Perplexity’s development allays marketers’ fears of AI’s SEO impact.

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When Microsoft announced that Bing would be powered by OpenAI’s technology, businesses began to complain about the potential loss of web traffic. What about all the effort put into Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? Google’s entry into the space with its Search Generative Experience (SGE) has only made critics more vocal. However, a new study from AI-first search engine Perplexity suggests that those concerns can be put to rest.

“It’s a very exciting time in what’s happening around AI and search,” Jim Yu, chief executive of enterprise SEO platform BrightEdge, told VentureBeat. “For the past two decades, the search model has evolved incrementally. Now, there’s a big change: Search has been fundamentally impacted by new AI models.

Yu’s company has spent time sifting through a database of queries powered by Perplexity, analyzing the results to understand the future of search and what it means for consumers and companies. According to their research, referral traffic from its search engine to brand websites has increased by 40 percent since January. In addition, 60% of its citations match the top 10 organic Google results, meaning that Perplexity users are shown similar and relevant answers to questions as they would get when using traditional search. .

‘An opening start’ for Google’s crown

Yu explains that companies still need to invest in SEO, regardless of whether AI is involved or not. But in an AI era, credibility will be the key to a site being cited in the most responses. “If you rank well today, you’re starting from scratch,” says Yu. But instead of focusing on optimizing individual pages, think big. “Sharpen your attention. In what titles do you have the right to win?” he asks.

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Google has been the undisputed search leader for decades, but AI — especially generative AI — is threatening its market dominance. Perplexity’s growing referral traffic is proof of that. “This is the first time we’ve seen anyone change market share with any speed in terms of actual referral traffic. [brand sites]”Yu shares, though he acknowledges that Google is far from disruptive. “It’s a part of a part. [of market share]but there is speed.”

To understand the impact of perplexity on search, Yu cited nine industries studied by BrightEdge for his research: healthcare, education, B2B tech, restaurants, travel, entertainment, insurance, finance and retail e-commerce. The team uncovered domain differences between Google’s SGE (which is still in beta at the time of this writing) and Perplexity, revealing which content sources are most relevant to which search engines. are received.

  • Reddit is cited as the top domain in seven of the top nine industries, with the exception of healthcare and finance.
  • For finance, Perplexity prefers Yahoo, MarketWatch and CNN.
  • Mayo Clinic, Yelp, Tripadvisor and Coursera are considered top authorities for healthcare, restaurants, travel and education respectively.
  • E-commerce is one area where Perplexity and Google don’t exactly see eye to eye. Both use Wikipedia and Amazon, but for third-party product reviews, Google uses Quora and Consumer Reports. Reddit is once again Perplexity’s favorite site.

Some sources are accessed through paid subscriptions while others are accessed through the open web. Regardless, Yu argues that this is an example of “beachfront real estate” where general AI engines must deal with online communities to get the training data they need for their models. Look at Reddit’s licensing deal with Google before its IPO and Yelp’s tie-up with Perplexity.

Confusion on the move

BrightEdge’s report follows Perplexity’s announcement that it will soon display branded ads on its search results. The AI ​​search engine company will display native ads within relevant queries, allowing advertisers to influence which follow-up queries are displayed. Such a move seems to go against the claim the company makes on its site that search should be “free from the influence of ad-driven models,” but Perplexity’s chief business officer Dmitry Shevlenko told AdWeek that ads “always That was part of how we’re going to build a great business.”

If it goes beyond native ads or sponsored queries, could Perplexity be the equivalent of Google AdWords? Although far from scale, it could make the AI ​​app Google-like and attract more interest from digital marketers.

Find tips for marketers.

The rise in anxiety after a year of existence makes it clear that AI won’t necessarily destroy web traffic, nor will it make people rethink Google search marketing. Rather, once SGE moves out of beta sometime this year — likely by Google I/O — Google’s place at the top will be secured again. “Never underestimate Google,” Yu declared. “[It’s] Referral traffic is very dominant.

However, based on BrightEdge’s study, he offers these insights:

  • Identify the areas where you have the best subject matter expertise. Where are you entitled to win from your content? In the past, SEO involved some keyword optimization. But now, it recommends improving for the U. The conversation. One answer will trigger another follow-up query, so make sure your site has all the relevant content.
  • Make sure your site has structured information for AI search engines. Use metadata because it tells the AI ​​where the content comes from, who the author is, etc. In addition, it provides an easy way to tag models and reference the source of information drawn from it. If you’re already doing SEO well, this shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Consider breaking down silos in your organization. Yu explains that the AI ​​experience ties everything together so improving the web requires the help of everyone on the team, even by department.

It’s important to note that this report does not suggest that Perplexity is a better marketing tool than Google. Rather, Yu urges businesses to be prepared, saying that this snapshot of young startups shows that it “reveals the beginnings of additional models to explore.” He explains that we can ask a question on Perplexity, turn to Google for help with a purchase or plan a trip, but then use OpenAI’s ChatGPT to figure out how to purchase a billing system. do “You have to prepare for a world where there’s more than one AI engine,” notes Yu.

“AI-first engines are constantly gaining ground and developing their own areas of expertise, making it important for the marketing community to specialize in multiple search platforms. Too much revenue to be left behind.” The stakes are high, which is why we’re closely tracking the development of these engines and all things search AI – from traffic trends and queries to results quality and more.

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