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Kevin Lee and Mike Grehan on the future of SEO and AI

I’m grateful to Mike Grehan, of Chelsea Digital, for participating in a webinar on the future of SEO and AI. Mike and I are both “internet old timers” who’ve been working in search since the days of Lycos, Alta Vista and HotBot, and we both agree that the emergence of AI and LLMs is already changing SEO in a big way and these changes will accelerate in the near future.

We discuss the use of AI-generated content in search engine rankings, highlighting the potential for bias and inaccuracy, and the potential that watermarking might offer to ensure content authenticity. Mike believes that structured data will become more important as content becomes more complex and machine learning-driven. He advocates that marketers develop a thorough understanding of end-user preferences in SEO, highlighting the need to prioritize user experience over technical SEO factors like code quality and optimization.

Our conversation turns to a discussion of the impact of LLMs on SEO and how SEO practitioners can influence the odds of showing up as the top result for a query by being ubiquitous in LLM-ingested content. I offer the suggestion that a digital PR and content syndication strategy can positively impact the chance that visibility will be obtained.

Mike explains the difference between “service” and “search” on devices, highlighting the emerging importance of task-oriented, concierge-style searching. He speculates that the definition of “search engines” will morph into “information providers” offering multimodal results that will integrate with AI to provide personalized results. Of course, there will likely be necessary trade-offs between privacy and user experience, with some users opting to provide rich information to AI systems allowing efficient hyper-personalization, while others will prefer not to.

With regard to Google’s continuing ability to distinguish genuine, human-generated content from AI-generated content, I speculate that transcripts of YouTube videos and podcasts will be a valuable source of authentic content for AI language models like ChatGPT, given that these exchanges will be required to involve humans (at least for the foreseeable future).

Mike and I anticipate significant advances in AI assistants’ ability to make decisions and provide personalized recommendations in the next year or two. Integrated marketing strategies will be crucial for reaching customers across multiple platforms, as AI assistants become more multimodal.

I greatly appreciate Mike’s participation in this webinar and hope it provided value for attendees seeking to future-proof their SEO and hope to do more of these in the future.

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