The SEO Game Has Changed: SEO vs GEO

by | Feb 9, 2024 | SEO Basics

Discover the key differences between generative engine optimization (GEO) and search engine optimization (SEO) in our latest guide.

seo vs geo

Search engine optimization (SEO) used to be the name of the game when it came to driving organic traffic to your website. But now there’s a new player in town: generative engine optimization (GEO).

What is GEO exactly?

And how does it differ from traditional SEO?

More importantly – which strategy is right for your business?

In this guide, I’ll break it all down so you can make an informed decision on where to allocate your time and resources.

Let’s dive in.

SEO 101 – A Quick Refresher

Before we get into the nuances of GEO, let’s do a quick recap on SEO.

Search engine optimization refers to the practice of optimizing your website and content to rank higher in search results on Google, Bing, and other search engines.

You do things like:

  • Target relevant keywords in your content
  • Optimize page titles, headers, images, etc.
  • Build high-quality backlinks to your site
  • Ensure your site has a strong technical foundation (e.g. fast load times)

The goal is to increase your visibility for relevant searches, drive more organic traffic, and convert that traffic into leads/sales/whatever your business goal may be.

So ,What is Generative Engine Optimization (GEO)?

GEO is a new approach that optimizes for generative AI platforms like ChatGPT rather than traditional search engines.

With GEO, you’re creating content that is then used to train large language models to answer questions on a particular topic.

Let’s use an example. Rather than optimizing a blog post to rank for the keyword “best hiking boots for women”, you’d create a large volume of quality content related to women’s hiking boots.

This content would then be input into a language model like GPT-3 to “train” it on everything there is to know about the topic.

The model itself then becomes the endpoint that users interact with to get answers. And your goal with GEO is to have your content be the underlying information those answers are based on.

SEO vs. GEO – What are the Key Differences?

On the surface, GEO and SEO may seem quite similar since they’re both about driving organic traffic and visibility. But there are some key distinctions:

Intent – With SEO, you’re trying to match user’s search intent and provide the best result for a specific query. GEO is less about individual search queries and more about comprehensive knowledge on a topic.

Reach – SEO gets your content in front of people actively searching right now. GEO plugs into conversational AI that could surface your information for years to come.

Volume – SEO success is about creating targeted, high-quality content to rank for individual keywords. GEO requires a high volume of in-depth material on a topic.

Work Required – SEO involves things like keyword research, on-page optimization, link building, etc. GEO is closer to traditional content marketing at scale.

GEO – Is it the Future of SEO?

In a word – yes.

While traditional SEO will still be around for the foreseeable future, GEO is quickly becoming a huge channel for discoverability and organic growth. Think about it – how often do you use a voice assistant or chatbot when you have a question these days?

As AI continues to shape the online experience, whoever owns the underlying data will have a significant advantage. By creating massive knowledge bases and training AI models on them, you can essentially create your own army of AI salespeople/support agents/educators.

Should You Focus on Both GEO and SEO – or Just GEO?

Now that we’ve covered the key differences between generative engine optimization and search engine optimization, you might be wondering – should I do both? Or is it better to go all-in on GEO?

The answer really depends on your specific business, resources, and goals. Let’s break it down:

Reasons to Focus on Both:

  • Diversified traffic/lead sources are always a smart strategy
  • SEO can still drive valuable traffic, especially for high-intent keywords
  • Experience with both will make you an early adopter of GEO

Reasons to Focus on Just GEO:

  • GEO is the future and where things are rapidly headed
  • High barriers to entry mean less competition early on
  • Can be easier to measure impact of GEO efforts vs. SEO

My take? For established businesses with resources, a balanced approach makes sense. Pour gasoline on the GEO fire while maintaining your SEO foundations.

For new companies or those with limited bandwidth, prioritizing GEO is the way to go. It’s still early innings, so you can get in on the ground floor and ride the wave as things progress.

Either way, it’s important to start experimenting with GEO now. This will future-proof your content, help you build AI skillsets, and stay ahead of the competition.

Doing both is ideal – but focusing on just GEO could be a better use of resources in certain scenarios.

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