The new AI-powered Microsoft Bing may be getting all the attention right now, but it's far from the first AI search engines on the market. In recent years, AI technology has been integrated into almost every previously existing technology to make it faster and more efficient. Search engines have become the latest in line to take advantage of AI integration. Now Google CEO Sundar Pichai recently confirmed plans to add conversational AI to the world's most famous search engines, there is no turning back. Search engines powered by AI are about to become the new order of the day, and this will have huge implications for the way professionals, including ecommerce experts, approach search engine optimization (SEO).
AI SEARCH MACHINES: OVERVIEW, BENEFITS AND EXAMPLES
AI search engines use artificial intelligence algorithms and techniques to improve the quality and relevance of search results. This innovation largely relies on two AI techniques, Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML), to deliver the search results. NLP enables search engines to better understand and interpret human language and the intent and sentiments behind the queries. On the other hand, ML algorithms provide super-fast processing of large amounts of data. Combining these two techniques allows these search engines to provide very accurate answers.
Traditional search engines, on the other hand, use algorithms that fetch results based on criteria such as keywords, domain authority, and backlinks to determine search rankings. Although they have served us well for years, AI search engines certainly have much more to offer. Their capabilities include better recognition of search intent and personalization of results based on search history and user location. Many of these new search engines also use natural language generation algorithms to summarize search results, making the user experience more conversational and convenient. In addition, AI-powered search provides more responsive and accurate voice, video and image searches.
Powerful AI search engines such as Neeva AI, YouChat and Perplexity have been available for a while. However, the frenzy caused by the launch of ChatGPT in November 2022 increased public awareness of the possibilities offered by search engines powered by AI. The chatbot with a large language model is powered by OpenAI's GPT-3.5 technology that provides detailed and comprehensive answers to all kinds of questions. In fact, Microsoft's Bing AI is powered by GPT-4, an upgrade to the technology that powers the popular ChatGPT. We certainly expect the number and capabilities of AI-powered search engines to increase over the next two to three years.
WHAT WILL AI SEARCH MACHINES IMPACT ON ECOMMERCE SEO?
With the proliferation of AI search engines, many are wondering what this will mean for SEO. “Will AI be the end of SEO?” is a common question in the mind and on the lips of many. While the concern is understandable, it's important to note that AI won't be the end of search engine optimization as we know it. Rather than eliminating it, AI will likely raise the standards of SEO and force professionals to adapt their websites and content to these higher standards.
The basics of SEO include creating quality content, building quality backlinks, and optimizing elements on the page such as meta tags and keyword headlines. These practices are likely to remain the same. With AI search engines able to better understand human searches and provide personalized results, marketers will need to take content quality and user experience to a whole new level to meet the new ranking factors. Companies that publish detailed content that satisfactorily answers questions will enjoy the reward of higher rankings in search engines. Quality will take precedence over quantity.
Let's take a closer look at how these new developments will impact ecommerce SEO:
LONG-FORM CONTENT AND CONVERSATIONAL KEYWORD OPTIMIZATION
To rank higher in AI search engines, marketers will need to produce in-depth and informative content. Therefore, long-form content that satisfactorily covers topics that customers are interested in will take precedence over content that uses keyword stuffing to rank higher in traditional search engines. Speaking of keywords, it's more likely that long-tailed conversational keywords will become more important. Instead of just using keywords like "laptop with touchscreen," marketers will need to use more detailed keywords, such as "Where can I buy a laptop with touchscreen?" and “how much can I get a touchscreen laptop?” to better tailor user queries.
VOICE SEARCH OPTIMIZATION
AI search engines have more understanding spoken searches than traditional ones, so we can expect users to try voice searches more often. Therefore, ecommerce websites need to adjust their SEO strategies to optimize content for voice search. This includes using keywords similar to how people speak, such as the long keywords mentioned earlier.
AI search engines can analyze user data such as search history, location and browsing behavior to return personalized search results. What this means for ecommerce SEO is that companies need to design their content strategy to suit specific audiences rather than using a one-fits-all approach. In preparation for this change, companies can analyze customer feedback and ratings to understand what interests their target audience and create content that meets those interests. The increased emphasis on personalization is likely to increase the relevance of local SEO, so companies will need to adapt their content strategy to attract a local audience.
