3 questions SEOs are fielding in the wake of AI-powered search

3 questions SEOs are fielding in the wake of AI-powered search

As Google and Microsoft’s race toward AI-powered search heats up, clients are trying to understand what the news means for their brands.

February 2023 is just halfway through and it’s already been a red-letter month in SEO following dual announcements from Google and Microsoft regarding their new AI-powered search functionality.

Since then, SEOs have fielded plenty of questions from clients trying to understand what the news means for their brands. While it is a bit early to tell definitively, a few themes have emerged.

How does this impact the SERPs?

For starters, clients continue to rely on their agency partners to absorb and translate news like this.

That’s according to Alec Cole, an SEO strategist at performance marketing agency Amsive Digital, who anticipates Google Bard “force a sea change in these conversations” as client questions become more pointed.

“We’re going from ‘What do you think of this new technology?’ to ‘How are you going to adapt your strategy to deal with the changes this is going to have on SERPs?’” he added.

That said, he noted Google’s recent algorithm updates and “obvious alarm over AI content” spurred initial questions several months ago, so the conversations remain ongoing.

SEO consultant Sara Taher agreed clients are mostly interested in learning more at this point.

“They ask a lot of questions about ChatGPT and how they can incorporate it in their workflows and how we can leverage all these new tools for SEO and marketing,” she added. “Clients are less worried than SEOs and that’s probably because SEOs have deeper knowledge of the situation.”

Is content still king?

While brands aren’t worried about the announcements from Microsoft and Google per se, they are concerned about the implications for content. Specifically, they are worried content quality will diminish – and they will have to compete with even more bad content.

“We have responded to let them know that there are several filters in place at Google to assist with preventing that as much as they can,” said Michael Bonfils, global managing director of digital marketing agency SEM International. “To focus on great, relevant content and be assured that we will be keeping an eye out for any longer-term impacts.”

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Does this change everything? And, if so, what should I do now?

And, of course, everyone wants to know if AI will be the next big thing that disrupts search.

Barry Rolapp, a senior SEO strategist at Amsive Digital, however, said it's too early to tell.

"The tools 'hallucinate' more often than I am currently comfortable with to use in an extended capacity," he added. "There's a lot of potential for search disruption, but we've said that in the past and seen little change to our overall SEO strategies (Mobilegeddon anyone?)."

Beyond staying on top of the news, Cole said there's likely not much more SEOs can do for now as "optimizing for Bard is likely going to be a process similar to 'optimizing' for BERT: follow the search guidelines, create excellent websites and cross your fingers."

In the meantime, Rolapp is encouraging clients who want to be more proactive to dig deeper into schema.org and start marking up entities and topics. 

"Considering how integrated Bing and Google are in schema.org and their reliance on it for SERP features, I can only imagine that they will be relying on it more heavily in the near term to help train their respective models as most website publishers have few limitations to incorporating the markup," he added.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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