AI has already infiltrated web design content, builds, design, code and next up…SEO!

If you didn’t know, Google is about to roll out its new Generative AI Search Experience which is going to change SEO moving forward.

This is a uber-duber super important topic to get the latest insight on and since I’m no SEO expert, I turned to someone who is for this podcast episode.

Lindsay Halsey of Pathfinder SEO is one of the industry leaders for teaching web designers SEO and how to package up and sell SEO services. She’s on the forefront of the latest SEO trends including Google’s new Generative Search Experience which is essentially Google AI.

In this episode, she’s sharing everything she knows to help you prepare for both your website and as a potential new offer for your clients when Google rolls out the new experience!

Prepare friends and arm yourself with SEO knowledge!

In this episode:

00:00 – AI Search and SEO Opportunities
05:20 – AI Impact on SEO
17:58 – Search Updates
28:23 – Evolution of SEO
37:51 – Generative AI and Google Search Console
46:25 – SEO Efforts With Question-Based Content
54:28 – Web Designer Pro

To get access to a special training Lindsay will be doing in April, go to Josh’s Web Designer Pro 


Connect with Lindsay:

Featured links mentioned:

Episode #313 Full Transcription

Lindsay: 

2024 would be a really great year for your customers to invest in SEO services, even at a maintenance level, so that you can follow along on their performance and communicate to them in a monthly report and help them navigate this change, maybe help them create a content strategy in alignment with the idea of series and questions and conversational search and things like that happening. So to me it’s nothing but an opportunity and it’s just one of these big ways that you add value and create contrast between your services and the way many others are talking about SEO. Welcome to the Web Design Business podcast, with your host, josh Hall, helping you build a web design business that gives you freedom and a lifestyle you love.

Josh: 

Well, oh well, my web design friends, if AI has not infiltrated enough of our lives because it’s already infiltrated web design, content, copywriting, messaging, web design builds and design, even web design code. Next up is SEO. More specifically, google is going to be rolling out here very soon by what I see, its new AI experience, which is currently dubbed Google’s generative search experience. Essentially, what that means is when you Google something and you search for a keyword, currently you see a SERP, a search engine results page. That is about to change dramatically with Google’s new AI initiative. Now, I am no SEO expert, but I have a couple in my back pocket. One of those is Lindsay Halsey of Pathfinder SEO, which is one of the best training programs to help you not only learn SEO as a web designer, but to help you package up your SEO services and sell them for clients. I turned to her for this and we had a really good conversation here. It was really a learning experience for me to ask some questions about what to expect with this new search experience that Google is about to roll out and get a feel for timing of it All the ins and outs of this new Google AI that is about to be unleashed on us. Not a bad thing, just it’s super important. We’ve got to be on top of what’s going on with this. Now. The really cool thing before we dive into this, is that you can repurpose this chat for your own content. I want to say that again. So if you’re multitasking, come back to me, or if you’re driving, turn it up. I want you to feel encouraged to take this conversation and make you can go to the show notes for this episode. Joshallco 313 is where you’ll find this one. Take the outline and make it your own and let your clients know there’s a big new thing that’s about to happen and for them, just call it Google AI and just tell them the way you come up online is about the change, and you can make this an upsell for your web design services. As you learn more about this new experience, you can help not only onsite work for your website, but ongoing work for your clients to help them maximize where they’re displaying and how they’re displaying with this new Google search experience. So I just wanted to personally tell you I will take no offense and actually I encourage you to go to the show notes for this page. Take the transcript is there. All the links that we talked about are mentioned there. Make it your own and send a newsletter out to your clients. You don’t have to do anything for them, just let them know. Heads up, this is going to be coming down the road. I will get back to you once I know more, and then you can sell it as a service. So you’re welcome Without further ado. Lindsay Halsey of Pathfinder SEO is here to shed some light on Google’s new AI initiative. Here we go, all righty Well, lindsay, welcome back on to the podcast round two. We’ve got an important topic to dive into here, I guess, with specifically, ai and SEO. So look, if it’s SEO, I know where to go. So thank you for coming back on.

Lindsay: 

Thanks so much for having me here, Josh.

Josh: 

So let’s start there you mentioned before we hit record. We’re not going to talk chat GPT, necessarily, but AI is having a big impact on every aspect of our industry. Seo, in particular, is going to be interesting because Google is. Is it out now or are they like, is it in beta with the generative SEO stuff, like I guess what’s going on with AI in terms of SEO?

Lindsay: 

Yeah. So right now, we’re in the era of the introduction of what Google is calling the search generative experience, or SGE, in the Google search results, and what that really means is that right now, in beta, via Google Labs, you can get access to see how Google is sort of thinking about and starting to integrate AI into the search results, and, ultimately, nothing is really changing with Google in terms of its overall mission. The Google search generative experience is designed to help you and this is their quote help you better learn and make sense of information on the web, and so if you start to experiment a bit with Google search generative experience, you can actually get your hands on this beta now and start to get comfortable with it so that you can help navigate your customers through this new landscape.

