The Impact of Generative AI on Digital Marketing: What Marketers Need to Know
Google made its new generative AI capabilities available to a select group of users, creating a sense of anticipation within the digital marketing community. This move by Google marks a significant shift in the search engine landscape and will have a direct impact on the strategies employed by digital marketers to drive traffic to their websites.
My post contentThe Impact of Generative AI on Digital Marketing: What Marketers Need to Know
Organic Traffic and the Changing Landscape of Search
On May 25, Google made its new generative AI capabilities available to a select group of users, creating a sense of anticipation within the digital marketing community. This move by Google marks a significant shift in the search engine landscape and will have a direct impact on the strategies employed by digital marketers to drive traffic to their websites.
Let's delve into these changes and explore how generative AI will affect the factors that drive results for digital marketers. In summary, the key points are:
Organic traffic is expected to decrease.
The importance of ranking in the top search results, even if it's not your own site, will increase.
Content should remain a top priority.
Investing in other channels that are more difficult to track will yield long-term results.
The Role of Search Generative Experiences (SGE) and ChatGPT in Decreasing Organic Search Traffic
The introduction of generative AI capabilities, specifically Search Generative Experiences (SGE) and ChatGPT, will inevitably lead to a decrease in organic search traffic from Google. The SGE feature provides users with a substantial amount of information directly from the search results, reducing the need to click on organic links.
For informational searches, Google will aggregate content from various sources, potentially resulting in a decrease in click-through rates for organic results. While some specific queries, such as product-related searches, may not be impacted by SGE at present, it is likely that Google will expand the use of this feature in the future.
Research has shown that the click-through rate for informational queries has been declining over time, whereas commercial queries have experienced an increase. Websites ranking first for informational queries have seen a decline in click-through rate on both desktop and mobile, while those ranking in the first three positions for commercial queries have seen an increase in click-through rate on mobile.
The emergence of ChatGPT, integrated into Bing search results, has contributed to Bing's growth. However, Bing still struggles to gain significant market share compared to Google. Nevertheless, Bing's partnership with OpenAI, which drives traffic to OpenAI's website, presents an opportunity for brands to reach a broader audience through their association with Bing.
Strategies for Brands to Navigate the Impact of Generative AI
Despite the anticipated decline in organic search traffic, organic search remains a valuable driver of traffic, leads, and brand awareness. Brands should focus on the following areas to adapt to the changing search landscape:
1. Prioritize Digital PR for Enhanced Visibility
Incorporate a strategy known as "surround sound SEO" to increase brand visibility across multiple authoritative websites. Instead of solely focusing on ranking your own website, aim to be mentioned and linked on high-ranking sites. This approach creates an immersive brand experience for potential customers and helps increase visibility, regardless of generative AI search results.
Establishing relationships with authors of influential publications will increase the likelihood of future inclusion in their content, even as generative AI becomes more prevalent. Leveraging Bing's distribution via ChatGPT and building relationships with authors will provide additional exposure and drive future visibility for brands.
2. Continuously Create High-Value Content
Invest in creating high-quality content that goes beyond what generative AI tools can provide. While generative AI tools offer valuable insights, it is crucial to add unique information and value to your content that goes beyond the baseline provided by these tools. Focus on delivering information that your audience cannot find through basic generative AI. This could include original research, expert analysis, case studies, personal experiences, and unique perspectives. By providing in-depth and original content, you differentiate yourself from the automated outputs of generative AI and establish your brand as a trusted and authoritative source.
3. Optimize for Featured Snippets and Rich Results
Featured snippets are concise summaries that appear at the top of Google's search results, providing users with direct answers to their queries. With the rise of generative AI, optimizing your content for featured snippets becomes crucial. Structure your content in a way that directly answers common user queries and target long-tail keywords that align with informational queries. By appearing in featured snippets, you can increase your visibility and attract organic traffic, even in the presence of generative AI search results.
Additionally, leverage rich results, such as schema markup, to enhance the appearance of your content in search results. Rich results include elements like star ratings, images, and additional information that make your listing stand out. By optimizing your content for rich results, you can improve its visibility and attract more clicks, despite the potential decrease in organic traffic.
Explore Alternative Marketing Channels
While search engines remain an essential component of digital marketing, it's important to diversify your marketing efforts and explore alternative channels that are less impacted by generative AI. Focus on building a strong presence on social media platforms, creating engaging video content, leveraging email marketing campaigns, and exploring influencer partnerships. These channels provide opportunities to reach your target audience directly and build brand awareness outside the realm of search engines.
Moreover, investing in offline marketing activities, such as events, print media, and direct mail, can help you reach potential customers who may not be actively searching online. Although tracking the effectiveness of these channels might be more challenging, they can yield long-term results and complement your online marketing efforts.
In conclusion, the introduction of generative AI in search engines will undoubtedly impact the digital marketing landscape. While organic search traffic may decrease, marketers can adapt by prioritizing digital PR, creating high-value content, optimizing for featured snippets and rich results, and exploring alternative marketing channels. By staying proactive and embracing these strategies, marketers can navigate the changing search landscape and continue to drive traffic, leads, and brand awareness in the age of generative AI.