Transformer Response Optimization (TRO) Will Be The New SEO

This article first appeared on on July 11th, 2023, authored Aaron Heienickle. View article here

ChatGPT plugins are out and thriving — but there are plenty more to check out. In the next few weeks, more plug-ins should be added to this iOS app store-like environment. Exciting news!

A notable plugin delivered is the internet-powered ChatGPT. The article will mainly focus on the impact of this plugin. Unique from the original ChatGPT, users can surf the web with this plugin while getting a response. Being able to surf the web fixes one of the main competitive advantages Google and other search engines had over earlier versions. That is people can now access up-to-date information to make informed decisions while also using ChatGPT.

Now, what does this mean for SEO and the SEO industry?

Is this the End of SEO?

No, this is not the end of SEO.

Search engines will be critical for how many people access websites and surf the entire internet. It will stay that way for a long time. Many tech laggards will take years to become comfortable with using chatbots to access information.

Think back to when the internet began. When introducing the idea of accessing information on a screen — many replied back with faces of confusion.

Or, think back to when social media started. Indeed, many of us heard the now very-obvious question from a relative or a friend, “How do I friend you on Facebook?”

Further, the whole information ecosystem is in a unique paradox of incentives.

The monetization of Google, publications, and blogs depends on traffic from searches. Or, in other words, a referral clicks onto another webpage. This group does not want traffic and revenue stolen by Chatbot responses.

On the other hand, OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard depend on the Internet and its content to deliver accurate, up-to-date results. If ChatGPT and Bard destroy the monetization of the publications on which they train, it will also destroy any access to new information for datasets.

The internet gave birth to these generative transformers, but it also holds the kill switch to stop its growth. Website owners are debating whether to block the ChatGPT scrapper in their robots.txt file.

The internet and SEO are not going anywhere. That said, things are going to change very rapidly. SEOs must go to the furthest extremes to improve their content rather than AI-generated content. However, with the help of AI, this should not be too difficult to accomplish. With the aid of an AI detector, it is possible to discern the origin of written content, whether a human or an AI language model has authored it.

How Will You Be Better than a Know-it-all Chatbot?

Quizlet is a great example of a site with a “GPT shield.” Users on Quizlet can do more than simply read content. They can create flashcards, play games, have terms read out loud, and host quiz sessions with friends. While students may use ChatGPT for help creating their flashcards, Quizlet’s interactivity makes it a better device for studying.

Yet, most sites lack the developers to add the level of interactivity a site like Quizlet has. What can traditional site owners do?

  • First, be predictive. It is more work to converse with a Chatbot than to simply have all the information laid out predictively. You’ll want to make the content of your site easier to digest, which will help build a site’s “GPT shield.”
  • Second, create more than just text. Some people are visual learners. Creating amazing, human-designed graphics that chatbots cannot output will differentiate your site from the bots.
  • Third, use surveys, polls, and other interactive elements. Engaging your audience is something these bots will have difficulty doing. If you can have communities of people interacting and engaging with other humans, this will definitely help build up your “GPT shield” further.

With the onset of AI-generated content being relatively cheap, SEOers will likely spend more time building new areas of interactivity and engagement rather than the text content itself.

What is Transformer Response Optimization (TRO)?

Instead of simply protecting your site from GPT with a “GPT shield,” why not join the dark side and have your content be part of the generative output?

Transformer response optimization (TRO) is the process of maximizing the potential for a dataset to generate a desired response over an undesired response. While similar methods have been used to improve response quality over time (i.e., making a response more human), processes have not been used by companies to deliver specific responses tailored to marketing and PR goals.

The main questions of Transformer Response Optimization (TRO) are: first, how to become part of the data; and two, how to statistically make your response the best response.

Similar to the early days of SEO, if you mention the response that you desire enough times throughout the datasets, it will likely generate the desired response in the Chatbot.

A TRO company may help a company get positive press in several known source materials for the bots datasets. This may come in the form of listicles or other mentions that increase the probability of a desired generated response.

Two Reasons to Start Thinking about TRO

Here are two reasons why you might want to work on TRO.

First, many theorize that the chatbots will likely have to include source material from where they received information. This means the chatbot might source your site similarly to how a search engine would in search results. However, instead of the top 10 results, it might include the top 3 source materials that helped generate the response. Searchers, who check out the source material or want more information, will generate clicks and traffic to your site.

Second, your company not being in the response can cost you credibility and customers. For example, if Netflix asked a Chatbot, “What are the best streaming services in the world?” The company would want Netflix to be mentioned on this list. Being on the list could mean the difference between them or a competitor getting a streaming service sale. Also, a consumer may see streaming services on the list as better — simply because the bot recognized them first.

TRO will become an important tool in every SEOer’s toolbox.

Final Thoughts and Predictions

The internet gave birth to these generative transformers, but it also holds the kill switch to stop their growth. In the new age of the internet, both of these information sources will have to grow together.

In the next five years, AI will make information readily available on webpages and allow us to focus on interactivity and engagement on these webpages.

Transformer response optimization, or whatever the internet calls it, will become a new branch of internet optimization and a huge industry.