Will Google lose to AI search? What everyone is missing.

by Jim February 7, 2024

Welcome back Rankers! This week I’ll dive into the transformative landscape of digital marketing, e-commerce, and the revolutionary role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as we move through 2024. From the development and accessibility of custom GPT tools designed by the StewArt Media team to the evolving dynamics of search engines and consumer behaviour, this video covers a range of topics critical to understanding the future of online search, marketing strategies, and the AI-driven tools that are reshaping how we interact with the digital world. Join me as we explore the intersection of technology, marketing, and commerce in an ever-changing digital environment.

What I Learned

  • The Rise of Custom GPT Tools: Discover how over 30 custom GPT tools developed by the team are revolutionising e-commerce marketing, offering free resources to enhance marketing strategies.
  • The Decline of Traditional Search: Learn about the shift away from conventional search practices towards more AI-driven solutions like ChatGPT, reducing reliance on search engines like Google for information retrieval.
  • Perplexity.AI and Its Impact: Uncover insights into Perplexity.AI, a new search engine gaining traction and investment attention, and its potential implications for the future of search.
  • Changing Search Engine Dynamics: Explore how search engines are becoming more integrated into digital tools and platforms, offering streamlined, ad-free experiences that could redefine user interaction with the internet.
  • The Future of E-commerce and AI Integration: Gain perspectives on how AI, including custom GPTs and tools like Exa.ai, are set to influence e-commerce strategies, search functionalities, and the overall shopping experience.


Welcome back, Rankers. How are you going in 2024? Better late than never, right? What’s been happening over the last year with e-commerce, search, and of course, AI. And we’ve been working a lot with AI. We’ve been building a lot of tools. Our team’s built about, I don’t know, over 30 of these custom GPTs now. And they’re free for anyone to go and use them. Just go and use some of these. Just go to our website, just Google “StewArt Media custom GPTs,” and you’ll find the link to all our free GPTs ready to use for you to help you with your e-commerce marketing.

Is Search Leaving?

But last year, I said I think search is going to go away, and certainly for me, over the last year, I’ve been doing a lot less searches in Google and I’ve been using a lot of ChatGPT. That’s mainly because I’ve been doing a lot of programming along with Nick in the office here. This office will be too small. But we’ve been doing a lot of programming, and rather than me previously having to go to Google and then wade through all these different sites trying to find the answer to an error I happened to be Googling, you have to wade through five, six pages of results and even then you may not find the answer that you need. Well, last year, I was just using ChatGPT all the time.

I mentioned I think in one of the shows last year about a new search engine that was coming out, and that was called Perplexity.AI. That is certainly causing a lot of kerfuffle at the moment and it’s getting a lot of attention from investors such as Jeff Bezos and others. A lot of people are saying, “Oh, this is going to kill Google.” I don’t think it will. I think we’re still going to see that move away from traditional search, and we’ll be asking our assistants, whatever they might be embedded in whatever we’re using because it’s going to be embedded, already is embedded in a whole bunch of things. Just look at Shopify’s State of Shopify report that came out last week. That’s a whole other show with the amount of AI stuff it’s got built in now.

But even Google Bard now is up at the next level. People are saying, “Oh, it’s rivalling ChatGPT now for doing all these wonderful things that will help you not only with your writing, which is what most people are using it for, let’s face it, but also image generation and those sorts of things that ChatGPT has already been used for.

But one of the things that I found myself doing last year, as did a lot of people, is that we stopped using Google search for things that we would normally have to come and search for. So I was doing a lot of programming last year, and rather than Googling an error that I might have in a particular app that I was trying to build, I would go straight back to ChatGPT, who was basically my coding buddy assistant, and all Microsoft Co-Pilot is what some other people are using, or whatever the assistant that you’re using. And you would just ask the assistant instead and it would be faster, quicker, and you wouldn’t have to wade through, you know, five pages of search results or, you know, hit the back button every time because you hit a page that was just full of ads and popups, and you had to scroll through this long article created by SEOs at the publishing company so they could get more views on their ads that were in line. All of those things are starting to go away now.

The Google Killer?

And one of the ones that I did touch on last year was Perplexity.AI. I started using it, and I thought, “This is a pretty cool tool.” Now, a lot of people have come out recently said, “Ah, it’s a Google killer.” I don’t think it is. And there are a number of reasons for that. As you know, for the last probably five, six years, we’ve been observing that the organic search results are great for shoppers and great for people selling stuff, but if you’re looking for informational things, they’re not as good as what they used to be. And you may remember I did a search involving that red phone over the back there where the only information I could get about that red phone was Google telling me about red mobile phones, and I’ll link the video in the description there. And that was the demise for me of what Google was becoming. It was becoming more of a shopping engine or an answer engine as some people are calling it. And let’s face it, for many people, Google is now just an answer engine in that it is doing your navigation. So, most people don’t even know that they’re actually Googling something when they Google. And we’ve shown the number of searches that people Google “Google” because they just go to their browser, and they type in Google. Not realizing that that’s a search and it just takes them to Google.

