The Podcaster's Survival Guide to Generative Search: Adapting to Google's AI Revolution

Juergen Berkessel Podcasting Strategist
Juergen Berkessel
January 24, 2024
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Jan 24
The Podcaster's Survival Guide to Generative Search: Adapting to Google's AI Revolution

The Podcaster's Survival Guide to Generative Search: Adapting to Google's AI Revolution

The introduction of Google's Search Generative Experience (SGE) heralds a significant shift in search engine behavior. This will profoundly impact independent podcasters who rely on search engine optimization (SEO) to make their content discoverable. Below, I'll explore the potential implications and strategies podcasters may need to consider as generative search becomes more prevalent.

Our Podcast Episode on Generative Search

In this episode of the Podcasting Resources Guide, host Polly is joined by Juergen Berkessel, the founder of Polymash, who shares his insights and experiences with SEO and generative search.

They discuss the concept of generative search, its differences from traditional search engines, and how it reshapes content creators' playing field, all based on the article to follow below.

TL;DR: Generative Search and Podcasting

Before we dive into the details of this article, here's a quick TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read) section for those looking for a brief summary of this article.

  • Generative search uses AI to provide direct, comprehensive answers within search results, potentially impacting podcast discoverability.
  • Podcasters can still feature in generative search by creating in-depth show notes, transcribing episodes, and sharing personal stories.
  • Original and authoritative content is likely to be favored by generative search over AI-generated content.
  • SEO remains crucial, with a shifted focus towards content quality and user intent.
  • Podcasters don't necessarily need advanced technical skills to optimize for generative search; good content practices are key.
  • Differentiation from AI content can be achieved through unique personal narratives and audience engagement.
  • Content strategies may need to adapt to include story-driven elements and direct responses to anticipated questions.

First Things First: What is Generative Search?

What is Generative Search?
Photographer: Mojahid Mottakin | Source: Unsplash

"Generative Search" is short for “Search Generative Experience” and is sometimes referred to as SGE. It is an advancement in search technology where artificial intelligence creates answers for user searches. It understands the intent behind searches and provides direct answers. This is transforming the search experience: No more need to browse through search results or visit websites at all.

This trend isn't limited to major companies like Google and Microsoft; startups like Perplexity are also making headway and receiving significant investment to compete in this space.

Why Does Generative Search Matter For Podcasters?

For podcasters, the rise of generative search is likely to disrupt traditional discovery methods.

Our current roster of podcasting clients sees up to 65% of subscriber growth stemming from SEO-powered web presence. This underscores the vital role of search optimization in expanding their audiences.

As search engines become more adept at providing instant information, users may find less need to click through to individual content pages. This could lead to a decrease in organic traffic to podcast websites. Therefore podcasters may need to refine their SEO strategies to maintain visibility in a more AI-driven search landscape.

Expected Timeframe for SGE Impact

Photographer: Eder Pozo Pérez | Source: Unsplash

The full impact of Google's SGE on search results and traffic for podcasts is challenging to predict with absolute certainty. However, as Google has begun integrating SGE in some countries already, it's reasonable to expect that its influence will progressively increase over the next 6 to 12 months. The changes will likely be iterative, with Google fine-tuning the system based on user feedback and behavior.

"I'm of the opinion that Google, with its heavy reliance on search advertising revenue, is still grappling with how to implement SGE in a way that doesn't undercut its financial foundation." - Juergen Berkessel, Polymash

Why Am I Writing This Article About Generative Search?

Downward Trend In SEO
Downward Trend in a Time of Generative Search?

I am the founder of Polymash, a digital strategy and podcasting agency. I have been dealing with the ups and downs of SEO for years, just like many others in the podcasting industry. We have seen how trends and algorithms can have a significant impact on our digital presence. However, I have noticed a recent shift. As we prepare for the new realities that SGE will bring, I'm sharing some thoughts and actionable strategies to help podcasters.

The goal is clear: to ensure that our voices continue to resonate, our stories captivate, and our podcasts flourish amidst the evolving rhythms of search technology. Let's explore this together.

"As we navigate the digital currents, it's becoming evident that SEO-driven search traffic is experiencing a downward trend. This shift is not just a blip on the radar; it's a signal that the tides are changing. " - Juergen Berkessel, Polymash

What happened to Polymash?

Our own site, a resource for mid-size businesses, solo entrepreneurs, and non-profits looking to amplify their message through podcasting, has been experiencing a dip in SEO-related traffic.

This wasn't just a trivial fluctuation. It was a signpost pointing to a new era in search—a time marked by the advent of Google's Search Generative Experience (SGE). While it's easy to attribute such changes to the growth of high-quality podcast content saturating the market, I noticed our SERP (Search Engine Results Page) presence diminishing. It was a wake-up call that resonated through the very core of our operations.

At Polymash, we pride ourselves on our ability to harness the power of SEO to fuel growth for our clients. In fact, 65% of new listener growth for our podcasting clients springs from meticulous SEO strategies. It's a testament to the potency of well-crafted content and savvy optimization, which have long been the lifeblood of discoverability and audience expansion. But with SGE poised to redefine the search experience, I realized it was time to recalibrate our approach.

