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Google, AI & the Future of Search

Welcome back, Rankers! This week’s blog post delves deep into the seismic shifts we’ve witnessed in the search engine landscape and the monumental role Artificial Intelligence (AI) is playing in reshaping our digital experiences. From the challenges posed by AI-driven tools like ChatGPT and Google Bard to traditional search engines, to the rise of ad-free search experiences through platforms like Perplexity AI, we’re standing at the cusp of a new era in online search and advertising.

What I Learned:

  • AI’s Impact on Traditional Search: Observations on how AI tools like ChatGPT and Google Bard are transforming the way we seek information online, significantly reducing the need for traditional search queries and impacting sites reliant on such traffic.
  • The Advent of Perplexity AI: A closer look at Perplexity AI’s appeal as an AI search engine, offering users a streamlined, ad-free experience, and the implications for publishers who rely on ad revenue from their content.
  • Google’s Strategy Amidst AI Competition: Insights into Google’s attempts to remain competitive in an AI-dominated landscape, including the development and potential pivot towards subscription-based models for an ad-free search experience, akin to YouTube Premium.
  • The Future of Online Advertising: Speculation on the evolving nature of online ads and the potential shift towards a paid search engine model by Google, exploring the balance between user experience and the financial realities of content publishers.
  • Emerging AI Tools and Their Implications: Exploration of new AI tools like Claude 3 from Anthropic, comparing their capabilities and potential advantages over existing solutions like ChatGPT, and how these advancements might influence the future of digital interaction and marketing.


Hey, welcome back, Rankers. How are you going? Hopefully, you weren’t hurt by the updates from Google. Recently, they were massive. A lot of people have been hit hard. If you think you have, then email Happy to have a look at your site. None of our clients were hit. In fact, whenever we see a Google update, we usually see upticks for all our clients.

The Impact of AI on Search

Now, I wanted to talk to you about some of the massive changes that we’re seeing in the search world. For about a year, we’ve been trying to work out what’s going to happen with Google in this space. It can’t compete with the likes of ChatGPT. And we’ve shown how certain searches have already dropped over the last year. Sites like Stack Overflow have been hurt by ChatGPT, by Google Bard, because people no longer need to search for a result and go and find the site, they can just ask these AI tools directly and not have to wade through all the other site results. What Perplexity AI has shown is that people love it and love using it as an AI search engine because it brings the search results right back into the environment and they don’t have to look at ads, they don’t have to look at pop-ups. So that sounds great for the user but as we’ve pointed out before it’s not too good for the publisher who’s putting all this information out there and this is how they make their money by selling ads on their content. And we’ve also pointed out that a lot of people love ads. You and I love ads. You may not realise that, but if you’re shopping for something, you’re clicking on an ad before you’re clicking on a Google search result. I guarantee it.

Google’s Strategy Against AI Competition

And that has been the big question for me over the last 12 months, is how Google competes with AI when we want that instant information where we want those zero-click results, which is something that Google has looked at for ages and has been trying to achieve. They don’t want people to leave the search environment. That’s why if you Google zero-click results you will see what that means directly in Google without having to actually click on anything. That is the definition of IRE also in case you were wondering. But the question has been what’s going to happen to ads and you know as perplexity AI has demonstrated people love it because they don’t have to wade through ads most people unless they’re shopping and Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, said not too long ago as I showed on this show that there could be a product that comes out that’s Subscription only and he hinted that it might be this Combination of what they’re calling the search generative experience, which is Gemini plus search. Now, Gemini, I’ve canned recently, and it’s had a lot of bad press. Let’s face it. Gemini 1.5, which has the 1 million token window, which means you can upload basically books of data up there. Incidentally, I uploaded a book I wrote about SEO and tried to edit it, but it refused to edit it because of its nannies, what I would call or describe, its nanny state controls, meaning that it wouldn’t edit my book because it had bad words in it, like swear words. So, there’s been a lot of that with Google and how the guard rails may detract from it being the great tool that it could be. Might be great for the workplace, but there are certain workplaces where you might want that information to be able to be analysed by Gemini. I can think of many. Gemini 1.5 though is great because it will do, I think it’s up to something like 15 hours’ worth of audio you can upload to it. Not the one that’s in beta at the moment that I’ve got access to but certainly I can upload videos and it will tell me anything I want to ask about the video quickly. In fact, this video I will be uploading into Gemini to get time codes out for where I want to insert certain edits quickly, so I don’t have to scroll through it. But that’s great. But what happens to search? What happens to ads? What happens to businesses that rely on this advertising environment that everyone uses now. Well, there’s been a few hints this week because Google has appointed a new head of search, Liz, let me get Liz’s surname right. I think it’s Field. Elizabeth Reed, Oz Klayce, not at all. So, Elizabeth Reed is the new head of search at Google, and she’s been there a long time. She’s one of their founding engineers by the look of her back in 2003. So, we’re expecting a lot of great things from Elizabeth. I shouldn’t call her Liz unless anybody else does. I’ll have to have a look. But she has said that, you know, they’re very excited about the search generative experience.