Information versus Shopping

So, what is happening now though is that tools that are emerging like Perplexity AI are sort of great for those informational type searches and what they’re doing is basically going out to, well, let’s have a look at it. Let’s do a search here. So, this is Perplexity AI, kids’ quad bike brake throttle handle. I had to repair a quad bike I’ve got here, and I was looking for one of these. This is great. It tells me, “Oh, yeah, no, that’s the thing. That’s the throttle. That’s the one. That’s the one I want. Fantastic.” Yep. No ads, really clean, and then I click on the first result and it is currently unavailable, out of stock, not a great experience whereas if I do the same search in Google, then I get all these different options and I don’t just get one retailer, I get a bunch of retailers whereas, you know, something like Perplexity is only going to give me these two or three results.

Now, there’s a lot of great stuff about Perplexity, but not with shopping, right? So, if you’re looking for information, if you’re looking for news, and a lot of people are lauding its praises because they’re saying it cuts out all the pop-ups, all the ads you have to scroll through, all the paywalls, all those sorts of things. And it just gives you the information with maybe a link to that piece of that page that’s, they’ve got the information from. Now that’s great right now, but that’s what pays for those other publishers to produce that information. And let’s face it, that’s what the New York Times is complaining about right now in the major court case against ChatGPT because it says it’s trained ChatGPT on all of its stolen data. Well, Google’s been doing that for years with zero-click results. And we know what’s important for users is to get the answer quickly. That’s why Google has zero-click results. And over the years, Google has moved away from surfacing organic results in exchange for ads, in exchange for Google business profiles, in exchange for rich snippets, which are essentially zero-click results, and also things like people also ask, which are also essentially zero-click results. So, Google recognises that this information that other publishers have out there is valuable, and they’re trying to give it to its users as quickly as possible.

Now, perplexity also has a paid model, so I could see them getting into trouble in the not-too-distant future because they’re making money out of other people’s content if they’re not actually sending them to it. If you’re just, you know, if you don’t need to go and buy this brake-and-throttle handle, you’re not going to go to the site. It’s the same with just informational search. In fact, over the last year, if I’ve wanted to do some research on an old document or scientific document or a scholarly paper, sometimes I’ll go to Google Scholar, but most of the time I’ve just been heading off to Ecosia because it doesn’t use things like search intent and all those sorts of things. It’s just given me the answers that I want. It’s just basic directory stuff, right? Whereas Google tries to look at all this entity information rather than the keywords themselves, trying to guess what you want, which is what it was doing in that search that I was doing for that red payphone back there.

What the Future Holds

Now, so what’s going to happen in the future? Well, these results are much better for shoppers, right? But if I want to look at how I convert an M4A file to an MP3, for a file to an mp3 using really giving a lot of information FF mpeg right here what’s Google gonna show me it’s trying to give me the answers is trying to give me a zero-click result but that’s not a zero-click result I have to go and I have to go and click right I have to go in Instructables, and I know Instructables is gonna be full of ads, right? So, I don’t want to go and do that. Where is it I go to? ChatGPT. And by the way, we’ve been using ChatGPT extensively. Google Bard made some releases this week, which is sort of bringing it up to the same level as ChatGPT, even for image generation. So, if you haven’t got the paid version of ChatGPT, you can go and use BARD for free and get a lot of the same stuff. But what we’ve been doing a lot this over the last 12 months, well, since November, when these were released, is creating all these custom GPTs free to anyone to use. You can go and use those yourself and just to help you with your own e-commerce marketing and a bunch of other things.

