The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on SEO | Ottaway Digital

The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on SEO

In case you haven’t noticed, the buzz around Artificial Intelligence (AI) is at an all-time high. OpenAI’s launch of ChatGPT has lit a fire under some of the internet power companies like Google and Microsoft, who are rushing to get ahead in the AI race.

As “the industry’s next big thing,” winning control of the presence of artificial intelligence is a priority of both Google and Microsoft, according to Nico Grant and Karen Weise in their article published in the New York Times: In AI Race, Microsoft and Google Choose Speed Over Caution. But how will introducing this new type of generative AI affect search engine optimization?

According to Josh Bachynski, on a recent episode of the Voices of Search Podcast, the SEO marketing industry will be most affected by this new wave of generative AI. This is because the internet will now know more about you than ever, so your search results will be tailored to all the information AI has on you. Therefore, the traditional keyword targeting for SEO will be thrown out the window, and new SEO strategies around content creation will have to be formed.

The AI Skeptics

Everybody and their mother seems to have an opinion on AI and its emerging industry. This is because there are so many questions being asked about the ethics of AI-powered tools, whether or not AI-based chatbots should be controlled and monitored, and how it will affect marketing and SEO jobs in the future. Because of this, there are a lot of AI skeptics and a lot of fear surrounding AI in general.

Even employees of both Google and Microsoft were highly skeptical of AI. According to Grant and Weise, two Google employees who review and test the company’s AI software and products “tried to stop Google from launching an AI chatbot” because “they believed it generated inaccurate and dangerous statements.” In the same New York Times article, Grant and Weise say that “similar concerns were raised at Microsoft by ethicists and other employees” ten months before this happened at Google.

While there is validity in being skeptical of such technology consisting of machine learning, AI is not as powerful as modern-day science fiction has taught society to believe. Yes, AI can crawl all search engine results and create relevant content based on a search query to improve the user experience, but Artificial Intelligence does have its limits:

  • AI cannot leak out into the internet and suddenly control the world. It is confined to the box it was created in, so it is not going to completely take over the SEO and marketing industries, at least not anytime soon.
  • AI cannot think and process information in the same way a human can. AI systems like ChatGPT exist because of their access to the countless amount of information available to us on the web. While the information and answers that ChatGPT has are excellent, it is still not human.
  • It lacks emotion and common sense, and AI can sometimes be biased based on how its natural language processing system works.
  • AI lacks creativity, as it knows so much information due to its ability to process an incredible amount of data from the web.

Yes, AI has its limits, but that does not make it incapable of saving so many people so much time in their jobs and other tasks. Quite frankly, the limits of AI are more reassuring than anything because it reinforces the fact that it will not create this dystopian society ruled by AI that the movies say it will.

AI Is Not the Enemy; It Is The Unknown

Whether you like it or not, AI is here to stay, as it is the catalyst of yet another evolution of the world of technology as we know it. Every time something new in technology emerged, there was controversy because, frankly, people were scared. These people were frightened because it was new and uncharted territory, just like it is now.

Whether it was the release of computers, the internet, laptops, car phones, cell phones, smartphones, social media, smart cars, or even wireless earbuds, people were reluctant to hop on the train, so to speak, because of the controversy of the unknown that was swirling around each of these releases. Well, AI is not the train you want to miss, especially if you are in the SEO business.

AI will change and is currently changing the search engine algorithm, the way search engine rankings work, and what SEO efforts will cause websites to rank high and which won’t. If you ignore AI instead of learning about it and using it to your benefit as it becomes more refined, your SEO results will tank.

The emergence of AI will change (and currently is changing) the world of digital marketing and SEO as we know it. Now, when creating content, you cannot be as broad with your keywords as search engine results are becoming more hyper-personalized to each individual by the day.

An effective SEO strategy will have to take a more targeted approach because as Chat GPT and other AI chatbots are crawling the web, they are telling search engines what websites are valuable and contain credible information and which websites don’t. In addition, the websites these chatbots do not deem valuable are not going to be optimized at all. This in itself makes our jobs in the SEO, digital marketing, and digital media fields more critical than ever.

It’s Time to Pivot with SEO

When we became members of the technology industry, we did not sign up for consistency; we signed up for change. But, as the year 2020 made very evident, life as we know it can change in a mere matter of days, and as businesses, we have to know when it is time to pivot.

It is our job as digital advertising agencies and professionals to keep up with what is new in both the realms of marketing and technology to best serve our clients. When it comes to AI, we have to not only be aware of it but also understand how it impacts what we do.

To continue to see positive results with search engine optimization, we have to pivot away from the traditional ways. The evolution of the realm of technology AI is causing has only begun. So buckle up, and prepare for the ride.

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