A Paid Search Engine?

Now Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, has said recently in a Wired article, which I covered on this show, that there could be a paid version of Gemini and Search, like there is a paid version of YouTube, so you don’t have to have ads. Well, if Google comes out with that, and it’s a good product, why would I use Perplexity AI that is essentially, according to their own CEO, getting their data and their relevancy out of Google and Bing. So, they’re looking at Bing and Google search results and then bringing them back into perplexity AI. And the thing that people like about perplexity AI seems to be mainly the lack of ads. Perplexity AI incidentally allows access to a lot of other things if you pay for it as well. But there’s no reason why Google couldn’t do that. So, I can’t see Perplexity AI being a long-term threat to Google. They might be chopping into some of the search volume right now but the main ones that are really chopping into the search volume of Google right now are the informational related searches, which have been coming as we’ve pointed out for years. And I mean the years on this show, how the quality of informational search results has gone down. And we’ve seen a lot more people screaming about that recently with things like the help for content update, all those sorts of things. And where Google does well is where it makes its money, and that is in Google Ads. So, from what I’m reading between what Elizabeth Reader is saying about search generative experience, incidentally, we haven’t seen it in Australia yet. And what I’m hearing the CEO of Google saying about Sundar and paid content, I think we’re going to see a paid search engine, which will be ad-free. But what is going to happen to these publishers who are going to have their content shown, presumably within these search engines and zero visits. Are we going to start to see publishers lose traction on their ad revenue? And let’s face it, one of the main areas they get ad revenue from is from Google and the Google search network, the Google search ads network. So, time’s going to tell, and I think Google is still, as I said earlier this year, without direction. They still are sending out some confusing signals, I would say, and we still don’t know how this is going to affect advertising overall. I can’t see them jeopardising it. Now I think the idea of having a personal assistant from Google who’s going to tell you what you need when you want it and be free of ads is less likely in the short term. But I can also say that there are also some great new AI tools out there that are threatening ChatGPT as well. And the one that I’ve been using that I would, if you’ve got time, go and have a play with is certainly Claude 3 from Anthropic. It’s great. I’ve been using it a lot more than ChatGPT this week. And I have a lot of reasons to use ChatGPT because of all our custom GPTs there. But I’m getting really good results out of Claude 3 as well. So go and have a look at all those things if you’ve got any questions or anything else you’d like to see and some of the things that we’re doing that I can’t even talk about yet because I don’t have time. Because there are just so many cool things to play with now. Please hit me up. Let me know and we will take it from there. We will be doing a webinar. I keep promising that, but I’ve had a lot of clients ask questions about doing a webinar. So, we will be doing a webinar, but I won’t be selling anything, so you’ll have to pay for the webinar to pay for our time. Hopefully that’s all right. Hopefully that’s helpful. I love you all. Hopefully you see in those hearts because I practise that. And hopefully this works as well. And we will see you next time. Please like, share, subscribe, and tell your friends. Thanks very much. Bye.

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