What should publishers do if Generative AI makes search traffic go to zero?

Generative AI
Generative AI

News, recipes, travel—imagine losing 20%, 30%, or all your traffic! Generative AI threatens online content sites. But fear not, publishers! Here are five strategies to not just recover but thrive despite the traffic hit.

The nightmare: a potential wipeout of 20% to 30% of your online traffic. That’s the unsettling reality looming for content sites as Generative AI reshapes search dynamics. Less traffic means less revenue. But publishers, don’t despair; it’s time for a strategic shift.

Navigating the changing landscape of SEO and generative AI can be daunting for publishers, but here are five strategies to not just weather the storm but emerge stronger:

1. Choose Strategic Battles:

  • Negotiate compensation deals with search engines and AI operators.
  • Embrace the changing dynamics but ensure fair compensation for your content.

2. Revive the Homepage:

  • Shift focus back to the homepage to drive repeat visits.
  • Make your website a habit for readers through original, high-quality, and personalized content.

3. Embrace AI as an Ally:

  • Acknowledge AI as a valuable tool, not a threat.
  • Explore numerous ways AI can enhance content creation, user experience, and engagement.

4. Shift to Long-Term Monetization:

  • Move beyond short-term metrics like pageviews.
  • Optimize for readers’ lifetime value (LTV) by diversifying revenue streams such as e-commerce, subscriptions, video views, and native ads.

5. Own Your Audience:

  • Rethink audience engagement through newsletters and browser notifications.
  • Explore partnerships, syndication deals, and D2C approaches to retain and expand your audience.

In the face of SEO challenges and the rise of generative AI, these strategies offer a roadmap for publishers to not only adapt but thrive in the evolving digital landscape.

In the digital realm, history repeats itself, and lessons from Facebook’s Instant Articles echo loud. If Generative AI is to be a revolution, publishers must lead the charge. It’s an era for innovation, a sprint, not a marathon. Embrace AI, and let Generative AI engines find ways to reward content creators. An opportunity lies in the balance of revenue and audience compensation.

The growth of AI should coexist with the trusted journalism we all crave. We can’t afford to lose publishers. Imagine a world where vital information comes from social media, not publishers. Let’s ensure our kids learn about healthcare, science, and technology from reliable sources, not just social scrolls.

Publishers, it’s time to shape the future. Embrace the AI wave, secure your place, and let Generative AI be a force that sustains, not sidelines.

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