ChatGPT: AI & Search Engine Revolution

By: Sarah Russell Feb 16, 2023

ChatGPT: AI & Search Engine Revolution

How ChatGPT is Changing the Game for AI and Search Engine Results

It has been a wild week in the world of AI, with some huge announcements from Google and Microsoft that could drive big shifts in how users interact with search engines in the future. We wanted to provide an update on what these mean to higher ed institutions.

Microsoft Introduces ChatGPT to Enhance Search and Browser Experiences

Microsoft is investing $10 billion into ChatGPT and is integrating a chatbot version into their Bing search interface and their Edge internet browser.

When a user performs a Bing search that triggers the ChatGPT option, the AI will interpret it and make several searches related to your request. It will then compile the results and write a summary for you, citing its sources in what look like clickable links.

Bing AI powered search engine results for query 'I need to throw a dinner party for 6 people who are vegetarian.'

Unlike the ChatGPT interface, which is trained on data collected up to 2021, the new Bing can access current information and incorporate that into its response.

Google Introduces Bard in Response to ChatGPT

Google announced its response to ChatGPT, an AI named Bard that will be rolled out in the coming weeks. Bard is based on an AI language model called LaMDA, which is similar to the GPT technology that ChatGPT is built off of. In contrast to Bing’s ChatGPT integration into SERPs, Google has not yet clarified how Bard will be brought into the Google search results. It is unclear if Bard will be a slightly separate product like Google Images or if the Bard experience will be more integrated.

Like Bing’s ChatGPT experience, Bard is being presented as a product that will enhance conversational search, presenting more nuanced answers to search queries that have ambiguity or no clear-cut answer.

Google's Bard AI powered search engine results for query 'What new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope can I tell my 9 year old about?'

What This Means for Paid and Organic Search Campaigns

While this space is changing extremely rapidly, we know that Google and Microsoft are highly motivated to protect their revenue streams, so it’s unlikely that any sudden SERPs changes will have a big impact on people clicking through the sponsored or organic listings—or if they do, that there will be advertising and marketing opportunities that arise from those changes. This means that ad and publisher revenue generated from search engines remains steady. 

The biggest thing to watch for in the coming weeks and months is changes in user behavior. People usually want options, so although AI responses can enhance their search experience, they won’t likely replace the organic and paid search listings that let them explore more about a specific brand or website. This element of choice is especially important for a life choice as big as where to go back to school, whereas searches related to productivity or answering straightforward questions are more likely to see users relying more heavily on the AI response. 

With all this said, EDDY is excited about the changing search landscape. We see lots of opportunities to be strategic when optimizing our clients’ content and targeting AI-generated results on particular keywords—very similar to how we already optimize for Featured Snippets and other SERP features.  

Google’s Careful Approach to Introducing AI Models

One final note about the content that is returned by these AI chatbots: Google has been open about their decision to take a more careful approach to introduce AI models on their products. This is because there’s a risk that the results can be inaccurate or, worse, present racial, gender, or other correlations. Because these AI models scrape the web for data (even the gross parts of the web), they can repeat hateful language or spread misinformation. However, it seems that the sensationalism around ChatGPT has spurred Google to take more assertive action despite these concerns. How these vulnerabilities impact the rollout of AI into the search experience will be interesting to watch.

If you’re looking for ways to optimize your search strategy, many teams turn to EDDY. Get in touch with EDDY and let them help you! Or download Leveraging AI to Supercharge Your Enrollment Marketing, A Playbook for Higher Education Marketers to learn more ways to use AI in your current marketing strategy.