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How to Navigate AI Search as a Digital Marketer | Schema App Solutions


This past June, we hosted a webinar with Digital Patient Experience Strategist, Chris Boyer, on How to Navigate AI Search: Key Insights for Healthcare Digital Marketers. Though the webinar was geared toward the healthcare industry, the content discussed offers universal value to any digital marketer adapting to AI-driven search.

During the webinar, we discussed topics such as:

  • The shifts in user experience and behavior after the introduction of AI search
  • Strategies to enhance SEO and maintain relevance in the evolving search landscape
  • How the measure of success in search is changing

If you didn’t get a chance to attend the live session, here are the essential insights from our webinar to help you navigate AI search effectively.

How is the User Experience Changing with AI Search?

As search engines have evolved, so too has the way users search.

Today, search queries have become longer and more nuanced. Users no longer search with short and simple keywords; they ask long-tailed detailed queries. For example, instead of searching “best hospital in NY,” users might now search for “best female physician that can see me for X problem within 5 miles in the next 3 weeks.”

These detailed queries require AI search engines to infer knowledge, such as finding local specialists for a specified problem available within specific time frames. Modern search experiences involve advanced machines that can understand context and relationships within queries and present relevant answers more accurately.

Download our ‘Preparing for Generative AI Search: Essential Strategies and Insights’ eBook

Changing Platforms and Search Methods

Not only are users changing how they search, but they are also changing where they search.

Generative AI engines like Perplexity, ChatGPT, and Google’s AI Overviews are gaining popularity. Therefore, it is crucial for websites to ensure their content can be read and accessed by these alternative search engines.

Nowadays, people are looking for direct answers to their queries. The traditional search experience of receiving ten blue links to sift through has evolved. Instead of a list, users now receive a single, comprehensively aggregated answer deemed most relevant by AI search engines.

This shift makes it challenging for site owners to secure the top spot in search results. Previously, being in the top three positions was sufficient, but now, the goal is to be a part of the one precise answer. We say “a part” of the top answer because AI search engines now create an aggregated experience, summarizing the best answer to a query, sometimes using a number of different sources.

This evolution parallels the online travel experience users are already used to, as seen with aggregators like Expedia, which simplify the search process by presenting the best options across the web based on user criteria. If you’re booking a hotel, these sites have their aggregated options compared directly in search.

The Shift to Aggregated Search Experiences

Now, this aggregated approach has moved into the search experience, where AI search engines have begun to “aggregate the aggregator” with verticals that extend beyond travel.

Now that AI search engines can provide users with all the relevant information, this will impact the typical buyer’s journey. Users will no longer need to go to your website and click through all the pages when they can get summaries and make a quick decision directly in search. Website owners must accept the reduced visibility of the user journey in this new search experience.

What Can Digital Marketers Do To Stay Relevant And Perform in This New Search Landscape?

Paid search is currently not an option for most AI search engines. Therefore, your content and the context you build around it for search engines to consume is the key to maintaining visibility.

Manage the content off your website

It’s important to remember that AI search engines are not just feeding off the content on your website. They’re also feeding off content on user-generated platforms like Reddit and LinkedIn. In fact, we’ve seen Google over-indexing and prioritizing this user-generated content on the SERP, making it even harder for brands to ensure users get the right information in their search results and maintain their online reputation.

Therefore, it is crucial for brands to do social listening and manage their reputation on these platforms.

Manage the content on your website

Having trustworthy and authoritative content on your website is also critical. While user-generated platforms provide fresh content with a wide range of perspectives, they have a tendency to provide misinformation.

As such, having trusted, accurate content that exhibits E-E-A-T on your website can help AI search engines improve their accuracy.

I do believe that over time, we’ll see Google come to a more normal level of which they’re indexing and prioritizing this user-generated content like Reddit, primarily because the answers are likely to be wrong. Especially in the healthcare space, the fact that they’re giving wrong answers is a very high risk. Historically, we did see Google state that they would move slowly into healthcare and finance, however, the data has shown that that is not the case. They’ve accelerated the introduction of SGE and AI Overviews in healthcare. I’m unsure what’s motivating them there, but we need to understand that that is something they’re leaning into.”

– Martha van Berkel

Beyond that, you must also ensure your brand and content is clearly understood by both users and machines. While Google has emphasized creating helpful content for users, it’s equally important for this content to be machine-readable to ensure it reaches the right audience.

So how can you help AI search engines understand the content on your website? The answer is Schema Markup.

Created by Google, Yahoo, and Bing in 2011, Schema Markup acts as a “data translation layer”, helping search engines understand your content and its relationships. This enhances visibility and reduces the risk of misinterpretation.

Historically, Schema Markup was used for rich results like star ratings and reviews to improve click-through rates. Today, it is a vital strategy for brands to thrive in AI search experiences.

By implementing robust, connected Schema Markup, you can control how machines interpret your content, adding context and structuring your information to reveal richer details about your brand. This allows search engines to infer additional connections between your content and user queries.

Aside from its SEO benefits, implementing Schema Markup can also help you develop a content knowledge graph that can support internal AI initiatives beyond search.

How is the Measure of Success Going to Change?

With the advent of AI search, we’re likely to see an increase in zero-click searches. Traditional metrics like clicks, impressions and click-through rates will probably be impacted. Therefore, organizations should look at conversions and downstream actions to understand success.

Redefining the Quality of Website Traffic

As search becomes more contextual, users who click through are likely more qualified because they’ve asked deeper and more comparative questions before deciding to click.

For organizations that are regional or location-based, when you add further context and truly define the region or location of your facilities, clinics, stores, etc., we’re seeing queries related to local “near me” increase significantly after adding more robust disambiguating Schema Markup and entity linking.

Additional Business Measures

Business measures around cost efficiency and agility will continue to gain importance. They can help teams get buy-in from the CEO level for more innovative SEO tactics and will be a metric many organizations will want to monitor.

Having a data layer that you can control and build upon allows you to be agile, especially for larger organizations. Partnering with Schema App gives you cost efficiency, return on investment, agility, and an innovative partner.

Preparing Your Strategy for AI Search

Digital marketers must adopt a comprehensive measurement strategy beyond single-channel metrics. They should focus on driving conversions, connecting with different audiences, and sharing varied and personalized experiences in search.

To even get a chance to play in this new AI search landscape, you must implement robust Schema Markup to help search engines understand and contextualize the content on your site.

At Schema App, we provide enterprise SEO teams with an end-to-end Schema Markup solution using our semantic technologies and high-touch support services.

If you need help implementing a robust Schema Markup strategy for your site, get in touch with us today.

Are you ready to start getting results from Schema Markup?

 

Martha van Berkel is the co-founder and CEO of Schema App, an end-to-end Semantic Schema Markup solution provider based in Ontario, Canada. She focuses on helping SEO teams globally understand the value of Schema Markup and how they can leverage Schema Markup to grow search performance and develop a reusable content knowledge graph that drives innovation. Before starting Schema App, Martha was a Senior Manager responsible for online support tools at Cisco. She is a Mom of two energetic kids, loves to row, and drinks bulletproof coffee.



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