So let’s explore the likely impacts, and what podcasters should do about them:

Organic Search Visibility and Traffic Changes

Organic Search Visibility
Photographer: Tobias Cornille | Source: Unsplash

With 84% of queries expected to show results powered by SGE, independent podcasters could experience a change in their organic search visibility. Podcasters have traditionally relied on optimizing their episode pages and show notes with keywords to rank well in search results.

However, SGE's ability to synthesize information and provide direct answers to queries may reduce the number of clicks through search results to podcast websites, as users could get the information they need directly from the search results page. But at the end of the day, you still want your content to be used by and visible in SGE. Here are 2 simple ways for podcasters to make this more likely:

  1. Publish Full Transcripts: Include a complete transcript for each podcast episode on the show notes page. This not only makes the content accessible to more users but also provides more text for search engines to index, increasing the chances of being featured in SGE results.
  2. Develop an FAQ Section: Create a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section on the episode webpage that addresses common queries related to the episode's theme. Well-crafted answers can surface in SGE as direct responses to user searches.

Beyond Algorithms: Why Personal Content Wins in the Age of SGE

In a digital ecosystem increasingly flooded with AI-generated content that often lacks depth, setting yourself apart hinges on the personal touch you can provide.

Authenticity resonates with audiences and may very well be favored by Search Generative Experience (SGE) algorithms that seek to deliver meaningful and engaging content. By infusing your work with personal anecdotes, unique insights, and genuine interaction, you create a distinctive voice that AI simply cannot replicate. This personal content, rich with the nuances of human experience, not only captivates listeners but also has the potential to be more highly valued by SGE, which aims to connect users with truly relevant and original material.

Here are some approaches podcasters should consider

  1. Share Unique Personal Experiences: Incorporate anecdotes and personal stories that are unique to you or your guests. This type of content is original and cannot be replicated by AI, making it more likely to stand out in SGE.
  2. Highlight Firsthand Knowledge: Emphasize the expertise and firsthand knowledge you bring to your podcast. Discussing your own experiences or insights adds a level of authenticity that AI cannot match.
  3. Engage with Your Audience: Create interactive segments where you respond to listener submissions or questions. This real-time engagement adds a human element that AI-generated content lacks.
  4. Narrate Behind-the-Scenes Content: Share the making of your podcast episodes, including bloopers, planning discussions, or personal reflections on the episode's topic.
  5. Leverage Community Stories: Encourage listeners to share their stories and feature them in your episodes. This community-driven content further ensures differentiation from AI-generated material.

SGE emphasizes the importance of content quality and authority. Podcasters will need to ensure their content is well-optimized for SEO. But they also need to demonstrate first-hand expertise and provide value that stands out in generative search. It’s not enough to have something valuable to say:

"In today's digital landscape, the value of your content is only as powerful as its visibility." - Juergen Berkessel, Polymash

This means investing in high-quality show notes, transcriptions, and personal first-hand supplementary content that establishes the podcaster as being uniquely human.

Generative Search For Podcasters FAQ

1. What is generative search?

Generative search is an AI-driven approach that synthesizes information from various sources to provide comprehensive and direct answers to user queries within search results.

2. How does generative search affect podcast discovery?

Generative search can potentially reduce traffic to podcast websites by providing answers directly in search results, which may decrease the need for users to visit the actual sites.

3. Can my podcast show up in generative search results?

Yes, your podcast can show up in generative search results if you optimize your content for relevancy, authority, and provide clear, structured information that AI can easily interpret.

4. What can I do to optimize my podcast for generative search?

Focus on creating detailed show notes, transcribing episodes, and including personal stories and experiences to improve your podcast's discoverability in generative search.

5. Will generative search prioritize AI-generated content over my podcast?

Generative search is designed to prioritize the most relevant and authoritative content, so personal and original content like your podcast could be favored over generic AI-generated content.

6. Do I need technical skills to optimize for generative search?

While some technical skills can help, such as using schema markup, you can also optimize for generative search with good content practices like in-depth show notes and listener engagement.

7. Does generative search make SEO irrelevant for podcasters?

No, SEO remains relevant as it helps generative search engines understand and categorize your content; however, the focus may shift towards content quality and user intent.

8. How can I differentiate my podcast from AI-generated content?

Incorporate unique personal insights, stories, and engage directly with your audience to provide a rich, human experience that sets your podcast apart from AI-generated content.

9. Should I change my content strategy because of generative search?

Consider adjusting your strategy to include more narrative elements, direct answers to common questions, and multimedia content to align with how generative search presents information.

10. How can I track the performance of my podcast in generative search?

Use analytics tools to monitor changes in traffic and engagement, and stay updated on how your episodes are ranking in search results to gauge generative search performance.

Episode Transcript

Juergen Berkessel profile pic
Juergen Berkessel
Podcasting Strategist

Hi, my name is Juergen Berkessel and I’m a digital strategist, inbound marketing coach and podcast producer living in Bradenton, Florida. I like to help our clients design and deliver their digital presence and products as cool, useful and meaningful experiences — regardless of the medium. I’m passionate about design as well as podcasting, aerial, architectural and interior photography.