It’s hard to avoid it— AI chatbots seem to be the subject of a lot of conversations these days. The popularity of ChatGPT has been widely recognized, causing a stir among tech companies to rush in and create their own versions. Google itself recently announced its own conversational AI service called Bard, which is positioned as a rival to ChatGPT.
While there is currently limited information available about Bard, it is expected to have an impact on the technology industry, as well as the marketing, branding, and SEO fields. This will no doubt also impact the healthcare industry greatly. The next few years will be interesting as competition between the two chatbots may lead to new developments in AI language technology and potentially provide opportunities for healthcare organizations to engage with their patients in more sophisticated ways. Healthcare marketers will want to stay up to speed on conversational AI and track how it impacts their marketing efforts in the near and long term.
What Is Bard?
As mentioned, Bard is Google’s foray into AI chatbots. It’s early days yet— the initial release features Google’s lightweight model version of LaMDA. Google is taking this light approach to scale to more users and take in as much feedback as possible. After this learning stage, where will Bard go and how will it impact search? As it looks now, Bard will be rolled into search results, serving as a chatbot that you can use to augment the search experience. Bard is not the only AI tool out there, either; in addition to the aforementioned ChatGPT, Microsoft’s Bing has its own AI chatbot, as well. It’s clear there’s plenty of momentum in the space, begging the question: What’s next?
The Impact of AI on Healthcare SEO
What Does AI Mean for Organic Search Results?
Bard will change the way we think about organic search results and how things will rank on Google. To prepare for this shift, healthcare organizations need to think more than ever about what exactly “value” and “helpful content” mean to their patients. This will mean, too, giving careful consideration to how content can generate unique value.
While the future is certainly interesting with the advent of these new AI technologies, it’s still important to have a full-funnel SEO strategy in place. AI chatbots are still very new, and they’re not necessarily the most trustworthy solutions at this point. As the technology continues to develop, expect Bard to potentially take the place of featured snippets or certain knowledge panel results, leading to more users getting their answers directly from Google. We still don’t know how or even if Google will cite its sources, so it may be difficult (or impossible) to see click-throughs from Bard.
What Does AI Mean for Content-Driven SEO Strategies?
When it comes to content-driven SEO strategies, it would be advisable to stay on your back foot for a bit with chatbots. Yes, AI technologies like ChatGPT are helpful marketing tools. They are not, however, a replacement for human strategy.
You still need to do keyword research in order to rank on the SERPS, for one. Keep in mind, too, that humans are still the brains behind what is fed to the AI to generate that content in the first place.
Since AI solutions such as ChatGPT are still in the early stages and because they are essentially sourcing their information from what already exists on the internet, they are not able to deliver the depth and detail needed on complex topics. Take a rarer treatment topic such as TMS therapy, for example— what ChatGPT will generate in terms of content is going to be quite shallow, and that will likely be the case for a while.
Remember, too, that AI is not a doctor. You should still rely on experts to help create these strategies and content. Only experts can dive in on the essential details and nuance. AI, for now, is just reproducing.
As Jacquelyn Green, Director of SEO here at Cardinal put it,
“When using AI for writing content, we are outlining it, determining what keywords and headings are in it. We’re doing the strategy and using the tool to create the answers to some of the questions. It’s more than just letting a tool spit out 500 words and then us going in and adding keywords. It’s a lot more of a hands-on strategy.”
AI doesn’t know about your organization’s value propositions. If AI does play a role in generating content, you will still need human oversight on strategy to make sure it is hitting all the right notes.
How Will AI Impact Technical SEO?
Stay alert, marketers– you’ll still need to put in your hours on technical SEO, as well. No matter how great your content is, it won’t rank if you haven’t done your due diligence and more in terms of technical SEO.
SEO Supervisor at Cardinal, Amber Ritchie, says, a top priority should be,
“making sure the foundation, UX, and site speed are great, because all of that is going to be an integral part of the new SEO strategy that a lot of people will have to implement.”
Ask yourself: What else does your site offer aside from copy on the page? As content may become a more complex area to pursue, this is where investment in quality technical SEO can really deliver impact. If a site isn’t crawlable and content isn’t getting indexed, the most dynamic content efforts in the world just won’t matter.
This is where an SEO partnership with the right agency can continue to add value.
The Future of AI & Healthcare SEO
So, yes, the future is bright where AI and Healthcare SEO intersect but pace yourself. Remember, AI in regards to marketing and SEO is still new. While we can’t know exactly what the future holds, what you can do is evaluate what your healthcare organization is currently doing. After taking those steps, ask yourself “If Google is releasing Bard in 6 months, what can I do to prepare for it?” Have a game plan for when these new technologies roll out. Also, remember that AI isn’t going anywhere. In the long term, AI is only going to get smarter and more prevalent; we will all have to adapt to work with it, rather than for it or against it.
And above all else? Stay ahead! Keep up to date on trends, releases, and new advances in the technology. Getting behind on this front won’t serve you well as we all take these first steps into a new AI future.
At the end of the day, AI will not solve patients’ problems or provide services; it can only provide information. Remember, the patient experience is always front and center, and the most important thing is the information you are providing to your patients. Whatever role AI plays in your marketing strategy, make sure that you are always giving your patients the most helpful and valuable content possible.