2 min read

What will AI do to web searching?

AI can generate text really quickly. What will that flood do to the humble web search? Let's barely scratch the surface.
What will AI do to web searching?
Photo by Dung Anh / Unsplash. Try to find a stock photo of someone using Bing. Can't be done. 

If there’s a topic I’ve been asked about more than any other recently, it’s been AI text generation tools. There's the big chat one that I'm not gonna use the name of, and other ones that can be found at various .ai domains. (Shoutout to Anguilla, who's gonna benefit from the goldrush of .ai domains!)

My general opinion on these tools is that they're like someone inventing a newer, more efficient match when most of the city is already on fire. Not right now, k?

What's on fire?

The easily-searchable portion of the internet is already awash in low-quality information-light “content” after every company in the last ten years enacted some sort of content marketing strategy. And they’ve already been using AI tools, or the human equivalent that is cheap labour, to fill every tiny hole in a search engine’s roster.

Then there are the hordes of actual content companies producing anything they can so they can slap some ads on it and pop-up email subscription form so they can email you ads.

And of course search engines checks notes ... rewarded this?


So how do you find content that is actually … good?

Finding relevant content is way harder from a simple search than it used to be. You’ll get some sort of answer for any query but it’s often going to be tangentially related to your actual problem, or miss out on a lot of obvious options.

This is not new though. The content ad wars have been going on for years. Maybe you're most familiar with the battle of the recipes.

Recipes, the most searched for thing, are crazy competitive. And I'm sure you've opened a result and yelled at the screen, “just get to the recipe!” Well food bloggers don’t tell you their life stories because they all want to be doing that all the time. But if they just post a recipe, search engines are not going to rank that very well.

And that works for search engines, which are mostly ad networks, because you now have to scroll past 50 ads to get to the part of the page you want.

YouTube … same problem. They rewarded longer videos with more ad money to the creator because YouTube can run more ads. So short to-the-point videos weren’t produced anymore.

This is why you see folks turning to TikTok for restaurant recommendations, as weird as that may seem on the surface to us olds.

An AI walks into a bar…

The search-engine-fronted internet is not that great because it’s been flooded with generic content. And in walks AI content creation tools so we can … flood it with more repetitive content? Content that’s trained on the low-quality stuff that we’ve been putting out there for decades? Content that struggles to add anything new to the conversation?

Oh, yeah, sure. That’ll solve it.

But, hey, when a wave of shit washes over a town, there's a huge opportunity for builders.

More to come on this topic for sure unless I get distracted by my own reflection or something.