GenAI To Shrink Search Engine Traffic 25% by 2026

GenAI To Shrink Search Engine Traffic 25% by 2026

Published: February 21, 2024

For decades, search engines have been the gateway to information online, but a bold prediction from research firm Gartner has sent shockwaves through the digital landscape.

Could search engine traffic really plummet by 25% within the next few years due to the rise of AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants?

“Generative AI solutions are becoming substitute answer engines, replacing user queries that previously may have been executed in traditional search engines,” Gartner’s VP Analyst Alan Antin said in a press release.

The Increasing Use of Generative AI

At the heart of this prediction lies a fundamental shift in user behavior.

Instead of typing queries into a search bar, people are beginning to favor interacting directly with an AI assistant.

Why is this?

It's because users can literally command these intelligent tools through prompts to do and deliver exactly what they want or need in a matter of seconds.

This is the vision of generative AI tools like ChatGPT and Gemini, which are increasingly becoming adept at engaging in natural language conversations and providing personalized responses.

Gartner’s forecast of search engine volume decreasing by 25% in 2026 and 50% in 2028 would have profound implications for businesses, particularly those reliant on search engine optimization (SEO) to reach customers.

“This will force companies to rethink their marketing channels strategy as GenAI becomes more embedded across all aspects of the enterprise,” Antin stated.

How Should Businesses Adapt?

The integration of AI tech within search engines themselves is already underway, potentially blurring the lines between traditional search and conversational AI, and necessitating SEO strategies to adapt.

“Companies will need to focus on producing unique content that is useful to customers and prospective customers,” Antin advised.

Here are some strategies that businesses can adopt to keep up with the evolving SEO landscape:

  • Diversify reach: Consider exploring other channels like social media, influencer marketing and content marketing to attract customers.
  • Focus on quality and relevance: Whether through search engines or AI assistants, users will continue to crave high-quality, relevant content. Investing in creating informative, engaging and authentic content will remain crucial for attracting and retaining customers.
  • Stay adaptable: Businesses that can adapt to new technologies and user behaviors will be best positioned to thrive in this new era of online discovery.

The impact of AI assistants and chatbots on search engine traffic remains to be seen. While the future may hold a shift in user behavior, it's likely to be gradual, not a complete revolution.

Businesses that embrace change, diversify their strategies and prioritize quality will be best equipped to navigate this emerging landscape and continue to connect with their customers effectively.

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