Written by
Adam Villaume
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July 5, 2023

Will Generative AI Kill SEO? Here’s What an SEO Expert Thinks

Generative AI will force change in content production and optimization and on the people who work in this field, but will it kill SEO? An Expert chimes in.

Will Generative AI Kill SEO? Here’s What an SEO Expert Thinks

Answering whether generative AI will kill SEO in short:

  • No. Generative AI will change many things, but SEO will still be relevant.
  • As long as people search the internet through a search engine and organic results matter, SEO remains important.
  • Companies and SEOs who adapt to the changes will succeed, while the rest will be left behind.

Search is an ever-evolving field, but the changes coming with generative AI, powered by the advanced large language models, will be some of the most impactful in a long time, maybe ever.

We don't know everything about where, how, and to what extent search will change, but SEO isn't going away. It will change, surely, but not die.

That's the main point of Torbjørn Flensted, SEO expert, innovator, and CEO of SEO.ai.

"Humans have always been searching. By nature, we are curious and seek knowledge about the world we live in and how it impacts our lives. As long as we continue to be searching and organic results matter, SEO remains important."

So no, Generative AI won't kill SEO.

Killing off SEO is a bit of a hobby in the SEO community. Most updates by Google are called out for killing SEO, and yet; here we are, still optimizing pages for SERP.

So today, we'll take a closer look together with Torbjørn Flensted at why some people are worried, how generative AI will change search, and explain what changes you should embrace and which to ignore.

With great change comes great...worry

The possibilities and changes driven by generative AI coming to search and SEO are on a scale and impact probably never before seen. Because generative AI changes how we work, our tasks, the process, and the output.

The changes are all-encompassing and, therefore, more of a transformation than simple changes, says Torbjørn Flensted.

"Generative AI represents a transformation. Google search is changing, the discipline of SEO is changing, and texts of every kind as well as keywords, are, at least in part, generated by AI. So it is a transformation we are experiencing and a wild one too."

Working with SEO used to include several repetitive tasks; collecting data, getting them ready for analysis, moving large chunks of data around, and sorting them. AI can do many of these tasks now.

The CEO and founder of SEO.ai, Torbjørn Flensted, a leading SEO expert with more than 20 years of experience in the industry.

As we hand over tasks such as content writing, data collection, and analysis to AI, it can feel like we are handing over control.

The worries typically fall into three categories:

  1. AI will replace human SEOs
  2. AI delivers low-quality SEO content
  3. AI-powered search results will kill SEO

Some of these worries have more merit than others, but the fear of change makes them all seem worse.

"Generative AI is an opportunity if you choose to look at it as such." - Torbjørn Flensted, CEO and founder of SEO.ai

In the following, we'll address each of the most common worries and explain how they can be turned into opportunities.

1. AI won't necessarily replace human SEOs

It is true that AI can perform or at least help with many tasks, but that doesn't mean companies will let their staff go or that they should. We have already seen examples of SEOs and copywriters being fired because of the introduction of ChatGPT and similar.

However, according to Torbjørn Flensted, that is a shortsighted decision.

"Those who fire their copywriters have greatly misunderstood the game. Right now, it's a race and everyone's in it, whether they like it or not. It's not about creating the same amount of content at a reduced cost, it's about using the same budget to produce a whole lot more content."

In this light, you still need SEOs, but they must learn to use AI to keep ahead of the competition.

2. AI delivers low-quality SEO content - if you let it

Sometimes the AI-generated output isn't the same quality as something written by a human copywriter. AI content generators tend to produce repetitive language and superficial content - well, some do.

It is also well known that any generative AI at the moment can create text that simply isn't true. They make up facts called hallucinations, and publishing superficial content at scale that isn't true will do more harm than good.

But talking about facts, generative AI may generate low-quality content, but it is a human who chooses to publish it.

Again, AI only poses a threat when misused, the CEO of SEO.ai says:

"You should always consider an AI-generated text as a first draft. Publishing generic content won't be enough, especially in the future, because that kind of content is easily produced with AI."

You need to edit it and add your expertise, your voice, and your knowledge to it. You must fact-check it and add links and visuals before publishing.

"You have to make your content stand out. It may sound like working with generative AI is a lot of work, but remember; you get that first draft in a few minutes, so there's plenty of time to make it great."

According to Torbjørn Flensted, you might see good results from generating and publishing AI content quickly, but in the long run, quality will win out.

3. AI-powered search results will change SEO, not kill it

Both Microsoft and Google have released an AI-powered search, well, kind of. Google's Search Generative Experience (SGE) is only available as an experiment and only in the US. However, the first impressions of AI search have some strong indicators of how search will change. To some extent, optimizing for AI search is going to be "more of the same" in that you will need to be even more in line with SEO guidelines such as Google's E-E-A-T.

However, actual changes are coming too — changes to how you should prioritize different parameters when creating and optimizing content.

The AI Snapshot in SGE provides the user with a generated summary and some featured websites. Many times the snapshot is all you need to answer your query. Otherwise, the featured websites will likely do the trick.

This means that the normal search results presented below the AI Snapshot probably won't get much attention.

That's why being featured will be extremely important when AI search entirely takes over, and that will impact your content. In the world of AI search having a piece of great content is not going to be enough because, with the AI tools available, anyone can produce great content. According to Torbjørn Flensted:

"You are going to need more content, highly specialized content, connected in topic clusters to show topical authority, where you cover the topic from many different angles."

Our research indicates that search intent and authority are two parameters that will be more important with AI search than with normal SERPs.

"If you have more data and better data, presented in specialized content, shaped to fit the audience in your field, then your site is more likely to be featured in AI search like SGE."

Sure, things are changing with generative AI. Some of the changes will challenge our ways, our processes and our output, but SEO isn't going to die – As explained, SEO will likely be even more important in the future, so buckle up!

Will Generative AI Kill SEO? Here’s What an SEO Expert Thinks

This is an article written by:

Adam is an experienced content writer with a background in journalism and a passion for technology.