is on the rise, giving rise to the need for Answer Engine Optimization (AEO).

It is no longer sufficient to invest solely in SEO; you must prioritize AEO to ensure your content gains visibility not only in typical search results but also in chatbot responses.

As AEO is a relatively new concept compared to SEO, optimizing your content for generative AI can be confusing. However, this article will provide a comprehensive guide, covering:

  • What is Answer Engine Optimization?
  • Differences between AEO vs SEO
  • Importance of AEO & SEO
  • Types of Answer Engines
  • Effective Answer Engine Optimization Methods

Excited? Let’s dive into the world of Answer Engine Optimization:

What is AEO (Answer Engine Optimization)?

Answer Engine Optimization (AEO), also known as Generative Engine Optimization (GEO), is a crucial set of techniques that demand attention.

These strategies are specifically designed to boost the visibility of your content and website in the responses generated by AI bots like ChatGPT, Gemini, and Llama, as well as in AI-generated search results from platforms like Google’s AI overview, Brave search’s The Summarizer and Bing search’s Copilot.

Furthermore, AEO is essential for ensuring your content or websites are prominently featured in the responses of AI voice assistants such as Google Assistant and Siri. Ignoring AEO is a surefire way to miss out on the immense potential of AI-driven content discovery and engagement.

Differences between AEO vs. SEO

Before delving into the details of answer engine optimization, it’s essential to get a clear understanding of AEO versus SEO. Traditional search engine optimization focuses on ranking your website and business profiles, like Google Business Profile, on the Search Engine Result Pages (SERP).

To achieve higher rankings, SEO experts implement techniques such as optimizing website content with relevant keywords, building high-quality backlinks, improving website speed and mobile-friendliness, and ensuring a positive user experience.

MetricAEOSEO
FocusGetting website content and links featured by AI bots and voice assistants.Getting higher ranking on search results for specific keywords.
AdvantagesIncrease visibility, Build trust & Authority, Expand Reach.Increase web traffic, Long-term result, Boost conversion.
Core ChallengesLimited information available, Limited control over AI responses, Difficulty in measuring success.Constant algorithm change, High level of competition, Need professional help to implement.

As we discussed earlier, the goal of AEO or GEO is increasing content visibility in AI responses. However, is it entirely different from SEO or a subset of search engine optimization? We would say it is not outside the realm of SEO, but in some cases, it is.

Let us explain: The results shown in Google’s AI overviews are pulled from different websites because of the response displayed on the search result pages.

Optimizing your site and content to gain visibility in the AI overview will require the type of AEO that is actually a part of SEO. Just like Google considers many factors in ranking any website on the first page.

Similarly, the AI overview only shows website links and content that Google considers trustworthy, authoritative, and relevant.

On the other hand, getting referenced or having your content featured in the responses of AI chatbots like ChatGPT, Gemini, and other AI voice assistants could be considered different from SEO because you are trying to optimize for AI generative engines, not search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo.

However, unlike traditional SEO, there are not many tried-and-true techniques for Generative engine optimization that guarantee your content or website link will be featured in the AI responses.

The good news is that research has been done to find the best approach for answer engine optimization. We will explore those techniques found by researchers in this field later in this article.

We expect that AEO (Answer Engine Optimization) and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) will become more intertwined in the future when all AI chatbots and voice assistants will be capable of accessing the internet to bring in new information.

Why do both AEO and SEO matter?

Even if you are a beginner in SEO, you probably know it is important for ranking higher on major search engines like Google and Bing. By improving your ranking, you can drive more targeted traffic, boost conversions, and ultimately increase sales.

However, the search engine landscape is on the verge of massive change. From Microsoft’s Copilot to Brave’s The Summarizer to Google’s recently launched AI Overview, many aspects of SEO will likely change soon.

As we have seen with Google’s core algorithm updates, changes in how people approach SEO are inevitable. With Google’s AI Overview feature gaining popularity, it might become challenging to drive high volumes of traffic to your website solely through SEO.

The solution lies in implementing answer engine optimization alongside SEO. With this approach, you can:

1. Increase visibility: Implementing both approaches will help you increase the visibility of your website, content, and brand. People will be able to find information about your company, website, and content not only from your website but also from the responses on AI answer engines.

2. Drive traffic: The AI overview feature might initially cause a dip in your website traffic, but don’t panic. By implementing a combined approach, you can regain control and keep driving more traffic than ever before. Your website’s visibility won’t just be limited to search results; it’ll also dominate the responses of AI bots and assistants.

