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Our Blog March 15, 2024

How Does AI Affect SEO:What you Need to Know About it

Writen by octaadsmedia

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It’s been more than a year since ChatGPT’s stratospheric launch, which made AI a staple of every strategy meeting.

Often with feverish forecasts about how AI would destroy SEO or usher in its next golden age.Despite our deepest aspirations and anxieties, we are still here doing keyword research and ritually saying, “It depends.”However, astute marketers will observe that rankings have shifted – sometimes dramatically – causing plans (and budgets) to shift as well.

Often with feverish forecasts about how AI would destroy SEO or usher in its next golden age.Despite our deepest aspirations and anxieties, we are still here doing keyword research and ritually saying, “It depends.”However, astute marketers will observe that rankings have shifted – sometimes dramatically – causing plans (and budgets) to shift as well.

How AI is Impacting SEO

According to Sellers, the recent tweak to the ‘Helpful Content’ algorithm, as well as the increased focus on EEAT, are in response to AI content development.

If you are unfamiliar, she is referring to a big overhaul to Google’s search ranking algorithm that was released in late 2022.

That launched a long series of subsequent adjustments into 2023 that attempted to boost content that fulfilled Google’s quality guidelines: Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (or EEAT).

The purpose of EEAT is straightforward: to ensure that content created for humans appears in search results, rather than content created to please search engines.

In theory, the availability of generative AI to content creators and website owners opens the door to more content dissemination.

However, greater content does not necessarily imply better content.

Sellers shows that generative AI excels in providing evergreen, objective information (as well as regurgitating existing stances). “It is less effective in providing opinions, differing viewpoints, or firsthand research.

And these are the attributes that are currently leading the search rankings.

Qualities that stem from experience.

Generative AI cannot fulfil those requirements because it is not alive and cannot experience things,” she said. “Coincidence? I truly don’t think so.

So we’re witnessing changes in response to AI, but how about changes caused by AI?

Is AI-powered search changing SEO?

In February 2023, Microsoft beat Google to the punch by incorporating an AI chatbot directly into their search product.

In response, Google quickly announced its own AI-powered Search Generative Experience (SGE). But, near the end of 2023, Google discreetly delayed the introduction of SGE.

So, what happened?

For starters, the threat to their market share from Bing’s AI search did not materialise,” Sellers explains.

As of early 2024, Google still controls 91.47% of the global search market, down only 1.5 percentage points from last year.

Second, SGE puts Google’s ad revenue at risk,” she goes on to say.

According to the SEC, that figure will exceed $237 billion in the United States by 2023, and it is dependent on your continued use of Google.

Finally, there are certain infrastructural challenges that require caution.

“What’s the most noticeable challenge? LLMs are actually quite lousy search engines.

Consider how frequently Google must update its indexes to accommodate all of the new sites, videos, and social media posts published each day.

An LLM could only incorporate those by adding them to its training data set and then retraining the entire model.

But that takes us to our second question: if LLMs haven’t made significant changes to search tools, have they altered search behaviour?

Has AI caused changes in search behavior yet?

“One of the initial fears regarding AI was that searchers might turn to ChatGPT for answers rather than Google.

Gartner generated fear in December when it predicted a 25% decline in search volume by 2026 as a result of LLM use.

Could some of the traffic losses be due to users leaving Google entirely?

“Changes in search behaviour are difficult to quantify,” Sellers advises.This is especially true given the slow and pervasive nature of macro behavioural changes.

I’m starting to see demand drop on some queries where I believe ChatGPT might be more useful than a blog article,” she says. “But with all the volatility in 2023, it’s hard to say if AI adoption is the main cause of the loss.
So, while it is feasible, it is certainly not common enough to be noticed.

It’s also worth noting that the type of search that ChatGPT can satisfy is most likely a zero-click search.

In other words, the user might have acquired the solution directly from the search results without visiting your website.

This provides an excellent segue into the subject of how SEO fits into a bigger marketing strategy.

A question existed before AI jumped in to complicate things.

Does AI shift the balance of organic vs. non-organic marketing strategies?

“It’s never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket, no matter how strong that basket is,” Sellers adds. “This is an attitude I had before significant AI use, and it is one I will continue to maintain.

(For SEOs, this is a common opinion formed after being burned by an algorithm update.)

