AI and SEO

Is AI Eating Your SEO?

In this post, we examine AI and SEO and, more importantly, the toxic effect one has on the other.

This is personal!

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has been a significant growth driver for my business. The combination of educational content and an intentional SEO strategy has driven 10X increase in traffic in 3 years.

50% of Health Launchpad’s growth can be directly attributed to marketing. SEO and, in particular, non-branded search terms have been among the biggest factors.

But this SEO-driven growth has stalled.

In the last six months, unique visitor growth has flattened and may be starting to decline.

Why?

Our non-branded search is declining.

(BTW: Don’t worry, the business is doing great 😅)

Why Non-Branded Search Matters

Non-branded search gives you an unfair advantage. It’s one of the ways that people who have never heard of you find out how you can help them early on in their buyer journey.

For Health Launchpad, non-branded search has been a major factor in finding prospects who had never heard of us. If they liked what they read, they might subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on LinkedIn.

When they were ready, they reached out and scheduled a meeting.

Many new clients have told me that’s exactly what happened.

If it’s happening to us, is it happening to you?

Why is This Happening?

To help me with this question, two SEO gurus join me on the Healthtech Marketing Show podcast.

t. Danny Goodwin is Managing Editor of Search Engine Land & SMX. Karen Finn, PhD is Health Launchpad’s SEO expert and was instrumental in our SEO-driven growth.

You can listen to the episode on AI and SEO here. Trust me, it is worth 30 minutes of your time.

According to Danny and Karen, there appear to be two AI-related reasons:

  1. Search Generative AI is taking up half the real estate on the first page in many Google search results
  2. Using AI to write content may hurt your search rankings

Look at this search results page for the term Healthcare Market Segmentation. Note: This has been a search term we have ranked #1 for since 2021. It has reliably added 5-10 weekly newsletter signups and thousands of site visitors.

How AI and SEO work against each other

As you can see, sponsored results take up half of the first page of results. And that’s not too bad. If you google Account Based Marketing, there are four sponsored results that take up the entire first page.

The killer is what Google calls AI Overview. It’s currently an experiment to present a Generative AI-generated result in response to your query.  Its use is being scaled up.

AI Overviews take up half the first page of the results.

As you can see, it gets worse. If you click “Show More”, the expanded result takes up a whole page.

Although the Health Launchpad result is the top organic search result, this does not include the three called-out articles that the Generative AI recommends.

And by the way, the cute little graphic displayed in the SGE result is Health Launchpad’s, and we get no credit.

Top Ranked and Relegated From Page 1 to Page 3

If you searched Healthcare Market Segmentation six months ago, Health Launchpad was the #1 organic search result. And still is.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that six months ago, the Health Launchpad result would have appeared above the red line and would have been displayed on the first page. As you can see, the Health Launchpad result has been pushed below the expanded SGE results.

Page 1 is now page 3

If you put hard work into getting your content into the top 1-3 search rankings, anyone searching on the topic in question must scroll to find you proactively.

AI-Generated Self-inflicted Wound

The second issue may be one of my own makings.

There is a growing school of thought that using AI to help write content hurts your search rankings.

There is no definitive answer to this but according to our SEO expert, Karen Finn, PhD:

“I’ve got a few clients who are working, to get more content out more quickly using generative AI. And they’ve been doing that for a few months and every single one of them has seen a drop in their SEO.”

Ironically, when I searched on this, Google does not generate an AI Overview on this topic, Funny that!

AI and SEO: No help from Google

 

I may be guilty of using AI more than I should. Over the last six months, much of my content has been based on our podcasts or the webinars we run. I use Descript to create transcripts and Claude.ai to generate the first draft of a blog post. I then edit it heavily. As I have trained Claude over several months, the voice is authentic. Moreover, I look out for obvious AI-generated words and phrases and edit them out.

But Google seems to be on to me. Our overall search performance has declined in the last six months.

Watch Episode This Episode on AI and SEO

What You Can Do About AI and SEO

This is a tough one.

In February 2024, Gartner predicted that this would get worse.

 “By 2026, traditional search engine volume will drop 25%,” the research firm said. “with search marketing losing market share to AI chatbots and other virtual agents.”

Here are five things to consider:

  1. Keep it Real: I have stopped using AI to write posts. I will continue to use it to transcribe and create notes, but I have gone back to writing posts the way I used to. Will this work? I won’t know for at least three months. I will let you know what I find.
  2. Work The Long Tail: I get the sense from my own use searches that AI Overviews appear less frequently with long-tail terms. There also tend to be fewer sponsored results. One tactic is to develop detailed FAQs. These can help you appear in the “People Ask” block on the first page of search engine results. Generative AI may eat that up eventually, but we can’t control that.
  3. Double down on Social: Danny Goodwin, the editor of Search Engine Land, recommended that you diversify your traffic in our podcast. Build your presence on LinkedIn, YouTube, and even TikTok.
  4. Focus on Your Superpower: In the podcast, Danny echoed something I believe in. We all must focus on building brand authority for what makes us special. Suppose you develop a reputation across social channels for being an authority in something. In that case, the AI Large Language Models (LLMs) will eventually catch up with that and maybe give you credit for it. Regardless, if you become known as being good at something, people will find out about you and seek you out.
  5. Invest in Account-based Marketing (ABM): If you are good at ABM, you will master the science of finding accounts that appear to be in-market for what you do. You will also master the art of persuading them to put you at the top of the list before they contact any vendor.

Do You Need Help with AI and SEO or Anything Else?

    1. Check out more posts like this in the Health tech MarketingLearning Center. It is chock-full of articles, use cases, how-to’s, and ideas to get you started on your Inbound marketing model and ABM journey.
    2. Follow me or connect with me on LinkedIn. I publish videos and articles on ABM and health tech marketing.
    3. Buy Total Customer Growth: Our book on how to win and grow customers for life with ABM and ABX.
    4. Work with me directly. Let’s book a growth session and we can explore ways you can improve your marketing using the latest techniques in account-based marketing.
Posted by Adam Turinas
Posted in Content, Digital & Influencer Marketing on June 25, 2024

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About the Author Adam Turinas

Hi, I am Adam Turinas, Health Launchpad's founder. I am passionate about helping healthtech firms succeed through better sales and marketing. I have hard-earned experience in healthcare technolgy as I started two healthcare businesses in the US, the first with zero healthcare experience. We sold the second business to a strategic buyer seven years later. Over 9 years building a healhtech businesses, I have learned how to sell and market effectively to healthcare organizations. Prior to this, I spent two decades in digital marketing across healthcare and other consumer industries where I sold over $100 million in products and services to corporations and healthcare orgs. I would love to talk with you. You can book a call with me on the right hand side. Best Adam (This is page 0 of many)Enter your text here...

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