The Chat AI "War" Has Begun
Starting off with a "ominous" section title may read like a click bait title but the reality of the situation is that the Chat AI war is upon us. Microsoft and Google have done soft releases to the potential for their new Chat AI's. OpenAI's "ChatGPT" and Google's "Bard". This new "arms race" will be one of the most discussed technologies between the 2 tech giants for the foreseeable future. Each will inevitably unveil new features, power, thinking, etc. While we have some incredible demo's of what both AI's can do they have not been without some serious flaws.
Google's Bard demo was a mess to say the least that caused its stock to drop 7 points ($100 billion in value) in the span of hours after the demo. ChatGPT has had some hilarious and "freighting" answers to questions like how to eliminate humans. Very SkyNet like. What we have to keep in mind is that this technology is very much in its infancy. While ChatGPT looks to be a little bit better out the gate it is by no means a "Google Killer" as some have claimed.
Firstly, Google may have slipped at the starting gates but it undoubtably recover like it always does and make up the lost ground. Secondly, Google still owns about 90% of the search engine market with Microsoft (Bing) coming in at about 3%. Lastly, the major hurdles that both companies face is the computing power and programming adjustments that the AI's still require.
But if your reading this then your asking yourself what does it have to do with search engines?
Chat AI's Impact on Search Engines
While these technologies are still young both Microsoft and Google are slowly ramping up the AI's availability to the masses via the Bing and Chrome platforms. Everything you read going forward is speculative so fingers crossed this doesn't age like milk.
Paid Search Changes
The first impact that many experts are agreeing on is a sharp rise in costs to advertise with the AI's. Like I mentioned in the opening the AI's require significant electrical power and processing power to be able to think dynamically based on search queries. These require a insanely sophisticated "neural network" aka servers and programming which also lead to large power usage by both machine and personnel. These costs will be passed to you the advertiser in terms of the ad auctions and average CPC's easily being double if not more. Microsoft and Google have hinted that showing up in Chat AI's SERPs may be separate campaigns than the traditional search or PMax (Google) SERPs we bid for now. This means as advertisers the spend of our clients will increase drastically to show on this AI's results. In the beginning until Google and Microsoft start to break even/profit from the AI's it will be a pay to win strategy. Even though its kind of that way already with the anticipated sharp rise in costs the "Big Fish" will most likely dominate the AI campaign space for some time.
While the bidding war will only grow in terms of money , the keyword aspect may get completely flipped upside down. I do not think we can rely on broad one or two keyword strings like "shoes" or "red shoes". Longtail keywords that reflect the product/service in a more conversational way be the new approach. For example, going back to the shoes aspect a broad or phrase approach may be the new normal. "Where can I buy size 12 red Nike shoes for 80 bucks near me?". We need to starting think about key phrases instead of keywords as this is what more search queries will look like.
When it comes to organic searches the answer is simply, we don't really know. The big claim to fame for these AI's is how it will be dynamically driven results based on the queries that users input. The sheer checks and balances that the search queries go through for organic is already insane. While both Google and Microsoft keep their algorithms secretive in terms of what aspects carry weight and how much both have opened up a little bit stated that current engines use a few hundred parameters before displaying results. The new AI's will be using thousands of parameters to give you "in theory of course" the perfect answer every time.
While organic content both on-page and off-page should already be written in a more conversational tone the new AI parameters will only exacerbate this ideology even more. Much like the shoe example in the paid section queries will be people talking to their phones like its a person then typing in a few words and pressing search.
How to Prepare for Chat AI's
While AI's will completely revolutionize the search engine market both paid and organic we are still a ways off from that dream being realized. Both Microsoft and Google have stated the AI's are 3-5 years away from achieving its ultimate goal. However, its never to early to begin the transformation to the new way we may have to start thinking about our content. As we know organic changes take time to be read and indexed by crawlers so preparing in advance is a great plan. The same can be said for paid search but the time for search engines to pick up on the changes will be drastically less.
What can you do to be more prepared for Chat AI's takeover?
The best answer I can give is to monitor your Google Search Console and Search Term reports in Googles Ads/Bing (Microsoft) Ads. The Chat AI's are in limited use and will only be slowly expanded to the masses as both companies adjust the programs and increase server capacities. With the gradual growth in use of these AI's we should see gradual changes in search queries. Monitoring these queries in increments of 1-3 month intervals going forward we might be able to see how much and how searches change. We can then take these queries and make the necessary changes to our organic copy and paid keyword/key phrases.
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