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Gen Z Is Ditching the Traditional Search Engine. Is Your Business Ready?


This week, I had one of those rare moments where my teenage son talked to me in more than mono-syllabic answers. We were talking about AI and school projects. While AI is a boon for anyone tasked with repetitive time sucks, it’s a nightmare for school administrators and educators. Kids everywhere (other than New York, where it’s illegal) are using chatbots to do their homework, write school scripts and projects, etc. And because of AI’s generative language use, plagiarism trackers are ineffectual. But this article isn’t about “cheating.”


As into AI as I have been this past year, he still schooled me. Turns out Snapchat has a chatbot. It not only has natural conversation capabilities (any parent wishing to have a conversation with their child could certainly rename this chatbot with their kid’s name and have a lovely conversation.), but will answer any question you have for it. Additionally, TikTok is testing Tako, an in-app chatbot, and the company is looking at it to deliver more relevant content to its users. This is just the next step. After all, when kids want to know something, they search YouTube first. This hasn’t been a huge disruptor to search so far because YouTube is owned by Google. If chatbots start fielding more questions, which they will, this [could] will change everything.


So, what can we expect in the next year with AI searches increasing?


Search is evolving and if your business targets Gen Z, paying to rank for certain keywords is about to lose some forward momentum. We’ll see this impact first among changing search patterns with early adopters, but AI is so easy to use, it will quickly catch up to the rest of the generations.


Changing Your SEO Strategy to Meet the New World

AI chatbots on social media platforms are significantly changing the way search functions and the overall search experience. To prepare your business for the changes that AI is bringing to search and SEO, you need to do the following:


Understand AI and Its Impact

Learn about AI technologies, how they are being applied in search and SEO, and the potential implications for your business. Stay updated on the latest advancements and trends in AI to make informed decisions.


Focus on User Experience

AI-driven search algorithms prioritize user experience. Ensure your website provides a seamless and intuitive user experience, with fast loading times, mobile optimization, and easy navigation. Create high-quality, relevant content that meets user needs and engages your target audience.


Optimize for Voice Search

Gen Z rarely types. It’s all voice commands, all the time. If it wasn’t for text, they might lose the use of their fingers altogether. Voice search is going gangbusters now largely due to AI-powered voice assistants. Optimize your website and content for voice search by using conversational language, long-tail keywords, and structured data markup. Consider the context in which users may ask questions verbally and provide concise and direct answers. Not sure how your target market would search for you? Ask them and use as close to their natural language as possible. For instance, if your target market would request “fire pizza near me” instead of “best pizza near me,” it’s time to optimize for that.


Leverage Structured Data

AI algorithms rely on structured data to understand and categorize information on websites. Implement structured data markup, such as Schema.org, to provide search engines with additional context about your content. This can enhance your visibility in search results and improve the chances of appearing in rich snippets or other AI-powered search features.


Note: If this is too much for you, seek the help of a professional but perform your due diligence to ensure they have been keeping up with the changes that are coming with AI. Remember, you are paying for their expertise, so you don’t have to put in the time to become an expert in it yourself. Like paying someone to clean your house, you could do it, but your skills are needed elsewhere.


Embrace Natural Language Processing (NLP)

AI algorithms are becoming more proficient at understanding natural language. Incorporate natural language and semantic SEO strategies into your content creation and optimization efforts. Use relevant keywords, synonyms, and related terms to improve the contextual relevance of your content.


Monitor AI Algorithm Changes

This one is painful. It feels a bit like the hectic monitoring in kite surfing when trying to find perfect conditions. But it’s important to treat the constant updates and changes to search algorithms, particularly those driven by AI, like watching them is your business. After all, your livelihood depends on it. Major search engines often release updates that impact search rankings. Stay informed through industry publications and sites (like Search Engine Journal and Marketing AI Institute), webmaster forums, and official announcements to adapt your SEO strategies accordingly.


Utilize AI Tools and Analytics

Take advantage of AI-powered tools and analytics platforms to help analyze data, identify trends, and optimize your SEO efforts. These tools can provide valuable insights into user behavior, keyword performance, content optimization, and competitor analysis.


Emphasize Quality Content and Authority

AI algorithms increasingly prioritize high-quality, authoritative content. Focus on creating comprehensive, well-researched, and valuable content that establishes your expertise and addresses user needs. Invest in building your brand reputation through thought leadership, guest blogging, and collaborations with industry influencers.


This is where a lot of businesses are going to fall down. With the ease of AI, many businesses will embrace content written by AI. However, what it is creating is put together (albeit quicker than I ever could) from various sources on the web, making it the opposite of creative, thought-provoking, and unique. Use AI for repetitive content that doesn’t matter (emails, perhaps) but do your own research for the thought industry pieces.


Foster Social Engagement

AI algorithms consider social signals in their ranking algorithms. Encourage social sharing, engagement, and reviews for your content and brand. Build a strong social media presence and leverage social media platforms to amplify your content and connect with your target audience.


Stay Flexible

AI technologies and search algorithms evolve constantly. Stay agile and adaptive in your SEO strategies. Continuously monitor and analyze your SEO performance, adapt to algorithm changes, and experiment with new techniques and tactics as the search landscape evolves. AI will not be “comfortable” for a long time. We have a lot of learning ahead.


It’s important to note that generative language models are not going to produce results for your business in the same way Google does when someone asks for the best ____ in town. But Gen Z is becoming more and more dependent on these AI-generated results. Now is the time to gear up your content, shaping what you want people to know about your business and industry. If your site can rank high enough that an AI uses it when drafting responses, you can begin to shape how customers relate to your goods and services.


Christina Metcalf is a writer/ghostwriter who believes in the power of story. She works with small businesses, chambers of commerce, and business professionals who want to make an impression and grow a loyal customer/member base. She loves road trips, hates exclamation points, and is desperately trying to not be replaced by a machine.

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Twitter: @christinagsmith

Facebook: @tellyourstorygetemtalking

LinkedIn: @christinagsmith

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