In 2009, with SEO – I grew my family-owned music school to 300+ students under 6 months.
We were the first-market mover. No one else was doing SEO. So it was really easy. All I did was write a few articles on my site. Within a week we'd ranked #1 for keywords like "best piano class in Penang".
Few years later, I even conducted workshops to teach people how to do the same.
SEO is the same
People still search online. Google simply wants to serve the right answers – as fast and as accurate as possible.
But now with generative search (watch the video below to learn) SEO is changed forever.
How search really works.
Historically, people search online at the beginning of their purchasing journey. That's top-funnel.
For example, you want to buy a tennis racquet.
You'd first Google, "good tennis racquets for beginners". Then you'll go into a few sites, sift through lots of garbage, only to get 3-4 answers.
Top-funnel is dead.
With generative AI, Google now answers questions instantly (they're sometimes inaccurate though), without the need for you to go into a few sites.
For marketers, this means there's no longer a need to optimize your website for top-funnel searches.
Not much value in ranking your website for "good tennis racquets for beginners" anymore – because Generative AI will answer it, without having to show your website!
So... is SEO dead?
It's not. But you have to shift.
Here are 2 shifts you can do right now.
1. Optimize for mid-funnel keywords.
Instead of targeting top-of-funnel keywords, target mid-funnel keywords like "Wilson Clash 1oo tennis racquet review".
Go for keywords that generative AI will not be able to answer – and where you'll be unique for that.
2. Write content that compares you with other brands.
Generative search can show comparisons between two brands.
But it's not satisfying for searches to make a buying decision just from an AI answer. They will usually go deeper – reading forums, comments, thoughts, walkthroughs, and comparisons, before making a buying decision.