Google, Microsoft, and other companies are touting the benefits of generative artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT, claiming that they will revolutionize internet search for users. Instead of sifting through countless URLs, users will be able to obtain precise answers sourced from the entire internet.
In addition, I believe that another consequence of this development is the potential demise of the $68 billion search engine optimization (SEO) industry, which companies like Google played a significant role in creating.
However, the rise of AI-powered search engines also raises concerns. Issues like the lack of transparency regarding the origin of information, the possibility of generating false answers, and potential copyright infringements have been brought up.
Over the past 25 years, websites, news outlets, blogs, and other entities with URLs have relied on SEO techniques to influence search engines into ranking their content higher in search results. This practice has not only driven traffic to their websites but has also cultivated a thriving
The process of online search begins when a user opens their browser and navigates to a search engine. They then enter relevant keywords, and the search engine presents a list of results. The user proceeds to browse through the links displayed in the search results until they find the desired information.
To capture the user’s attention, online content providers employ a range of search engine marketing strategies such as search engine optimization, paid placements, and banner displays.
For example, a news website may enlist the help of a consultant to strategically place important keywords in headlines and metadata. This optimization enables platforms like Google and Bing to prioritize the website’s content, making it more visible to users searching for the latest news on topics like floods or political crises.
The search process is undergoing a significant transformation with the introduction of generative AI. Search engines must constantly enhance their algorithms to entice millions of users and attract web traffic, which is crucial for their success.
Despite the potential negative impact on their revenue, search engines have shown a willingness to explore the use of generative AI in order to enhance the quality of search results. This adoption has the potential to completely revolutionize the online search ecosystem.
Major search engines such as Google, Microsoft, Baidu, and DuckDuckGo have already incorporated or are in the process of experimenting with generative AI. For instance, Google has implemented Bard, Microsoft has developed Bing AI, Baidu uses ERNIE, and DuckDuckGo offers DuckAssist.
Instead of providing a list of links, both organic and paid, based on the keywords or questions entered by a user, generative AI will simply provide a text-based answer.
For example, if you want to plan a trip to Destin, Florida and you type in the request “Create a three-day itinerary for a visitor”, instead of receiving multiple links to Yelp and blog posts that require clicking and reading, using Bing AI will give you a detailed itinerary for three days.
As the quality of AI-generated answers continues to improve, users will be less inclined to browse through search result listings. They can save time and effort by directly reading the response provided by the AI to their query.