How will link-building strategies need to adjust for generative AI (SGE) in 2024? We ask 10 SEO Experts.

7 min read
30 Jan 2024
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You may have noticed generative AI search results have started popping up on your device. SGE or generative AI search results are going to take a big chunk of website traffic. Aggregate organic traffic drop across 23 websites studied was 18-64%, on some websites, drops could be as high as 90-95%.

How will link building change with an SGE search? So, we know SEO as a whole is going to be impacted, but the way Google ranks sites that appear in the SGE snippets is not yet certain. Right now you need to be focusing on creating content around search intent, covering common questions that relate to your niche.

Focus on earning high-quality, relevant backlinks from trusted sites and publications to build a strong and reputable backlink profile. This will be important for Google’s generative AI to consider your site authoritative and feature it in the SGE results.

We reached out to 15 seasoned SEO experts and asked them this question.

Focus on Relevance and Quality

With Search Generative AI (SGE) on the horizon, link-building is going to become a crucial component of any SEO strategy aiming to capitalize on the shift away from traditional search results. This is primarily because links have, and will continue to, serve as endorsements for your brand or product. As search becomes inundated with low-effort websites brimming with AI-generated content, search engines like Google must ensure that SGE delivers the most reliable, accurate, and trustworthy results to users.

It stands to reason that websites consistently cited by other reputable and authoritative publications within their respective niches will enhance their chances of being featured prominently in SGE results. When I ask an AI to recommend wallpaper brands, it is likely to present companies that are frequently mentioned and linked to by other experts.

To adapt your link-building strategy effectively, your main focus should be on relevance and quality above all else. Concentrate your outreach efforts on a diverse array of publications, blogs, and other websites that closely align with your company, its products or services, and your target audience.

Ed Roberts, SEO and Paid Manager, Hovia

Create Semantically Relevant Links

In 2024, SEO’s link-building strategies for generative AI (SGE) need to focus on creating links that are closely related in meaning (semantic), seamlessly integrated into content (contextual), coming from various trustworthy sources (diverse), and offering unique value (original). These strategies align with the preferences of AI algorithms, helping content gain better visibility and credibility within the AI-driven landscape.

Mei Ping Mak, Director of SEO and Web, Weave Asia

Optimize for Intelligent Knowledge Cards

When it comes to SGE, the best way to view it is as a fresh variation of a featured snippet or an exceptionally intelligent knowledge card. What you need to do is just make sure you’re optimizing for it.

While it will have an impact on SEO in a broader sense, I don’t anticipate any significant changes in link-building strategies. However, it’s worth noting that SGE often includes links to content that doesn’t rank at the top of organic search results. This implies that your focus should be on generating unique links that aren’t duplicated or spread across numerous web pages or domains.

For instance, if you have a website about marketing tips, getting links from content that’s original and exclusive is way more beneficial than links from general, widely shared content. And, as always, the best way to get high-quality, relevant links is to create top-notch content that’s valuable to your audience and answers their questions. That fundamental principle remains unchanged.

Patrick Beltran, Marketing Director, Ardoz Digital

Build High-Quality, Diverse Backlinks

From an SEO perspective, we need to concentrate on building higher-quality links and using a diverse set of anchor texts. As search engines view backlinks as a metric of a website’s credibility and relevance, their higher quality has a direct impact on ranking in search results. There have been many studies stating that people don’t scroll past the first page of Google, so the position in search rankings is massively important for people to discover your site. And using a diverse set of anchor texts also helps you get a higher ranking, as search engines pay close attention to link profiles being natural and not manipulated.

Daria Erina, Managing Director, Linked Helper

Enhance Brand Visibility on SERPs

The shift toward a zero-click search environment, adopted by Google’s SGE, promotes the crucial role of brand visibility directly on the SERPs. Therefore, the link-building strategies will need to be relevant and contribute to brand awareness. One way to get there is to use platforms such as HARO, or digital PR strategies, to ensure that high-authority domains link out and quote your website as an expert. Long story short: when it’s about links, focus on quality and relevance over quantity.

Miruna Necula, SEO Specialist

Comprehensive Content with Proper Schema

Link-building strategies will not change at all; in fact, link building seems to be gaining even more weight as a ranking factor lately. What will need to be adjusted is content. You will need to have comprehensive content around your relevant subject matter, with a focus on answering related questions about it. Start by taking all the ‘People Also Ask’ questions and making sure that you provide better answers than what are already there, and also making sure that you have the proper schema markup for Q&A content.

Miguel Salcido, CEO, Founder, Organic Media Group

Value Hard-Earned, Helpful Links

Harder-to-earn links will become more and more of a differentiator. With AI, it’s very easy to churn out content and pay for a guest post. So, given that, I think Google will place more weight on links in content that are genuinely helpful.

Reactive PR and PR campaigns are great ways to earn authoritative links like this, and these links might actually drive traffic too. PR link-building is a brand-building exercise; it’s not a quick and easy task.

So when SGE rolls out, brands with a ‘helpful link profile’ will stand out more. And by that, I mean a PR-earned link from the likes of Forbes that is talking to industry stats, as opposed to random guest posts pumped out with AI content.

Ben Poulton, Founder, Intellar SEO Consultancy

Prioritize Authoritative, Credible Sources

While I don’t think the specific approach to link-building will adjust too much, it will definitely be important to focus on quality over quantity. As the search algorithms have updated significantly within the last year, links from authoritative and credible sources are crucial for your overall SEO equity. This means going after links that are relevant to your industry, are credible, and most importantly, not spammy.

In Google’s eyes, it is more important to have quality links than a ton of backlinks that could be spammy or of low authority.

Aaron Grimes, Industrial Sales, Marketing and Product Manager, TYKMA Electrox

Be Cautious with AI-Generated Links

From an SEO perspective, as generative AI becomes more prevalent in 2024, link-building strategies will require a more cautious approach. For marketers, especially when building a personal brand, it’s essential to be extra careful about which websites you get links from.

Many sites are now publishing hundreds of AI-generated articles monthly, often without proper fact-checking or adding valuable human input. As Google frequently updates its algorithm to prioritize quality content, it’s likely that being associated with these low-quality sites could negatively impact your own site’s standing in search results. The focus should be on ensuring that your backlinks come from reputable sources and not just any high-DR platform, safeguarding your site against potential Google penalties and maintaining its credibility.

Juliet Dreamhunter, Founder, Juliety

Prioritize Brand Authority Building

Link building will now have to be more oriented toward brand and authority building. Google is going to choose more authoritative sources for SERPs. It’s of utmost importance to make noise and get people out there to see you. Digital PR is a fantastic way of doing this, as well as engaging in creative content that picks up links. Your standard guest posting and mass outreach are no longer able to compete with this. We’re going to have to start stepping back into the fundamentals of marketing to adjust to this.

David Begazo, SEO Specialist, Agency Elevation

Written By
I've worked in digital marketing for 10+ years and founded 3 agencies. I am the CEO of Lakewood media Limited and our digital marketing agency I also head, a support and maintenance company and, our premium design and development agency.I currently spend my time developing strategies for digital marketing, covering everything from SEO, PPC, lead generation, email marketing, analytics and conversion optimisation. My role is to ensure our agencies are at the forefront of the industry so we can provide the best solutions and remain agile.I also manage the daily operations at our parent company, where I enjoy the business side of running a group of agencies.
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