Josh: 

Interesting and where is that at? Is that like? I’m looking at a blog post right now for SGE, but is that like for like, I’m not familiar with labs myself. Is that something you sign up for Exactly? You can go in and sign up for it.

Lindsay: 

If you go to labsgooglecom, You’ll see a little prompt there that says how to get this experience and you can click get started and really it’ll just sort of be an add on to your Google login. So if you’re on Chrome and you’re logged in and you’ve got the labs turned on, you’ll be able to start to get your hands on and visually see the search generative experience.

Josh: 

Interesting. Okay, I’ll make sure we link that in the show notes too, and I’m going to sign up for it as well. So, is it like? Is it prompts, basically, I mean how I haven’t tried it out myself and for a lot of folks who are interested or curious about this, yeah, what’s the experience like? Is it just yeah, can you? I know we’re on an audio podcast right now, so we’re not looking at it visually, but yeah, what’s, what’s it like? What should we expect?

Lindsay: 

So the big thing with Google search generative experience is it’s more conversational, as we see with AI, and what ends up happening. You put in a query, you know a search into Google and I really look at the Google search landscape as being very blocky. So you have kind of rows in different sections and depending on your query, you see different, you know different results. So if you do a search for something like a local business best you know restaurant in Denver you’re going to get local business results integrated. And if you search for something like red red running shoes, you’re going to get more product integrated into Google. And so the search generative experience is quite similar. It’s a row that goes full width across the results. Typically the traditional paid ads are above the search generative experience and the organic or free listings are below it. So it’s kind of a new section to Google search results. It usually has sort of a pale purple, green or blue you know color as the background and it says across the top generative AI is experimental and info quality may vary, so there is a little caveat on its results and in the generative AI experience you get a bit of a combination of results. The first thing you get is text based response. So if I put in a query like, say, is December a good time to visit New York City, there’s going to be some generative AI content that tries to answer the question that I just put into Google right there in the search results, and then there are going to be some snippets of results that also, you know, prompt me to actually go in and look at websites. So there are still links to websites in this generative AI experience and you can even use this little down arrow within the text to see what sources are sort of helping to inform the AI, so you can still get some citation visibility as to, like well, how to Google answer if December is a good time to visit New York City and generate that content. And then below you get a prompt to essentially ask a follow up. And so what we’re really seeing in the generative AI experience is one it encourages follow up searches. So when you think about if we stay in this vein of like travel planning, when you think about that, you see essentially right now, the way you do it is you search for something about you know. Is it a good time? Then you might search for something around flights, then you may search for something around lodging, you may search around things to do, but there’s no learning. There’s no learning as to the, maybe the tone of my searches, maybe I’m searching for a family trip or a girls weekend or something like that. With generative AI there’s, it’s more sequential and so, as I put in queries and then ask follow ups, I’m training up the AI to understand sort of in this case, my use case of who I’m, you know, planning a trip around and things like that. So I think that part of this experience on Google is quite cool.

Josh: 

So as a strategy for web designer, I would imagine the follow up stuff could almost be a new SEO game to where you may be thinking of not just posting one blog post but several that might be in and around almost like a layer back right, like like for me, maybe I’ll have like start how to start a web design business, but then maybe we have how to get your first web design clients how to you know. I’m trying to think like what are the next follow up questions that folks would have?

Lindsay: 

Exactly so. Part of the strategy here is to take a topic and and break it into sequential pieces and to create content that resonates with each step of the way, because of that sequential nature and so that that is absolutely an opportunity, and I see that as a bit of a shift. We’ve already been there, which is when we would have chatted a few years ago. We would have talked about creating comprehensive content. There’s a lot of conversation on what is your cornerstone content? You could flag something as cornerstone cornerstone and in Yoast and stuff like that, and we all created definitive guides the definitive guide to creating a web design business or definitive guide to Google Analytics, and ultimately now what we see resonating with Google and this was even before the search generative experience. But even more true with the search generative experience is that breaking apart an area of expertise into a series of posts is a better experience, and a large part of that is because it’s a better user experience. I don’t know about you, but definitive guides are overwhelming to read, they’re overwhelming to write and you walk away with like 10 takeaways.

Josh: 

That’s too much, whereas yeah, it’s funny, Go ahead. It reminds me of sorry, I mean to cut you off. It reminds me of what I did as a blog author for elegant themes. That’s kind of how I got started with this side of my online business, and what I would do is I literally wrote series, like they were like four or five part blog series, which I didn’t think were revolutionary or different at the time, but it actually comes to find out like it was kind of I hate to say it sounds douchey, but it was a little bit ahead of its time in the way of how yeah, like how you consume content and the way of like how SEO is finding things. I would imagine that might be tricky, though, if it’s a series, unless Google is smart enough to know to start at part one, I don’t know what would that look like if there. If it’s a series, because I’ve tried YouTube series before and they don’t tend to do well, at least on YouTube, but that may be different than blog posts.

