Search Engine Volume Will Drop 25% by 2026

By 2026, traditional search engine volume will drop 25%, with search marketing losing market share to AI chatbots and other virtual agents, according to Gartner, Inc. 

“Organic and paid search are vital channels for tech marketers seeking to reach awareness and demand generation goals,” said Alan Antin, Vice President Analyst at Gartner. “Generative AI (GenAI) solutions are becoming substitute answer engines, replacing user queries that previously may have been executed in traditional search engines. This will force companies to rethink their marketing channels strategy as GenAI becomes more embedded across all aspects of the enterprise.” 

Quality and Authenticity Will Be Focal Points as Virtual Agents Replace Traditional Search

With GenAI driving down the cost of producing content, there is an impact around activities including keyword strategy and website domain authority scoring. Search engine algorithms will further value the quality of content to offset the sheer amount of AI-generated content, as content utility and quality still reigns supreme for success in organic search results.

There will also be a greater emphasis placed on watermarking and other means to authenticate high-value content. Government regulations across the globe are already holding companies accountable as they begin to require the identification of marketing content assets that AI creates. This will likely play a role in how search engines will display such digital content.

“Companies will need to focus on producing unique content that is useful to customers and prospective customers,” said Antin. “Content should continue to demonstrate search quality-rater elements such as expertise, experience, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.”

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