Over the course of several years, a recurring pattern has emerged in the world of technology and digital marketing. This phenomenon, commonly referred to as “SEO killers,” has surfaced in various forms, each time prompting a familiar sequence of events.
Initially, it was figures like Jason Calacanis and their ventures like Mahalo that triggered this cycle. Then, the emergence of early social platforms ignited a similar frenzy. The cycle repeated itself with the rise of voice search and intelligent virtual assistants. For a brief moment, TikTok took the spotlight, only to be eclipsed by the concept of the metaverse.
Now, the latest contender in this ongoing saga is ChatGPT and artificial intelligence.
Invariably, three distinct events follow the introduction of these new technologies:
- A multitude of SEO professionals rush to publish blog posts and case studies, proclaiming themselves as experts in the newfound technology.
- Various publications dust off their “SEO is dead” articles, merely changing the date and executing a find-and-replace operation to substitute the new technology’s name.
- SEO not only survives but thrives, demonstrating a remarkable resilience.
This recurring cycle paints a vivid picture of the search industry’s enduring nature. It is akin to a character from a cartoon with more lives than one can count. The fundamental truth remains: Search is immortal.
The dynamics of search continually evolve. Debates persist regarding how we search, the devices we employ, and whether the search result leads to a website link. However, one thing remains constant: as long as users have tasks to accomplish and questions to answer, they will invariably seek assistance, and digital marketers will continue to exert their influence on this ever-evolving process.
The Future of AI in Search
The current buzz surrounding AI potentially replacing search engines and search professionals is quite significant, but I personally don’t foresee such a scenario. I regard ChatGPT as merely another valuable tool in the digital landscape.
Think of it like a knife – a versatile tool that can either spread butter on bread or accidentally cause harm, depending on how it’s wielded. Similarly, AI tools like ChatGPT are only as effective as the way they are utilized.
Will AI ultimately replace search engines? Well, let’s pose that very question to ChatGPT itself!
And interestingly enough, it provides quite a compelling response.
For a considerable amount of time now, SEO professionals, including myself, have been asserting that the era of outsmarting algorithms is a thing of the past. SEO has been evolving steadily into the realm of digital marketing. Today, it’s virtually impossible to engage in SEO practices without taking into account factors such as user intent, persona analysis, use cases, competitive research, and market dynamics.
However, one might wonder, won’t AI simply automate these processes for us? Could AI potentially jeopardize my career? Here’s a fascinating proposition: Let’s consult ChatGPT to explore this concept further!
Harnessing the Power of AI in SEO
It’s quite evident that there is a prevailing misconception among some SEO professionals regarding the capabilities of AI, particularly large language models like ChatGPT. Understanding the inner workings of these models is essential to harness their potential effectively.
First and foremost, it’s crucial to grasp that AI tools such as ChatGPT do not draw information from a database of facts, nor do they possess an index or a knowledge graph. They don’t “store” information in the conventional sense like a search engine does. Instead, they rely on their training data to predict the most probable words or sentences that should follow a given input.
The mechanism behind this prediction is the utilization of word vectors, which help the model discern the likelihood of specific words appearing in a sequence. This approach enables them to generate coherent and contextually relevant responses, but it can also lead to what is often referred to as “hallucination” when the model produces information that may not be entirely accurate or factual.
Furthermore, it’s important to emphasize that AI lacks the ability to access or browse the internet. It remains oblivious to current events and is incapable of citing sources because it does not possess knowledge retention or real-time information retrieval capabilities. While it may be prompted to cite sources, it essentially generates responses based on patterns and data present in its training corpus, and these responses may not always align with accurate information.
In cases involving widely discussed and popular topics, where the probability of specific words appearing is notably high, AI models like ChatGPT can provide relatively accurate responses. However, as the inquiries become more specialized or niche, the likelihood of hallucination increases, as the model may not have encountered sufficient data during
It’s important to recognize that training models like ChatGPT is an exceptionally resource-intensive and time-consuming process. As a result, it will likely be a considerable duration before AI can reliably answer queries related to real-time events or highly specific topics.
In conclusion, while AI, including ChatGPT, exhibits remarkable capabilities in natural language understanding and generation, it’s vital to approach its usage with a clear understanding of its limitations. Recognizing the nuances of how AI processes information can lead to more effective and accurate applications, particularly in the realm of SEO and content generation.
The Competition: Bing, You.com, and Google’s Bard vs. AI
Indeed, the distinction between the capabilities of ChatGPT and traditional search engines like Bing lies in their underlying mechanisms. ChatGPT, in its various implementations, has the potential to cite sources, but the feasibility of doing so largely depends on how it is integrated and configured.
To put it in simpler terms, Bing operates as a search engine primarily designed to retrieve web content based on user queries or keywords. It collects a set of webpages that match the search criteria and subsequently employs AI to generate summaries of these webpages.
However, it’s worth noting that the functionality to generate such summaries while citing sources may not be readily available on publicly accessible AI tools like ChatGPT due to token limits and other constraints. In contrast, search engines like Bing have the capacity to perform these tasks efficiently.
The key takeaway here is that while ChatGPT has the potential to offer source citations and summarization capabilities, the extent to which it can replicate the functionality of a search engine like Bing depends on its implementation and configuration, as well as the inherent limitations of the tool.
