A new sheriff just rode into town

May 17, 2024

Artificial intelligence has been dominating the newswires for the past twelve months and does not seem to be abating. From fears of deep fake audio and videos to AI replacing hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Now it will wreak havoc on the web economy in a gaming changing way.

This week, Google unveiled at its annual developers’ conference how artificial intelligence will impact how Google’s search engine will work in the future. If it works as intended, it will significantly reduce the amount of traffic websites receive.

Before we explain how this will impact your website, let’s recap how Google’s search engine works today. According to a recent Bloomberg article, “For more than two decades, a simple handshake has shaped how people find information online. It works like this: Websites allow Google’s web crawler to index their content so it can appear in search results. The websites get traffic, and Google gets to be Google–one of the most valuable companies on Earth, on account of organizing all this information, putting ads alongside it and building lucrative tools on top of it all.”

Companies were encouraged to write lots of relevant content not just to inform their prospective customers but also to be considered a topical authority by Google’s crawlers. But that may not matter in the future. Google’s AI Overviews will intervene. Liz Reid, head of Google Search described how information on movies, travel, books “and more” will be served. 

A video demo showed a user doing a Google search asking, “Why does my candle burn unevenly?” and is quickly shown a paragraph’s long explanation and solution. No clicks required. Nitish Pahwa of the Slate summarizes it nicely, “[Google’s search engine]... is becoming something else entirely: a self-ingesting singular webpage of its own, powered by the breadth of web information to which it once gave you access. Google is attempting to transform itself from a one-stop portal into a one-stop shop via “search generative experience,” where the Gemini chatbot will spit out a general “AI Overview” answer at the top of your search results. These answers will be informed by (or even plagiarized from) the very links now crowded out by a chatbox.” 

Yet the company doesn’t seem to want you to know anything about that.

It’s difficult to overstate the magnitude and impact of the changes Google has been working on its search engine. SEO expert Lily Ray (using data from SEO analysts Sistrix) show that changes Google made from September 2023 to April 2024 have been devastating to websites like NME, Techcrunch, Dexerto, Popsci, Collider, Android Police, GQ, NY Mag and even the Urban Dictionary.

This represents a 65-90% drop across the board–aren’t to the site’s overall traffic, but their visibility in Google search results. For those companies who are reliant on driving traffic through Google search results will now be left scrambling or becoming irrelevant.

According to Ed Zitron, “Google is out here kneecapping a whole industry–so many of these affected publications are enthusiast, entertainment and/or news sites!” Zitron is spot on, for every “zero click” will be a blow to web publishers who are already suffering huge drops in traffic from social media companies.

To make matters worse, users will have to make a couple extra clicks just to view links to web pages in their search results. Perhaps this is why Gartner predicts search engine volume will drop by 25% by 2026 due to AI chatbots.

Interested in learning more?

Amplify believes in a more human approach to advertising. Let us demonstrate how you can reduce wasted ad spend and conversion by implementing an omnichannel strategy that amplifies your SEO, Paid Search, Content, Email, and Programmatic strategies. If you would like to learn more about shifting your marketing strategies to grow your market share and bottom line, let's have a conversation.  

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