AI-powered search is radically changing the way people use information on the Web, fundamentally disrupting how brands get found and rendering many Search Engine Marketing strategies obsolete. A list of blue links doesn’t apply with chatbot queries, so to get found you need new strategies.
If you’ve used ChatGPT or other AI powered chatbots, you know that the resulting answers to your natural language questions are simply descriptive answers. The source of the answer isn’t normally provided.
Your carefully curated SEO strategies have been rendered obsolete!
As I've said before, AI is just data plus math. With a large language model with a chatbot interface, the math comes from companies like OpenAI (ChatGPT). You want your data to be surfaced, so you need to be part of the data that is used in the model.
I believe that there are changes on the horizon as AI companies modify how they share results. I expect that content to train the large language models will be licensed in the future, rather than simply scraped from the public internet. That means the source of an answer will be indicated. I also expect links to additional content and in context advertising to come.
Nobody really knows if these changes will come this month or this year or next year but now is the time to get started if you want to get found in chatbots.
To get a sense of what is likely from the various AI chatbots, take a look at the ChatGPT interface for the Bing search engine, which is available on the Microsoft Edge browser. The results include links to additional content.
To try it, you will need to download the Edge browser and then get access to ChatGPT functionality.
How to get found in chatbots
Over the past few months, I’ve tested many different queries to figure out strategies to get found. Here are a few that work some of the time, depending on the nature of the question and the response from the AI.
This gives us an idea of three strategies to get found.
Become the recognized expert
It seems clear that the chatbots frequently return content from recognized experts.
So, if you are already working on an Inbound Marketing strategy to become an expert, keep going! The better known you become, the more likely it becomes that the chatbots will point to your content.
Like traditional SEO, you will need to get links to your content and, if you can, mentions from the media. Being in Wikipedia helps a ton as do sites like associations, government agencies, and others of authority.
Here’s an example of a Bing / ChatGPT query that resulted in a link to Design Ergonomics, a company that’s known as the leader in dental office design and has excellent content on their website.
Write and market a popular book
When I use a chatbot to ask questions related to my own work, I often see Bing / ChatGPT citing one of my books in the response or in the related content links. I’ve tested this with content related to other authors and answers also cite their books, so it seems clear that having a book is a great strategy to get found in chatbots.
The example here is a question about the Grateful Dead. The book that I co-wrote with Brian Halligan, HubSpot co-founder and Executive Chairman and Bill Walton, the NBA basketball Hall of Famer Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead was surfaced as links.
This is yet another reason to write a book if you’ve been thinking about doing that.
Note: If you’re considering writing a business book and would like some help, I offer book coaching services. I can help with strategies to discover a topic, work on an effective title and subtitle, provide editorial advice, show you ways to get published, and share tactics on how to market your book. Contact me to learn more.
Invent a new way of doing something and own the URL
Another way to get found in chatbots is to invent a concept that people adopt. I’ve seen this done many times and it works great!
As new concepts like Product Led Growth gain popularity, the primary URL that people go to for learning is often where the chatbots get their information.
This has been great for me with Newsjacking, the marketing and PR strategy I popularized more than a decade ago. When people ask about Newsjacking in chatbots, my content is often surfaced, sometimes citing my name or in the case of Bing / ChatGPT providing a link to my site.
We’re in a new world. Now is the time to develop a strategy to get found in chatbots.
I’ll be delivering a talk titled How to Get Found in LLM AI Search Like ChatGPT-Powered Bing at HubSpot’s INBOUND conference on September 6 where I will dig even deeper into this topic. Hope to see you there.
Disclosures: I am advising Design Ergonomics and I am on the HubSpot advisory board.