The impact of AI on SEO in 2024: My opinion

AI is going to have an (even) bigger(er) impact on the way search engines work in 2024. Not only are the internal processes of search engines being further refined, but the way information is presented is also going through a sea change. The latter unfortunately remains underexposed when it comes to generative AI. In this article, I make up for this.

The impact of AI on search results pages

AI “threatens” (or poses an opportunity, however you see it) SEO on two sides.

1. AI speeds up internal processes of agencies offering search engine marketing. This saves in internal costs incurred to offer certain services.
2. AI is going to ensure that the results of these processes are rewarded differently. The search results pages are going to look different from both Bing and Google, rewarding (as it stands now) the #1, #2 and #3 even more.

There is a lot of focus on the side of generative AI (think ChatGPT), where the threat/opportunity is on the side of an SEO agency’s processes . On the side of the outcome of working on SEO, however, there lurk threats as well as opportunities of a different type.

Is this a surprise?

No. And it is in line with the long-standing trend where the average CTR from the search results page to content providers (websites) is getting lower and lower. Google wants the search results page to be the searcher’s end station. Just search for jobs, hotels, flights or vacation rentals in Google. It is (almost) impossible to go to a website.

See the figures below (from Advanced WebRanking – international – desktop).

September 2015
#1 position (organic) –> average CTR of 34.96%
#2 position (organic) –> average CTR of 19.1%
#3 position (organic) –> average CTR of 11.59%
#4 position (organic) –> average CTR of 8.06%
#5 position (organic) –> average CTR of 5.77%

October 2023
#1 position (organic) –> average CTR of 31.12%
#2 position (organic) –> average CTR of 14.94%
#3 position (organic) –> average CTR of 8.67%
#4 position (organic) –> average CTR of 5.74%
#5 position (organic) –> average CTR of 4.12%

Total CTR for top-10 results (Oct 2023): 74,41%
Total CTR for top-10 results (Sept. 2023): 93,3%

As you can see, this is a very large decrease in the number of visitors that Google passes on to Google’s organic results, and at the same time this shows Google’s intent: Either you click on an ad, or you click on a result from Google itself (in the specific industries where they are present with their own offerings). This news is not entirely unexpected with the most recent times Google has been in the news.

As of when can we expect this?
Fast. This is expected (logically, the search engines did not release a timeline) to be rolled out in 2024.

For example, Bing recently (as of 15/11/2023) launched a new update that may rewrite the snippets on the search results page. Of course, what we already know is that Bing.com, even in the Netherlands, has already changed its look and feel. This could possibly foreshadow how Google envisions it.

How does this affect SEO results?

This is going to have a huge impact on SEO results. What Google has presented as its plans for 2024 is the SGE (generative AI in search) is a revamped search results page where the top three results are complemented by a snippet generated by Bard (Google’s version of ChatGPT).

As it stands, it represents an opportunity for SEO specialists to get more out of snippets when a top-3 position is achieved for a search term with an informational intent.

What is my opinion on this?

SEO is not likely to decrease significantly in value. The reason? A search engine is not sustainable with only ads or an offer from Google itself. The quality of supply is generally lower from ads because there is a piece of monetary market forces woven into this (vs an algorithm focused solely on content quality).

Google must provide the searcher with what he or she is looking for faster. In this day and age, you can no longer expect searchers to search past the top five, top 10 or even on page two of Google for what they are looking for. There have simply come too many alternatives to Google. Think ChatGPT for informative content, Tiktok for the younger audience and, of course, the repricing of Bing. An interesting statistic to back this up:

Google sits at its lowest global market share in a year. Bing is sitting on the highest global market share in 10 months. Found at https://gs.statcounter.com/search-engine-market-share.

The percentages may be far apart, but even with ChatGPT you saw that the global adoption rate has extreme proportions. A major threat to Google will always be alternatives from Google. This does not necessarily have to be in the form of a traditional search engine; anything is a search engine if you can search for information.

Senior SEO-specialist

Ralf van Veen

Senior SEO-specialist
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I have been working for 10 years as an independent SEO specialist for companies (in the Netherlands and abroad) that want to rank higher in Google in a sustainable manner. During this period I have consulted A-brands, set up large-scale international SEO campaigns and coached global development teams in the field of search engine optimization.

With this broad experience within SEO, I have developed the SEO course and helped hundreds of companies with improved findability in Google in a sustainable and transparent way. For this you can consult my portfolio, references and collaborations.

This article was originally published on 22 November 2023. The last update of this article was on 22 November 2023. The content of this page was written and approved by Ralf van Veen. Learn more about the creation of my articles in my editorial guidelines.