3. Build Trust & Authority: Imagine your site ranking well on search results and getting featured or referenced by generative AI bots or recommended by AI voice assistants. Would it not enhance your brand’s reputation, authority, and trustworthiness? Indeed, it would.

4. Boost Conversion: Just like targeted organic traffic you get from search engine result pages (SERPs) for what your website offers, people who visit your website from citations and recommendations by generative AI tools will be more conversion-ready than random visitors. As a result, the bounce rate will decrease, and the conversion rate can skyrocket.

5. Expand Reach: By getting your content featured in AI-powered responses, you can extend your reach beyond just the people who visit your website directly from SERPs. Your ideas and information will be accessible to a wider audience through AI bots and assistants, potentially driving more engagement and awareness for your brand.

6. Futureproof Your Strategy: As AI technology continues to evolve and become more integrated into the digital landscape, being an early adopter of GEO can help you stay ahead of the curve and futureproof your digital marketing strategy.

Types of AI-powered answer engines

There are three types of answer engines in the market, and understanding each type is crucial for effectively implementing answer engine optimization strategies. Here are the 3 major types of generative answer engines you must be aware of:

Generative AI bots

Large language model-based AI bots like ChatGPT, Gemini, Claude, YouChat, and Llama are powered by vast datasets and cutting-edge algorithms, enabling them to provide comprehensive answers to user queries.

Some of these bots can even leverage the internet to access the latest information. Their popularity is skyrocketing, with ChatGPT alone having an impressive 180.5 million users.

AI search summarizers

With the integration of AI technology in major search engines, most now feature or plan to feature an AI-enabled web overview function. This can pull data from different websites and respond to user queries. Traditional search engines are rapidly becoming unpopular.

We categorize these answer engines separately because they largely depend on content available on various websites. Instead of just answers from a trained dataset, these search engines can also provide the latest information from the internet.

AI Voice Assistants

AI voice assistants are more popular than many of us assume. In fact, 50% of US consumers use voice search, and 80% of residents use voice assistants.

Virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant are becoming increasingly advanced in their ability to provide detailed and contextual answers to user queries.

As more people rely on voice-based interactions, optimizing your content for these AI-powered assistants can be crucial for reaching and engaging with your target audience.

Effective Answer Engine Optimization methods

AEO is a new addition to the realm of SEO. While many existing SEO techniques work well for answer engine optimization, you need to take multiple new approaches to ensure higher visibility on answer engines.

Based on recent scientific research on generative engine optimization and industry experience, here are effective methods you can implement right away on your website.

These novel techniques can help you gain as much as 40% visibility on answer engines. Excited? Let’s explore:

1. Establish authoritativeness

Generative engines favor authoritative content. The Authoritative technique in GEO (Generative Engine Optimization) involves modifying the source content’s text style to be more persuasive and authoritative when making claims.

This technique aims to enhance the content’s credibility and impact, thereby improving its visibility in generative engine-generated responses.

To make your content more authoritative, here are a few things you can do:

  • Persuasive language: Craft your content using persuasive language techniques to make a strong and convincing argument. This includes using assertive statements, employing rhetorical devices, and appealing to emotions or logic to engage the reader.
  • Confident Statements: Use definitive language to present information. Avoid phrases like “might be” or “could be,” and instead use “is” or “will be.” Back up your claims by presenting well-researched facts and providing evidence to support the claims made.
  • Expert Voice: The tone and voice of the content should convey expertise and authority. This can be achieved by using confident and knowledgeable language, avoiding ambiguity or uncertainty, and demonstrating a deep understanding of the subject matter. Offer unique insights, provide original research or analysis, and showcase expertise through case studies or success stories. Stay focused on the main points and arguments.
  • Professional Presentation: The overall presentation of the content is polished and professional. This includes using proper formatting, grammar, and punctuation, as well as incorporating visually appealing elements such as headings, subheadings, and bullet points to enhance readability.

2. Add statistics

One technique that works well for answer engine optimization is adding quantitative statistics instead of qualitative discussion in content. This approach helps to boost the content’s credibility and informativeness.

Key aspects of the Statistics Addition technique include:

  • Data integration: Integrating relevant statistical data into the content, such as numerical figures, percentages, ratios, averages, or any other statistical information, adds value to the topic being discussed.
  • Reliable Sources: Use statistical data sourced from reputable and reliable sources, such as government reports, academic studies, industry research, or data from recognized organizations.
  • Contextual Relevance: Ensuring that the statistical data is relevant to the topic being discussed and provides meaningful insights or supports the claims made in the content.
  • Interpretation and Analysis: Providing interpretation and analysis of the statistical data to help readers understand its significance and implications.

