As Chatbots And AI Search Engines Converge: Key Strategies For SEO

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The world of search is undergoing significant changes, which can be overwhelming for many to keep up with.

Chatbots and AI assistants like ChatGPT and the latest GPT-4o model, alongside Google’s introduction of AI Overviews and Search Generative Experience (SGE), are blurring the boundaries between chatbots and traditional search engines.

New AI-focused players such as Perplexity and further diversify the search landscape.

While this shift may cause some confusion and require marketers to adapt and optimize for multiple “engines,” it also presents a host of new opportunities for SEO professionals to optimize for both traditional and AI-driven search engines in a multifaceted search environment.

This progression also prompts a broader question, perhaps one for future exploration – how do we redefine SEO to encompass concepts like Artificial Intelligence Optimization (AIO) and Generative Engine Optimization (GEO)?

Given the fluidity of naming conventions in this space, it’s important to acknowledge that they are subject to change as I write this article.

Nevertheless, this evolution unveils significant opportunities for disruption within the search landscape as a whole.

What Is A Chatbot Or AI Assistant?

At its core, chatbots operate by leveraging natural language processing (NLP) and large language models (LLMs) that are trained to extract information from various online sources and datasets. They then analyze and adjust textual and visual responses based on the user’s input or query.

Typically, chatbots find application within specific platforms or contexts like customer service portals, messaging applications, or online retail platforms. They’re tailored to handle specific inquiries or tasks within these predefined environments.

Currently, there’s a noticeable convergence between LLM-powered chatbots and search engines, driven by rapid advancements in both domains. This convergence can sometimes lead to confusion.

In this piece, we’ll delve into the advancements of AI models within chatbots and their interplay with search, drawing implicit parallels between chatbots and AI assistants.

The Evolution Of Chatbots And AI Models

Since its emergence in November 2022, the advent of ChatGPT has sparked a remarkable surge in chatbots and AI assistants. Today, generative AI enables users to directly engage in human-like conversations with AI, facilitating inquiries and completing various tasks.

These AI tools boast a wide array of capabilities, ranging from assisting with SEO tasks to generating content, composing emails, crafting essays, and even tackling coding and programming challenges.

As chatbots continue to evolve, they transition into multimodal entities (MMLLMs), expanding their repertoire beyond text to incorporate images, audio, and more.

For readers keen on delving deeper into these models, the 2024 AI Index Report from Stanford University serves as an invaluable resource.

While many chatbots and AI models share common purposes, they also possess distinct applications and utilities, spanning content creation, image generation, and voice recognition.

Here are several noteworthy examples with distinctive features:

  • ChatGPT: Employs conversational AI for various purposes including research, ideation, and generating text and image content.
  • Google Gemini and Gemma: Harnesses Google’s LLM to facilitate connections and source discovery within Google’s ecosystem.
  • Microsoft Bing: Integrates ChatGPT for conversational web search functionality within the Bing platform.
  • Anthropic Claude: Offers a range of AI models tailored for content generation, image manipulation, and coding tasks.
  • Stability AI: Offers a suite of models and AI assistants catering to text, image, audio processing, and coding needs.
  • Meta Llama3: Utilizes Facebook’s social graph, its proprietary Llama 3 model, and real-time data from Google to enhance search experiences.
  • Microsoft’s Copilot: Serves as an AI assistant specializing in fostering creativity and boosting productivity across various business applications.
  • Amazon LLM and Codewhisperer: Enhance customer and employee experiences through advanced language models and coding assistance.
  • Perplexity AI: Provides quick answers, information sources, and citations, resembling a search engine in its functionality.

Perplexity AI, which I’ll delve into further later in this article, distinguishes itself by its search engine-like capabilities compared to many other chatbots and AI assistants.

Beyond their primary functionalities, many companies are expanding the accessibility of their AI models to a broader audience and diverse ecosystems, empowering users to tailor their own AI assistants.

For instance, Amazon’s Bedrock platform enables AWS customers to leverage Anthropic and other large language models (LLMs), including Amazon’s proprietary model, to craft personalized AI agents. Notable entities like Lonely Planet, Coda, and United Airlines have already embraced this technology.

On May 13, OpenAI unveiled its latest flagship model, GPT-4, representing a fusion of various AI capabilities encompassing “text, vision, and audio.” Additionally, OpenAI has made its application programming interface (API) accessible, enabling developers to create bespoke applications.

The amalgamation of these advancements prompts a multitude of inquiries and contemplations within the AI community.

What’s The Difference Between Chatbots And Search Engines?

One important observation is that both chatbots and search engines are crafted to deliver information.

There are numerous parallels between search engines and certain chatbot models, leading to blurred definitions and overlapping functionalities.

Nonetheless, presently (although this is evolving), a clear distinction persists between the two:

Search Engines

Search engines excel at delving into a broad spectrum of subjects.
They offer varied viewpoints sourced from multiple outlets.


