When we talk about search engines, Google is often the first name that springs to mind. Yet, a recent groundbreaking study by UK digital marketing consultancy ClickPop has shaken up this conventional wisdom.In a blind test comparison, an astounding 65.3% of participants preferred website suggestions made by ChatGPT to Google’s recommendations.
In a pioneering move to measure AI’s prowess in search accuracy and efficiency, ClickPop developed an innovative tool for comparing people’s preferences between Google and ChatGPT’s website suggestions. From 29th May to 19th July 2023, the experiment received inputs from 1,674 users across 84 countries. The tool masked the source of the search results, presenting two sets of website recommendations for each query. With no idea which technology generated which set, users were asked to select the set of websites they thought best answered their search query.
The tool, open for public use at no cost, received 726 votes. Interestingly, across all searches, 65.3% of participants picked the sites offered by ChatGPT, leaving only 34.7% preferring Google’s suggestions. ClickPop has published a comprehensive analysis of this study’s results, which can be accessed here.
The study revealed intriguing insights that were held across various parameters. For instance, regardless of the nature of the queries or the devices used for search, ChatGPT still retained its lead. In local area searches – queries tied to a specific city or region – 61.1% of votes went to ChatGPT, leaving Google with 38.9%. Even on both desktop and mobile devices, ChatGPT emerged victorious with 65.7% and 65.1% of votes, respectively.
Further, a qualitative analysis uncovered significant differences in the types of websites Google and ChatGPT suggested. Google leaned more towards publisher and product comparison websites, while ChatGPT suggested retailers’ and product brands’ sites. ChatGPT recommended websites with solid brand profiles and a robust backlink portfolio. In contrast, Google seemed to favour websites from lesser-known brands with weaker backlink profiles.
Reacting to the results, David Richter, the founder of ClickPop, said, “The results of our study show that the threat to Google presented by ChatGPT, and AI more generally, is already genuine and not just something that might happen in the future.” He added that while it remains to be seen whether Google can retain its dominance as a search engine, the clear preference for ChatGPT’s website recommendations might compel Google to change its search result ranking and display strategies significantly.
In conclusion, this paradigm-shifting study underlines the potential for AI technologies like ChatGPT to fundamentally transform search engine dynamics, creating a new battleground where innovative technologies could challenge even the most established giants of the industry.