MarTech Interview with A.J. Ghergich, Vice President of Consulting Services at Botify

Explore how SGE revolutionizes SEO strategies, impacting keyword optimization and content creation for an AI-driven search experience.
A.J. Ghergich

A.J., it’s a pleasure to have you with us. Before we dive into our discussion on SGE and Custobots, could you share a bit about your journey as the VP of Consulting Services at Botify?
I’d be happy to, thanks for having me! I joined Botify about a year ago to lead the rollout of Botify Advantage, our SEO consulting and services offering. Along with my amazing team, we built a consulting division from the ground up, working with several notable global enterprise clients. In this role, I’ve been able to combine my love for SEO with my experience of more than 15 years of consulting in digital marketing for various Fortune 500 companies. It was an exciting time to join the company as the organic search marketing industry is in the midst of a revolution, and I can’t wait to keep building the future.

With SGE transforming SEO, could you kindly share insights on how it influences professionals in approaching keyword optimization and content creation for an AI-powered search experience?
As you said, not only did AI take the world by storm this year and touch every industry, but SEO specifically has been greatly impacted by the introduction of Google’s SGE (Search Generative Experience) that’s resulted from GenAI.

For users, search is becoming a conversation with the internet. But it’s also becoming more visual, with the images included in citations defining the way information is accessed and engaged with (rather like ads in social media). A list of blue links is being replaced by highly visual assets that invite greater user engagement.

These changes are transforming the way SEO professionals need to approach being found. As we know, SEO professionals have historically prioritized ensuring websites and content are optimized for Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) to increase and drive more organic traffic through relevance. Now, to harness the full potential of SGE’s AI-driven, conversational platform, the strategy must evolve from keyword optimization to a deeper comprehension of user intent and anticipated needs. By focusing on predicting and addressing what users seek (even before they fully articulate it themselves), content creation becomes proactive and user-centric, elevating organic search strategies to meet and exceed user expectations with remarkable precision. Google, at its core, is not really a search engine but a database of user intentions. Excelling in SEO now means mastering the art of predicting and influencing these intentions and being mindful of AI throughout the entire journey.

Salesmark Global

In discussing custobots and customer journeys, could you kindly elaborate on their impact and the challenges and opportunities they present for marketers?
This is highly topical and marks a paradigm shift in SEO strategy. I’ll define ‘custobots’ before I dig deeper into what their rise will mean for marketers.

Custobots are AI-driven automated systems that independently perform economic transactions and provide personalized customer experiences based on user data and preferences. For example, a custobot in an online retail store might analyze a customer’s previous purchase history and browsing behavior, then autonomously select and order a new book for the customer, predicting their interest based on past preferences and reading habits. Personalization was once about the suggestion, it’s now moving to the transaction.

Looking into 2024, the integration of custobots within the digital marketplace offers a unique opportunity for marketers. Those who adeptly tailor their offerings to meet the sophisticated intent-matching criteria of these AIs will be at the forefront of intimate, AI-influenced customer journeys. This more personalized experience will create a feedback loop for marketers to give better data and recommendations ahead of a customer’s intent. It’s a big opportunity to truly understand customer needs and rank at the top of search.

The notion of Google as a database of intentions is intriguing. How, in your opinion, should marketers adapt to communicate effectively with evolving Google algorithms?
It’s true, Google has been ahead of the game for a long time now, mining intent data to anticipate user needs before a query is even made. Marketers who can align their content strategy with this predictive model will gain a competitive edge. By optimizing content to resonate with both human and AI customers, marketers can create highly personalized pathways that not only fulfill immediate intent but also shape future interactions.

This is the key to succeeding in this new landscape: providing a hyper-personalized experience. As we move forward, the brands that can offer one-on-one experiences with both human users and AI will emerge as leaders. We know that people are willing to provide their data in exchange for personalization, so marketers need to continue to keep this top of mind.

With custobots and emerging tech, how do you believe the evolving SEO landscape impacts engagement, and what adjustments would you kindly suggest marketers make?
Without a doubt, marketers must change how they measure engagement. The demise of third-party cookies means marketers need to adopt more sophisticated, data-driven approaches that can better leverage first-party data, topical authority tracking, multi-channel attribution, and brand tracking to attribute organic contributions across the entire customer journey.

To conclude, we’d love to hear your final thoughts on the future of organic search with SGE and custobots and any kind of advice for marketers aiming to stay ahead.
I briefly touched on this earlier, but measurement and measurement tools are going to be critical. The ability to accurately measure organic search spend will change the game forever. Gone are the days when organic search results existed as a black box of limited performance visibility, with a heavy reliance on manual engineering processes and investment without complete clarity.

As zero-click searches rise, traditional KPIs are likely to become less relevant. Brands must use advanced analytics to monitor changes in user behavior that may be attributed to SGE, such as shifts in the types of queries leading to the site or changes in the user journey. All the changes we have discussed demand a real shift in mindset. These changes will have a big impact, and marketers can’t simply react, they must prepare.

For more such updates, follow us on Google News Martech News

A.J. Ghergich, Vice President of Consulting Services at Botify

A.J. Ghergich, a recognized expert in SEO, has been called "One of the Most Trusted Names in the SEO Universe." With over 15 years of experience at the intersection of SEO, content marketing, and social media, he has helped Fortune 500 brands succeed with their digital marketing strategies. Currently serving as the Vice President of Consulting Services at Botify, A.J. is leading the development and rollout of the company's new consulting service offerings. This includes ongoing technical, educational, and data support to help brands and agencies maximize the value of Botify's platform. Before joining Botify, A.J. founded several companies focused on content and digital marketing strategies. He also held various c-suite positions, including Chief Technology Officer and Chief Digital Officer at Brado, a marketing firm in St. Louis. A.J.'s diverse career reflects his deep commitment to content-driven marketing strategies. He has helped clients navigate the complex terrain of digital marketing by integrating content, SEO, brand, client service, and data science. A.J. holds a degree in Fine Arts and graphic design degree from Kansas State University and resides in St. Louis, Missouri, with his partner Kristen and their three young boys. LinkedIn.
Previous ArticleNext Article