Discover more from Marketing BS with Edward Nevraumont
More on the future of SEO
You should be getting ready now before its too late
Welcome back for everyone who took a long weekend. I learned that Canadian Thanksgiving being celebrated at the same time as Columbus/Indigenous Peoples Day appears to be a coincidence. Columbus Day was set when it is because Columbus first arrived in America on October 12th. Also many countries outside the USA celebrate Columbus Day, including two countries in Europe: Italy and Spain. Now you know.
Back in May I wrote about the potential impact of Google incorporating generative AI into their search results. I called it “the biggest change to SEO since the launch of Google” (My biggest regret on the piece is including a question mark at the end of the statement which dampens the predictive quality of the essay…).
Last week Insight Partners published their own estimates of the impact of Google generative AI search. They did not make the lofty statements I made, but they still make some pretty big claims.
For those that missed my earlier essay and have not been rolled into Google’s generative AI pilot, for some subset of search results Google is generating AI responses that try to answer the user’s query, without requiring the user to “click through”. This is not THAT much different than other Google attempts at “zero click searches” like snippets, local blocks, including phone numbers in the results, and so on. Back in May 2021, before most people were even thinking about AI, Rand Fishkin wrote about the growth of Google zero-click results and estimated that by spring 2021 2/3rds of all searches did not result in a click.
Thought of in tis way, generative AI is not a change in kind, but just a change in magnitude.
How big will that magnitude be?
Insight Partners is estimating a drop of 15-25% in SEO clicks for most commercial companies. That’s pretty bad!
Most companies treat SEO as a “given”. They assume it is a zero-cost acquisition channel, and they proceed to build the cost-structure of the rest of their business under the assumption that the SEO will continue to come in — or if it changes, it will happen slowly (or in an upward direction). When SEO drops by a lot (it happened to a lot of companies back in 2011 when Google rolled out their “Panda” algorithm change), it can tank a business. If SEO drove 40% of your revenue and SEO drops by 25% then you are down 10% of revenue, with no clear way to make it up by cutting costs. If your product has low COGs you are in even more trouble.
What happened in 2011 to a few SEO-driven companies is likely to repeat itself across a far larger base of businesses that continue to rely on Google SEO for traffic.
What should you do?
My recommendation is to be ready for it. Assume RIGHT NOW that your SEO is going to drop by 25% with no way to recover it. Start acting now as if it has already happened. You will be able to make better, smarter decisions when you have the breathing space and the flexibility to have 2-3 month solutions rather than “next week” solutions.
Insight Partners does not go that far. Their recommendations:
Be Engaged: Sign up for the Google generative AI pilot so you can get a feel for what your users are about to experience
Be Proactive: Create a war room so you are ready to react when it hits you (so a little less proactive than my recommendation)
Be Real: Accept it is going to happen and start making plans
As Insight Partners says, “The zero-click world is approaching fast…Don’t be like the companies that got decimated by Google’s updates in the past.”
On that we can agree.
Keep it simple,