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AI tools are going to change search forever (and that’s not a bad thing)

By Jack Stacey | Content Writer

Earnest

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May 11, 2023 | 8 min read

Jack Stacey and David Gyertson of Earnest remain (mostly) positive about generative AI, predicting it will level the playing field for search engines and sift through the nonsense.

Right arrow embossed on white wall

Will conversational-based AI change search for the better? / Nik via Unsplash

ChatGPT has stirred up a hornet’s nest of excitement in the marketing world and beyond. And for good reason – it is absolutely going to change the world of search.

Like most technological leaps, conversational artificial intelligence (AI) is going to close some doors and open others in SEO – but fundamentally, it will completely change the way we search and create content. Here’s how.

Leveling the playing field

Historically, Google has been streets ahead of Bing and Microsoft when it comes to search. But with the recent news that Microsoft intends to merge ChatGPT with Bing, that dominance might be coming to an end.

Microsoft’s staggering $10bn in ChatGPT creator Open AI is a declaration of intent in an AI arms race that Google is currently losing.

And, the wild popularity of ChatGPT – with more than 100 million users in just four months as of January 2023 – shows that that investment is already on its way to paying dividends. And if it’s an indication of future success, then Google has some catching up to do – especially with the somewhat botched launch of Bard.

Chatbots will do away with the traditional search engine

We know how it works: go to Google, type your query in the box, and hit search. Then, more often than not, skip the ads and click on the link that looks like the right one. ChatGPT skips that entire process for many (but not all) search scenarios.

In skipping that entire process, you miss all the ads and flurry of options; you’re served up your answer instantly. It’s much easier and quicker, though it does have a spotty track record for supplying the right information.

It’s no wonder it’s got Google worried. With most of Google’s revenue coming from advertising, having those adverts skipped by a clever chatbot could spell big trouble.

Conversational-based search will destroy web traffic

Some level of conversational-based search has been present for 10 years now. But we’re now ready for a revolution as Google prepares to embed Bard, following Bing already using a form of ChatGPT in search.

Why does this matter? Well, Google powers almost 90% of web searches, and consequently drives traffic to websites. By implementing conversational-based search, they threaten to take away much of the need for informational search queries, where the user intent is simply to understand.

If Google can feed me a full recipe via Bard without taking me to a website, my click to that website disappears (as does the publisher’s ad revenue). If there is no market for information-based queries, publishers will stop producing content for that purpose.

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SEO-curated content will flood the internet

With SEO, the real knack is in the spotting of opportunities and the writing of engaging copy. People clicking is really just a vanity metric. But models like ChatGPT could well turn that on its head.

Marketers are already using it for basic keyword research and then asking it to write entire blog posts using those keywords. For bigger businesses who want genuinely high quality content that ranks well, this isn't an option.

But for smaller ones on smaller budgets who just want a quick and cheap solution, they’ll choose AI every time. This would see hundreds of keyword-heavy blogs fill the internet, entirely disrupting Google’s ranking system.

The web is already crammed full of AI content

A counter argument suggests that there is already a lot of keyword-crammed nonsense content out there, and that this is just the latest and most sophisticated example.

We’re looking at over 10 years of history here. After all, what is Google Translate (and other more sophisticated translation engines) doing, other than providing marketers with AI-generated interpretations of their native content?

The web is full of automated translations for localization. These translations are of uneven quality, and may not rank as well, but we know from working with our own clients that they do often match the original language source in rankings when a domain has good authority.

Whatever happens, our biggest and most obvious prediction is that there’s a real rollercoaster ahead for search and content. But the good news is our content boffins can help you ride out the changes – and none of us are robots (promise).

Marketing Data & Privacy Martech

Content by The Drum Network member:

Earnest

Earnest is the award-winning B2B marketing agency that’s chasing out the humdrum in London and New York.

Why is B2B treated like the poor cousin to B2C? Business people are still people, after all – they just happen to be at work.

Since we opened for business in 2009, we’ve built brands, shaped strategies, produced content programmes, created experiences and developed campaigns that not only deliver results, but engage and delight their audiences too.

Our story

B2B marketing is tough. There are hard-to-reach audiences. Difficult-to-please internal stakeholders. And very often complex, intangible products.

That’s why B2B deserves just as much attention, passion and intellectual energy as B2C. And it’s why Earnest is on a mission to raise standards in B2B, creatively and strategically. Chasing out the humdrum, and ushering in the unexpected.

We positively relish the unique challenges that B2B marketing presents. Since we started the agency in 2009, we’ve earned a reputation for devising solutions that go beyond the obvious, often delivering far more than the client’s original objectives.

The agency offers an unusually broad mix of disciplines – including branding, campaigns, strategic planning, content, and experiential – and we’ve won awards for them all. That’s testament to the fact that we approach every challenge, of every size and every shape, in the same way – with high standards and open minds.

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