The news seems to be filled with stories about artificial intelligence, or AI, programs and chatbots. Many of them seem to presume that the programs are going to revolutionize huge swaths of industries and services including, importantly, search engines.
Lots of attorneys, though, don’t have the time or the tech-savviness to begin to understand the threat that AI programs pose to the internet as we know it – and to their online marketing efforts. Many wonder what a chatbot even is.
Here is a short synopsis of the danger that these programs can have.
Remember All That Effort You’ve Put Into Online Content Marketing?
If you have been putting any of your law firm’s marketing budget into online legal content marketing, you’re aware that the majority of it has gone towards creating content – landing pages, blog posts, and targeted pages – that is designed to be relevant and important for targeted search queries. The goal is to create content that scores well for traditional ranking signals and that viewers find informative and want to read, leaving reader metrics that show their satisfaction. Search engines then promote your articles over others for the query, netting a larger chunk of the traffic and giving your site more opportunities to convert those readers into paying clientele.
Search Engines That Use a Chatbot Would Wreck All of That
The impact of AI programs was already apparent when a bunch of companies began rolling out AI content generating machines that wrote marketing content. We tried one of these AI content writers last summer and found it wanting, but knew that it would lead to a huge increase in low-quality content online that human-created content should shine through.
Not that big of a deal.
But then the ChatGPT chatbox came along and started providing legitimate answers to questions posed by users, Microsoft bought the company behind it, and Google lit the Fires of Gondor to call its founders home.
The arms race of AI in search engines got hot, and that is big of a deal.
Before, you were publishing online content in order to get promoted in the search engine results page (SERP) and get more traffic.
If they can be embedded in search engines, chatbots could enable those search engines to respond to search queries by using AI programs to read the relevant and important pages and then summarize them on the SERP, similar to how some content optimization platforms like Clearscope read the top handful of pages for a given query and tell you what content they have in common.
The result would be reminiscent of the featured snippet concept, but on steroids and with a side of plagiarism: While featured snippets took, well, snippets of content that answered the query and linked to your site at the top of the SERP, these new chatbot-embedded search engines would likely use your content to form an answer to the query and then present it to the user right there on the SERP. The user would not have to click anywhere to get the full story.
There are Way More Questions Than Answers at This Point
Marketing companies had claimed that content-creating AI programs would be game-changers for online marketing and search engine optimization (SEO).
Plugging AI-powered chatbots into search engines, however, would be a game-changer.
This is a huge technological development that epitomizes the mantra of Silicon Valley to “move fast and break things.”