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AI chat is being tested in Bing. Bard is coming soon. Are we prepared?

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Bing’s AI chat is being tested and the early results are bizarre and amazing at the same time. We know very little new about Google Bard, although we did learn this week that Bard’s trusted testers are being told to flag when Bard gives financial, medical or legal advice. I think that we will see Bard used more and more when it comes to answering informational queries.

Bing screenshots have shown it pulling from Twitter to help craft an answer. Most likely Bard will pull from Youtube as well. If you create a site that provides people with information, it’s time to start brainstorming on how your business is likely to change!

I believe many websites will not survive. But many will be drastically improved and more profitable!

Take this newsletter for example. I currently spend a solid 3 days of each week curating, writing, editing, and publishing this beast. But soon, I think Bard will allow you to do searches like this:

Tell me what’s new in E-Commerce SEO this week”

“What has Google said recently that is important to my business?”

Has anyone published anything new recently to help me improve E-E-A-T”, “Oh, Lily Ray did! Can you summarize it? What can I implement on my website based on her advice?”

My newsletter will change, but it will still be needed. Why? Here is a good exercise to do to ask yourself how your business might be affected and start thinking of what changes you need to make:

I asked myself, “What reasons do people have to read my content beyond learning the recent information?” Soon, I think many people who read Search News You Can Use to learn what’s new in the SEO industry can get this information from Bard. So why else do people read my newsletter? I think the answer is that while some read newsletters to be informed of facts, many people read newsletters because they want to hear the opinions and insight of those with experience on a subject.

Instead of reporting on the facts, I can put all of that time into helping others and sharing my experiences via podcast, blog posts and social media. People who want to know my opinion can likely do searches on Bard like, “What does Marie Haynes say about Bard?” and the answer would be crafted by piecing together what I have said publicly.

Check out this answer Glenn Gabe got from Bing when he asked “What does Marie Haynes think of Bing”?
What does Marie Haynes think of Bing

I’m ok with this though. Imagine how much time will be freed up, when so much of the time I spend reporting on the news can be used to help others, learn and share. I think that Google’s developer tools will open up so many opportunities too. For example, let’s say I write a bunch on my theories, or I create a guide to help people improve quality….then I use Google’s developer tools to implement an API that uses Bard to allow people to dialogue with that content.

Instead of creating a course on a subject…I think we’ll soon be able to just write everything we know, and then AI will create a course for people in the style that they like best. I could write a document on how to demonstrate Experience and one person could create a podcast from it, another could create a workbook with exercises for them to do based on their business type, and others could do queries like, “Based on what Marie has written on demonstrating Experience, give me 5 ideas my client can take advantage of to improve their content.”

Businesses that do this could charge for the use of the bot or could sell products and services alongside.

We are in for some serious change in our industry.

There’s more in the full version

  • Much more on Bing, including screenshots of both good and bad responses.
  • Is the SEO industry concerned over Bard?
  • My predictions for how Bard could change the industry, including a quote that made me think Bard may not be used for YMYL queries.
  • A little bit on Google Sparrow (using reinforcement learning to get more accurate, less biased, etc.)
  • E-E-A-T and content improvement tips, including using ChatGPT to help compare your content to competitors’.
  • The most useful and helpful SEO related tweets I found this week
  • More interesting stuff about AI and our industry. My fav bit is the stuff about chatbots and APIs that are coming.

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Important to know this week

1) Google Bard is coming soon

Google has said very little about their plans for Bard, the AI chat based dialogue that is soon about to be added to the search results. Google’s announcement told us it would be “more widely available to the public in the coming weeks.

We know so little about Bard that it is hard to say what impact it will have. Personally, I feel it will be significant. 

Here is a recap of what we know so far:

  • Bard is a new feature coming soon to Google search, potentially within a few weeks.
  • It will introduce a new way for people to search by interacting in a way that is similar to ChatGPT.
  • We do not know whether it will show for all, or just some queries.
  • Early screenshots show Bard answering questions with detailed answers.
  • These screenshots do not show websites referenced from within the answer. But, it does appear that some are listed below as sources. 
  • If users get value from Bard, this means that many websites, especially those that are providing users with an answer to a question, will likely see losses in search traffic.
  • Bard is not the same as Bing’s introduction of ChatGPT in search. It uses a different language model and is has access to different information. Yet, it is still important for us to pay attention to how Bing introduces AI chat.
  • Bing has opened up their AI chat to public testing. This has resulted in some interesting screenshots of conversations being posted on social media. In some cases Bing’s chat, codenamed “Sydney” sounds deranged. In others, users are getting very helpful answers. (I have shared screenshots below.)
  • Bard is currently in testing as well, but it is Google employees who are testing it – reportedly for two hours a day. I will share more below as well on how this can possibly make Bard very accurate and safe.
  • Google will eventually be offering a set of developer tools to help us integrate the power of Bard. We know so little about this, but the opportunities this could create are overwhelming for me to comprehend.

