Will Generative AI Mean The End Of Internet Searching And SEO As We Know It?

Will Generative AI Mean The End Of Internet Searching And SEO As We Know It?Adobe Stock
Generative AI could change the nature of internet searching forever as more and more people choose to access information via tools like ChatGPT. Could internet searching (as we know it today) die out altogether? And what does generative AI mean for the search engine optimization (SEO) industry – an industry worth roughly $68 billion a year. Read on to find out.

Generative AI Strips Away The Frustrations Of Searching For Info

Let’s face it: the average internet search experience is clunky at best. Say you’re searching something like “What are the top attractions in Savannah, Georgia?” You’ll probably be presented with thousands of search results. You then have to sift through the top results and dodge all those cookie notifications that pop up on each website. And then you may have to scroll past paragraphs of SEO content to get the simple answer you were looking for.

Compare this to asking a tool like ChatGPT “What are the top attractions in Savannah, Georgia?” You simply type or speak your question and get an immediate response. The AI trawls the internet, so you don’t have to! It is, generally speaking, a much easier, less frustrating experience for users. (Of course, whether the information you receive from a generative AI tool is 100 percent accurate is another matter. But the same can be said of internet searching.)
What’s more, OpenAI is rumored to launch its own AI-powered search product, which would further up the game in its competition with search giant Google.

Clearly, this could fundamentally change – and even threaten – internet searching as we know it. So, it makes sense that internet search companies are quickly integrating generative AI into their search offerings. Microsoft Bing was the first to integrate ChatGPT. Google has also released a new search experience called SGE (Search Generative Experience), which is designed to help users navigate information online more easily. As an example, SGE users can see definitions by hovering over certain words or accessing a list of key points from lengthy web pages.

In other words, internet search companies are trying to enhance what they do with generative AI so that they can provide a cleaner, less frustrating search experience. But will these efforts be enough, or will tools like ChatGPT gain the competitive advantage? It’s too early to say for sure, but one thing is certain: generative AI is absolutely going to change how we search for information.

Is The SEO Industry Under Threat?
Quite possibly. Traditional SEO tactics could be rendered obsolete by generative AI. SEO strategies provide ways for organizations to convince search engines to favor their website and present it as high as possible in search results. Banner displays and paid ad placements are other strategies to ensure a website achieves a prominent position in search results. But if users are increasingly bypassing search engines and getting their information from a tool like ChatGPT, all those time-consuming SEO efforts and paid placements are meaningless.
Companies like Microsoft and Google know this, which is why they’ve been so keen to add generative AI tools into their search functionality to retain users – even though they know it could affect future revenue from paid placements and banner displays. Consider that 58 percent of Google’s 2022 revenues came from Google Ads, and you have a pretty clear idea of how much a company like Google stands to lose. This means we’ll mostly likely see search providers like Google and Microsoft monetize generative AI answers in the future – just as they monetized standard search results before.
The big players will be all right, in other words. New revenue streams will emerge for these tech giants as they find ways to innovate with and monetize generative AI. But for the smaller businesses out there who provide SEO services, generative AI could pose a fundamental threat to their business model.

The Takeaway For All Businesses
SEO is just one example of how businesses could be impacted (positively and negatively) by generative AI. I believe this transformative technology will ultimately impact or enhance almost every business out there. This is why I’d advise all business leaders to take a thorough look at their business strategy. Examine the potential impact of generative AI on your business operations, your products and services, and maybe even your underlying business model – and then update your business strategy accordingly.


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