Lindsay: 

Yeah, when I think about a series. I really think about the customer acquisition journey for whatever audience that I’m targeting. And so if we talk about planning, we talk about creating content at the be upper part of the funnel which is going to be around things like is it a good time to visit there? Is it a good place to go for? Whatever your group size? Is it expensive? People might be looking, you know for, should I go here or there? So comparison searches. So you know, step one of my architecture here is all that very like early, early travel planning. And then you get into the next and you start to think, okay, well, what should the content be around? The next step, which is usually getting flights, people want to nail down their dates. Should I go there or not for my business? Does it make sense? And then we talk lodging, and then we talk things to do and restaurant content, et cetera. And so you know if you’re creating individual pieces of content, google may not have the order totally dialed in in the series, but they’ll certainly meet the piece of content with the query so that they find it. And then in your user experience, if something is part of a series and we do this on the Pathfinder site we have a, you know, a whole section of like five or six blog posts all about selling SEO and they are sequential. But you may come into the conversation midpoint, you may search for something like SEO proposal templates and not know that there were like three articles ahead of that in the series, and so we introduced that in that user experience, to say, hey, this post is part of a series and we try to get users to not just digest the piece of content they’re reading, but to recognize hey, I can go and check this out all step by step.

Josh: 

And this is all around, this idea of ask a follow up right Like this, this sequence kind of approach.

Lindsay: 

Exactly so. It’s all about this concept of ask a follow up, and really this is long. You know we’re talking about newness in Google with the search generative experience, but if you take a step back and think about people also ask the section with questions, there has long been value from an SEO standpoint and from a user standpoint of creating content around questions and doing so in sort of a sequential manner, and so this isn’t new, it’s more of a hey, this is a time to kind of double down your efforts there or to ask yourself, like, how am I doing in mapping that customer journey and meeting people along the way, knowing that in the era of the search generative experience going live for all users on Google, we are going to see more follow up questions and we’re going to see probably more question based queries in the search results.

Josh: 

I was just thinking, just looking at the landing page for this again, I haven’t tried it out yet myself but just looking at the page on Google, which is again labsgooglesge, it really looks like a more, almost like a more guided experience for current SERPs. Like it really is. Just, I mean, the people also ask is 100%, what’s the? What is it? I’ll ask a follow up, like that’s what I was wondering, if this is just a way to like yeah, just make it a more guided experience, instead of having somebody having to scroll down and then see the section that says people also ask. It’s just a button now that says ask a follow-up.

Lindsay: 

Exactly.

Josh: 

That’s my interpretation of it. Is that fair enough as far?

Lindsay: 

as like this is clear yeah, absolutely.

Josh: 

I agree, and what? So I’m kind of curious what is new here. Is there something that’s revolutionary with this experience that’s not currently on SERPs?

Lindsay: 

Well, the first thing is that there is AI generated content, and so, right now, when you think about, you, do a search, and sometimes Google does try to answer the question directly in the search result, right? So you search, is it a good time to visit this place? And they grab a snippet of the content out of a web page and they put it on Google and then they cite right below it hey, this is where it came from. So Google’s already been playing in this idea that essentially, we want to basically provide some insight and information directly in the search results page, but that content is verbatim pulled from websites, and so now one of the big differences is Google is using AI to actually generate the response that they’re putting in there, and so, instead of grabbing the content from a web page, there’s AI generated content, and so that’s part of where it says this is experimental and info quality may vary, and so that’s one of the newnesses to it all. The other bit of newness is that in the featured results, or in that generative experience, they’re, generally speaking, kind of one horizontal and one vertical play for more information, and so over on the right hand side of this section, there’s a carousel that features three listings. You can think of them as organic listings. Right now they’re free and they are basically website results that relate to the query, so there is still an opportunity to get visibility in terms of kind of free or organic traffic. The algorithm that is powering those carousel results does not perfectly align with the algorithm that is then providing the organic results in the traditional search landscape. That’s right below this section, and so one of the frustrating points right now can be that you go and you do a search for something that your client or you own, like a space, you’re already number one or number two and then you find that yes, we’re number one or number two in that organic listing below the search generative experience, but we’re number like nine in the carousel and so there’s not perfect alignment there and sometimes it feels you know, I’ve seen in the I do a lot of work in the travel space I’ve seen websites get like all three listings, like a trip advisor get all three listings, and then the top three organic listings not even be in the in the mix, and so there is some frustration here about how essentially relevant sometimes the results are that are getting this really high placement in the visibility.

Josh: 

Side note, every web designer listening to this right now or watching this has become infinitely more valuable. This second because the next time your client asks you how can I get to the top of Google, you can say, well, which listing the carousel, the generative experience, regular SEO, recommended. They’ll be like what You’re a genius. So this is fascinating, I think, because, like I’m wondering how clients are going to perceive this. I mean, this is brand new to me. So I imagine the I’d say the world at large probably doesn’t know anything about this. Like when is? Do you know when this is going to be rolled out or how this is going to be rolled out to to the masses?

