Netizens have been familiar with the idea of Search Engines since the past decade. A lot has evolved in terms of the internet in these years with major technologies taking the lead in developing access to it. The term ‘Google it’ has therefore become synonymous with any research people do today.
Search Engine Optimization, the art of optimizing your website for directing traffic and engagement has become the trend now. Content writers are now focused on keyword placement and backlinks to grow engagement and increase visibility. Search engines display Search Engine Optimized content more than the generic ones facilitating increased traffic on websites.
An Intent Driven Approach
Search has progressed from simply finding information to ranking relevant and useful results for users with context. However, today’s search encompasses more than just predicting intent and delivering relevant results. Understanding intent-driven questions and providing intent-driven answers is the focus of the search strategy.
When a query is executed, one of the methods available to the engine is the production of canonical queries if there is no established likely intent or if the engine wants to test their assumptions. In 2016, Google obtained a patent for “Evaluating Semantic Interpretations Of A Search Query,” which detailed the technique. They describe a process in the patent that allows all conceivable interpretations to be utilized to obtain a result. In other words, they’d generate a collection of results for all potential queries.
As a result, the patent states that the more individuals actively click on a search result from a page, the more successful the result is. This is not to argue that the Click Through Rate is a direct indicator in the context of the patent. They don’t use Click Through Rate to judge the success of a single result; instead, they use it to judge the success of the Search Engine Results Pages as a whole, including the layout.
The second method uses synonyms identified by an Artificial Intelligence driven algorithm. Even when no information is specifically requested, these AI systems look for synonyms at an advanced level to identify what information will fulfill an intention.
The third process utilizes a templatized algorithm wherein the template is determined by CTR of a search result. For instance, when a person searches for ‘movies’, the search engine provides a universal search result page. The search engine then observes the patterns and determines which results are getting more traffic. Then the engine customizes search results according to the collective choice and redefines associated definitions of every word searched.
The engine evaluates the interaction of an user with search results by placing it in the search result layout. It judges the interaction between the user and the result on a large scale and determines the relevance. The pattern created by users and their interaction determines the relevance and possible utility of the search result.
This basic understanding of Search Engines is necessary to comprehend answer engines. With the rise of voice search, search engines are being transformed into answering engines. A voice query is usually conversational or in the form of a question-and-answer structure. As a result, search engines must provide specific responses. To offer useful results, traditional search focused on what is available, how relevant it is, and the authority of the source. Now the engines will evaluate and iterate the process to learn the intent and provide a high-quality result by analyzing what consumers do or expect.
The answer engines interpret the question, evaluate the available options, and provide the best possible response. Traditional search is primarily concerned with the Search engine optimization on a website and the backlinks that would offer that page credibility. Google, the most prominent search engine, has already taken tangible efforts in this direction. Featured snippets and the knowledge graph, which is the info box next to the search results, for example, provide immediate answers to the searcher’s inquiry without requiring them to visit another website.
This brings forward an important question: Is Google an answer engine? The answer is ambiguous in the least right now. The concept of an answer engine is not something that is too dissimilar to search engines. One could even say that search engines are evolving into answer engines. They are reading patterns, understanding intent and delivering answers according to their seed sets.
Answer Engine Optimization
In a situation where search engines seem to evolve into answer engines, the question of optimization arises frequently. For all the content producers on the internet it raises a question of whether it will be Answer Engines Vs Search Engines? The answer is no. Although both the engines have their own set of rules for optimization, they are quite similar. The primary difference is that Answer engines require specific information to show up in the results while search engines don’t.
There are various ways to optimize content for answer engines :
- Creating answer specific content helps the engine to comprehend it. The details help in identification by the engine and increase the chance of visibility on answer pages.
- The rising number of netizens using voice search for queries requires content to be aligned in a manner to show up in the google answer box. The content needs to be created to answer the frequent queries of the target audience.
- The content needs to be answer rich so that it satisfies the queries of the audience. This could mean going an extra step and making the content interactive and as user-friendly as possible.
- The search engine comprehends intent faster in conversational content. Also, such content increases user interaction and traffic on the website rather than complex content.
- Getting listed on relevant pages helps gain visibility. Moreover, genuine interactions such as answering questions, voting on content and other activities generates intent that the engine captures easily.
The understanding of Answer engines rests on the fact that Answer Engine Optimization is the thing of the future. The engine is evolving with the trends and preferences of the user. The input on search results determines the Search Engine Results Pages. The more clicks, queries, data, backlinks, and other interactions a page receives, the higher are the chances of getting more traffic and ultimately business. The importance of visibility in the age of the internet is high.
Competitors are always striving to rank the highest on google search results. The traditional search engine optimization is about to take a backstep and make way for the answer engine optimization. It is highly likely that in the future, SEO might get replaced by AEO.
The only way to achieve good AEO content is to understand one’s audience. Businesses will need to get user-friendly on their websites and optimize the content. Also, they would have to evolve along with their audience to reach them directly across their device screens. The only way to achieve this is to align content to user’s queries and answer them. Becoming ‘Query-Friendly’ is becoming the future.