3. Ensure optimal keyword density

Rather than stuffing keywords into your content, you should incorporate relevant keywords multiple times naturally into the content. This answer engine optimization technique helps answer engines understand the content, just like other search engines.

While this method is rooted in traditional SEO practices, it requires a delicate balance to avoid negative impacts and maximize effectiveness. To implement this search engine optimization technique:

  • Identify keywords: Find keywords that are highly relevant to the topic and commonly used in search queries. Include primary keywords in titles and headings to signal relevance to both answer engines and search engines. Distribute keywords naturally throughout the text to maintain a balance between optimization and readability.
  • Avoid Overuse: Ensure that keyword inclusion feels natural and does not disrupt the flow of the content. Use synonyms and related phrases to avoid overusing keywords, which can appear spammy and degrade the user experience. Place keywords strategically while maintaining the natural flow of the content.
  • Ensure Semantic Relevance: Include contextually relevant keywords and phrases to provide richer and more comprehensive coverage of the topic.

4. Cite sources

Citing sources of the data and statistics you provided makes your content more trustworthy. Include references to authoritative and credible external sources within your content to improve visibility in answer engines.

It will also help both answer engines and readers verify the information. To effectively cite sources, follow these guidelines:

  • Use credible sources: Citing reputable sources such as academic journals, government reports, or respected industry publications lends authority and trustworthiness to your content. Citing unreliable or discredited sources can harm the credibility of your content.
  • Citation optimization: Include references directly within the content where the information is relevant, using them for additional details or extensive references without disrupting the content flow. Also, provide a comprehensive list of all sources cited at the end of the document.
  • Use Hyperlinks: Include hyperlinks to online sources for easy access and verification by readers. Remember not to use too many external links, as it can clutter the content and overwhelm the reader.

5. Use relevant quotes

Incorporating quotes from authoritative and credible sources can improve answer engine visibility. To effectively add quotations and optimize for answer engines, follow these tips:

  • Carefully select quotes: Choose quotes from respected authorities, experts in the field, or well-regarded publications. Ensure that the quotations directly support the main points or arguments of the content. Verify the accuracy of the quotes and attribute them correctly to their original sources.
  • Quote placement: Begin a section or paragraph with a relevant quote to set the tone and provide context. Also, include quotes within the body of the text to reinforce points and add authority. Another option is adding a quote to summarize or emphasize the main idea in the conclusion part.
  • Avoid Overuse: Using too many quotations can decrease readability and make the content appear less original. Only use quotes when they are relevant and reinforce your core ideas.

6. Simplify the language

For any large language models (LLMs), it is easier for them to process the content if you use simple and straightforward language. This method focuses on clarity, simplicity, and readability, making the content more accessible to answer engines.

To implement this technique, here are a few tips you can follow:

  • Language optimization: Use plain language that avoids unnecessary jargon and complex sentences. Aim for simplicity without losing necessary detail. Instead of using complex or obscure vocabulary, use common and familiar words.
  • Clarity and precision: Explain concepts clearly and concisely. Break down complex ideas into easily digestible parts. Eliminate ambiguity and vagueness. Be precise in the information provided.
  • Avoid oversimplification: While simplification helps search engines understand your content better, ensure the essential details remain intact. Also, include technical terms when necessary.

7. Optimize for fluency

Improving the fluency of website text can enhance the flow and coherence of the content, aiding in answer engine optimization. This optimization involves refining the text to ensure it reads smoothly and naturally.

To improve content fluency, follow these guidelines:

  • Content Organization: Organize the content in a logical sequence. Use headings and subheadings to make your content easy to follow. Use bullet points and lists to present information in a clear and organized manner. Whenever possible, break down paragraphs into short, digestible portions that focus on a single idea.
  • Sentence structure: A mix of simple, compound, and complex sentences keeps the reader engaged and varies the rhythm of the content. Prefer the active voice over the passive voice to make sentences more direct and vigorous.
  • Ensure Consistency: Maintain a consistent tone and style throughout the content. Avoid abrupt changes that can disrupt the reading experience. Use consistent verb tenses and points of view to avoid confusing the reader.
  • Other fluency guidelines: Eliminate redundant words and phrases. Use punctuation marks correctly to enhance readability and prevent misunderstandings. Ensure grammar is correct and appropriate for the context. Use grammar check tools to identify and correct errors.

