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What is GEO and Why Should Brands Care?

Search engine optimization strategies are in a constant state of change, requiring brands to shift their approach as new technologies emerge and old tactics become obsolete. The newly introduced Generative Engine Optimization (GEO) strategies represents the next stage of SEO evolution, leveraging the sophisticated algorithmic nature of AI-powered search engines and established methods of authoritative, quality-rich content creation to help brands greatly boost content visibility.

Before we discuss the specifics, let’s start by understanding how GEO strategies were first developed and what problems GEO aims to solve in the current SEO landscape.

 

The Genesis of GEO

The term Generative Engine Optimization was coined in November of 2023 by researchers from Princeton University, Georgia Tech, The Allen Institute for AI and ITT Delhi. This collaboration sought to utilize the high-speed computing power of large language models to guide users toward accurate and personalized content at a large scale. Their research paper, titled “GEO: Generative Engine Optimization”, outlines how conventional search engines have been rapidly outpaced by AI-assisted competitors, requiring companies to look to the horizon and develop a plan for navigating the nuances of generative search engines.

In short, the study describes how “given the black-box and fast-moving nature of generative engines, content creators have little to no control over when and how their content is displayed. With generative engines here to stay, the right tools should be provided to ensure that creator economy is not severely disadvantaged.” To this end, GEO serves as a valuable tool for increasing the visibility of any brand looking to secure a foothold in the new world of generative search engines.

 

So, What is GEO?

Rather than a singular change to existing SEO tactics, GEO is best understood as a framework of several content-focused development and marketing strategies. Although the study tested nine distinct strategies that brands may be able to implement within their content to optimize their generative AI-assisted search results, we want to focus on the three most effective techniques that set GEO apart from conventional SEO:

  • Cite Your Sources: Providing the source materials used to create the content is useful to readers, as they can learn more about the topic at their own pace. It also sets your content apart from the rest with an authoritative, informed voice and signals your brand as a research-focused thought leader.
  • Add Meaningful Quotations: Adding relevant quotes from related sources shows that the content is well-informed and establishes a base of knowledge, further adding to the content’s authority on the topic. This also builds upon the previous technique to save time and effort; as long as you’re providing sources, you might as well tell readers what the most relevant passage is to further drive your point home.
  • Include Relevant Statistics: Similarly, inserting related statistics into the copy gives readers further context and reinforces the claims of the content. Readers may or may not inherently trust your brand to convey accurate information, but sourced statistics can go a long way towards building trust with your audience and bolstering the central message of your copy.

Several of the GEO strategies not mentioned above, such as strategically utilizing key terms or making the content easy to understand, are commonplace in most SEO tactics. Taken together with the most effective GEO techniques listed above, however, these strategies can improve generative search engine visibility by up to 40%, a staggering improvement of any of the individual SEO strategies already commonplace for most brands.

So how do these different strategies coalesce into such a massive potential increase in visibility?

The GEO Advantage

Although the exact degree of improvement will vary across search engines and domains, utilizing the GEO framework presents several key benefits for brands looking to boost their visibility.
As we discussed above, GEO strategies are uniquely positioned to respond to the criteria that generative search engines scan for. Unlike traditional search engines that list websites based on keywords and backlinks, generative engines synthesize and summarize information from various sources, making coordinated responses from brands difficult to apply broadly across an entire suite of content. With the GEO framework, brands can ensure that their content checks each of the major boxes that generative search engines are looking for the moment a user hits “Enter.”

Another significant benefit is the GEO provides a framework for systematic evaluation and optimization across various domains and query types, a pivotal tool for content creators targeting specific audiences or topics. The introduction of the GEO research paper outlines GEO-BENCH, a benchmark for evaluating the effectiveness of GEO methods consisting of 10,000 queries across various domains and sources. GEO-BENCH allows for a better understanding of how different strategies perform across a wide range of queries and domains and underlines the versatility and adaptability of GEO. By tailoring optimization strategies to the specific needs of a given domain, content creators can more effectively enhance their visibility and relevance in GE responses, leading to better engagement and higher traffic.

Lastly, the GEO framework simply makes for better content. As any internet user would tell you, there is no shortage of filler pages on any given search results page. Who among us hasn’t stumbled into a recipe page that was 80% filler text and 15% pop ups? By adhering to the GEO strategies described above, brands can ensure that their web presence represents high-quality, substantiative content; no fluff, no filler. Quality vs. quantity has been a contentious debate since the beginning of SEO as an industry, but recent changes by search engines to prioritize quality content and a growing discontentment among internet users regarding “filler” content has pushed content creators to think of new ways to make every article, post and video substantial enough to keep audiences coming back for more.

 

Where Will the Future of GEO Take Us?

As the evolution of search engines continues to curve towards generative AI, the traditional SEO focus on keywords and backlinks is becoming less and less effective. The advent of GEO demands a more nuanced approach, prioritizing relevance, authority, and richness in digital content and signaling a need for ongoing learning and adaptation within digital marketing practices.

The implications of GEO are profound for the digital presence of brands. As generative search engines become more prevalent, the way consumers access and interact with information online will continue to change alongside this technology. Nobody can predict what the next decade of SEO practices will look like, but if search engines and AI continue to evolve at such a breakneck pace then brands will need to do everything they can to keep up or risk sinking to the bottom of results pages.

The GEO framework’s comprehensive suite of strategies offers a more nuanced approach, focusing on authoritative, quality-rich content that resonates with the sophisticated algorithms of generative search engines. The integration of GEO into a brand’s digital arsenal is more than a mere update to existing SEO tactics; it’s a transformative step towards enhancing content visibility by up to 40%. This leap forward is not just about adhering to the evolving parameters of search engines; it’s about elevating the quality of online content.

To find out how your brand can benefit from GEO-infused content strategies, reach out to us at leverinteractive.com/contact.

 

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