The Rise of AI in Search: How ChatGPT and BARD are Changing the Game
We’re living in exciting times thanks to the emergence of AI-powered chatbots such as ChatGPT and Bard. The unprecedented adoption of these chatbots and their numerous use cases have led many to predict they’re poised for an “iPhone moment”.
Indeed, the emergence of these chatbots has sped up AI adoption, and we’re on the verge of another tech revolution, like the internet and social media.
But what’s the implication of ChatGPT and Bard for search?
The Current State of AI Tools
Search engines like Google and Bing are the internet’s best repositories of knowledge, but their answers to search queries lack the precision, conversation tone, and personalization of AI tools. This is the forte of ChatGPT and Bard, and it’s what signals their ability to shake things up if they get integrated into search engines.
However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows with AI tools.
This became apparent with Google’s recent flop while announcing the launch of Bard. In its first demo, Bard gave wrong information about the James Webb telescope, and this resulted in Google’s stock tanking by a whopping 7% — 100 billion dollars.
Despite many amazing results, ChatGPT has also trended for some flaws of its own, like making up biographical data, misinterpreting words, giving dumb answers to basic questions, and being infamously bad at math.
In fact, AI-assisted bots at their current stage are not ideal for answering queries related to niche topics, such as health or education. OpenAI admits this on its website.
That said, Google sometimes produces search results with wrong information. But it has continued to improve on this and has strict guidelines to ensure only quality content ranks at the top of SERP.
Search Engines Keep Evolving
Over the years, people have predicted the replacement of search and SEO by one thing or the other, from Alexa to Google’s knowledge Graph to featured snippets and now to AI writers. But search is still here.
Has each of these technologies impacted search in some way? Yes.
They make it easy for people to get answers to their queries without having to click on a website. In fact, these technologies are responsible for 25.6% of desktop searches and 17.3% of mobile searches getting no clicks.
Here’s the data for desktop searches.
Interestingly, 17.9% of desktop users click through to another Google keyword or change up their query by using another keyword, and 9.7% click on other Google properties such as shopping, images, or news.
And here’s the data for mobile.
29.3% of mobile users refine their searches by using another keyword and 10.3% click on other Google properties like images, news, and shopping.
Zero-click searches will keep being a thing as long as new technologies keep springing up to impact the search experience.
However, there’s a silver lining.
According to Danny Sullivan, Google’s Liaison for Search… “We send billions of visits to websites every day, and the traffic we’ve sent to the open web has increased every year since Google Search was first created.”
Google has created even more opportunities for businesses looking to attract website visits despite the rise of zero-click searches. Some of these include optimizing your website for featured snippets, adding schema markup to your site, and providing clear and concise information to enable your content to appear in the SERP and be visible to users looking for quick answers.
ChatGPT and Bard: A Different Breed
ChatGPT impacts search differently. Since it’s not yet integrated into the search engine, people don’t need to search Google to access it. So, there’s not even a chance for a zero-click search. That said, ChatGPT excels at providing results to informational queries. It’s not advanced enough to always correctly address transactional queries.
Thus, the percentage of queries ChatGPT deals with pales in comparison to Google. Also, the dominance of any information portal depends on how users rate its quality.
Google has maintained its dominance as a repository of online information given its propensity for providing accurate and relevant results based on user intent and its constant improvement of the search algorithm.
That said, ChatGPT and Bard are at a stage right now where they can augment the search experience and not replace it. Like tools for checking grammar, plagiarism, and readability, these AI tools are a great supplement for creating quality content. Google recently reiterated on Twitter that the content it ranks is that which is created for humans first before search engines, whether it’s created by AI or people.
If the content is created using AI, then it has to be edited and fact-checked by a human. This ensures it meets Google’s content guidelines — helpful to humans.
Can AI Tools Become the New Means of Converting?
Google and Bing’s plans to integrate their chatbots into their search engines may signal the irrelevance of paid search advertisements, news articles, and webpages. People will be less likely to scroll down to click on links if they can just get answers to their queries from chatbots at the top of the SERP.
However, Brent Ramos, product director for search at Adswerve, has an optimistic view of how things will turn out with AI integration. Speaking with Martech, Ramos predicted a future where, instead of replacing paid search, AI integration into search engines will lead to new ways of conversion.
“Maybe it’s no longer pay-per-click; it’s pay-per-interaction,” he said. “Rather than getting this repository of links to sift through as humans, we’ll actually get this really rich, semantic conversation presented to us. The index or repository we’re accustomed to today will shift into a living and breathing conversation.”
There’s no way to tell for sure what this experience will ultimately look like. But Ramos makes an educated guess: “It will eventually be better over all. To me it’s like back when Google and the internet first started coming out — the big industry of the yellow pages, and publishers were like, ‘What are we going to do?’ And then of course it was ultimately a really good thing.”
The Future of Search
The future of search with AI tools is still open to speculation, but two things that always remain constant are trust and the willingness to embrace innovation. People ultimately flock to the most trustworthy medium in spite of the noise around.
For a long time, Google search has been the most trustworthy medium for sourcing online information and it’s not resting on its laurels, especially with the rise of AI tools. The fact that AI-generated content often needs to be fact checked further reinforces the need for a trustworthy platform.
So, there’s no need to worry about AI reducing traffic to your site or tanking your revenue. As long as you keep focusing on creating authoritative and trustworthy content, your content will rank.
When it comes to the future of paid advertising, it’s clear that only brands that embrace innovation will win.
It’s a safe guess to expect that these AI tools will usher in a new kind of advertising called conversational advertising. Unlike traditional pay-per-click, conversational advertising will make it easier to leverage the emotions that influence the buyer’s journey by empowering customers with friendly, precise and personalized information.
Imagine an AI side box on the SERP conversing with you about all you need to know about a product, taking you on a highly personalized journey before you make the final decision to buy. When you contrast that with PPC ads, it’s easy to see how conversational ads will provide much more value.
Ultimately, the best way to reap the potential rewards of AI integration into search is to embrace AI tools and keep experimenting with them. The best-prepared brands will come out on top in the long run.