The Future of SEO Could Lie in Generative AI Search

The Future of SEO Could Lie in Generative AI Search

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There has been a lot of talk lately about the role of generative artificial intelligence (AI) in search engine optimization (SEO) and digital marketing. A little over a year after ChatGPT became the darling of the public internet, it is becoming increasingly clear that generative AI will not replace humans in either digital marketing or SEO. But that does not mean AI has no role at all.

It does have a role in SEO and digital marketing. And as far as the former is concerned, all eyes now are on something known as generative AI search. It could ultimately prove to be the future of internet searches, a future that completely dispenses with the way we now use search engines. And if that future comes to fruition, SEO will be an entirely different ballgame.

How We Search Today

Anyone who uses the internet is familiar with how we use search today. Imagine a future Webtek client wanting to search for an SEO agency in Salt Lake City. He goes to Google and types that phrase in. Up come dozens of search engine results pages (SERPs) with link after link. He needs to scroll through that list to find links he might be interested in following.

This is the way search has been since Google launched back in the late 1990s. Google may have changed how it displays results, but the basic search paradigm has essentially remained unchanged for more than 20 years.

What This Means for SEO

Those of us in the SEO business have become used to the paradigm. We understand how Google displays search results. We have a pretty good handle on how their algorithms work. We do what we do with a single goal: to ensure a client’s website shows up on the first page of SERPs. If we can crack the top five listings, that is even better.

What if traditional SERPs go away? What if there is no list to crack? SEO will still be important. It will still be the cornerstone of digital marketing. But how we go about implementing SEO will undoubtedly have to change. Agencies like Webtek will need to go back to school to learn how generative AI search works so that we can adapt SEO strategies accordingly.

The Basics of Generative AI Search

If you are not familiar with generative AI search, you’re not alone. It is not something that is getting a lot of attention despite the fact that a lot of big names in the tech industry are working on it. Google’s project is known as the Search Generative Experience. The company began developing it last year.

In short, generative AI search aims to dispense with general queries in favor of greater specificity. Links will still be part of the equation – they must be, or a search engine is pointless. But the results generative AI searches return go way beyond a mere list of website links. To understand where generative AI search is going, we can look at a startup known as Perplexity.

Specific Answers to Specific Questions

Perplexity is a company and generative AI search tool that prides itself on doing things differently. The search tool takes internet searches to a completely different place. Perplexity is not interested in SERPs or any of the other little nuggets Google and Bing utilize to display search results. They are interested in providing specific answers to specific questions.

As things currently stand, you can enter generic keywords into the Perplexity search box the same way you can ask a question. Straight keywords return an equally straight list of results with no extemporaneous data. It is just a list of links. But Perplexity would rather you ask it a specific question. For example, “where can I find an SEO agency in Salt Lake City?”

Ask a question and you will get a direct answer. There may be a small handful of links above the answer, links related to the sources Perplexity used to answer your question.

I Asked About Webtek

To test Perplexities abilities, I first asked about finding an SEO agency in Salt Lake City. I asked both the question and ran a search on straight keywords. Fortunately for us, Webtek appeared in Perplexity’s answers. Then I asked the search engine what it could tell me about Webtek Digital Marketing. In mere seconds I got a complete rundown of our company.

A potential client looking for help with SEO would find this incredibly useful. Without having to find our site and dig around, he can get a complete picture of what we do. From there he can decide whether to reach out to learn more. Needless to say, the results Perplexity offered were impressive.

Still a Long Way to Go

Perplexity is a particularly useful tool for searching certain types of things online. It still has a long way to go before it matches Google’s ability to link consumers to specific organizations or companies. But it is well on its way. If the people behind Perplexity are able to bring their tool to full maturity, it could change the way we use search engines.

It would definitely change the way we do SEO. Instead of focusing mainly on keywords and phrases, we would have to adapt to the fact that internet searchers rely on questions. That means adapting keyword research to natural language processing and other strategies for enabling voice search. Why? Because the safe money says that generative AI search and voice search will go hand-in-hand once all of this is sorted out.

Next time you are looking for an SEO agency in Salt Lake City, remember Webtek. But also remember that the future of SEO could lie in generative AI. In a couple of years, we might be asking our favorite search engines specific questions and getting specific answers in return. We may no longer enter search terms and then blankly stare at long lists of potential links. What a change that would be.

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