Second Order Effects of AI Search: From Keywords to Intent

The way we search is changing rapidly. For years, we’ve learnt to translate our thoughts into keywords, to make it easy for Google or Amazon to find the products we’re looking for. But of late, multiple websites have reported a doubling of their average search query length and an increase in unique queries, likely a result of tools like ChatGPT & Perplexity encouraging us to search conversationally.

This means less queries that look like “cross-trainer shoes” and more that look like “shoes that are good for hiking and football”.

This is because AI tools can now understand query intent, cross-reference it against a catalog/database and come up with a reasoned judgement for why a result might be a match. Contrast this to the old world of naively matching words in the query to words in the product — it’s the difference between using the ctrl + find option on a word document and asking the author of the document a question about its contents.

Second-Order Effects

This implications of this tech for commerce is meaningful:

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