March 3rd, 2023

The Future Of An AI-Powered Search Landscape

The Future Of An AI-Powered Search Landscape
Nisha Chandrashekar
Nisha Chandrashekar
Activation Strategy Director, Performance Media

AI is transforming the search engine landscape by enabling search engines to provide more personalized and relevant results to users.

Microsoft has invested heavily in AI and NLP (natural language processing) to improve the capabilities of its Bing search engine and the partnership with OpenAI has already led to improvements in Bing’s natural language understanding and generated more human-like responses to search queries. Similar to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google Bard is the latest experimental AI-powered chatbot that can respond to various queries and requests in a conversational manner.

That said, the search engines are not quite there yet as these AI models are continually being trained and tested by engineers for better performance.

As search practitioners, we are excited to see what is in store and are monitoring this space closely –  but are not ready to make changes to our SEM or SEO plans just yet.

But, we are able to shed some light on how it looks.

At a Microsoft press event in Redmond Washington, Microsoft showed off its new Bing search engine powered by ChatGPT-like functionality. Following this event, Google showed a demo of Bard and AI generative search, rivaling OpenAI’s ChatGPT. In both these demos, we can see that the AI chat experience is not replacing the traditional SEM/SEO listings but is showing alongside it.

How Does This Impact SEO/SEM Listings?

The impact of ChatGPT on traffic to sites through SEO listings will depend on a variety of factors:

  • How search engines integrate AI-powered technologies into their algorithms
  • How website owners adapt their SEO strategies to these changes
  • How users respond to the new search results

However, AI-powered technologies like ChatGPT are likely to have a significant impact on the future of SEO and search engine rankings.

Advertisers may fear that this will take away from their organic/paid traffic when the users can get answers without visiting their websites. While the actual impact on traffic is yet to be seen, Microsoft’s demo has also shown answers where SEO links are embedded, assuring that SEO remains an important factor to the websites.

When ChatGPT does not have enough information from its pre-existing database, it uses Bing’s search API to find relevant websites for credible and trustworthy information. While it may re-write your content to answer the user’s query, it does give credit to appropriate sources, as seen below in an image from the Microsoft demo.

Example of Frida Kahlo search results using Microsoft AI-Powered Bing

Also, let’s not forget that while AI is able to provide short and informative answers to the user query, it cannot complete the final conversion action. SEM and SEO ads would still be important to convert the users.

Five Things We Are Watching Out For?

  • Driving qualified leads: In our performance-based campaigns, we often invest higher in the top and mid-funnel tactics to navigate the users through the discovery and consideration phases before driving them down to the conversion funnel. With SEM and SEO working together with the AI chat, the users may be able to get the information they need to decide much faster, driving them to then visit the site to convert. This could potentially help bring down CPAs and even drive quality traffic to the site at a lower investment.
  • Investment in Bing vs Google: With the upcoming integration of OpenAI & Bing, Microsoft is trying to increase its search market share. We will continue to monitor consumer response and usage of search engines to make sure our clients are engaging with users in the right channels.
  • SEO traffic fluctuations: Although Microsoft’s demo showed that SEO links would be embedded in responses, we’re still unsure about how often it will show, how it will impact the brand presence and what is the impact on organic traffic to the site.
  • Change in keyword strategy: With the use of AI models in search engines, search behaviors will shift to longer and conversational search queries which may typically change how we currently view our keyword strategies for SEO and SEM.
  • Impact on conversions: With users being able to cut a considerable amount of time in the discovery and consideration phases, with the help of AI, how short would the conversion journey become and how will it impact the actual conversion numbers.

How Can You Make Sure Your Content Is Optimized For The AI Model?

According to ChatGPT, it’s important to note that the AI models are not specifically designed to ‘scroll’ websites for content, but rather to understand natural language and provide relevant responses to user queries.

However, there are still several steps you can take to optimize your website for search engines like Bing and Google to improve your visibility to users.

  • Use clear, descriptive language: When writing content for your website, use clear and descriptive language that accurately reflects the products or services you offer. This will make it easier for the AI language model to understand and interpret your content, and provide more accurate results to users
  • Optimize for relevant keywords: Research the keywords and phrases that users are likely to search for when looking for businesses like yours, in the new environment with integrated AI chat. Use these keywords throughout your website’s content, including in page titles, meta descriptions, and headers. However, make sure to avoid “keyword stuffing,” as this can negatively impact your search rankings
  • Focus on quality content: Creating high-quality, informative content is important for both users and search engines. Make sure your website contains helpful information about your products or services and aims to provide value to your user’s intent
  • Use structured data: Structured data is a standardized format that makes it easier for search engines to understand the content on your website. By including structured data on your website, you can make it easier for all AI chat-powered search engines to interpret your content and provide more relevant results to users
  • Ensure your website is mobile-friendly: With more users accessing the web on mobile devices, it’s important to ensure that your website is optimized for mobile. This means using a responsive design that adapts to different screen sizes and optimizing your website’s loading times
  • Personalization and engagement: AI language models are designed to provide quick and convenient answers, but they may not always provide the level of personalization or engagement that users are looking for. By creating engaging and interactive content, including videos, infographics, and other multimedia elements, you can help build a stronger connection with your audience and encourage them to return to your site
  • Build a strong reputation: Encourage user engagement and feedback by providing a forum for comments and questions, responding to feedback and criticisms, and actively participating in online communities related to your website’s topic

By taking these steps to optimize your website for search engines and user experience, you can help ensure that AI-powered technologies can effectively crawl and understand your content, and provide more relevant results to your users.

In the future, we can expect Google, Bing, and other search engines to continue investing in AI and NLP technologies to improve the search experience for users. This may include more advanced voice and image recognition capabilities, enhanced personalization, and improvements in the accuracy and relevance of search results.

Nisha Chandrashekar
Nisha Chandrashekar
Activation Strategy Director, Performance Media
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