ChatGPT is ready to launch its own search engine

Last Modified: May 10th, 2024 - Category: Artificial Intelligence, News, SEO Blog
1145 words, 6 minutes estimated read time.
chatgpt announces search engine cover image

ChatGPT is about to cause even more turmoil, and Google won’t be pleased. This Monday, just one day before Google’s annual I/O conference, OpenAI is reportedly set to announce its plans to become a fully-fledged search engine.

The rise of AI in users’ search intent

As we discussed in our article about AI and SEO, the integration of artificial intelligence into search engines is revolutionizing the digital marketing landscape, reshaping how businesses approach online visibility and user interaction. Recent studies, such as one by Ignite Visibility, reveal that 62% of users prefer AI-driven chatbots for searches over traditional search engines. Another more realistic study reports that 42% of respondents already think they will use (note the future tense) chatbots rather than search engines, with 34% still undecided. This preference clearly goes in line with user behavior aiming towards more interactive and immediate response systems.

The trend toward AI-enhanced search capabilities isn’t merely a shift in user preference but a potential redefinition of search engine optimization (SEO) itself. Traditional search engines may soon find their traffic diminishing as AI chatbots like OpenAI’s ChatGPT become more sophisticated and user-friendly. According to a Gartner prediction, by 2026, we could see a 25% decline in traditional search engine traffic, with users increasingly turning to AI-driven conversational assistants for their search needs.

Some clues suggest ChatGPT is shifting to… something

if you are a ChatGPT user, you are probably used to the URL https://chat.openai.com/ , right?

Well, take a look at the image below:

browser bar dispalying the new ChatGPT URL

Can you see it? The URL has changed and is no longer a subdomain of OpenAI; ChatGPT has its own domain. This by itself doesn’t mean anything, of course, but it’s just one of many indications that something is going on, all of which have happened in the last few months.

Another possible clue: If you’re a heavy user of ChatGPT, you may have noticed that it has become increasingly slow, inaccurate and “dumber”, often simply stopping. This is usually a sign of scarce system resources, which in my opinion is quite doubtful. Or, if you want to go into Reddit conspiracy mode, they “downsize” to show something more spectacular with less resources. Again, doubtful and, frankly, “conspiranoid.”

Screen capture displaying ChatGPT UI down
Whatever it is, please let’s stop this nonsense, I don’t even care anymore!

However, well-informed and trustworthy sources say that the reason for this is that there are fewer resources than usual, but not because Altman has gone cheap. Instead, it seems they were moving their infrastructure to even bigger and even better servers.

But as of today, this is all just speculation. And that speculation will end on Monday, May 13, when Altman makes some new announcements. Officially, all we know is that there will be some new features and that “it’s not ChatGPT 5.”

Unofficially, and according to Reuters and Bloomberg, Altman will announce the transformation of ChatGPT into a search engine. Let’s call it ChatGPT SE for simplicity’s sake.

ChatGPT as a Search Engine… I saw it coming

These news aren’t exactly unexpected. I think that everybody and their mother’s has been expecting this to happen sooner than later. After all, with this traction and market adoption, it would be ridiculous not to take advantage of it. Especially considering that Bing is losing the battle and there’s no way they can turn the table, so Microsoft had to do something… and here it is.

However, This shift has major implications for digital marketing strategies. Businesses must adapt not only their SEO but also their pay-per-click (PPC) strategies to align with how AI platforms index and retrieve information. The rise of platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube as search tools further diversifies the search environment, demanding a multifaceted approach to digital marketing.

In the midst of these changes, OpenAI has announced its plans to unveil an AI-powered search product, intensifying the competition with Google. Scheduled for release just before Google’s annual I/O conference, where Google is expected to announce its advancements in AI, OpenAI’s new search product aims to carve out a significant presence in the search industry.

This product extends the functionality of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, allowing it to pull information directly from the web and provide citations, an essential feature for educational and research-based queries. ChatGPT’s ability to simulate human-like interactions and provide quick responses has already positioned it as a viable alternative to traditional search engines for general information queries.

However, the accuracy and reliability of AI chatbots remain under scrutiny. As a frequent user of AI chatbots, I’ve observed that while they handle generic inquiries with about an 80% accuracy rate, their effectiveness drops significantly for complex queries, such as those related to specialized topics like user experience (UX) where specific, detailed knowledge is of utmost importance.

Despite these challenges, the potential of AI chatbots to handle transactional searches is on the horizon. Innovations like You.com’s ability to perform price comparisons and show purchase options are steps towards enabling AI chatbots to manage transactional queries effectively, a domain traditionally dominated by search engines.

Photo of Sam Altman, ChatGPT CEO
Is Sam Altman thinking of ChatGPT SE? I call dibs for the idea!

As OpenAI continues to develop its search capabilities, it’s not alone in the AI search space. Perplexity AI, a startup valued at $1 billion and founded by a former OpenAI researcher, is making notable strides. With a user-friendly AI-native search interface that provides results in both text and image formats, Perplexity AI has quickly secured a significant user base, adding to the competitive pressure on traditional search giants like Google.

What is Google doing?

Google, for its part, is not sitting idle. The tech giant is continuously enhancing its search algorithms and integrating AI to maintain its market dominance. Google’s search boss Prabhakar Raghavan emphasized the company’s commitment to agility and trustworthiness in response to the evolving market dynamics.

The legal and ethical dimensions of AI in search are also significant. As AI tools from companies like OpenAI and Google reshape how information is accessed and consumed, they also raise questions about data privacy, misinformation, and the ethical use of AI in public domains.

Here’s another point to consider, and let’s address the obvious: Every single bit of information ChatGPT, Perplexity, and similar large language models likely leverage data extracted from… Google. This raises a significant ethical concern regarding how AI handles user information.

In conclusion, the development of AI-driven search tools is set to transform the digital landscape. As OpenAI rolls out its new product, the industry must navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by AI. This includes addressing the accuracy of AI responses, the ethical considerations of AI use, and the competitive pressures on traditional search engines. The impact of AI on SEO and digital marketing is profound, heralding a new era of internet use where AI-driven tools may become the primary method for online searches, significantly altering the digital marketing strategies businesses rely on today.

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