By now, you’ve likely heard the rumors and rumblings across the internet that the face of SEO is about to drastically change. With the advent of ChatGPT, many industry “thinkers” are announcing the death of SEO as we know it. And, by the way, most of these thought pieces are derived purely to drive organic traffic to their site—AKA an SEO strategy. With all of this alarmist speak and general uncertainty surrounding ChatGPT, you may be questioning your 2023 strategy. We’re here to tell you all you need to know about ChatDPT, how we’re predicting it will impact SEO, and which parts of your 2023 SEO strategy may need to change.
In mid-2022, an AI art generator, DALL-E, took the internet by storm. Using AI technology, DALL-E uses prompts and descriptors to create art that matches those descriptors. DALL-E was created by a company called OpenAI, and now that company has released a new game-changing AI technology: ChatCPT.
In the simplest of terms, ChatGPT uses AI technology to power a chatbot. This development intends to have human-like conversations with users. To use ChatGPT, all users have to do is ask a question through the chat feature on the website, and the chatbot will respond back. People are using this to do anything from having a simple, friendly conversation, generating copy for emails, or even debugging code.
ChatGPT is still very new, so the likelihood that it will make search engines obsolete any time soon is a bit far-fetched. That’s not to say that this advancement won’t inspire change in how search engines work, but search engines are always changing. In reality, ChatGPT and search engines function quite differently, and because ChatGTP is still new, it has some limitations to overcome before it comes close to overthrowing search engines as the reigning supreme.
As we mentioned above, both ChatGPT and search engines function differently and provide completely different experiences for users. ChatGPT intends to hold a conversation using a language model. On the other hand, search engines crawl indexed web pages to provide resources with the most relevant information for the user’s search query.
People may opt to use ChatGPT if they are looking for a straightforward answer to a question or to use AI tools to help them generate some of their work. However, it is not a tool that is fully capable of completely eliminating search engines—especially considering its current limitations. ChatGPT is still in the early development and research stages. The AI tool can’t currently search the internet for answers to questions and the data associated with the program is limited to 2021. So, don’t expect the chatbot to be read up on recent news and happenings. On top of that, ChatGPT often doesn’t understand questions if they are phrased a certain way. Instead of asking for clarification, the chatbot guesses what the question is asking and oftentimes provides lackluster or even nonsensical answers. For ChatGPT, there’s still much room for improvement.
Microsoft has acquired and integrated ChatGPT into Bing in a limited capacity as a sidebar feature. Users with a Microsoft account and Microsoft Edge can use this new feature. While it’s still up in the air how ChatGPT will be fully integrated into Bing long-term, it does raise the question of the effects this will have on Google. An overwhelming majority of people who use search engines prefer Google as opposed to Bing, but will Bing’s ChatGPT integration be enough to make users switch their preferences? At the very least, the integration is making Google sweat a little.
In response to Microsoft’s backing and integration of ChatGPT, Google is ramping up its efforts to come up with its own rival chatbot: Apprentice Bard. The functionality of Apprentice Bard would match up almost head-to-head with ChatGPT, but Apprentice Bard will be able to provide answers and information about more current events. Similarly to Bing’s integration of ChatGPT, it’s hard to say how Apprentice Bard will change how Google works and how people use it to find information. Chatbot technology is a long way away from replacing search engines, but that’s not to say they won’t cause a ripple in the features and functionality of search engines.
With the rapid rise of ChatGPT, the uncertainty of its impact on search engines and SEO as we know it, and all the fear-mongering behind it, it may be tempting to give up on SEO strategies entirely. Any impact on SEO from ChatGPT is still years away, so trashing your SEO strategy entirely would be a hasty move. Why miss out on all of that potential search traffic? In actuality, what’s going to have a more likely and immediate impact on your SEO strategies is the December 2022 Google algorithm update.
Google makes thousands of updates to its search algorithm every year to ultimately make it better for users. Google confirms, releases, and explains what we call core updates to the algorithms a few times a year. These core updates are more of a heavy lift and have a more significant impact on search results—making the algorithm more useful to users, providing better information for search queries, and other updates of that nature. Some core updates have a low impact on SEO strategies, whereas others have the potential to drastically change the way SEO strategies are approached.