Lindsay: 

Good question. So it’s been in beta for quite a bit now and only available to people in the U S. It recently, a couple of weeks ago, opened up to being available and I think it was like 150 something countries, so it’s definitely going more worldwide in its beta availability. But there is no date yet as to when this is just going to become Google’s standard experience and, and so we don’t actually know. I would anticipate it’ll be in 2024. And I was just following along with other AI news that Google did have its kind of competitor to chat, GPT, coming out and they were going to do it in between the holidays, in between kind of you know, sometime in December and they pushed it to January. And so you know, I think I’m not anticipating personally this being live on like January 1 and and feeling like the rug gets pulled out from under us. But ultimately, you know my guess, if I had to, you know, hazard a guess, maybe end a Q one. So things certainly seem to be moving in that direction and and it is new but ultimately, you know, I think your value as a, as a web designer and professional, goes way up when you can communicate something like this to your clients and help them navigate through this transition. Absolutely and most SEOs out there are going to do this. The way SEOs do things, which is with like, kind of more of a fear based system, and creating the value of their relationship with their client based on hey, google is changing again and if you don’t invest in SEO, you’re going to get left behind, etc. And that’s never been our approach to SEO because, ultimately, in the you know, 15 years I’ve been working on SEO, I’m really still talking about the same thing. I’m still talking about the value of quality content and great user experience. I’m still talking about the need to get high quality backlinks from genuine sources, like actual partnerships, not spammy schemes, and ultimately, that all holds true in this era. And so, if anything, as a web designer, your value goes up by taking a complex topic and introducing it to a client. I’ve been doing that just via a call, with a zoom, where I can show them the search generative experience in their keyword space. Like, do a search and show them hey, this is what’s coming and down the road, this is in labs, etc. And communicating to them the what, what is it? Communicating to them what the opportunity is? So like, hey, there’s some cool spaces that you know we’re going to want to try to get visibility for your site in, and there’s an opportunity here, communicating to them what your concerns might be Like. One of our concerns for many clients is that click through rates might go down. You get the information on Google and so now, instead of clicking through to a website, you actually digest that information right here and you do another search, and so we may see a decrease in traffic because of the experience, this new experience, and what does that mean for us? Does it, you know, and our strategy? So we communicate the what, we communicate the opportunity, we communicate the concerns or the what we’re going to watch and we talk about then and how we’re going to evolve the strategy and what we’re going to do in the coming year and how. Last year we talked a lot about things like the transition to Google Analytics for with our customers, and now we’re going to be talking about this transition into the generative experience and that we can add value by helping our customers navigate this.

Josh: 

Well, I love that approach to sharing with your, with your customers, a little bit about the what and the, the why, the how, the concerns, and, honestly, that could be a level back to. I would challenge everybody right now like literally when everyone’s listening to this or watching this today or this week send the note to your clients and let them know if they didn’t know Google AI is going to be here pretty soon and just let them know you’re learning more about it and that’s it. That’s all you have to do, and it’s amazing how many upsells and additional work that will lead to. And the cool thing is, you don’t have to sell anything. You don’t have to know about it yet or know. You don’t have to know the what, the how, the why yet. Just let them know. Hey, this is coming down the road for all, for all my clients. We’re going to keep up to date on this, because Google is going to roll this out. We want to make sure we’re well prepared for your website on the SEO front. So I just wanted to issue that challenge to everybody. Like I’m and I’m not kidding about this send a email to all of your clients saying this is what’s coming down the road. We’re going to keep on top of this for you. We’ll. We’ll let you know more. And then to your your point, lindsay. Yeah, like, back that up as you learn a little more about it with the what, what to expect that kind of thing. And you don’t need to be an SEO expert. I mean, even this conversation is probably enough to to give people a good idea of of just the basic functionality of this and the differences. But like, what an opportunity for web designers to continue to have value compared to most everybody else by just keeping up to date with what the heck’s going on with technology. Like it’s not something to be feared, it can be utilized. I don’t want to say you can milk it for for more business or new clients, but you can keep your clients coming back to you by just staying on top of trends or new tools and deck.

Lindsay: 

Absolutely, and I love that. Just you don’t have to have all the answers, you’re just telling them hey, things are evolving and just so you know, we’re on top of it and we’d be happy to talk to you about it If you want us to to, if you want to schedule a call and talk about you know how we anticipate this impacting your business next year, and just use it as and and I think this is always a great time of year, kind of the end of the year, beginning of the year to reach out to customers and have a conversation that’s not in the weeds on, you know, tasks and execution of of work, but rather strategic and big picture house business. What are your goals for next year? Hey, here’s what’s happening in the in our industry. Let me you share about your business. Let me share about what I’m seeing in Google and it’s a soft sell opportunity. If you don’t have clients on monthly SEO retainers, 2024 would be a really great year for your customers to invest in SEO services, even at a maintenance level, so that you can follow along on their performance and communicate to them in a monthly report and and help them navigate this change, maybe help them create a content strategy in alignment with you know the, the idea of series and questions and conversational search and things like that happening. So to me it’s nothing but an opportunity and and it’s just one of these big ways that you add value and create contrast between your services and the way many others are talking about SEO, which is more of, like I mentioned, kind of that fear, fear based tactic.