One of my favourites is Meeting Mate, I don’t even know if you can see it there. Yeah, Meeting Mate. But Meeting Mate is fantastic. If you do a lot of meetings, if you’re busy, if you’re a salesperson, if you’re an executive, if you’re a solo operator, whatever, Meeting Mate is gold. And I’m not just saying that because, you know, I was part of building it and I use it every day. It’s, I’ve got other people telling me that because it’s just such a time saver. And that’s what a lot of these things are, they’re time savers. So, if I do that search in ChatGPT, I hope it, yep, bang, there’s the answer exactly what I need and the same would be true with say, uh, Perplexity.ai. It’s going to give me the exact answer that I want. And there’s actually a new player coming on board because as we know, ChatGPT, its information is limited until I think it’s April 2023. It hasn’t been updated since then. It hasn’t learned new things. The difference with Perplexity, of course, it’s going out and looking at the actual site and dragging that back in. ChatGPT does that with Bing. Bing is incorporated into ChatGPT and if you’re using Microsoft Office or any of the Microsoft tools now, you will be familiar with Microsoft Co-Pilot, which is embedded in all of these tools, which is powered by GPT-4. But there’s actually even a new player on the block and this is how search is gonna be changing and embedded and you won’t even know that you don’t need to do that search anymore. Like if you’re running a blog about, you know, FFMPEG, well, good luck with that, right? Trying to get traffic and ad revenue from that because those days I think are gone for a lot of those sorts of blogs and sites and those sorts of things. But there is actually a new player and that is called Exa. I would highly encourage, if you’re interested in search, go and have a look at exa.ai because Exa is doing something, it’s a bit like Perplexity in there.

It’s an AI search engine if you like, but they have described it as a search engine for large language models. So, over the last year, we’ve been embedding, or we’ve been working with a lot of different scripts, and we’ve built search functionality into those scripts. And, you know, this is just a few of the ones that I’ve been creating over the last year, right? And many of those will have Google embedded in them to go into a search. Well, what Exa is saying is rather than use Google, which is designed for humans, and it’s got all these things that I described to you earlier about, it is, you know, you’ve got to wade through all the information, which means more tokens, which means more costs, if you like, when you’re creating these programs. What Exa is saying that they’re doing is that they’re just finding the information that you need for that request and saving you time and money and being more accurate. So, they’re saying this is gonna be the search engine to embed into other systems. So, there was so much happening out there.

And one of the things that I think we will see this year is a very big change in how Google search as we know it operates. I would see that shopping is going to become more dominant. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see just a Google shopping tool and you know, we’re all and they’re going to be competing against the likes of let’s face it Amazon, which they’ve been competing against for years, even though Amazon advertises on Google, but they are competing for shopper eyeballs. And now also Shopify with their own Shop App. And so, the more that these big players own those eyeballs, the more dominant they’re going to become.

How to make it work for your business

And the same is true with your own e-commerce business. What is going to be more important than ever this year is understanding your own customers, understanding how your competitors might be trying to steal those customers, go and have a look at some of our custom GPTs to get some competitive insights, because they have been gold for us this year, to find really quick wins for our clients that have just bang, skyrocketed some results and not only in Google and Google ads, but just in conversions for the people who are already at your site looking at that information as we’ve been saying for years. Speed to purchase is the most important thing when it comes to e-commerce and that just doesn’t mean page load time. That means having a great search functionality, so wait for the Shopify updates that are coming around that. They are insane. They’re gonna hurt a lot of those other tools that are already out there, or apps that are already out there performing those sorts of things. And I think increasingly, we’re going to see more of that with Shopify, but Shopify have always said that the app network is going to be really important for their ongoing business model because it helps support everything. So, it’s going to be interesting to see what they do.

But shopping is, I think, the thing that most of these AI players or most of the AI commentators are missing out on when they’re talking about, almost isn’t this great, that we’re using these search engines that don’t have ads. A lot of people like ads, especially in Google, if they’re targeted. I certainly do. The ones I don’t like are the remarketing ads. No one likes remarketing ads. And to be perfectly honest, I haven’t seen a good use case yet where remarketing works as you would expect. Remarketing works really, really well in email. So, build those email lists, although we’re not that far away from Google Microsoft and others being the curator of your emails as well and Klaviyo and others will be talking to those assistants. But the most important thing is having that direct connection with your customers. We may even see a swing back to you know old school too, you know, old school in your letterbox, paper, being sent out to customers because it’s more personal. And we might see a lot more of that, especially at a local level, I think. And for instance, I’ve been going to a few shops over the break, and they want to sign me up to their loyalty programs and everything else. But as soon as I get that first SMS, I’m like, “Nah, stop,” because I do not want SMS as marketing. I never used to like having advertising material in my letterbox either, but given the way the world’s going, I think we may even see that reemerge. I’d love to know what you think.

Hopefully, that’s helpful. Sorry, that’s a bit of a mouthful for today’s show! I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please like, share, and subscribe if you’re on YouTube. And if you’re watching this anywhere else, on LinkedIn or on X, please comment. And if you have any questions or opinions, I’d love to hear your feedback because this really is a brave new world. Hopefully not the one that Aldous Huxley presented to us. You can always reach out to me at [email protected] And that’s it for this week. We’ll see you next week. Thanks very much. Bye.Top of Form

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