What Is Answer Engine Optimisation (AEO)?

    Reposition Services UK
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    By Hitesh
    December 7, 2023
    ~ 5 minutes to read
    Hitesh is a digital marketing strategist and entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience in digital marketing, start-ups, branding, and customer acquisition strategies. Hitesh is the CEO and Founder of Reposition Group, which specialises in digital growth strategies.

    Answer Engine Optimisation (AEO)

    Answer engine optimisation (AEO) is the process of optimising content to rank higher in answer engines like chatGPT, Claude, and other conversational AI tools.

    It focuses on creating content that provides clear, concise and helpful answers to user queries in a conversational format.

    As more people use conversational agents to find information online, AEO is becoming increasingly important for content creators and website owners.

    The goal is to have your content appear more prominently when a user asks a relevant question to an answer engine. This results in more website traffic leads and conversions.

    How To Prepare for AEO?

    Here are some key tips on preparing for AEO.

    Focus on answering user intent – Optimise content around common questions and queries that users may have rather than broad topics. Pay attention to search analytics to identify user intent.

    Use a conversational tone – Write answers, explanations and instructions as you are talking to the reader. Avoid overly complex and formal language.

    Optimise content for snippets – Answer engines display short snippets to users. Make the most important information stand out within the first 1-2 sentences.

    Include clear QA pairs – Indicate questions in bold or with Q: at the start and follow with the A: answers in a conversational way. The questions should match common user queries.

    Improve page structure – Break up content with relevant headers and subheadings. Use bullet points and numbered lists where appropriate to make information easy to digest.

    Feature media – Include images, infographics, videos and other media where relevant as answer engines may embed these in results.

    Check answer relevance – Do test searches on answer engines and ensure your content answers the actual user queries, not just the topic in general. Refine content to improve relevance.

    Be concise yet comprehensive – Provide thorough answers but also be as concise as possible so users easily find your answers helpful.

    Optimise for long-form content – Longer, in-depth content often performs well for answer engines so aim for guides around 2,000+ words.

    How to Rank for AEO?

     Answer Engine Optimisation (AEO)

    Here are some of the key ranking factors for AEO.

    Focus on quality over quantity – Well-researched, comprehensive content that provides genuinely helpful answers will outperform thin or duplicate content.

    Use semantic keywords – Include the words and phrases that users would naturally query rather than forced keywords. Ensure semantic relevance.

    Provide references – Support answers by linking out to credible sources, studies or expert sites to give more authority.

    Optimise content structure – Logical headers, key sections and clear question/answer layout help answer engines interpret content and display relevant snippets.

    Feature-rich media – Images, infographics and videos incorporated naturally into content can enhance snippets and results.

    Encourage engagement Get expert backlinks, testimonials and genuine engagement like comments and shares to signal quality answers to algorithms.

    Update regularly – Expand on and refine your existing AEO content over time to maintain relevance and performance.

    Check search metrics – Analyse what questions your content already ranks for and look for related opportunities. Identify any ranking drops to address.

    Promote your answer hub – Build awareness amongst your audience for people to naturally find and engage with your AEO content.

    Why AEO is the New SEO Trend?

    There are a few key reasons why AEO is an emerging SEO trend.

    Shift towards conversational search – More people are using conversational interfaces powered by AI to find quick answers online rather than searching via keywords on traditional search engines.

    Rising use of chatbots – Chatbots are being integrated across platforms and sites, creating opportunities to be prominently displayed as an authoritative answer within relevant conversations.

    Unique to answer engines – Traditional SEO now shares opportunities with AEO which is optimised specifically around conversational AI tools, their display of answers and user questions.

    Increased competition – As content creators wake up to the importance of AEO, competition for ranking well in answer engines will also increase over time.

    Major traffic opportunities – Early focus on AEO now can lead to tapping into a rapidly growing source of high-intent website visitors from answer engines.