Chatbots shine in delivering swift responses, accomplishing tasks, and tailoring interactions to individuals.
They boost the effectiveness of typical users, significantly enhancing their information retrieval capabilities.

As overlaps between functionalities become more prevalent, the delineations between what defines a chatbot, an AI assistant, and a search engine may require reassessment.

How Chatbots And Search Engines Work Together

Conversational search emerges as a pivotal domain where search engines progressively incorporate chatbot functionalities, enriching the search experience with interactivity.

Users can pose queries in everyday language, prompting the search engine to furnish direct responses or engage in dialogues to refine the inquiry.

Chatbots and AI assistants frequently leverage search engine capabilities to retrieve data from the internet, augmenting their capacity to furnish precise and exhaustive responses.

This fusion empowers chatbots to transcend their predefined knowledge bases and access a wider array of information sources.

Google: Embeds chatbot capabilities within its search engine via SGE, delivering direct responses and engaging in conversational search for specific inquiries.

Bing: Integrates “Bing Chat,” a chatbot powered by ChatGPT, conversational AI, and search technology, to offer answers and information.

YouChat: Functions as a search engine providing conversational responses to queries and accommodating follow-up questions.

Meta: Leverages its social graph alongside Google’s real-time data within its chatbot/AI assistant framework.

Perplexity AI: Operates akin to a search engine, prioritizing informational sources, websites, and citations.

These instances underscore the increasingly blurred lines between chatbots and search engines. This convergence is indicative of the evolving dynamics within the realm of digital search and AI.

How “Traditional” Search Engines Are Evolving As AI-First Entrants Arrive

The emergence of generative AI and chatbots has sparked considerable disruption in the traditional search landscape.

Conventional search engines are transitioning into what can be termed as “answer engines,” driven by the imperative to furnish users with direct, conversational responses rather than merely presenting a list of links.

The demarcation between chatbot engines and AI-driven search engines is progressively blurring.

Although AI integration in search is not a novel concept, the advent of generative AI and chatbots has necessitated a profound reconfiguration in the functioning of search engines. For the first time, users can engage with AI in natural conversations, prompting industry giants like Google and Microsoft to adapt swiftly.

During Google IO on May 14, Google unveiled the rollout of AI Overviews, marking the integration of AI features into its search engine. Additionally, it is implementing enhancements to SGE.

The overarching objective is to augment its capability to offer direct responses and engage in conversational search. This evolution underscores Google’s steadfast commitment to maintaining its dominance in the search arena by harnessing AI to meet evolving user demands.

In a recent Wired Magazine interview titled “It’s the End of Google Search As We Know It,” Google’s Head of Search, Liz Reid, made it clear that:

“AI Overviews like this won’t show up for every search result, even if the feature is now becoming more prevalent.”

As my co-founder, Jim Yu, highlighted in the same article:

“The paradigm of search for the last 20 years has been that the search engine pulls a lot of information and gives you the links. Now the search engine does all the searches for you and summarizes the results and gives you a formative opinion.”

Beyond Google, we are witnessing the emergence of new AI-driven search engines such as Perplexity,, and Brave. These platforms function more akin to traditional search engines by furnishing informational sources, websites, and citations.

Leveraging generative AI, they provide comprehensive answers and facilitate follow-up inquiries, posing a significant challenge to the dominance of established players.

Meta is also stepping into the arena by harnessing its social graph and real-time data from Google within its AI assistant, further contributing to the convergence of search and AI technologies.

According to Digiday, TikTok is now placing emphasis on what it terms as “search value.”

Looking ahead, it’s crucial to acknowledge that people have diverse needs, and they turn to different platforms for specific purposes.

Just as we visit Amazon for products, Yelp for restaurant recommendations, and YouTube for videos, the proliferation of AI will magnify this trend. Each search engine will carve out its niche, capitalizing on its strengths to address particular user needs.

ChatGPT presents an intriguing case, distinguished not for its research capabilities but for its proficiency in content generation. While it excels in crafting high-quality content, its research functions are limited.

Effective research hinges on real-time data, a feature currently absent in platforms like ChatGPT. Moving forward, we anticipate search engines to specialize even further, each excelling in distinct areas based on its unique strengths and functionalities.

What Does It All Mean For Marketers?

The rapidly evolving landscape and the merging of search and AI pose both challenges and opportunities for marketers.

Merely optimizing for a single engine is no longer adequate; it’s imperative to target multiple platforms, each catering to distinct user demographics and intents.

Here’s how marketers can adjust and flourish in this dynamic milieu.

Optimizing For Different Platforms

Strength: Commands dominance in the traditional search realm with an extensive user base and access to diverse data sources.
Tip: Prioritize core technical SEO practices such as schema markup and mobile optimization. With Google’s Search Generative Experience increasingly presenting direct answers, structured data and top-notch content are indispensable.

