Rebel Insights

AI Optimization: How to Appear in AI Search Results

how to appear in AI search results
  • AI is opening an entirely new world of search for digital marketers
  • So far, traditional SEO as we know it remains the best way to optimize for AI
  • Social media communities like Reddit are commonly a part of AI search results

The New SEO

One thing is clear about AI: It’s not going away. Generative AI will continue to have a dramatic impact on the future of digital media and those who adapt to this reality and prepare for what’s to come will be best positioned down the line.

OpenAI has changed the game, as people are increasingly using ChatGPT for queries they may have gone to Google with in the past. The rise of new tools like is another game changer. Now Google itself has joined the party with the introduction of AI Overviews, its own take on utilizing generative AI to answer search queries.

The Evolution of ChatGPT

From its initial launch to today, ChatGPT continues to evolve and make upgrades to its product. Part of those evolutions are based on user feedback and positioning its chatbot to deliver the best possible results.

Once widely ridiculed for hallucinations, the latest version of ChatGPT is much smarter and it’s continuing to get better. In April 2024, ChatGPT made a big change: Links are becoming more prominent. Instead of not providing sources for results, it is directly citing original sources and linking out to them in the paid version of ChatGPT.

For publishers, there are some things you can try to increase the odds of getting ChatGPT to link to you directly. Some publishers have been striking deals with ChatGPT where they partner and become direct sources, and that’s one way, as opposed to the other side of the spectrum where publishers sue OpenAI for copyright infringement.

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How do you get more links from ChatGPT? I asked ChatGPT directly, and here’s what came back (edited for clarity):

  • SEO Best Practices: Ensure your site is following SEO best practices, including the use of keywords, meta tags, and a mobile-friendly UX.
  • Quality Content: Publish high-quality, relevant, up-to-date content regularly.
  • Current Events: Cover both current events and trending topics.
  • Unique Insights: Create specialized unique content that sets you apart from competitors.
  • Backlinks: Increase the number of links to your site from reputable sources to improve your domain authority.
  • Social Media: Promote your content on social media channels that increase traffic and visibility.
  • Website Speed: Ensure your site loads quickly and efficiently. Slow sites are penalized.
  • Structured Data: Use structured data to help your content become clear to crawlers.

Sound familiar? The new SEO (optimizing for AI) certainly resembles the old one. That’s not particularly surprising as these are tried-and-true ways to provide value to users.

As a brand or publisher, another thing you can do to land in ChatGPT results is optimize for Reddit. That’s right: OpenAI has struck a deal with Reddit that gives it direct access to all of that community’s content. For its part, OpenAI says the Reddit firehose will lead to ChatGPT providing “uniquely timely and relevant information.” Reddit is a unique community that won’t tolerate spam, but if you invest time in being members of the community and provide value on topics you’re an expert in, you can still see results.

The Rise of Perplexity

Then there’s Founded in August 2022, it was originally built on top of ChatGPT but it has since developed its own large language model and also works with OpenAI rivals like Anthropic’s chatbot Claude.

Perplexity is known for its unique search experience that delivers links front and center, clearly outlining sources and citations for every answer. This is still at odds with the free version of ChatGPT, even though the premium version now includes links.

With a simple “Ask anything” box, and catchy “Where knowledge begins” tagline, Perplexity has turned out to be particularly good at breaking news and analyzing news events, so it has caught the attention of publishers. It appears to emphasize different sites compared to Google, with knowledge bases like Reddit, Quora, and Yelp getting significant pull as you go toward more general questions and away from news itself.

How do you land in Perplexity’s search results? It appears that traditional SEO again comes into play, as relevant keywords are clearly a part of the ranking. Writing clearly and plainly about topics of interest is important. It’s also obvious that social media communities like Reddit factor into Perplexity’s answers: responds with Reddit

AI Overviews Enters the Chat

Google’s official documentation says that generative search responses like AI Overviews are most helpful in cases “when you want to quickly understand information from a range of sources, including information from across the web and Google's Knowledge Graph.” They provide information in a “snapshot” and allow users to “explore the topic further” with links that appear alongside the response.

According to Google, publishers don’t have to take any action to participate in AI Overviews. They’re automatically eligible for inclusion simply by “following our regular guidance for appearing in search,” which can be explored on their Essentials page.

With that said, early results indicate that structured data is vitally important to appear in AI Overviews. And that makes sense, as that’s among the technical essentials that Google recommends in its best practices. With RebelMouse, we solve that with Particles, dividing an article up into parts of an article that are uniquely set up technically in the best structured data format. Make sure you use Particles in our Entry Editor to set yourself up for consideration in AI Overviews.

Appearing in AI Overviews could be huge as search continues to evolve. It shows at the very top of the search results page with the potential to deliver serious traffic. Just to reiterate: The best way to optimize for AI, according to Google, is to follow their normal guidance for optimizing for SEO. Be helpful to users, use the right keywords, explain topics thoroughly, keep your site’s technical SEO healthy, and you’ll be in position for a shot at AI Overviews.

All in all, how do you optimize for AI? First off, optimize for SEO like you normally would. Then, optimize for Reddit and other social media communities, which are clearly part of feeding the beast that is AI. This is the landscape as it exists today. We’ll see where it goes and update this post later with the latest guidance.

As an AI-enabled CMS, RebelMouse optimizes content for traditional SEO and AI-powered search. Get ahead of your competitors and request a demo today.

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