This week I've been reading up on Google's new generative AI search. And here's the red flag 🚩 I'm worried about: it has a search intent problem.
When you google something, you're expecting a specific kind of result— that's your search intent. Search intent is really important to Google, so important there's a whole section on it in their Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines about it (page 87). So, as content marketers, when we're building content for the internet, we have to know not only the answer to the question the customer might be asking, but also what format they want that answer in.
If Ash is searching for:
You'd probably assume Ash wants a skim-able list of cheap wines with reviews and where to buy them, not to click on an essay or an e-book. Because Ash doesn't want to curl up and read for an hour, bestie wants to get buzzed on a budget.
Good content has to be useful and directly match the immediate needs of your customer.
So when I search for Nike the most likely search intent for that keyword is that I want to shop at Nike. This is what that search experience looks like right now:
I get the brand defence ad at the top there, and the next result is just a direct link to the Nike website. In the slightly more rare case where I was doing school research on the company, I've got information on the right hand side— but it's not obstructing the most likely intent: shopping on the Nike website.
Boom, that's exactly what where I wanted to go *click*.
Now let's look at the current generative AI version of this same experience:
It's a dictionary definition of Nike generated by the language model.
Uh, I know what Nike is. I don't need that
The first three links are a Best Crossfit Shoes blog from something called Garage Gym, the Nike Wikipedia page, and a link to a resale site with 40+ colors of a vintage Nike Blazer.
I didn't mention crossfit or vintage Blazers?!
Now there are a bunch of shoe options with Nike and all sorts of resellers meshed right in there:
Dude, I just wanted to get to the Nike website to buy a hockey bag.
And this is a really simple search example.
Want to search up a hack for the game you're playing? That might be a bit of a nightmare.
In an effort to keep up with OpenAI, Google is damaging their most important value prop: we make it easy to find what you're looking for.
These changes are going impact our ability to get our content seen and serve our customers— so sure, I'm a bit nervous. But we're still in beta, so hopefully Google gets its shoes together in time for the full rollout. Or else, we're all going to have an interesting Q3.
I'm curious, have you used Google's AI Search? What do you think so far?
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