Answer Engine Optimization – The Next Big Thing!

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) gained popularity in the 1990s.

Two decades later, the likes of Google and Bing still work around it which has made it so popular.

But do you know that SEO is no longer the only game in town today?

Well, experts have identified the rise of voice search which is quickly transforming search engines into answer engines. This is a different strategy that is now being referred to as Answer Engine Optimization.

 This article will help you understand the difference between AEO and SEO, and how SEOs go about optimizing for answer engines. 

 

What is Answer Engine Optimization (AEO)?

 

Most of us in this industry have noted a shift in search engines, particularly Google, towards giving a single definitive answer to searches. Certain innovations such as Knowledge Graph and featured snippets have been used by Google to answer to search queries without having to click other websites.

 Voice search puts emphasis on this shift, with most of the voice searches receiving one answer that’s clearly read out by a digital assistant.  

On mobile, some voice searches that do not have a definitive answer will display a result page. However, for home hub devices that rarely have a screen, this option isn’t available. Therefore, search engines must provide a single answer or no answer at all.

Why Answer Engine Optimization is Vital:

It’s important to note that AEO will not replace SEO but it can be a vital tool to marketers who want to learn how to optimize for answer engines.

The rise of voice search, however, has been received well with statistics showing an accelerating momentum of voice search. In the UK alone, close to half of the population (42%) uses voice search on a daily basis.

 

And while we seem to be divided on whether or not voice search is worth optimizing for, some people have seen the idea working. I would predict that in 2018, there will be a major increase in the use of AEO with the likes of Google and Amazon showing their willingness to incorporate the voice controlled smart-hub technology into their searches.

 Facebook and Apple have already announced their own smart home devices which will only see voice controlled devices become more prevalent. 

How Does AEO Differ from SEO?

AEO and SEO will definitely overlap and the techniques that work for one will work for the other. The rise of AEO doesn’t mean that you forget about everything you know about SEO. It’s just that they apply slightly different rules.

It’s important to learn that both require communication and credibility; you need to communicate what your business entails and when we discuss about the need for domain authority in SEO for instance, we are just talking about credibility.

 

 However, the main difference between SEO and AEO is that AEO is more about strategy while SEO is more about tactics. Therefore, both are needed by marketers to enhance their online presence across all devices. 

How to Optimize for Answer Engines:

With all that being said, what are the practical steps can you take to optimize your content for answer engines and voice search?

Communicate accurately about yourself

It may surprise you to learn not all the information on the internet is indexed by answer engines such as Google because it’s very fragmented. Websites are often coded differently and Google can only take the information in front of it to know what the information means.

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It’s the reason that the necessity of webmasters cannot be emphasized enough as they help in putting the definitions clearer so that Google knows exactly what it’s searching and give the users the right information.  This is an important part of SEO but it’s more crucial for AEO; the answers have to be very specific. Therefore, the initial requirement is you should be accurate about you.

Luckily, there are two powerful tools that you can use to achieve this which include; Semantic HTML and Structured Data.

Semantic HTML5:

HTML5 helps in dividing up a page into sections with each section playing a specific role.

Google then finds it easy to know which sections to display and which ones to ignore. You can look for guides on how you can apply HTML5 to your content to learn more.

 

Schema.org Structured Data Markup:

Schema.orgmarkup was developed by several search engines including Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Yandex to help search engines understand content in a universal language. This is not a replacement to HTML but both work together.

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There are 3 key types of schema.org markup; RDFa, Microdata and JSON-LD. You only need to talk about who you are and what you do and be truthful about everything. Once Google understands you, it can provide you as a potential answer.

Establish Your Credibility:

Another key component of AEO is credibility! Credibility offers answer engines a sense of confidence in their results. Consequently, the more credible the source of an answer is, the more Google et al can trust the accuracy and offer it.

Domain Authority which is has always been used to show credibility in SEO is now being replaced by brand authority as Google and other search engines can now determine a brands reputation from reviews, mentions as well as other markers that do not need a link.

 

How can you improve your credibility?

  • Reviews should be about quantity and quality

Here, you need to ensure that your brand reviews are positive but the number of customers the brand has served can also be a contributing factor. People are more likely to go for brand that has a lower rating and twice as many reviews, compared to a brand with high rating but with fewer reviews.

  • Be one of the trusted sources

Receiving a mention from a trusted source is something you need to do. By adding yourself to Wikidata, which is the database behind Wikipedia can be a powerful proof that your brand is a credible source.

  • Niche mentions still have weight

Is it important to get mentions of your business? By getting a positive mention of your business on a website relevant to your niche, it will be an added advantage.

Conclusion:

This article has covered a lot of points but you can take a few fundamental ones. The most important ones are to communicate your brand and make it credible.

The good thing is that Google doesn’t understand specific brands and that means that any brand can get recognition through accurate communication and credibility.

 

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