Perplexity AI:
Strength: Offers comprehensive citations and prioritizes source material, driving traffic back to original sites.
Tip: Establish your content as authoritative and well-cited. Being a trusted source enhances the likelihood of your site being referenced, thus bolstering traffic and fostering brand credibility.

Strength: Excels in conversational AI, facilitating swift responses and personalized interactions.
Tip: Craft engaging and succinct content that directly addresses common queries. Incorporate conversational language into your SEO strategy to align with ChatGPT’s interaction style.

Key Strategies For Marketers

These strategies offer a roadmap for success in the age of AI-driven search, spanning from optimizing technical SEO to leveraging semantic understanding and creativity.

Core Technical SEO:
Foundational aspects like site speed, mobile responsiveness, and proper schema markup remain pivotal. A technically sound website facilitates effective indexing and ranking across all search engines.

Semantic Understanding:
As search engines and conversational AI place increasing emphasis on semantic search, optimizing for natural language queries and long-tail keywords becomes essential. This ensures alignment with user intent, enhancing search relevance.

Content and Creativity:
The significance of high-quality, creative content cannot be overstated. Content that is both unique and valuable captivates users and distinguishes itself in search results, be it traditional or AI-driven.

Expanded Scope of SEO:
In today’s landscape, SEO extends beyond traditional optimization techniques. It now encompasses content creation, branding strategies, public relations efforts, and the integration of artificial intelligence and optimization (AIO). Marketers who embrace and adeptly navigate these expanded roles stand poised for greater success in the evolving search ecosystem.

Become the Go-To Source for Citations:
Ensure your content exhibits authority and thorough research. By positioning yourself as a primary source, you increase the likelihood of receiving citations, which not only drive traffic but also enhance your credibility within your industry or niche.

Embrace Predictive Strategies:
Anticipate and address potential follow-up questions comprehensively within your content. This proactive approach not only enhances user experience but also boosts the visibility of your content in AI-driven search results, ensuring it remains relevant and prominent.

Cultivate Brand Authority:
Concentrate your efforts on showcasing your brand’s strengths and expertise. With AI-driven search engines prioritizing authoritative sources, it’s essential to establish and uphold your reputation in key areas to maintain competitiveness and relevance.

Quality Content Reigns Supreme:
Ultimately, the success of your SEO efforts hinges on the quality of your content. Prioritize investments in crafting exceptional user experiences, whether through captivating visuals or informative textual content. In an ever-evolving digital landscape, the best content that offers the most compelling experience will emerge as the clear winner.

Key Takeaways

In today’s digital landscape, search serves a dual purpose: it can function as a standalone assistant-based application or seamlessly integrate into search engines to facilitate AI-driven conversational experiences.

This amalgamation presents marketers with a remarkable opportunity to enhance their brands by producing precise and authoritative content that positions them as trusted authorities within their respective industries.

Securing a position on the coveted first page of search results and gaining recognition as the primary source cited by AI engines remains as crucial as it was a decade or two ago, yet it has become exponentially more challenging.

The encouraging news is that whether it’s Google’s advanced AI engine or emerging platforms like Perplexity, brands that establish themselves as authoritative figures in their niche stand to reap significant benefits.

Marketers must embrace creativity and foster collaboration across omnichannel teams. It’s imperative to ensure that your website remains visible and accessible to all types of search engines, whether they are traditional or AI-driven.

As you navigate this intricate landscape, here are some thought-provoking questions to ponder. Apologies for the pun, but in this evolving domain, definitive answers remain elusive:

  1. Are chatbots evolving into surrogate search engines, blurring the lines between assistance and inquiry?
  2. How do social platforms distinguish themselves as viable search engines, especially as younger demographics increasingly rely on them for information retrieval?
  3. In this context, what defines a search engine today, and how might this definition evolve in the future?
  4. In the ongoing competition for user allegiance, will traditional search engines, enhanced with AI capabilities, prevail, or will new contenders leveraging generative AI technologies from inception emerge victorious?
  5. How should SEO practitioners redefine their roles in response to the AI revolution? Should we prioritize an “AI-first” approach in our strategies and tactics?

As you contemplate these questions, it’s crucial to maintain a proactive and adaptable stance, positioning both yourself and your company to capitalize on the diversity and intricacy of the search landscape. In a realm dominated by ChatGPT, chatbots, and AI-driven search functionalities, optimization extends beyond targeting singular platforms like Google or Bing.

Success in this dynamic environment demands a comprehensive approach. It transcends mere keyword rankings or click-through rates; it entails deciphering the nuances of each platform and flexibly adjusting your strategies in response.

This entails optimizing your content to align with conversational search patterns, harnessing AI capabilities to personalize user experiences, and seamlessly integrating across diverse channels and devices.

By leveraging the unique strengths of each platform to amplify your message according to specific use cases, you can foster deeper engagement with your audience and drive more significant outcomes for your business in the long run.

Original news from SearchEngineJournal