How Important Is SEO In The Age of AI?

Published on September 12, 2023

Stick around in marketing for long enough (New York Ave recently celebrated its 10th anniversary) and there are some things you’ll hear again and again. One of them is this: “SEO is dead!”

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an approach to writing and structuring your content that allows search engines like Google to understand what it’s about and the value it offers. By practicing SEO, you ensure the helpful and informative content you publish has an extra boost to make it more visible.

SEO is not and has never been, a magic bullet. And “Wild West” SEO – full of black hats, white hats, and questionable practices – hasn’t existed for more than a decade. But people still have a strange fixation on getting rid of SEO, as if it is anything more than a way of organizing information to make it more useful.

Naturally, the advent of generative AI has given the chorus something new to complain about.

“SEO is dead!” they cry.

And, as always, they are wrong.

AI is making SEO more important, not less.

AI Means Search Engine Optimization Will Change, Not Go Away

In the long run, good search engine optimization means your content is more likely to appear prominently in a search related to your business – no more, no less. But weird ideas about SEO and what it does have persisted from all the way back in 2011 when Google made one of the biggest changes to its software ever.

“Google Panda,” which debuted in February of that year, made changes that led to low-quality, spammy blog posts being penalized in search. At the same time, some websites that were the worst offenders – so-called “content farms” – were also hit. In very rare cases, some were de-listed, disappearing from search entirely.

This led to a predictable refrain: “SEO is dead!”

But back then, as today, SEO wasn’t dead. SEO hasn’t gone anywhere. What has happened, and faster than at any time in the past, is that certain search engine optimization practices are no longer as helpful as they were.

None of today’s practices were “black hat” to begin with. Nobody is getting penalized or de-listed. But what some website owners are discovering is they need a new approach to get their message heard. That’s the same cycle that’s been playing out since the beginning. AI is just accelerating the pace.

What Is Artificial Intelligence Doing to Search Engine Optimization?

If you want to see a robot apocalypse, just look at the state of search engines today.

The effect of AI on search result quality is already being felt, and it is negative nearly across the board. That’s because webmasters can now pump out low quality articles with no human insight faster than ever before.

At the same time, new AI models are being trained on an internet increasingly flooded with low-information and no-information content. Since today’s Large Language Models can’t tell the difference between fact and fiction (and will occasionally hallucinate false information), the internet is going downhill fast.

In effect, online research is becoming harder and less reliable by the day.

Zero in on search engine optimization itself and the story continues to get complicated. Google is one of the world leaders in artificial intelligence, and evidence is good that it can pinpoint AI-generated content in a way nobody else can. It has every incentive to penalize that content.

Google has always claimed that its driving goal was to create positive experiences for search engine users. It relies on public trust in its results to power its billion-dollar online advertising business. If it wants to continue drawing an audience, it will need to encourage high quality, fact-checked content by subject matter experts.

That’s exactly what New York Ave provides to clients like you.

Don’t Let the Artificial Intelligence “Revolution” Burn Down Your Marketing

Signs are mounting that companies who switched to AI for content marketing are suffering the consequences.

Custom content is already seeing a significant boost in search engine rankings. Based on Google’s past behavior, it’s easy to predict what’s going to happen in the near future: A major realignment of search results where the AI-generated content will fall to the wayside in comparison to fresh, real human alternatives.

Our advice? Don’t get on the AI merry-go-round only to find you’re starting over from scratch a year or two from now. Get custom content from experienced marketing experts so you’ll be positioned to benefit from tomorrow’s increased focus on content conceived, designed, and executed by humans.

Contact us today to learn more.

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