    Is AEO a Good SEO Strategy?

    Yes, focusing on AEO is a smart SEO strategy right now for a few reasons.

    Targets growing search behaviour – Conversational search is a rising trend so AEO helps align to how the audience is increasingly searching.

    Builds traffic and leads – Ranking higher in AI answer engines provides direct opportunities for driving more of your key site audience to your content.

    Logical content creation – Creating content via common questions improves its overall usefulness for site visitors beyond just AEO performance.

    Distinct from core SEO – Your existing keyword-driven content can continue to perform as AEO content focuses on very different search behaviour.

    Future-proofs strategy – Early adoption of emerging AEO best practices puts you ahead as conversational AI continues to develop over the next few years.

    However, sole reliance on AEO over core organic search optimisation would be unwise at this stage until conversational search matures more into the mainstream.

    The best approach right now is layering AEO on top of your trusted SEO foundations.

    Is AEO Beneficial to Users?

    Optimising content for answer engines provides a clear benefit for users in multiple ways.

    Concise helpful answers – Users often turn to conversational AI for quick answers so displaying concise yet accurate snippets suits intent.

    Improved relevance – Optimising around genuine user questions drives relevance rather than content just targeting a broad topic.

    Time savings – Good AEO that uncovers relevant answers faster provides enormous cumulative time savings for users.

    Simplifies research – Even for broader queries, ranking highly presents an immediately helpful source or overview rather than needing to assess multiple options.

    Accessibility – Clear, conversational AEO writing also aids non-native speakers and those with reading difficulties or visual impairments.

    The impact on overall user experience is highly positive when sites work on optimising their content for conversational AI engines.

    Content created via AEO principles is fundamentally designed to be more helpful, accessible and useful across all audiences.

    So while AEO is certainly important for website benefits like traffic and conversions, the format of presenting easy-to-digest questions and answers assists whether someone goes on to click your content or gains the answer directly in the engine.

    Does AEO Strategy Improvise SERPs?

    SERPs refer to the search engine results pages that display when you run queries on the likes of Google and Bing. The principles and strategy behind improving AEO performance can also benefit aspects of traditional organic SERPs.

    Some of these crossover benefits include

    Useful Media – Incorporating rich results like images, videos and infographics that answer engines may embed can also improve Google’s presence.

    Semantic Relevance – Carefully optimising content around genuine conversational user questions also boosts overall semantic SEO performance.

    Page Structure – Logical content structure using key headers, question formats and concise sectioning helps search bots interpret relevance.

    Load Speed – Splitting up long-form content into multiple pages improves overall site speed vs one lengthy piece.

    Engagement Signals – Getting expert links, genuine comments and shares that indicate quality content to algorithms aids both domains.

    So while Google and Bing don’t interpret or display results the same way as Claude, ChatGPT and others, quality conversational content created for AEO does translate into positive signals for regular web searches too.

    The benefits may not be quite as direct for organic rankings. However, focusing efforts on helpful, engaging AEO content often ends up improving general user experience and satisfaction on-site. This then translates into measurable SERP gains over time as the algorithms see more quality signals.

    So yes, the AEO strategy certainly creates some crossover optimisation benefits for customary keyword-driven SEO performance in answer boxes and general search rankings.

    Conclusion

    In closing, answer engine optimisation represents an emerging priority for content creators and website owners as more people adopt conversational AI tools in their online research.

    Early adoption of AEO best practices to help your content rank prominently and provide helpful answers is a smart strategy right now.

    Preparing for answer engines by focusing on concise responses to genuine user questions posed conversationally builds relevance beyond just driving more traffic. It fundamentally boosts content usefulness for all site visitors and aligns with core search behaviours.

    While leveraging organic SEO foundations, adding an AEO layer on top positions you ahead of the curve as conversational interfaces continue to gain adoption over the next few years. Helpful, optimised answers in AI engines become beneficial gateways into your website content.