8. Incorporate unique words

Generative engines prefer content with unique words. Therefore, adding distinctive and varied vocabulary can help your content get featured in the response.

This approach makes the text stand out by avoiding overused phrases and demonstrating a rich vocabulary, which can capture readers’ attention and improve the content’s visibility in generative engine results.

Here is how you can incorporate unique words:

  • Diversify Vocabulary: Using synonyms and specific terms can help you avoid repetition and introduce variety into your writing. For instance, instead of repeatedly using “important,” you could employ words like “crucial,” “vital,” or “essential.” Additionally, strive to utilize specific and precise terminology whenever feasible.
  • Contextual Relevance: Ensure that the words you choose are appropriate for the context. They should enhance the meaning of the content rather than complicate it. When relevant, incorporate precise technical terms that add depth and specificity to the topic.
  • Balance and Clarity: When you write, it’s important to strike a balance between using unique words and keeping your writing readable. Avoid using words that are too complicated or obscure, as that might confuse the answer engines and readers.

9. Include relevant technical terms

Using specialized vocabulary specific to a particular field or industry helps the generative engine understand the content and context. However, using irrelevant technical terms and jargon can backfire when it comes to answer engine optimization.

The following tips can be helpful for implementing this idea:

  • Contextual Appropriateness: When using technical terms, ensure that the terms you use are relevant to the topic and context. Additionally, avoid misusing jargon, as it can make your writing difficult to understand.
  • Precision: Use technical terms to provide precise and detailed information. This helps in delivering content that meets the expectations of a knowledgeable audience. However, always consider if a technical term is adding value to the content, if not eliminate it.

Other notable Answer Engine Optimization techniques

Here are a few more answer engine optimization methods you should be aware of:

Perform AEO keyword and topic research

Google’s AI overviews use the default Google search bar to take input from user queries and respond at the top of search results. This means you can get data on keywords from popular keyword research tools like SEMRush or Ahrefs.

However, there is not much data available on the types of queries users ask on most answer engines, but you can make an educated guess.

The people who use these AI answer engines are either seeking information or wanting to create something. Some may ask questions like “what are the top 10 places to travel in the USA,” while others may ask the AI to “Make a 1-week diet plan for weight loss.”

Therefore, creating content that addresses these queries can help in answer engine optimization.

Another thing to consider is the search intent. Although there are not many tools available for AEO, unlike SEO, you can use AI answer engines to your advantage. Answer engines are effective at figuring out user intent.

So, if you’re unsure about the intent of certain queries, you can ask questions on generative AI tools like ChatGPT.

As you’re tailoring your content to get featured in AI responses, this approach is an excellent way to understand what intent generative tools consider the right intent.

Get listed company in business directories

AI answer engines pull data from different content sources, including business directories. Having your company profile on these sites can help your company get recommended by AI generative engines.

For example, if someone asks an AI generative bot to recommend “Top 10 SEO companies in the UK,” the bot will respond based on its dataset of business listings or from internet business directories.

Therefore, it is crucial to list your business on the best business directories, such as Google Business Profile, Yelp, and The Yellow Pages (depending on your industry).

If there are any local directories for businesses in your industry, aim to get listed there as well. This answer engine optimization technique can help your business boost visibility and build reputation.

Recommended Reading: A Comprehensive Guide to Local SEO

Answer potential user queries

Almost all answer engines respond in a concise, straightforward way. Using FAQs (frequently asked questions) can provide to-the-point information that can get featured in answer engine results.

Add FAQs on every content and service page to provide concise information about user queries. Ensure your answers are NLP (Natural Language Processing) friendly, meaning the answers should be provided in 1-2 short, easy-to-read sentences.

In conclusion

It is undeniable that the search engine landscape is changing. People are increasingly using answer engines to get information. Also, almost all major search engines have adopted AI-integrated search.

However, that doesn’t mean AEO is enough to ensure your brand’s dominance in the digital landscape.

As discussed above, both have their unique advantages for your company. Utilizing both is the best choice you can make to ensure your company thrives in this new world of AI dominance.

If you need any assistance regarding Answer Engine Optimization (AEO) or Search Engine Optimization (SEO), don’t hesitate to reach out to us today!

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Liam Barnard is a freelance writer and independent blogger who dives into digital marketing, tech, and business communication. Based in Melbourne, he’s a digital marketer by day and a sci-fi binge-watcher, travel enthusiast, and guitar strummer by night.

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