Josh: 

Yeah, gosh, it’s so well said and, going back to what you said a little bit ago, it makes me feel better knowing that you’ve been in the game for so long and what I’ve learned and I’ve learned this as a web designer. I think you’ve probably seen this with SEO, it’s like the mission doesn’t change. Google’s mission has always been to get people to the right Blog or resource or information they need, but the tactics change, the experience may change, and that’s really what I’m seeing with this is it’s like it like we just glanced over. It’s a lot of the same stuff, it’s just packaged differently. There’s there are some new things with AI and everything else, but a lot of it goes back to good quality, real, authentic content and like a almost like an intentional SEO strategy versus just random stuff, random information.

Lindsay: 

Yeah, and so when I started in SEO, you know 15 years ago and would go to SEO conferences and things like that, there was a lot of in the industry space it being sort of like you having a secret and you had tricks and things up your sleeves and that was really the vibe of what SEO was. It was done in a back office. You chased any little Guidance or detail that Google gave and then tried to come up with tactics, hopefully long term, but often many SEOs were doing short term tactics and it was all sort of secretive and stuff that you couldn’t always explain to your client where they like, real world when they like.

Josh: 

Put all your keywords and white in the white section of the footer of your website.

Lindsay: 

So no, and and we all kind of knew tricks and it was like, yeah, cloak your content so that you can’t read it and just put the keyword over and over again or stuff keywords in your alt text, and those were sort of relatively benign things people were doing. There were people doing all sorts of you know really darker tricks that, like you know, kind of abused Google’s terms of service, and when you had to tell your client what did you do for him last month on part of a retainer, you would write things that didn’t make real world sense, like there was no real world value, and so to me at that point, seo is really a specialized field. You had to have a lot of depth of expertise, sort of in just the game of SEO, and what I really enjoyed over the years is that the gamification is gone away and the secrets have gone away, because really what’s happening in Google is that it’s all about creating helpful, reliable, people first content and it’s all about creating websites that are all about great user experience and it’s about real-world marketing. It’s about joining a podcast and getting a backlink to your website, or Sponsoring an event and getting listed on that client on that that website and getting a link back To your website. And so really, in today’s era, offering SEO services is just to me a small add-on in a skill set to what you’re already doing and helping them with web design and development and content marketing, because really you’re just layering in, starting to communicate about things like the search generative experience, but that the actual action items make total real-world sense and and you’re doing it in Collaboration, in partnership with your customer.

Josh: 

Gosh, that’s well said. So this, I mean, is this basically just Google AI? Is that kind of the simple way to think about this?

Lindsay: 

Yeah, it’s Google’s AI integration into the search results. So Google AI is gonna have all sorts of different, you know, rollouts and use cases, but this is sort of how Google is integrating on Googlecom in the search results, which is obviously a core component, this concept of AI.

Josh: 

In front of one is brand new into this. So if you hear us talk about SERPs at search engine results page, I’m curious from your, your perspective, lindsay, because the last time we chatted I believe Google had not rolled out the like, the long scroll. So there’s, there’s no like pages and searches anymore. The clients still say how do you get to, how can I get to the first page of Google? But that Google doesn’t function like that and I don’t think right there any. Or is it? Would you have to have an outdated browser or something that would still search in pages? Or or is that a hundred percent? All scroll now.

Lindsay: 

Yeah, so the scroll experience Does seem to be the the primary direction that could obviously change. Google changes and experiments with things with the search layout and when Clients come to you. You know we get prospects coming to us with all sorts of different things, but when they come to you, oftentimes they have sort of stated goals and real-world goals, and so they might talk about wanting to be number one for a keyword or on page one for a keyword, but ultimately that’s not really their goal. That might be something that bugs them, like they search and they don’t see their website there, but ultimately they have real-world goals and their real-world goals are things like increasing sales, generating more leads, etc. And so they have their real-world business goals and that’s actually what you want to measure up to, because it’s getting harder in this era to perfectly, you know, align our goals with things like keyword rankings and sessions, because the rankings are super dynamic. It’s more about visibility on the page, like I want to be in the paid results, the search generative experience and the organic and the local search listings, you know. And so it’s more about visibility on this scrolly, dynamic page, which is hard to measure. But that is kind of one of the end goals then, yes, we want more traffic, but we talked about how click-through rates may go down in some cases. So you may still have really good visibility, but people kind of get what they needed in that moment. But when they do, they build the brand visibility so they may not click through to your website in this era of kind of instant answers on Google, but they get exposed to your brand in their sort of early journey to becoming a customer. But once they get transactional, once they’re actually kind of like ready to get going, that’s where you know where we might see the traffic come into the websites. And and then ultimately, what we want to be measuring our Campaigns to the best of our ability on are those real-world business metrics. And so there’s a bit of reeducation with clients to say, yeah, I hear you, you want to be higher on Google and I hear you, you want more sessions. But I want to make sure that we’re all clear that ultimately, the success of our campaign is based on the success of your business and that we are, you know, investing in SEO, is investing in one of the main cogs that turns that wheel of lead generation in sales, and we may not have perfect Attribution every month to say you know here’s your ranking and here’s how much traffic you’re getting, etc. What we really want to measure back against is are those key performance indicators?