Will AI Render SEO Obsolete? Debunking the Myth
Back in the distant year of 2009, a time when we were grooving to the Black Eyed Peas on our iPhone 3Gs and diligently updating our MySpace top 8 friends list while navigating the labyrinth of Windows Vista, there was a significant development in the world of search engines. A search engine that was once known as “Live” underwent a transformation and received a new moniker: Bing.
But why the change, you may ask? Well, it all boiled down to one intriguing concept—Bing is a verb. This shift prompted none other than Bill Gates himself to proclaim, “The future of search is verbs.”
It’s a quote I find myself sharing with clients at every opportunity because, my friends, that future has become our present reality. Bill Gates wasn’t merely talking about people typing action words into search engines; he was alluding to the fact that individuals are striving to “do” something, and the role of search engines is to facilitate these actions.
It’s worth noting that search, in its essence, is a form of pull marketing, in stark contrast to the push marketing tactics of billboards and television advertisements. In the world of digital marketing, our mission is elegantly straightforward: Give the users precisely what they desire.
Even from the earliest days of its existence, Google espoused its ambition to emulate the Star Trek computer, though at that juncture, the requisite technology remained beyond its grasp. Fast forward to the present, and that aspiration has metamorphosed into reality.
For many of these queries, such as “how old is Taylor Swift?” or “how many megabytes in a gigabyte?”, the answer is a straightforward numerical figure. The users’ objective is clear—they seek a concise, factual response, not a labyrinthine website.
So, who truly possesses the claim to that answer? These are queries with elementary solutions, and the user’s task is singular—to obtain a numerical value. They harbor no desire for a website loaded with content.
Astute SEO professionals will zero in on the type of queries where users yearn to take action—whether it’s purchasing Taylor Swift concert tickets, perusing reviews of her latest album or live performances, engaging in discussions with fellow Swifties, and more. It’s in these domains that the reign of AI is less likely to supplant the significance of SEO and traditional search practices.
ChatGPT: What It Excels At and What It Doesn’t
ChatGPT indeed possesses a wide range of capabilities that make it a valuable tool in various domains. It excels in providing guidance on tasks such as crafting Excel formulas or MySQL queries. While it can assist with these tasks, it falls short of offering comprehensive education or facilitating discussions on intricate topics like database theory. For these purposes, traditional search engines prove more suitable.
Additionally, ChatGPT can be a valuable resource for addressing common knowledge inquiries, particularly when the subject matter is well-established and uncontroversial, drawing from its extensive training data. Nevertheless, it’s essential to acknowledge that its responses aren’t infallible, as demonstrated by instances where AI-generated content, such as a certain bank’s article, failed to accurately calculate interest, leading to humorous online memes.
When it comes to recommendations and personalized experiences, ChatGPT can’t quite replicate the nuanced expertise of a human. While it can compile lists of popular bars in NYC, it falls short in suggesting the perfect spot to savor an Old Fashioned, an area where human intuition and sensory perception reign supreme.
As for the use of AI in content creation and SEO, it’s a topic that has gained significant attention. While many professionals explore the potential of AI for generating content, ChatGPT’s real strength lies in text manipulation. In our agency, we’ve harnessed ChatGPT’s API as a valuable SEO tool for several purposes. We employ it to assist in crafting content briefs, sorting and categorizing keywords, crafting intricate regular expressions for URL redirections, and even generating XML or JSON-LD code based on provided inputs.
However, it’s important to note that these tasks necessitate extensive data inputs from diverse sources and often require meticulous manual reviews. Rather than replacing human expertise in SEO, ChatGPT serves as a time-saving tool, enhancing efficiency and providing valuable insights by summarizing and analyzing existing content pieces. It complements human expertise and workflow, demonstrating its true potential as a valuable asset in the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing and content creation.
The Resilience of SEO in the Age of AI
If your business revolves around presenting information that you don’t inherently possess, there may indeed be concerns to address – and these concerns extend beyond just the influence of AI.
AI has certainly demonstrated competence in handling routine copywriting tasks. In recent experiments I’ve conducted on personal websites, I’ve witnessed some degree of success in generating boilerplate content through AI.
However, it’s vital to acknowledge that AI will always fall short in generating genuine insights or birthing novel ideas, keeping abreast of the latest trends, or radiating the authentic experience, expertise, authority, and trust that a human author brings to the table.
Let’s remember, AI isn’t engaging in genuine thought processes, citing sources, or even accessing databases. It’s merely evaluating the statistical likelihood of the next word in a sequence.
Contrary to the numerous SEO professionals who’ve recently updated their Twitter bios, I might not be a seasoned expert in AI, but my background includes a computer science degree. Additionally, I comprehend the nuances of understanding user requirements.
To date, there’s no concrete data indicating that people would prefer automatically generated and rephrased content over carefully curated content crafted by a living, breathing human author.
People yearn for the infusion of fresh ideas and insights that only human minds can offer. (If we were to consider incorporating an ‘I’ into E-E-A-T, where would it best fit?)
If your business or content proposition hinges on delivering value through profound insights, diligent curation, staying attuned to prevailing trends, offering recommendations, solving problems, or taking concrete actions, then SEO and search engines remain irreplaceable. While their form may evolve over time, this metamorphosis only underscores the relevance and job security in my domain – and I’m perfectly content with that.