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SEO

Date posted

29 Feb 2024

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AI and SEO: Key updates from January 2024

With AI shaping the future of SEO at an ever-accelerating pace, staying informed on the latest news can feel like an impossible task. Following on from our article analysing the recent trends in demand for AI tools, to help you navigate this fast-changing landscape, we’ve created a monthly roundup of the key AI news and innovations related to SEO.

Generative AI-powered searching 

Circle to Search

January saw Google introduce a new Android feature for selected models called Circle to Search. This allows mobile users to search for anything on their phone with a gesture, without the need to switch apps and break the immersive experience. Users can manually circle, highlight, scribble or tap on their phone’s screen for additional information. The feature works with text, still imagery, and even video.

Examples of how this can be used include searching imagery and then shopping for related items, searching for definitions, identifying landmarks, comparing businesses, or asking more complex questions – all with a simple touch of the screen.

It’s a great example of Google’s AI-powered multisearch functionality (the ability to search with text and images at the same time) being implemented with real-world value. Generative AI’s ability to understand natural language is allowing users to more easily gather and process a wide range of information pulled from a diverse array of online sources.

Multisearch

Multisearch was first launched in 2022 in relation to Google Lens, enabling users to search multimodally – with both images and text – and so refine visual searches with additional textual queries. With the recent breakthroughs in generative AI however, multisearch is rapidly evolving. So now, if a user points their camera (or uploads a photo or screenshot) and asks a question using the Google app, multisearch returns results with AI-powered insights that go beyond just visual matches, giving users the ability to ask more complex questions about what they see, and quickly find important information.

Currently this new functionality is only available in the US.

Google as the ultimate decision maker?

While we eagerly await access to Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) in the UK, a study by Brightedge found that healthcare was most impacted globally by this new technology, with 76% of relevant queries affected across 1 billion searches in nine industries. After Healthcare, the following industries were most impacted respectively: Ecommerce, B2B tech, insurance, education, restaurants, entertainment, travel, and finance.

The study also uncovered that in terms of SGE’s frequently-included features, “Places” (local results) is now the most common type of module, “Unordered lists” (contextual info with images) are also appearing increasingly (with Google adding further context as both images and descriptions), ‘Reviews’ are now being shown across all industries and ‘Perks’ (free delivery or stock status, for example) are now appearing for ecommerce products.

In other SGE news, Google has introduced a new search carousel called ‘Here are some products to consider’ that presents users who are in purchasing mode with a range of products from different online retailers that can then be interacted with further in Google Shopping.

This all points to big impacts on marketers across all industries with Google determining the quality and relevancy of your brand.

The launch of OpenAI’s GPT Store

OpenAI has launched the GPT Store that contains custom versions of their ChatGPT product. GPTs provide a means for users to create tailored versions of ChatGPT to aid in specific tasks (for example, to help teach children maths). They were first announced at the end of 2023 with a reported +3 million already created by users, many of which are available for use by anyone interested.

The creation of GPTs require no coding and any user can do so by starting a conversation, providing additional instructions and knowledge, and selecting what they would like it to do, for example, analyse data, which should prove invaluable for SEO as it continues to evolve.

The GPT Store is currently available to Plus, Team, and Enterprise users.

Introducing Copilot Pro

Finally, Microsoft has announced the release of Copilot Pro (Copilot was formerly known as Bing Chat) which is a paid subscription service providing more advanced AI capabilities – both to Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscribers, as well as offering new features including the ability to create Copilot GPTs. Copilot Pro also allows access to ChatGPT-4 Turbo during peak times for faster performance.

The company clarified that the release of Copilot Pro will not have any negative impact on the quality of the standard implementation of Copilot in Bing, simply that “Copilot Pro goes beyond, with faster speed, even better DALL-E, no turn limit, etc.”

So far with the recent developments in AI, the focus has mainly been on software rather than hardware, but Microsoft has announced that across 2024 the keyboards on a range of new PCs and laptops from their partners will include a dedicated ‘Copilot key’. This is the first significant change to their keyboards in almost three decades.

Despite these many advances, Bing has gained less than 1% of search engine market share since they first added Bing Chat approximately one year ago, ending 2023 at 3.4%.

What can you do now?

While it may not be viable, efficient, or even perhaps possible to ‘optimise’ for many of these recent developments just yet, it’s vital that we are fully aware of the fact that if search engines are developing advanced multimodal capabilities, our content should also reflect that multimodality. This means that, more than ever, text, high-quality imagery and engaging videos should be considered as part of the content creation process.

We’re here to help, so please get in touch if you need support with your SEO strategy.