2) Google has given us more guidance on how to link

2) Google has given us more guidance on how to link

When I first saw this I thought it would be an announcement about link building, but it’s not really. Google has given us guidance on

  • making links crawlable
  • best practices for anchor text 
  • encourages linking out to other sites
  • advice on when to use nofollow, rel=sponsored, etc.

new guidance on linking


3) Significant algorithmic turbulence in January and February

This week I have had many people reach out to me with worrisome declines in Google traffic. As I write this, the Semrush Sensor is spiking:

In 15 years in SEO, 10 of which I’ve been actively assessing traffic drops in sites, I’ve never had this many people reach out for help as I’ve had in the last month. Now, some of this may be because I’ve been public about creating resources to help people with traffic losses. But, I really do think some significant changes are happening. I do not have solid answers but many thoughts.

Many sites have a pattern of continuing traffic loss that starts early to mid November, December 5 (Helpful content update) or December 14, and continues to get worse. There are several other days where many sites saw changes as well.

This type of pattern is being seen by many sites:

(Screenshots from Ahrefs estimates of traffic. These tend to be showing the same trajectory as in Google Analytics for most sites I have checked.)

Ahrefs showing losses in Google traffic since November or December 2022

What is happening? I am still reluctant to say anything confidently now, however, I do have a theory.

Each time I look at pages that currently rank and compare them against those that are struggling, it is incredibly obvious that the page that lost rankings makes the user work too hard to find their answer.

My current theory (but know that this is not solid yet):

I think much of this is related to Google’s helpful content system. It is not about AI written content. 

We know that the helpful content system is designed to “better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience”. 

We have assumed that when Google asks, “Is this content primarily made to attract visits from search engines,” or “are you writing about things simply because they seem trending and not because you’d write about them otherwise for your existing audience?” that they are referring to content that has been autogenerated, perhaps AI written and otherwise low quality.

However, it amazes me how much content we as SEO’s write that is for search engines and not for people. 

My bet is that many of you are doing it in your content.

I’ve tried to depict this with a graphic. (Look at me using Canva!)

How to create helpful content - have the most important thing easy for searchers to find

The content that wins is that which gets people to their answer first. 

Why do we write so many words on our pages that very few searchers ever read? It’s to try and demonstrate to search engines that our content is relevant. Content that contains many words that relate to our topics has always been considered relevant by Google.

If you’ve been impacted recently, I’d encourage you to put your best content at the beginning of your posts. Do all you can to answer the searcher’s query in a way that is faster and easier to find and more satisfying than competitors. Provided you have the E-E-A-T for Google to feel safe about ranking your content, this has the potential to help remove a helpful content system classifier.

If you do succeed in getting the classifier removed, know it may take a few months.

If your traffic has been struggling, I’ve opened up some new ways to either contact me or have me refer you to someone who can help. My contact page also lists several resources for those who want to learn more. 

I am making excellent progress on my course to help you make your content more helpful in Google’s eyes. If all goes well, and if Bard doesn’t cause the internet to implode, I may have this course out in March. I hope to soon be doing group video calls for paid newsletter members to help us brainstorm on the upcoming changes together, but can’t promise dates yet.

Helpful for local businesses

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Marie's News

Tool, book and course

I made incredible progress in my course to help people improve site quality, helpfulness and E-E-A-T. I will be sharing resources with everyone who submitted their site to my tool. For now, I am not completing the tool, because I’ve realized that when Bard comes it won’t matter which update hit you. Creating great content that exhibits E-E-A-T is key!


Book a strategy call

If you need SEO consulting, here are a few options:

  • Sign up for my waiting list when I start doing site reviews again.
  • Contact me for a recommendation to a professional. (Please know I’m only in email 1-2 times per week now so there may be a bit of a delay in my response.)

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