UPDATE: After several months of almost every search term seeing a downtrend in the summer and fall of 2023, we are seeing stabilization in search queries. As expected, ChatGPT was the new and “hot” product when it comes to Internet apps and services and that newness has worn off a little bit. Note that as soon as a newer model of ChatGPT becomes available for free (ChatGPT 4.0) we will likely see some immediate interest. Google is working with TikTok to implement their search bar into the TikTok app so it makes sense that they would want to work with OpenAI to add their Internet search functionality to ChatGPT. We will see if that happens by the end of 2024.

Over the summer of 2023 many highly trafficked websites have reported less search traffic. With Google being the dominate search engine, it should come as no surprise that any adjustment in overall Google Search Traffic is quickly noticed by website owners and businesses. Most small business owners are reporting a slight drop in traffic but overall sales growth remains positive. In the last 15 years very little has changed in terms of search traffic and SEO. That changed when ChatGPT was made available to the public on November 30th, 2022.

We have data from several websites in which the traffic was gathered through “how to” and question style content that searchers type into the Google search box. Think, “what do I do if I crack a tooth?” This is not time sensitive information so it is something that a user could get from ChatGPT. What we have noticed is that ChatGPT is the hot, new option for the more technologically advanced users. Many of the searches that once brought users to a specific website are now being answered by AI chat programs.

Even though more people are using ChatGPT in 2023 it does not mean that Google Search traffic has completely disappeared. In fact, the opposite is true. Now, it is even more important to rank in Google Search because those using Google will have an even strong intent to purchase or call. These are not searchers that are just browsing for information. They are ready to put in a credit card and make a payment for a good or service.

Before changing an entire marketing strategy due to AI and ChatGPT, it is wise to analyze all of the data and how it may be affecting the bottom line of a business or company. Not all traffic is equal. We all know search traffic is the most valuable traffic, but that became even more evident with ChatGPT taking the more generic, information based traffic. Google has very little to worry about; sites like Wikipedia and About.com are the ones that are going to see a huge drop in traffic.

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