Josh: 

That’s good, yeah, because there’s kind of a vanity metric versus, or, like I said, the real-world metric. But, like the, the actual metric we need to worry about, which is like, yeah, growing the business, yes, nice to be number one on Google, but if it’s not actually growing your business or if it’s not the right term, could be, all you know, a lot of work for a direction we didn’t really need to go down. You mentioned local, the local listings. How’s this gonna impact Google, my business and How’s that gonna work with, or is this gonna be implemented on that side of things?

Lindsay: 

It is, and so if you do a local intent query you know like best restaurant in, and then a city or best restaurants near me, you’re gonna get still a search generative experience and in it there’s gonna be a small snippet that kind of just summarizes. You know, I’m looking at a screen here. It says Baltimore, maryland, has many good places for brunch, including spots known for their coffee and stuff. So I said best Baltimore brunch. And then right below that little AI generated space Are a series of local businesses being featured and there’s a maps listing. This is all in the generative AI experience and you can see that the data from Google Maps is helping to power and inform this section. So you have star ratings and number of ratings, you have categorization, you know of what category it’s in, but then there’s like a little snippet of content, and the snippet of content is AI generated and it’s again an amalgamation of Of content, some of which are actually the content in the reviews. You see it say In the AI sometimes it’ll say some people say and then it synthesizes 25 reviews about that business that are on Google Maps into you know a one sentence phrase. So there’s still some AI happening and and some content generation, essentially, but that I’m foundation of your Google Maps listing and having a verified listing with good reviews with you know, correct, correct categorization and images all of that is going to be as helpful, you know, tomorrow as it is today.

Josh: 

Okay, I figured Google business profile would be Implemented in that somehow, so that makes a ton of sense. What about search console? Do you know how this would affect? Or again, I mean, being that they’re all under the Google umbrella, I would imagine it’s all working together, but I wonder what search console will look like as far as the dashboard goes with AI, because, like you said, that’s gonna change so much, with people Perhaps not clicking through, but I would imagine it’s still gonna get the queries, although maybe there’s gonna be new sections that are like the recommended or or the yeah, like the, the ask a follow-up kind of thing. I imagine.

Lindsay: 

I mean the ask a follow-up is gonna be like a huge aspect to SEO moving forward, the rest of which yes, I anticipate the Google Search Console will evolve to provide us performance-based data at least as my hope around visibility in this section, and the question starts to become right now. In the Search Console, we can see performance data Like here’s the keyword, here’s how many impressions you got, here’s your average position, here’s how many clicks in your click-through rate. So we get this insight into visibility in organic search through the console, and it’s certainly my hope that the generative AI experience will have something similar, because we still want to be able to go back to our clients and we still need to manage campaigns with some of that informed data. What I think about in terms of some of the core data here, though, and what gives me some relief of how am I going to move my clients from being obsessed with increasing the number of sessions every month from organic search to this new world, where sessions may not increase with the speed at which they’re custom, is this idea that businesses, brands, invest in display advertising and they invest in programmatic and other advertising types that don’t have great attribution. They put direct money into that, and what they look at are things like impressions.

Josh: 

Like billboards. Right, no one’s stopping on the side of the road and clicking something with a billboard, but it does leave an impression. They obviously work to some degree.

Lindsay: 

Exactly, and so I anticipate, in addition to that, as SEO professionals and the data that we’re going to get out of the search console and SEO software and things, hopefully we’ll start to model more of that kind of impression-based data so that our discussion with clients is a lot around brand visibility and it’s not always the direct attribution of hey, the person searched for this, clicked on your website and spent $100. That was a win that we’re going to have to be a little bit more willing to give some of that really specific tracking away and to look at some other core data pieces that signal what our ultimate goal is, which is sort of building a business, building a brand’s visibility on Google.

Josh: 

So the idea of impressions. I imagine this could get really tricky with crawlers and bots. This is top of mind because I just had a student in my community, web Designer Pro, messaged me saying her Google Analytics traffic was completely different from a couple other tracking software which I know is really common, as far as it was labeled human traffic and sessions versus different pages and stuff. So I’m wondering with impressions and I don’t know how much you’ve thought about this or know about this at this point but I just wonder what that’s going to do with the bot side of things. I don’t know how the heck they would track that especially. I can imagine a bot kind of thing is just going to be going through all the things and it can look like an impression. But I don’t know. I imagine it’s easier to track a bot, I guess, on the site directly versus a query or impressions. I don’t know, maybe not though.

