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Local Memo: How Will AI Change SEO?


In this week’s update, learn about the impact of AI on SEO; the availability of social link editing in GBP; the October Core Algorithm Update; the popularity of mapping and navigation apps; Google’s plans to integrate Bard into Assistant; and Meta’s new AI tools for advertisers. 


How Will AI Change SEO?


Roger Montti, writing for Search Engine Journal, suggests that now is the time to begin modifying our SEO strategies to meet the demands of AI-integrated search. Speaking of Google SGE, Montti observes that the new interface doubles down on the critical importance of placement within the top three search results — something that has already been important for years given the rise of Local Packs and featured snippets. With SGE’s carousel-style display of links, the first three are shown prominently and the rest are hidden. The visual-first display of linked sources also implies that compelling featured images that help to convey the content of a page will be increasingly important, as will descriptive page titles. Most importantly, SGE helps to demonstrate that Google has finally moved beyond ranking based on keywords into ranking based on quality and relevance of overall content. 


An example of a typical SGE search result from Google highlighting where you'll see the top three positions and links to more websites


Typical SGE result, courtesy Search Engine Journal


Social Profile Editing Now Broadly Available in GBP


The Google Business Profiles feature that allows businesses to edit the social links that appear in business profiles appears to finally be going live for most users, after first being spotted in the wild earlier this year. Businesses can add one social link per platform, with supported platforms including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, TikTok, X (formerly Twitter), and YouTube. Barry Schwartz reports that after editing the social links in his own Google profile, the links showed up in the live listing within ten minutes, the time frame stated in the edit window. 


The feature can also be used to remove links or to edit those Google may automatically supply. The guidelines state that it’s fine to use the same social link for more than one profile. No performance metrics are currently available and UTM parameters seem not to be allowed based on my testing. 



A screenshot from a GBP highlighting where businesses can add in links to their social profiles


Courtesy Search Engine Roundtable


Google Rolls Out October 2023 Core Algorithm Update


On October 5 Google announced the launch of the October 2023 Core Update, noting as usual that the rollout will take place over about two weeks. This update follows two previous core updates in 2023, in March and August. Those impacted negatively by core updates are encouraged to examine their sites and site content in light of priorities like helpful content, user experience, and E-E-A-T. 


The announcement of the October 2023 Core Update came just one day after Google announced the rollout of the October 2023 Spam Update, targeted toward improving Google’s spam prevention techniques, especially in relation to cloaked, hacked, auto-generated, and scraped content. 


Mapping and Navigation Apps in Top Three for U.S. Users


Mapping and navigation apps are the second most popular type of smartphone app by number of U.S. users, according to a report from Insider Intelligence. Only video apps are more popular, with 201.9 million users in 2023 compared to 190.0 million for navigation apps. Social media apps (presumably something of a crossover with video apps) take third place with 187.2 million users. These counts represent smartphone users who use at least one app in each category at least once per month. 


Trends indicate that users are downloading fewer apps than before, and settling instead on a few favorite apps to which they remain loyal. The report also shows that more users are gravitating toward multifunctional “super apps” like WeChat. 


A graph showcasing the top smartphone app categories in 2023 with video and map coming in at one and two



Courtesy Insider Intelligence / Business of Apps


Google Assistant Will Integrate with Bard


Google will bring the generative AI capabilities of its Bard chatbot to Google Assistant on iOS and Android in the “coming months,” according to a company statement. The integration, reads the statement, “combines Bard’s generative and reasoning capabilities with Assistant’s personalized help.” Users will be able to interact with Bard via Google Assistant using speech, text, or images. As an example, a photo prompt can be accompanied by a command to have Assistant create content for a social post. 


An example of Google's generative AI capabilities to its Google Assistant


Meta Adds Generative AI Features for Advertisers


Meta is announcing a new suite of generative AI tools for advertisers, in addition to the consumer-facing AI announcements that have dominated recent news. The tools will allow advertisers to create image backgrounds, generate automated variations on ad text, and similar functions. An image expansion feature will automatically adjust images to fit the aspect ratios of different display formats. Text variations in ad copy can be used to test which phrasing and emphasis drives the best engagement. Meta says these improvements should save ad creative teams at least five hours of manual effort per week. More AI advertising features are reportedly in the works.

Damian Rollison

With over a decade of local search experience, Damian Rollison, SOCI's Director of Market Insights, has focused his career on discovering innovative ways to help businesses large and small get noticed online. Damian's columns appear frequently at Street Fight, Search Engine Land, and other publications, and he is a frequent speaker at industry conferences such as Localogy, Brand Innovators, State of Search, SMX, and more.

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