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#305 – AI Is Coming: 6 Ways To Prepare

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11 min read
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Key Takeaways

  • AI Is coming, but it’s not the end of organic search as we know it
  • Initial tests indicate that AI is still a long way from providing accurate, reliable results
  • While in the future traffic may drop, conversions are likely to remain around the same

In today’s episode, we’re tackling the mass hysteria around AI and the demise of SEO head-on.

And, of course, in the usual Authority Hacker style, we’ll provide actionable advice on how this may affect you.

In Case You Missed It

If you’ve been living under a rock this past month, let’s quickly recap on the root cause of all this hysteria.

Both Google and Bing announced brand new AI-driven search engines this month.

Google Bard

Starting with potentially the most important announcement, Google officially announced “Bard.” Their answer to ChatGPT that will appear in the public search results sometime…soon?

It’s worth noting that while announced, it’s yet to have a release date.

In fact, it doesn’t even have a vague launch window at this point. It’s probably no secret that the announcement was rushed, and the online community is pretty much in agreement that Google is in “panic mode” in response to Bing (more on that below) beating them to the punch on AI.

So much so that they went ahead and launched a public demo of the tool that contained a factual error.

Image 2023 02 27 at 3.28.18 pm

This flub was enough to wipe $100 billion off of Alaphbet’s market value.

So why did they rush this premature announcement?

Bing – Now with AI

First up, Bing/Microsoft has been a multimillion investor in OpenAI (ChatGPT’s Owner) for some time now.

And this month, a big part of that investment finally came to fruition as they launched their AI-based search engine – to relative success compared to Google’s outing.

While still in a closed beta, you can check out a few examples of the search engine in action on this page.

But their more polished platform wasn’t without its issues. Widespread reports of downright weird and threatening behavior quickly got out.

Image 2023 02 27 at 5.19.01 pm

As a result, Bing has since drastically reduced the capability of their AI search engine. As a result, they now only allow 5 replies per session and provide shorter, less sharp answers.

So now you’re caught up, let’s dive into what this means for you.

Is AI Reliable?

In a word: no.

But unlike AI, we have a valid source for that conclusion.

First up, Bing has been terrible at getting facts right.

When Gael asked it to compare the iPhone 14, Galaxy S23, and Oneplus 10, it was full of errors.

Click to View

Are these minor errors enough to deter the average user from trusting in the AI driven results? Well, we’re not convinced it will totally bother most people.

However, when it comes to a $1000 decision like buying a new phone, there’s a good chance people will be less inclined to trust them. That’s good news for site owners who can scoop up users with their wallets wide open.

And remember the higher your authority, the more likely people are to part with their money based on your advice. So that’s one reason to work on your EEAT and drive CRO.

Is AI eating organic search?

Kind of. But the thing is, it’s not even the biggest threat to organic search.

Given that some estimates say 30% of all searches are already no-click queries (i.e, covered by featured snippets), younger people are using TikTok as their go-to search engine, and the remainder of the internet is increasingly suffixing search keywords with “Reddit”, this isn’t something new.

The bigger picture does look bleak for sites that rely entirely on page views and Ad revenue. There’s no denying that. But we didn’t need AI to come along and tell us that.

There are two things you can do to combat this.

Cater to deep searchers

Aim for keywords where people won’t accept an AI-driven answer.

Now, “why wouldn’t someone accept an AI-driven answer?”, I hear you ask.

Well, let’s look at featured snippets. A lot of terms are answered right there in the SERPs, but a ton of people still chose to navigate to the sites in the results and read them fully.

This is usually because the answer simply can’t be summarized that easily.

While people might trust it to ask questions about the weather, if they’re looking for detailed information on how to change their oil filter, for example, it’s less likely they’ll just trust a random snippet of information they see straight away.

When AI fully rolls out, it’ll be pretty easy to identify these keywords. All you need to do is search for them and ask yourself, “am I truly satisfied with this answer?” We believe you’ll be surprised at how many times the answer will be no.

Become a Source

The days of uniform content are likely coming to an end. While Google has taught us to believe that we all need to match the same search intent to rank, as AI becomes mainstream, they’ll be focusing more on unique, authoritative insights.

There’s only room for one source of information per fact in Bing (and likely Google, too, when it fully rolls out), so unless you’re providing new and insightful facts, it’s simply going to put the higher authority site as a trusted source instead.

