Will AI Search Chatbots Change SEO?

A hand holding a tablet, with an AI search chat box above it

It sounds like something of the future: a robot that can answer your questions as if you’re talking to a human. But if you’ve been keeping up with search engine news, you know it’s very much something of the present.

Bing and Google have both created AI chatbots that will (eventually) be available when you perform any search. Just type in a question, and the chatbot will give you an answer. You can even hold a short conversation with it to get more information.

And as futuristic as it sounds, the addition of these chatbots has led digital marketers and SEOs to wonder if AI search will change SEO. If you’re looking for the short answer, it’s yes. Search chatbots like ChatGPT and Google Bard will change SEO.

How exactly? No one has a definite answer (not even Google), but our Portsmouth marketing agency can make an educated guess. First, though, let’s take a look at the (rather short) history of AI search.

ChatGPT and AI Chatbots for Search: What Are They?

GPT-3 is OpenAI’s third-generation Generative Pre-trained Transformer. It’s a machine learning model trained on Internet data that creates human-like text when you give it a prompt. 

Though other versions of AI content existed previously, much of the hype around it began in November 2022 when OpenAI released ChatGPT. That’s because ChatGPT is a little different than the others. It has the ability to respond to questions and hold a conversation similar to the way a human would.

These realistic chatbots already had many people in the SEO community hypothesizing that this would be the end of search engines, saying that people would likely turn to ChatGPT for answers rather than searching on Google.

And then Microsoft released “the new Bing,” a.k.a. “Sydney.”

The New Bing – Sydney

In early February 2023, Microsoft unveiled “The New Bing,” complete with an AI chatbot named Sydney. When you input a question into the chat, Bing responds with a detailed answer, summarized from content it finds on the web.

Google Bard

Of course, Google was close behind Microsoft and promptly announced its AI chat feature named Bard. Like Bing’s, Google told us that its chat feature will respond to queries with summarized information it finds elsewhere.

For now, these chatbots cite their sources and place a link in their responses to the website(s) they supposedly sourced the information from. That being said, there have been many occasions when the chat returns false and even controversial information, sometimes citing sources that don’t match up to the chatbot’s answer.

For example, I asked ChatGPT a fairly simple math question, and its answer was incorrect. As you can see in the screenshot below, ChatGPT even showed its work… but its methodology was wrong – a mistake a human (likely) wouldn’t have made.

These mistakes have placed doubt into many people’s minds, including investors, but if we know anything about technology, we know it will continue to get better and better – quickly.

Will Chatbots Replace Search Engines?

Given all of this information – even knowing that AI search will continue to improve over the years – I find it very unlikely that chatbots like ChatGPT, Bing’s Sydney, and Google’s Bard will ever replace search engines entirely. 

And ChatGPT agrees with me.

ChatGPT answering a question about whether it will replace Google

But I do think that these new tools will change the way we search and the way we write content.

The Future of SEO and Content Marketing with AI Search

Looking to the future, I don’t think any chatbot will be able to replace the current way we search for answers to our questions – even though they can answer questions at near lightning speed.

According to data from Moz, users click on more than one search result 21% of the time. That means people aren’t getting the answer they’re looking for in the first result, and they’re looking elsewhere for more information. When an AI search chatbot doesn’t give the searcher what they’re looking for on the first try, the searcher will likely click on the organic search results to answer their question.

That being said, the chatbots will easily replace any search queries that have quick no-nonsense answers (queries like, “How many cups are in a gallon?”). But featured snippets took over much of that traffic back in 2014.

So how do you increase the chance that you’ll show up in the search results and get clicks to your website, even with the addition of AI search?

How to Increase Web Traffic with AI Search

1. Create quality content

This advice hasn’t changed. Content is still king, and quality content will (almost) always win in search results.

2. Make your content original

The thing about chatbots like ChatGPT is that they’re trained on content that’s already out there. So they’re producing content that isn’t 100% original. It’s just spun content from somewhere else on the internet. If you go out of your way to create highly informative original content, you’ll win. Of course, once you create your content, the AI search chatbots will be able to summarize it and include it in their responses, but that’s where the next point comes into play.

3. Distinguish yourself: What can you/your business do that AI can’t?

AI is not human. And humans crave connection with other humans. To distinguish yourself in search results, try to make a connection with your target audience. Make videos, take real photos, create a following on social media… These are all things that AI can’t do (probably ever), and it’s something that your customers want to see.

As an added benefit of including video and other media in your content, your visitor’s time on the page will likely increase, which can boost your rankings even more.

Our SEO Management Services Can Help You

If you need help with your SEO, Richardson Media Group’s team of SEO experts is here for you. We can help you create top-quality content and ensure your site has everything needed to reach the top of the search results. Contact Richardson Media Group for more information and to learn what we can do for your business.

Anne Richardson

Anne Richardson is the owner and media director of Richardson Media Group, an agency specializing in media planning and buying, advertising campaign management, and SEO.


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In addition to her role as owner and media director here at RMG, Anne authors the majority of our blog posts and hosts our BSuite podcast. Favorite topics for both platforms include the entrepreneurial journey, sustainability + social responsibility, media planning, media buying, and forming productive agency partnerships.