Neil Patel

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Are People Really Using ChatGPT Instead of Google?

On X, I’ve seen people post about how they are starting to use ChatGPT more and more.

Many of these people talk about how they don’t even use Google anymore.

As marketers, you can’t worry about whether Google is changing or not, more so you just have to adapt.

But before we go into adapting, let’s look at the data to see if people are really using ChatGPT instead of Google.

The rise of ChatGPT

Even though ChatGPT is fairly new in comparison to the age of the Internet, Open AI (which owns ChatGPT) isn’t.

OpenAI was founded in December 2015.

And what they have been working on over the years has led to ChatGPT.

But let’s look at the data…

Look how fast ChatGPT has climbed in popularity according to Google Trends.

It’s how they become one of the most popular sites in less than a year’s time.

According to Similar Web, it’s the 24th most popular site in the world.

But when you dive into the data, you can get a better picture of what is really happening.

First off, look at how ChatGPT has been trending in just the last 12 months according to Google Trends.

Sure, when you look at the above Google Trends chart you see it climbing at a rapid pace, but its growth is slowing down.

I know what you are thinking… Google Trends doesn’t tell the whole story, and it doesn’t.

ChatGPT’s traffic numbers

Let’s look at ChatGPT’s (OpenAI) traffic numbers in comparison to search engines like Google and Bing.

According to Similar Web, ChatGPT had 1.639 billion visitors in January. Up 7% from the previous month.

During the same period, Google had 86.57 billion visitors (up 2.8% from the previous month) and Bing had 1.359 billion visitors (up 3.9% from the previous month).

In February, Google and Bing saw traffic declines, but February is a shorter month.

If you add 2 more days in February like January, Google’s traffic would have been roughly the same from January to February.

On the flipside, ChatGPT saw a 1.9% traffic growth in February even though the month was 2 days shorter than the previous one.

So although it’s extremely popular, its growth rate is slowing down… it isn’t climbing at a rapid pace like it once was.

It’s also at scale, and its current volume won’t keep growing at a crazy pace like 5% a month.

And if they were lucky to get that 5% growth per month it would take them roughly 6.8 years to get to Google’s traffic levels.

And that’s just Google.com. It doesn’t include Google international sites like India, UK, France, etc… which are extremely popular and still growing too.

I know 6.8 years isn’t that long… but keep in mind the data is showing Google is still seeing traffic growth, it’s not flat, so in theory, it would take much longer.

Although I don’t think ChatGPT will grow 5% a month continually over 6 years, they will see spikes when they release new products and they will still grow in popularity (I just don’t know by how much).

But again, large tech companies will also see growth in popularity as they release more AI-related products and features.

These products may not be as good as OpenAI’s, but they will still gobble up some market share.

What most people get wrong

I’m not doubting people when they say they are using ChatGPT.

And there are even use cases where I use it over Google… and who knows over time there probably will be even more use cases if Google can’t get Gemini to a place where people are happy with it.

But that doesn’t mean if one succeeds the other fails.

There is a use case for both.

There is a use case for search results pages with 10 blue links on a page… and there is a use case for no blue links on a page where you just get an answer.

It depends on what people are searching for.

A lot of the AI use cases are people asking questions and wanting answers.

But did you know that Google generates 8.5 billion searches a day?

15% of them are brand new searches that people haven’t ever searched for before on Google.

And 6% are questions… you can find out a lot of these questions using tools like Answer the Public.  

A large chunk of the searches that will get disrupted are question-based searches.

There will be more than that of course that gets affected, but questions are a good chunk of it.

At NP Digital we did a study with 283 people who are seeing SGE based results within Google to see what percentage of the search queries it has affected.

It was 17.41%.

But there are a few issues…

  1. It’s a small sample size.
  2. People naturally search for different things so you don’t know what percentage of the search results it is really affecting.
  3. It’s too new and even Google hasn’t fully figured out how they are going to integrate SGE within results. It will change over time just like their algorithm constantly does.

The most likely outcome

The likely scenario is there will be multiple platforms that are popular and will be used for different use cases.

For example, even with the rise of TikTok, Snap, and other social platforms, Facebook has done well.

Most people I talk to claim they don’t use it. But the numbers don’t show that.

Facebook has over 3 billion monthly active users, and it hasn’t declined yet.

And when you look at ad revenue it still generates more money than Instagram.

In the US alone it accounts for 51.9% of their ad revenue.

Sure Instagram is growing at a faster pace… but Facebook isn’t dying, it’s still growing.

And just like there is Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Snap, and many other options, they all do well.

We may not think some of them are sexy anymore, but they are all multi-billion dollar companies.

Similarly, Google and Bing will adapt and still exist along the sides of OpenAI and Anthropic.

So how can you adapt?

The more channels and platforms there are, the better for you.

Yes, it is more work, but it provides diversification and more opportunities for growth.

Now one thing that companies should do is try to optimize for these AI platforms.

When people ask them a question, you’ll want your company, products, and services to be recommended.

I published an article in the past on how to get mentioned more on these AI platforms.

It works… we generate clients from it.

Conclusion

ChatGPT will not make Google disappear. Google and other search engines will adapt.

You may find certain players losing market share over time, and that’s fine.

Whether they adapt, or change, there’s not much for you to stress about.

Instead, focus on what you can control. Leverage these platforms to your advantage.

Just like how we focus on making sure Gemini and ChatGPT continually recommend my ad agency, NP Digital.

And by the way, if you need help with that, just reach out to us.

Focus on adapting and leveraging all platforms… no matter what they may look like in the future.

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