Another aspect of search behavior that will receive more attention is visual search. AI search engines have computing power that allow users to search by uploading images and videos. Consequently, ecommerce brands will need to optimize their sites in anticipation of customers and prospects searching for products using images. This means optimizing relevant data, including file names, alt tags, captions, and other image and video metadata. In addition, ecommerce companies may need to invest in visual search tools to allow users to upload images of products they want to purchase.
It's no secret that mobile use is on the rise worldwide. AI search engines such as Perplexity, Neeva and Bing AI have mobile applications to support use on Android and iOS devices. Therefore, businesses can expect most searches on these new search engines to come from mobile devices. Ecommerce brands need to respond to this by ensuring their websites are mobile friendly.
CASE STUDY: AN OVERVIEW OF THE NEW MICROSOFT BING AI
Of all the AI search engines currently available, Bin AI from Microsoft is currently in the spotlight. It was launched on February 7, 2023 and Microsoft has given more users access to a beta version of the program, which is integrated into their Microsoft Edge browser. Bing AI is also available as an application for download on iOS and Android app stores.
Bing AI runs on GPT-4, an advanced large language model built by OpenAI. This makes it superior to ChatGPT, which is built on GPT-3.5. Part of its superiority stems from GPT-4's ability to connect to the Internet and retrieve recent information, unlike GPT-3, which is trained on data sets limited to 2021. GPT-4 is also faster and more efficient than its predecessor and can handle visual inputs. Microsoft is leveraging all of GPT-4's massive capabilities in its new AI search engine, promising better search that delivers more complete answers, a new Microsoft Edge experience, and a more satisfying chat experience.
Now that we're in the third month of Bing AI's release, it's worth examining whether Microsoft has been able to deliver on its promises.
Here are some of the pluses:
The new Microsoft Bing AI provides clear and concise summaries in response to queries. So, this adds a layer of convenience to the search experience for users who want simple and quick answers to their questions without having to flip through different pages.
One of the main criticisms of ChatGPT was the lack of references to the search results. Even when the chatbot is asked to provide links to the websites where certain information was taken from, the chatbot often responds with broken links. Bing AI improves on this by providing links for further reading and research. This is also good news for SEO specialists as it means that Microsoft is still planning to send traffic to other sites.
OFFERS DIFFERENT CONVERSATION STYLES
Bing AI allows users to customize their search experience by choosing their preferred conversation style. Three options are available: creative, balanced and precise. The creative style allows for more imaginative answers, accurate is straightforward, while balanced finds the middle ground between the two.
FAST INDEXING SPEED
It has also been noted that Bing AI has a fast indexing speed. A user noticed noted that the AI quoted its new content within hours of posting the content. This is more good news for SEO professionals, as Bing wants to reward their efforts with fast indexing.
Bing AI users will find that the machine can understand and converse in multiple languages, including Spanish, French, German, and a number of other languages besides English. People from different cultures can comfortably enjoy using Microsoft's new technology in their native language, and that really improves the user experience.
FOLLOW-UP ANSWER AND QUESTIONS
Like ChatGPT, Bing AI can answer follow-up questions. In addition to that ability, it can suggest follow-up questions to the user to refine the search and derive more value per session.
GPT-4 can handle visual input and Microsoft uses this to provide image creation features to Bing and Edge. Users can now create images by providing text descriptions to the machine.
It has been noted that Bing AI has some noticeable issues. Here are some of the drawbacks:
LONGER RESPONSE TIME
In the few months since launch, Bing AI's response time has become progressively slower. Responses sometimes take a few minutes. This is likely because Microsoft is giving more people access to the AI, but they will need to optimize speed for full launch.
Bing AI is far from perfect. The AI can be provoked into giving unhelpful, bizarre and aggressive answers, especially during long chat sessions. Also, the AI can sometimes give incorrect answers and refuse to acknowledge its mistakes when corrected. Microsoft has released public statements admitting these flaws, and the software giant has pledged to continually work to make the software secure.
Another drawback of Bing AI is the limits on the number of queries. Currently the limit is 20 questions per session and 200 questions per day. Admittedly, this is a fourfold increase from the initial limits set when the service first launched, and Microsoft will no doubt continue to relax the restrictions. But for now, this current limit hampers the user experience.
All in all, AI search engines are still in the early stages of development, but they are definitely here to stay. Microsoft's Bing AI seems to be leading the way, but the imminent arrival of Google's BARD search engine could change the picture. These new search engines are sure to change the future of SEO, so marketers should start adapting their strategies today to avoid falling behind competitors.