Shelly Palmer – AI is changing SEO. Should you be worried?

We’re starting to see a disturbing trend emerging as generative AI content starts to infiltrate Reddit.

Today is a very big news day for AI and the Web. First (and unsurprisingly), Google has delayed the end of cookies in its Chrome browser for another year. (Details below.) The reason is so obvious that no explanation is needed.

In other news, we’re starting to see a disturbing trend emerging as generative AI content starts to infiltrate Reddit. ReplyGuy is a blatant example, advertising itself as a tool that simulates human interaction to seamlessly insert product mentions into Reddit discussions. ReplyGuy is one of dozens of such services; I’m not linking to it and I don’t want to list any others.

GenAI-powered reply bots are created to sway discussions and manipulate upvotes to boost SEO rankings artificially. The practice, called “parasite SEO,” involves latching onto high-ranking pages to promote products or services, exploiting the platform’s authority to influence search engine results. The implications are significant. Reddit’s model relies heavily on community moderation and user upvotes, a system that these AI tools are now gaming. Importantly, Reddit and its community are not passive victims. The platform’s recent transparency report shows a robust response with a significant number of content takedowns, but it’s a game of Whac-a-Mole.

Given all this, is a reply bot truly unethical? The ReplyGuy website says, “You will save 30 – 60 hours monthly for each project!” They’re right. Reply bots powered by generative AI use “super-automation” to replicate human interactions, and they are way more cost-effective than humans (who are usually hired to do this job).

I’m asking the wrong question, of course. The issue here is speed and scale. As this trend becomes common practice (and it absolutely will), the concepts of SEO and social proof will either adapt, or become obsolete.

As always your thoughts and comments are both welcome and encouraged. Just reply to this email. -s

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Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He’s a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit

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