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What Is AEO (Answer Engine Optimization)?
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What Is AEO (Answer Engine Optimization)?

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What is answer engine optimization (AEO)?

AEO is a digital marketing strategy that involves optimizing your web content to appear in AI-generated responses to user queries.

Have you ever done research by typing a question into ChatGPT (or another AI platform) and letting it generate an answer for you? Even if you haven’t, a lot of people have. For some, it’s easier than typing their question into Google and wading through different search results.

Given this fact, many businesses are finding it necessary to optimize their web content for those AI results just as much as they do for Google and other search engines. That process is called answer engine optimization (AEO), and you may want to consider it for your own business.

But what is AEO, and why should you use it? We’ll answer those questions and more below. Overall, we’ll cover the following:

Keep reading to learn more about answer engine optimization. Then be sure to subscribe to Revenue Weekly, our email newsletter, to get more helpful marketing content sent straight to your inbox!

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What is AEO?

Answer engine optimization (AEO) is a digital marketing strategy where businesses optimize their website content to show up in AI-generated responses to user queries. It’s called that because AI text generators are often referred to as answer engines.


You may be wondering about the difference between AEO and search engine optimization (SEO). After all, the two acronyms are only different by one word, and they seem to refer to similar processes.

Some would say that AEO and SEO are two totally different strategies, while others would say that they’re the same thing. Both groups are right. AEO and SEO are technically different things, since one of them optimizes content for AI and the other optimizes it for search engines. Practically speaking, though, they are just two versions of the same strategy.

Yes, they’re aimed at two different types of query results. But the strategies used to get your content in those results are largely the same. Virtually all the things you would do to optimize for AEO are things you should already be doing for SEO. For that reason, you could consider AEO to be a subset of SEO.

Why does AEO matter?

So, why is AEO important? Why should you be optimizing for AI generators in the first place?

The answer is that a lot of people use them for research. Traditionally, everyone used Google (and other search engines) to search for answers to their queries. But some people find it easier to ask an AI tool, which will give them a single answer.

Of course, those AI-generated answers still come from somewhere. And while ChatGPT may not always give credit to the sites it pulls its information from, there are some AI tools that do. Even in tools like ChatGPT, users may ask for sources so they can double-check the information they’re given.

If your site is one of those sources, it will help people discover your website and potentially turn into customers in the long run.

How to optimize for AEO

Now we come to the big question: How can you optimize your AEO strategy? What should you do to show up in answer engine results?

There are several AEO tactics you should use. As previously mentioned, all these tactics are things you may already be doing as part of your SEO. They include:

  1. Consider search intent
  2. Optimize for featured snippets
  3. Optimize for voice search
  4. Use business directories

Keep reading to find out more about each one!

1. Consider search intent

If you’re familiar with SEO, you probably already know about search intent — the reason why a user searches for a specific query. So, if someone looks up “tips for pest prevention,” their search intent is probably that they want to know how to keep pests out of their home.

The same thing applies to AEO. When you target specific keywords or queries on your site, you should consider why people are searching for them. Then you should tailor your content to address that intent. That’s the only way AI tools like ChatGPT will use your content.

2. Optimize for featured snippets

Another solid AEO strategy is to optimize your content for featured snippets. If you don’t know what featured snippets are, they’re the blurbs that sometimes appear as the first organic result in Google searches.

ai hallucination featured snippet

To get your content ranking in these featured snippets, you need to provide short, succinct answers to specific questions. And as it happens, the same thing applies to AEO. Answer engines usually provide simple, straightforward answers to user queries, meaning they’ll favor content that already formats information in that way. Plus, Google sometimes features AI answers in search results.

3. Optimize for voice search

In addition to optimizing for featured snippets, you should create content that’s optimized for voice searches. What does it mean to optimize for voice search, though? 

Well, unlike a lot of Google searches, voice searches tend to be formatted as full sentences (particularly questions). So, optimizing for them involves targeting long-tail keywords, especially full questions.

Just like featured snippet optimization, this is an SEO strategy that also happens to work very well for AEO. Even when people aren’t using voice search, they still usually ask full questions when using AI generators, rather than just typing in keywords. So, those full questions are what you should be targeting in your content.

4. Use business directories

Last on our list of AEO tactics, you should be sure to get your company listed on some different online business directories.

A Google Business Profile is one example of this, but you may also get listed on sites like Yelp or The Yellow Pages (depending on your industry). If there are any local directories for businesses in your industry, aim to get listed there as well.

Why? Because when AI generators get asked to recommend businesses, they’ll often pull from online directories. So, you want your business information to be available on those sites, giving you a better chance of appearing in an answer engine response.

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WebFX can drive more results for your SEO and AEO

With the right AEO strategy, you can help your business show up in answer engine responses, leading people to your website and driving more conversions. But AEO, like SEO, can be more complicated than just using the AEO tactics listed above. You may find that you need some help from a professional agency.

If that’s the case, look no further than WebFX. We have over 28 years of experience helping businesses drive revenue through SEO, and we can do the same for you. Our SEO services can help you get your site in Google search results and AI generator responses alike.

Interested in partnering with us? Give us a call at 888-601-5359 or contact us online today!

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