Just look at this example on Adwords. Google dominates the list, followed by a few leaders in the space.

Click to View

Your aim is to become one of those leaders.

Will AI Chat replace the default search layout?

First, AI is slow as hell compared to the instant search results you can get by just visiting a website.

CleanShot 2023 02 27 at 17.53.41

In the time it takes AI to spit out an already dubious answer, you could easily be browsing a trustworthy site, getting deep into the search term. So for that reason alone, it’s unlikely to replace many searches.

Then there’s the cost. AI requires processing power. Processing power requires money. Some estimate an AI-driven answer will cost 7 times as much as a regular search query.

Equally, it’s much harder to monetize AI with Ads. Considering any given Google search can have 3-5 CPC Ads at the top, it’s unlikely Google will want to remove that revenue option.

While this could change in the far future, for now, we envision things to stay pretty much like the current Bing layout, with the AI on the side, supplementing the main SERP.

Image 2023 02 27 at 6.13.47 pm

Is my site at risk?

So we spoke a little bit about organic traffic. But that’s just one side of the coin.

What is the best way to protect your site? Diversify.

You’d be surprised at just how little impact a drop in organic traffic can have on a site that is built from the ground up to convert. After all, it’s the people who buy that matter.

Again, EEAT is one of the best ways to build trust with your audience and ensure that the traffic that does visit converts. The better job you do at retaining and impressing your audience, the more money they’re likely to spend.

You can also consider other areas like Social Media, TikTok, and YouTube for additional credibility where applicable.

The overall message here is that shit sites have long been penalized. AI will simply speed up the demise of these sites that don’t offer anything valuable to the reader.

AI…for good?

It’s not all doom and gloom, though!

If you’ve seen any of our recent content, you’ll know that AI can, in fact, be used for good.

Google have already openly admitted that AI is fine, as long as the content is responsible (read: not shit).

63971a234107eeabec9775e5 Danny sullivan google ai

If you’re looking for ideas on how to use AI, look no further than our recent Podcast.

But that just scratches the surface. We have no doubts that AI will help speed up repeatable tasks, assist in repurposing content and expand your offering.

How confident are we in AI’s creation abilities? Gael is evening creating a dedicated Blueprint in Authority Hacker Pro. Trust us when we say, if it were crap, we wouldn’t bother.

But what worries you the most?

So that summarizes our thoughts.

But what do you guys think? Well, we put that question to the public and took a stab at providing our answers.

First up, when someone says, “X is dead!”, it’s important not to take that too literally. Do we think SEO is dead? Absolutely not. Will it change significantly? Yes.

Perhaps SEO as we know it is dead, but compare SEO now to 5 years ago, it’s already changed beyond recognition and will continue to do so.

It’s our job as marketers to adapt to these changes.

Well, going back to our Podcast with Kyle Roof, Gael believes that this will be answered by what he calls the “expansion of the definition of duplicate content.” While traditionally, duplicate content just means copying content word for word, we believe this is about to change.

Instead, it will look at things on a more conceptual level. If everyone is generating content the same way with AI, hitting the same keywords in the same order, it’s going to be obvious to Google.

Instead, we should be thinking about how we can provide unique information, and don’t forget to provide quality.

Elevate your monetization. If you’re relying solely on ads, it’s time to reconsider.

Find ways to sell to these existing people. Do you have products, or can you affiliate high-end affiliate offers?

But there’s no real easy answer if you’re stuck in an Info-heavy niche other than digging deep into alternative monetization options.

We can only speculate at this stage, but there’s a good chance it will have an impact on Snippets. But is it something you need to change right now? Probably not.

Again, Google Bard doesn’t even have a release date at this time. Don’t stop what you’re doing now. Keep pushing forward with what’s working well for the time being and be ready to adapt when things change.

Can you build a brand around a broad review site? Probably not (unless you’re already huge). We don’t believe these sites have a bright future, but that’s not because of AI.

Google has already been pretty harsh on these broad sites.

Ask yourself, does your niche gather specific people who enjoy the topic in one place? If it doesn’t, it’s time to pivot.

about the author
Hey I'm Gael, one of the guys behind Authority Hacker. I make a living working from my laptop in various places in the world and I will use this website to teach you how you could do the same.

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