Google’s December 2022 update heavily focused on the prioritization of helpful content. While the release and popularization of ChatGPT may not have been the root cause of this particular update, it more than likely had at least a little bit to do with it. More and more often as users search for information on Google, they often get results that rank high but don’t actually give the users the help or information they look for. This is definitely frustrating, and quite frankly is absolutely reason enough to start using technology like ChatGPT to cut through the clutter when trying to find a simple answer. In the December 2022 update, Google targeted websites that had lots of content that ultimately was unhelpful to users.
This update made drastic advancements in Google’s algorithm to better identify web content written with the intent to rank in result pages and drive organic traffic as opposed to providing genuine, helpful information to users. In turn, Google rewards websites with high-quality content that’s developed to be useful to users and penalizes websites that produce search engine-first content. So, with all of this in mind, should you be planning on drastically adjusting your SEO strategy? Well, yes and no. Let’s talk about it.
Google’s December 2022 update started rolling out in the early days of December and finished in mid-January. If you didn’t notice any significant changes to your rankings, your strategy is likely pretty strong and really may only need a few tweaks to stay on top of the update. But, if you did see drops in your ranking, the root cause is more than likely that core update and it’s time to revisit your longtail content-based SEO strategy.
Before this update, there was a formulaic approach using long-tail keywords to produce SEO-engineered content so that the content would show up in the search results for queries that were somewhat relevant to your brand. This strategy hoped that users would dig deeper into your site and potentially convert. All in all, though, these users were very high up in the funnel and tended to have a fairly low conversion rate.
Now, instead of stuffing keywords or creating search engine-first content, your content cluster strategy needs to be much more organic and provide useful content rather than a regurgitation of constantly repeated information.
When it comes to Responsival’s SEO strategies, we don’t anticipate that ChatGPT will have an impact on what we do. The foundation of our work is the quality of your UX, information architecture, and overall technical elements of your site.
While, yes, the current conversation surrounding ChatGPT is that it’s killing Google, the only thing that’s really, truly happening is that AI is becoming more and more sophisticated. Someone can give a query to ChatGPT and it will provide the best answer possible. When we think about how ChatGPT will impact the ecommerce industry, we have to remember how users shop online. When users search for, let’s say, “best running shoes,” ChatGPT may tell a user what many people look for in a running shoe or provide information about top running shoe brands. However, it’s not going to give a range of relevant pages for users to explore. Especially in instances when users are unfamiliar with a product or a company, they will almost always want to shop around and explore more than just one option. If ChatGPT were to make Google obsolete, the entire process of ecommerce would be forced to evolve outside of Google into a completely new platform. Let’s be real—that’s not happening any time soon.
Even when we consider social media and the rise of social commerce, we’re still in a period where people would much rather purchase from a website directly—or, at the very least, from Amazon. So, rest assured that an investment in offsite SEO is safe despite the alarms and chatter that ChatGPT is killing Google as we know it. What will more likely make the biggest impact on offsite SEO strategies—yet again—is the December 2022 Google update.
The Google algorithm is ever-changing, and outsmarting the world’s smartest algorithm is tough. However, we always stay on top of every core update to ensure our SEO strategies are as effective as possible—ensuring our links feel as organic as possible and continually developing and updating our guidelines so that only the highest quality backlinks are received.
And what about referral and influencer traffic? Well, ChatGPT might answer questions for you, but users will still continue to follow content creators because they appreciate their voice, their aesthetics, and their opinions. AI will never replace that human connection, and for that reason, influencer and referral traffic from your SEO backlinks will still have impact and value.
ChatGPT is nothing short of a great technological advancement. There’s no question that it will have some type of impact on how search engines work and how users search for information. But, those changes won’t happen overnight. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and predictions of how ChatGPT will change the game, but from a realistic standpoint, we can’t jump ship or make uncalculated moves with every new technological advancement.
Will the way we approach SEO change? Well, yes, SEO is always changing! However, that’s not a reason to abandon SEO entirely. Instead, you need to find an SEO partner who understands the ins and outs of search engines, works to understand how search engines evolve, and has the agility needed to pivot strategies as needed to get you the best results. Our SEO team at Responsival has years of experience in SEO and works diligently to find a strategy that provides the best results possible. Looking for a new SEO partner? Schedule a call with our team to see how we can help.
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