Nothing like starting off the year with a bang! So much SEO news to start out the year it’s almost hard to keep up with. Last month we joked about the robot uprising beginning, and now it’s here. Ok, not really. But January brought in a new era of AI and it’s going to impact SEO in a big way!
As a content marketer at heart, I have an inherent fear of AI-written content. We knew the revolution was coming, but it truly hit in January, and the world of search is changing. For good or bad, who knows. But ultimately, it will lead to users getting the information they want quicker. Ready to see how it’s impacting SEO as we know it? Let’s go!
Chat GPT and AI Content
You may or may not be ready to embrace AI-written content. But reality hits hard. In the course of just a few months, AI content changed the search landscape permanently. We knew AI-generated content, whether images, written word, or something else would rise in popularity. Most marketers likely believed they still had a few months or years before they needed to face the music. But ChatGPT, released on November 30, 2022, changed all of that. ChatGPT means you can learn about a subject quickly and succinctly without clicking through several websites.
Let’s look at the many ways it’s impacted the search landscape.
ChatGPT and Bing
ChatGPT took the internet by storm. You can’t even likely fathom the amount of essays, emails, proposals, and just general curiosity queries, have gone through it. What’s the most interesting in the SEO world, Microsoft’s Bing search engine will integrate with ChatGPT sometime in March. Meaning, a search query might not yield an actual piece of content, but could have an answer from ChatGPT written based on the information it finds around the web.
In recent years, Microsoft has invested over $1 billion (with a b) into OpenAI, the startup that created ChatGPT. Previously images created by Open AI’s DALL-E tool have shown up in image results. And now, you’ll see more written word content. With Microsoft jumping on board with the new technology, it could spell a very different future for what search results could look like. Essentially you would get a paragraph or two, or a few complete sentences without having to actually click through to an article rather than a list of a few links that almost might answer your question.
Microsoft hasn’t said exactly how they will use the OpenAI software, but the writing on the wall would appear to give Bing a competitive edge over Google for the first time. Take a look at the difference between a ChatGPT query versus a standard Google and Bing query on the same topic.
Google, AI Results, and Bard
The tech giant is definitely feeling the heat from the dramatic popularity spike of ChatCPT. In January, Google called a “code red” meeting, talking about the potential disruption of the current business model. A majority of revenue for Google comes from paid ads, which would likely not happen when people are less likely to click through to websites.
In February, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced Bard in a blog post. We’ll talk more on this in our February SEO update next month. But for right now, Pichai said, “We’ve been working on an experimental conversational AI service, powered by LaMDA, that we’re calling Bard. And today, we’re taking another step forward by opening it up to trusted testers ahead of making it more widely available to the public in the coming weeks. Bard seeks to combine the breadth of the world’s knowledge with the power, intelligence and creativity of our large language models. It draws on information from the web to provide fresh, high-quality responses.”
This is Google’s direct response and they say it will bring AI benefits to their everyday products. It’s building on BERT and MUM that helps with natural language processing and best answering more in depth queries compared to the above example about ‘why does the ocean appear blue?’.
Google on AI for Content & SEO
Don’t let this scare you. SEO remains a crucial piece of the marketing pie. And we’re still figuring out how all this AI will shake out. It’s only natural for a content marketer to try to use AI from several available tools like Jasper to enhance or write more content for their website. Google’s Danny Sullivan wrote on Twitter “content created primarily for search engine rankings, however it is done, is against our guidance. But if content is helpful & created for people first, that’s not an issue.” He continued to emphasize E-E-A-T quality rater guidelines (experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness). So you could assume that if you use AI to generate content, but enhance it with a human eye for detail and enhance it to provide valuable information, then you would likely be ok.
AI Closing Thoughts (for now)
It’s not clear how ChatGPT and AI will ultimately change search results. It could mean a dramatic shift in paid marketing campaigns like PPC that will no longer see traffic because people will get the answer they want without clicking on any websites. Google is already losing its massive market share, with about 83% of worldwide search traffic. That’s down from about 93% in 2019. The future of SEO could depend on writing clear and succinct answers that an AI can pull from with search engines, perhaps adding links at the bottom of an answer to help users “learn more” if they desire. It will be very interesting to see how this all shakes out over the next several months.
Google Optimize to Sunset September 2023
In other Google News, the company announced they’ll be killing off the Google Optimize product later this year on September 30th. Google writes in an announcement that all experiments and personalizations can continue to run until that date. Some of the features will likely be available through Google Analytics 4 that all users need to be using this summer.
“Optimize, though a longstanding product, does not have many of the features and services that our customers request and need for experimentation testing. We therefore have decided to invest in solutions that will be more effective for our customers.”
They add “Those who have signed Google Analytics 4 contracts will not be able to sign Optimize 360 contracts, but will have access to Optimize via the integration in Google Analytics 4 until the September 30, 2023 sunset date.” Users will have until that date to download all their data to continue to make optimizations potentially on other platforms.
Yahoo is Back!
Last but not least, my millennial heart that grew up with Yahoo got a little excited for this one. The company appears to be preparing to make a comeback to “make search cool again”.
Just popping in to remind everyone that we did search before it was cool.
BRB making it cool again.
— Yahoo Search (@YahooSearch) January 20, 2023
They’ve been hinting at it a few times in recent weeks and are hiring for a ‘Principal Product Manager, Yahoo Search’. We’re not sure what all this means. But it could mean a fun new addition to the search landscape that plays with the nostalgia factor for many.