“Google is [still] a powerful route for blogs since organic search (the behaviour) is ongoing and repetitive, making it very easy to grow and get results.

This is in contrast to channels such as email, paid ads, and social media, which require ongoing attention (or cash).

But is AI changing the power of those baskets?

“I believe that the effectiveness of Google as a channel is decreasing,” Sellers concedes. “Interestingly, it has consistently decreased during my tenure as a content SEO specialist.

“She goes through a rollercoaster of obstacles that any experienced SEO will recognise.

The channel’s effectiveness has decreased due to changes such as highlighted snippets, increased Google Ads real estate, photos and videos on the results page, and zero-click searches.

But long-time SEOs will also realise that each of those obstacles brought its own opportunity, too.

“We adapt and make new strategies in the wake of those things and still see an incredible volume of demand from search as a result,” Sellers said. “The same will happen through the AI boom.”

So, how do SEOs adapt?

How Marketers can Adapt SEO to AI

Before letting her go, I asked Amanda for advise on your behalf. (Do you see how much I adore you?)

Here are her three key lessons for marketers wanting to adapt SEO to AI:

  1. Lean into opinionated content with original thinking or original data.

When determining what content to publish, Sellers advises that it is no longer enough to create evergreen, factual information because ChatGPT can do it. “Think about positioning and the unique things your publication can offer that can’t be found elsewhere.”That could include the advice of an expert in your sector, industry data that your organisation currently collects, or simply a pleasant tone that readers return for.

Because it is unique to your organisation, you will need to figure it out.

2. Apply a human-centered perspective.

“When creating content, use AI as a tool, but be aware of its limitations,” she explains. Then she doubles down.

“Actually, don’t just understand them — curb them with your unique human perspective.”That distinct viewpoint is what will set you apart from everyone else using ChatGPT to create the same post.”

3. Create content for humans.

“Whether you’re creating a blog, a newsletter, or a product landing page, always focus on the value you’re providing your readers.

Amanda drops the moral of the story here.

“It’s not search engines that are reading your content; it’s other humans.”

AI is significantly impacting SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategies, and staying ahead requires adapting to these changes. Here are some steps you can take to address this issue:

  1. Understand AI’s Role in Search Algorithms: Search engines like Google increasingly use AI and machine learning algorithms to rank websites. Familiarize yourself with how these algorithms work and how they prioritize content.
  2. Create High-Quality Content: AI algorithms prioritize content that provides value to users. Focus on creating high-quality, relevant, and engaging content that addresses users’ needs and queries effectively.
  3. Optimize for Voice Search: With the rise of virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant, optimizing your content for voice search is crucial. This includes using conversational language, answering common questions, and optimizing for long-tail keywords.
  4. Utilize Natural Language Processing (NLP): AI-powered NLP algorithms help search engines understand the context and intent behind search queries. Incorporate relevant keywords naturally into your content and consider semantic search principles.
  5. Improve User Experience (UX): AI algorithms also consider user experience signals such as page load speed, mobile-friendliness, and dwell time. Ensure your website is optimized for mobile devices, has fast loading times, and offers a seamless browsing experience.
  6. Implement Structured Data Markup: Structured data markup helps search engines better understand the content of your website. Use markup to provide context about your content, which can lead to rich snippets in search results.
  7. Monitor and Analyze Performance: Continuously monitor your website’s performance using analytics tools. Analyze key metrics such as traffic, rankings, and engagement to identify areas for improvement and adjust your SEO strategies accordingly.
  8. Stay Updated: AI technology and search algorithms evolve rapidly. Stay updated on industry trends, algorithm changes, and best practices to ensure your SEO efforts remain effective.
  9. Experiment with AI Tools: Explore AI-powered SEO tools and platforms that can help automate tasks such as keyword research, content optimization, and performance tracking. These tools can streamline your workflow and provide valuable insights.
  10. Focus on Authority and Trust: AI algorithms increasingly prioritize websites with authority and trustworthiness. Build quality backlinks from reputable sources, establish your expertise in your niche, and prioritize user trust and transparency.

By understanding the impact of AI on SEO and implementing these strategies, you can adapt to the changing landscape of search engine optimization and improve your website’s visibility and rankings.

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