The Publisher Lab: Will AI Replace Search Engines? Exploring the Future of Online Search
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Welcome back to another podcast episode recap!
Having just had a day or two off for the US’s Independence Day, Tyler Bishop and Whitney Wright were ready to discuss the newest social media service, Threads!
Threads was released by Meta (formerly Facebook) on July 6, 2023. It’s hard to exactly know how successful Threads will but it seems to be picking up steam. Currently, Threads is available through an individual’s Instagram account and to delete a Threads account completely, you would need to delete your Instagram account.
Elon Musk at Twitter is throwing shade at Mark Zuckerberg’s Twitter-rival but it’s too early to see who will win out.
This week, Tyler and Whitney discussed the possibility of AI replacing search engines, AI-written content and Google rankings, and if Google Analytics is breaking GDPR in Sweden.
Is AI going to replace search engines?
There is an ever-changing landscape of search engines and the potential impact of AI. We know publishers are concerned about the possibility of AI replacing search engines, as search traffic plays a significant role in their referral sources, with 35% of news publisher traffic coming from search engines. Publishers need to adapt to a future without relying heavily on search. Instead, they should focus on building audience relationships and reducing their dependence on search traffic.
While the future of search engines remains uncertain, it is likely to undergo significant transformations in the next 20 years. The definition and functionality of search engines will evolve, making it crucial for publishers to adjust their strategies accordingly. Building their own audiences and marketing content directly to them becomes increasingly important. Publishers are advised to invest their time and effort into creating high-quality content, understanding their audience’s preferences, and finding effective distribution channels beyond traditional search engines.
Some traditional digital publishing tactics, such as purchasing backlinks, are becoming obsolete and less effective. Publishers should shift their mindset away from solely focusing on SEO tactics and invest more in creating valuable content and building audience connections. While search engines will likely remain a significant traffic source, publishers need to diversify their strategies and adapt to the changing landscape of content discovery and distribution. It is essential to understand the supply and demand of content and stay connected with audience preferences to thrive in the evolving digital publishing industry.
The Uncertainty of AI-Generated Content for Achieving High Google Search Rankings
While AI can be used to write or assist in content creation, it should not be solely relied upon to guarantee success in search rankings. It’s important to integrate AI into the creative process and focus on the quality and intention behind the content rather than trying to have AI write all of your content for you; using AI as a tool can enhance efficiency and effectiveness in content creation, but it should not replace the unique knowledge and perspective of human publishers.
AI-generated content often lacks creativity and uniqueness, as it pulls information from existing sources without providing a fresh perspective. Passionate publishers who write about niche topics and offer unique insights tend to be more successful than those who simply replicate existing content. The value lies in creating content that fills gaps in the information landscape and caters to the interests of specific communities. While AI can write content well, it lacks the passion and experience that human publishers bring to their work.
Swedish Privacy Protection Authority Finds Google Analytics Violating GDPR
The Swedish authority responsible for privacy protection has uncovered a violation of GDPR by Google Analytics. The authority, known as imy, has issued warnings against the use of Google Analytics due to the surveillance risks posed by the US government. They found that Google Analytics transfers data to the US, where privacy laws are weaker, and intelligence agencies can potentially access the information. In their investigation, imy has examined four different Swedish companies, either imposing fines or instructing them to discontinue using Google Analytics.
Currently, policymakers in the EU and the US are working on a new data transfer agreement to replace the invalidated Privacy Shield. This agreement is crucial for analytics and advertising models that heavily rely on personal data. Google has stated that people expect the websites they visit to be well-designed, user-friendly, and respectful of their privacy. While Google Analytics helps publishers understand the performance of their sites and apps, Google asserts that it does not identify individuals or track them across the web. They emphasize that organizations, not Google, have control over the data collected and its use.
However, concerns arise due to the interconnectivity of Google’s tools and ecosystem, as well as the collection of user data within the Google suite. This creates challenges for both users who wish to protect their privacy and publishers who want to leverage Google’s products to their full potential. The ongoing debate surrounding privacy regulations highlights the complexity of defining privacy standards and balancing personalized internet experiences. While some argue for stricter regulations, others acknowledge the trade-off between privacy and convenience in the digital landscape. As the legal proceedings against Google intensify, questions surrounding privacy continue to challenge policymakers and shape the future of data collection and usage practices.
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Whitney is a former journalist for numerous city-wide newspapers and online media sources and an accomplished digital and creative marketer. She has multiple years of digital publishing expertise and contributes regularly to all of Ezoic's content sources.
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