Goodbye Traffic: The Impact of Bing and Google´s Generative Search On Websites
In today’s digital landscape, search engines like Bing and Google play a fundamental role in connecting users with the information they seek. Recently, these tools have incorporated artificial intelligence capabilities, which their creators have referred to as generative search.
The goal is to enhance search efficiency and provide users, who perform millions of searches every day, with faster access to the information they are interested in finding. However, these advancements in generative search from Bing and Google using AI have raised concerns among website owners regarding the potential impact on their web traffic and overall visibility, which, in turn, would affect their advertising revenue.
- What is Bing and Google’s Generative Search?
- The Role of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)
- AI Chatbots and Their Integration into Search Engines
- Goodbye to Traffic: The Implications of Generative Search on Websites
- Strategies Websites Can Follow in a World Dominated by Bing and Google’s Generative Search
- User Response and the Future of AI-Driven Search
- Frequently Asked Questions about Bing and Google’s Generative Search
What is Bing and Google’s Generative Search?
Generative search refers to the use of artificial intelligence algorithms to generate search results and provide users with more precise and insightful information.
Instead of relying solely on traditional search algorithms, generative search with AI aims to further reduce the search effort, enabling users to understand topics faster and discover new perspectives. At least, that’s how Google and Microsoft present it in their respective publications on the topic.
The Role of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)
Search engine results pages (SERPs) act as a gateway between users and websites. When users perform a search query, search engine bots crawl millions of web pages to generate the most relevant results.
Traditionally, users have been presented with a page full of blue links, hoping that some of these will lead them to a page with relevant information based on their search.
However, with the advent of generative search from Bing and Google utilizing AI, the importance of these links has shifted, as they have practically been pushed out of users’ view in favor of more “humanized” responses. As mentioned earlier, this can negatively affect the traffic reaching websites and, consequently, the revenue they receive.
AI Chatbots and Their Integration into Search Engines
This directly relates to the integration of so-called intelligent chatbots that provide conversational responses to user requests.
I have already explored the two most important ones currently: Bing Chat and Google Bard, and discussed their functionalities and implications. The Verge has also highlighted Google’s new generative search interface and the fact that the traditional link-filled SERP is increasingly fading from users’ view.
While the exact impact of AI chatbots on search engines is not yet fully understood, it is evident that they require extensive training using high-quality data and user feedback to improve their performance.
What is true, at least for now, is that these chatbots exist as separate tools from search innovations: Both Google Bard and Bing Chat are used in separate interfaces, not to mention that their use requires the conscious intent of the user.
This means that chatbots are not yet fully integrated into the search experience. However, if you perform searches on Bing desktop, you may often see Bing Chat providing context on the top right, using the power of ChatGPT 4.0.
Google is testing its generative search experience in the English language and with users residing in the United States. We will see the progress in a few weeks and/or months.
Goodbye to Traffic: The Implications of Generative Search on Websites
1. Decrease in Web Traffic and Advertising Revenue
As generative AI search algorithms become more sophisticated, users may rely less on traditional SERP links. This is especially true with the redesign of user interfaces that prioritize conversational responses and gradually replace the traditional (and soon, archaic) results pages with listings of famous blue links.
This could lead to a decrease in organic web traffic and potentially affect advertising revenue for online publications that heavily rely on visitors coming to their pages through search engines.
2. Need for High-Quality Data and Feedback
Large Language Models (LLMs), such as ChatGPT and Bard, require extensive text databases to generate coherent and personalized responses.
Now, if websites aim to appear in the responses given by both chatbots and new search interfaces, they will need to align with the criteria used by generative search to display their results. Therefore, SEO professionals responsible for these sites will have to ensure they provide high-quality content to be considered by these AI systems.
3. A New Reality for Websites with the Arrival of Generative Search?
While generative search from Bing and Google is transforming the landscape that had remained stagnant for so many years, it does not necessarily mean that the way high-quality content is written will change significantly.
However, there will undoubtedly be a need for harmonious coexistence, or rather, adaptation between websites and generative search engines, as there is a symbiotic relationship between the two: websites rely on search engines to reach users, and search engines rely on the content (text, images, videos, etc.) from these sites.
If one element harms the other, there is a possibility of fundamentally changing the way we find information, with website owners potentially bearing the brunt of it.
Strategies Websites Can Follow in a World Dominated by Bing and Google’s Generative Search
If this latter element persists, what can website content creators do to remain relevant in the dawn of this new era?