Lindsay: 

Yeah, I guess again, if we go back to this landscape of the paid advertising space, bots, spam, et cetera are a huge risk to Google’s business because you’re not going to invest in Google ads if you think that your competitor or bots are clicking on your ads and using all of your ad spend. So there’s already been all these safeguards that have been put in place in the ads landscape to protect the end user, that you’re really getting in front of the right audience and that the data you’re looking at is something you can trust as being real people that meet your specifications of your campaign. And I think, hopefully, that will be true with whatever comes forward with tracking performance in this generative AI experience on Google.

Josh: 

Yeah, and maybe it’s even a better safeguard for bots, Instead of just the standard Google SERP page. Maybe it is like in order to go into the AI side of things. Maybe that is much more of a human. I don’t know, I’m just thinking out loud, but I do wonder. Maybe that is a better safeguard. Maybe that’s one of the main reasons they’re doing it to better protect the outlander.

Lindsay: 

Yeah, these are probably conversations being held day in, day out right now in Google, yahoo and Bing. As this all about.

Josh: 

So, will this roll out as to your knowledge? Will this roll out just automatically for Google, like it’s just eventually going to be a part of any time you search, or is it going to be optional? Or will it be optional for a while and then it’ll just be standard? Do you know what the roadmap looks like for it?

Lindsay: 

We don’t know exactly what the roadmap from the experts that I’ve followed along. Most people are saying that they think this will just become Google. We won’t talk about it as it’s sort of like an added block or whatever. It won’t be an on-off thing or an option or a slow rollout, but it’ll just become the new landscape on Google, and that’s one thing people are following. The other thing is that different keyword spaces have different use cases of this AI and the search gender of an experience, and so one other thing people have been following along with is like well, ai in the travel space feels relatively low risk because we’re talking about something kind of fun it’s travel, it’s informational, et cetera. But you start to think about AI for health-based queries and AI for queries around finances and money and what you can see if you do and play with the labs there is. There’s places Google will go and places Google won’t go, and so if you search for something as simple as just factual information about health or money, like what is a simple IRA, the generative AI experience will generate something. If you put something in that’s more consultative, like how much should I be saving for retirement at 40 years old with a family with five kids or whatever it might be, then all of a sudden Google is like whoa, whoa, the generative AI shouldn’t go there and takes a different course. So those are some of the lines that we’re watching in different industry spaces, and so if you are working with clients that are in the health space or in the financial services space, those are kind of different entities to be thinking about with the search generative experience.

Josh: 

OK. So one question that I have, as I’m thinking about the next few months, like staying on top of this, and I’m sure everyone else is thinking too what are some of the best resources, like, what are your resources for keeping on top of this? Do you have any top sites or people you recommend following?

Lindsay: 

Yeah. So a couple of resources are great. Search Engine Journal puts out a lot of great content just around search engines and is a good place to kind of go and check things out. Subscribing to newsletters like I’m on the Yoast newsletter and a bunch of other SEO-oriented newsletters and just kind of seeing what other people are saying is another really good way to follow along. But really what I have been trying to do is really to stay hands on with it myself, because you can read all about it, you can listen to us talk about it, but if you start to use this in your searches and you start to see what the landscape looks like for your clients, you can kind of follow along with this trajectory. And I really think right now it’s just about getting your feet wet, getting hands on communicating with customers hey, we’re learning about this. Hey, this is coming, here’s what it is, et cetera. And then the other piece is sort of increasing. If you are doing content marketing for clients, if you are offering SEO services, we’re increasing our efforts in some areas. One is just creating question-based content and integrating it on clients’ websites, and when I think about FAQ or just question-based content, there are a lot of different ways that that can be integrated into a website. One is you can write a whole blog post on a question. So you can write a blog post about what is Google’s search generative experience and that it can be a question at the top. You can also go back and restructure questions into headers on old blog posts or in old content when you may have had a statement. You can kind of reframe that as a question and kind of optimize some of your old posts to include more questions. You can add an FAQ section to the bottom of a services page, bottom of a product collection page or bottom of a blog post. So these are some of the actions that we’re kind of just taking a step back here at your end for clients and saying hey, hey, we’re just going to increase our effort in an area that will resonate with the search engines today, because people already put questions into the search results and there’s already the people also ask section, but will probably even multiply in its value as the generative AI experience.

Josh: 

Are you guys writing about this for the Pathfinder blog?

Lindsay: 

Yeah, so we’re writing about it. I don’t have any. I don’t. Most of our writing on AI right now is in the platform for customers and resources there, but we’re starting to do more webinars and more talks and things like that on this topic and as bigger developments come out, we will certainly be, you know, putting out webinars and things like that as we just kind of increase it, try to increase everybody’s awareness around.

Josh: 

I was going to say right now it’s probably just a lot of like well, here’s what it looks like. But yeah, it was funny because I plan to revamp my SEO course in 2024. I’m so glad we’re having this conversation, because I am not doing that until this is more fleshed out, because this is going to be such a huge part of SEO moving forward. So it’s very like me to like, redo a course or do a tutorial and then, like two months later, the UI is different.