1. Emphasize Unique and Valuable Content
I know, it sounds very “Google-like” to make this statement, but it is undeniable that websites must focus on producing valuable, unique, and high-quality content that stands out from generative AI search results.
By offering a specialized experience, in-depth analysis, and exclusive insights, websites can attract and retain a loyal user base.
2. Optimize for Long-Tail Keywords and Niche Topics
The real value (for users) in using search engines with generative experiences is the ability to make conversational queries that the algorithm understands. And as you may know, a search query can be quite long.
That’s why SEO professionals need to optimize their content with long-tail keywords. This will allow generative search engines to better understand our content and, consequently, display it to users when necessary, even though credits and citations may not be the order of the day.
In addition to that, attention should be paid to niche topics. Yes, these topics have a very low monthly search volume, but if we are the only or the first option that users find, we can capture practically the entirety of that volume.
Lastly, it is important to remember that by providing detailed and comprehensive content, websites can establish themselves as authoritative sources in their respective domains.
3. Improve User Experience
This is well-known in digital marketing: User experience plays a crucial role in retaining and attracting website visitors. Websites must ensure fast loading times, mobile responsiveness, intuitive navigation, and attractive design. Optimizing user experience can lead to higher user satisfaction and increase the chances of users returning to the website.
I remember having a client who demanded an increase in the number of visits to their website. When, through various SEO efforts, I managed to increase the visitor count, the client then complained that users spent less than a minute on the pages, and there was very little interaction.
I responded that SEO no longer focuses on user experience. However, I made various recommendations and implementations that improved the user experience, which, in turn, improved the metrics described earlier and increased conversions.
This is just to illustrate the importance of a good user experience. From pages that load quickly to modified 404 pages that provide an alternative to users who land on a broken page. All of this, of course, involves high-quality content writing, as well as careful metadata and page categorization.
4. Harness Social Media and Influencer Marketing
Websites can leverage the power of social media platforms and influencer marketing to improve their visibility and reach. By collaborating with influential individuals or running specific campaigns on social media, websites can increase brand awareness and attract traffic to their platforms.
Sometimes, you might receive more visits from social media than from organic channels (although probably not more than paid channels).
5. Implement Structured Data Markup
Few people pay attention to structured data, but it is essential and provides extra signals to search engines to understand and display your website content in an enriched way.
That’s why implementing structured data markup, such as Schema.org, can provide search engines with additional context and information about your content. This helps search algorithms better understand the content and potentially leads to better visibility in generative AI search results.
User Response and the Future of AI-Driven Search
The future of AI-driven search largely depends on how users respond to this evolving technology. While generative search aims to provide faster access to information and new insights, user preferences and behavior will determine the direction of this transformation.
User response will determine the level of adoption and acceptance of AI-driven search, which will ultimately influence how websites must adapt to meet user expectations and demands.
The introduction of generative search from Bing and Google has the potential to impact website traffic and visibility. Website owners must stay informed about these advancements and proactively adapt their strategies to thrive in a world where search engines are AI-driven.
By focusing on unique content, optimizing for long-tail keywords and niche topics, improving user experience, leveraging social media and influencer marketing, and implementing structured data markup, websites can successfully navigate (albeit not without challenges) the turbulent sea of generative search, which is currently a rapidly changing landscape.
Frequently Asked Questions about Bing and Google’s Generative Search
What is generative search?
Generative search refers to the use of artificial intelligence algorithms to generate search results and provide users with more precise and insightful information in a conversational style that closely resembles human language.
Will AI generative search engines replace independent websites?
While AI generative search engines are transforming the search landscape, it is unlikely that they will completely replace independent websites. Independent websites can still offer unique content, specialized expertise, and valuable information that AI algorithms cannot easily replicate. The coexistence of independent websites and AI generative search engines is more likely, and websites need to adapt their strategies to remain relevant.
How can websites adapt to an AI-driven search engine world?
Websites can adapt to an AI-driven search engine world by emphasizing unique and valuable content, optimizing for long-tail keywords and niche topics, improving user experience, leveraging social media and influencer marketing, and implementing structured data markup. These strategies can help websites maintain visibility and attract targeted traffic in the evolving search landscape.
What are the potential benefits of AI-driven website search?
AI-driven search offers several potential benefits for websites, including faster access to information for users, the ability to discover new perspectives and knowledge, and increased search efficiency. By adapting to AI-driven search, websites can improve their visibility, reach a wider audience, and provide more personalized experiences to their users.