Lindsay: 

So yeah, and that’s one of the things we’re. We’re kind of trying to navigate, you know, in Pathfinder for customers and any blog posts we write is like how quickly does something become outdated on this topic? And creating resources that have a little bit of longevity. But ultimately, you know, things with Google evolve more than they change and so you know, yes, you want to try to stay up to date and read and get hands on, but then, just starting to chat with it, with clients, see what questions they ask, you don’t have to have the answer to it right away. You can say that’s a great question, let me get back to you, and then you kind of know the next like layer thing to go and learn about.

Josh: 

Again, very well said. I love this approach, lindsey, because it is an exciting time and the reality is, like, like you said earlier just going. I want to reiterate this it’s not like this is a complete change. It’s not like this is something different and writing content is still going to be the same, right, like, well, this affects HTML structure or best practices. I imagine that was all the same. It’s just. The display is different, like the search. The actual search is a bit different.

Lindsay: 

Exactly so. Yeah, we call it kind of a holistic approach to SEO. When you’re investing in technical SEO, content marketing, on-site optimization and then off-site SEO and with this evolution and different businesses need to invest more heavily in different areas of that sort of four pillar framework, but with this, you know, investing in content marketing and just its user first experience, creating content for the end user that’s displayed in a way that is, you know, visually appealing for that end user and easy to digest that’s a big part of the game. And then the other big part of the game is staying out there in the conversation. So being out there, you know, getting more reviews on Google Maps, picking up backlinks from trustworthy websites, being part of conversations happening around an industry topic that’s how you build trust and authority and that’s how you build expertise and share experience and that’s really all Google’s looking for and trying to reward.

Josh: 

Yeah, that’s well said and, again, very exciting, I think, overall for web designers, because this is we’re entering in a new era of helping clients with SEO and, like you said, web designers are already doing a lot of this. It’s just packaging it up differently. And again, I just want to reiterate the challenge to let your clients know this is up ahead and that’s it. If you need to know anything more right now, you can let them know. You’ll keep them up to date, but step one is just let them know. Changes are coming as far as AI goes and SEO, so very, very cool, lindsay, I’ll make sure we link your blog as well on the resources here. So a lot of good resources. Really answered a lot of my questions initially, with this being that you know, seo is not my area of expertise, so I really rely on, like you and a few other close colleagues who are up and up on this. I really appreciate you sharing what you know, what you guys are seeing, what would you like people to go? Is there a resource that folks should go to to connect with you and Pathfinder to either stay up on this or find out more about what you guys are up to?

Lindsay: 

Yes, you can always go to our website pathfinderseocom and stay up to date with what we’re up to. Under the resources section, you’ll find a blog. You’ll find webinars and things like that, where you’re welcome to join us for free training and get some great resources there. And then I’m on social media not as consistently as I should be, but you’re also always well welcomed to email me with questions, Lindsay at Pathfinder SEO, and that’ll get you the quickest response Awesome, Awesome.

Josh: 

All right, Lindsay. Well, thank you again for the other round. Maybe we’ll do a round three when SGE goes live and we’ll see how right or wrong we were with this conversation on what our hypothesis were or hypotheses were.

Lindsay: 

Sounds great. Thanks so much, josh, for having me and for all of you for listening, and it’s always fun to have these conversations with you, and I hope everyone has a great day.

Josh: 

There we have it, friends. Whether you like it or not, google AI is upon us Again. Timeframe is TBD. I’ve seen a few different things on that. I’m trying to keep polls on it, but we did mention some resources there. Go to the show notes for this episode at joshallco 313 to get all the links that we did mention, including the Google specific announcement, which they released last year but has some more details on this search experience, and you can actually sign up, I believe, for beta access still as of now. So, yeah, it’s coming soon and again, I encourage you to take what you learned in this episode. Go to the show notes and make it into a newsletter or just link it to the podcast if you really want. But most of your clients want to hear from you, so make it your own, make a little bullet list of things we covered, send it to your clients, let them know. Hey, google AI is coming soon. We’re going to be prepared for this once it does drop and we want to help you. So, and again, it’s an upsell. So this conversation is literally a way to make more money with your web design business and get new clients and retain them. So again, I highly encourage you to do that. Why wouldn’t you do that? You’re going to do it. You’re a listener of the show. You’re serious about this. Let’s go friends, so make sure to do that. By the way, I didn’t want to forget to mention that Lindsay is going to be coming inside of my web design community, web designer pro, and doing a presentation on this. A live training is going to answer your questions in April of 2024. So if you’re listening to this before April of 2024, you can watch the training live and be there to ask questions. If you come in after that, you’ll be able to watch the replay and still get caught up in the chat in the comments as well. So that’s going to be inside of web designer pro, here coming up in April 2024. Yet another reason to join us in web designer pro, my coaching community, where you get all my courses, the amazing community and access to me directly for coaching Josh Hallco slash pro is where to join us in there. All right, friends, cheers to staying up to date on what the heck’s going on with AI and Google. And again, send this to your clients, you feel. Thank me later Once those checks start rolling in, just by sending an email letting them know what’s going on. All right, I’ve said that like three times already. All right, friends, I will see you on the next episode. Hope you enjoyed this one.

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