Bard is a souped up Civic competing against high performance machines | Should we halt AI? Episode 280 (Mar 31, 2023) - Public version

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Discussed this week:

  • I got access to Bard! I’m disappointed. But, this will change how people search.
  • The debate on AI development – should we pause to let society catch up?
  • A bunch of important and interesting developments in AI including keeping an eye on ChatGPT Plugins that will likely radically change the web.
  • Did Google train its AI on ChatGPT data, breaking OpenAI’s TOS?
  • New in the SERPs: Perspectives (with more information about authors) – likely important for driving search traffic.
  • The latest on the March Core Update
  • Bing says modern websites can ignore technical SEO!?

The stuff that’s just for paid subscribers:

  • I think we can use ChatGPT to get incredible insight into data exported from GSC (still in testing, but I share my prompts.)
  • A process for using ChatGPT to improve your content and win featured snippets. It’s so good!
  • Improving E-E-A-T by using ChatGPT while interviewing expert authors
  • Coming up with new article ideas and determining where you have gaps

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A strange thing happened this week. Yesterday, my daughter said, “Yay, it’s Friday tomorrow!” I said, “I wish!” I had spent the whole day thinking it was Wednesday. Thursday is my newsletter writing day…the day I try to cram in writing about everything important and helpful to SEOs this week. 

I freaking missed Newsletter writing day.

On top of this, I don’t think there has ever been a week with as many stories as this. 

A very cool thing happened. Writing all of this in one day forced me to get creative in using a mixture of ChatGPT and Bard to help summarize and understand stories and to rewrite my thoughts to be more concise. 

I’ve cut out a bunch of the embedded tweets for this episode. There are too many and newsletter is getting laggy. 

Hold tight…here we go. You may need a coffee…

New from Google: Perspectives

Google launched a new feature called “Perspectives”. Perspectives is a carousel that provides users with a variety of perspectives on a topic from a range of sources, including journalists, experts, and other relevant voices. The feature is currently available soon in English in the US, and Google plans to expand it to other languages and countries in the future.Google perspectives

I expect that ranking in this SERP feature will be important and lucrative for many sites.

More information on authors in the SERPS

Along with this announcement was news that the About this result feature (when you click on three dots next to a listing on Google) will now show information about the author of an article: “Now when people tap on the three dots, readers will be able to find more information about the background and experience of the voices we surface on Google Search.”

This is exciting! We have talked endlessly about improving author E-E-A-T. The more we can do to get our authors recognized as people who are good to talk on their topics the better!

I am not seeing this live yet but am eager to dig into examples.

The latest on the March Core Update

Google’s March Core Update finished rolling out on March 28. It is turning out to be a big one!

I have analyzed a few pages with drops and it really does look like Google got better at rewarding content that is helpful and relevant. Here’s their documentation on what to aim for.


March Core was more volatile than Sep Core. Mordy Orberstein looked at SEMrush data and found that the March 23 Core Update was more volatile than the September 22 Core Update, with a notable increase in URLs ranking in the top 10 that were previously ranked beyond position 20.

SERP turbulence March 29. The Semrush sensor was very high at 9.3 on this day. Many reported wild changes in rankings. However Semrush also had a bug on this day causing some people’s ranking reports to be off. They said, despite this, they believe the Sensor’s turbulence was legitimately connected to the end of the core update rollout.

Community Examples:

Roey Skif shared an example of a site seeing a beautiful recovery. He worked on pruning thin content, writing new content and other technical aspects:

Here is an interesting case where a site improves at the beginning of an update and then declines by the end. This is not a pattern I commonly see.

Glenn Gabe shared this example of a site that was hit by the December link spam update and is now seeing some degree of improvement with the March core update.

Lily Ray shared that Urban Dictionary was hit hard.

I wondered if perhaps some of the changes people were seeing were hard to track with rank trackers because of the new filter bubbles people can use to refine topics. I’m seeing more and more of these, especially on US Mobile searches.

Here is Lily Ray’s look at winners and losers of the March Core Update. I would recommend reading this. Lily has described several interesting things in great detail. I have a lot of thoughts on this. Unfortunately the newsletter is too long for me to dig in further right now!

Last week’s office hours video had a great discussion about a site seeing recovery and what it did. Unfortunately with all of the news and with me somehow missing a day this week, it looks like I’ll get this up in the next newsletter. 


Other Important SEO News

Fewer brand names seen in title tags since Google started showing site names and favicons. Screaming Frog noted this change happened over the last week. Lily Ray tweeted, “Wonder if that means we should stop writing brand names in title tags and start leveraging that space to make better titles…”. Here’s an article on Search Engine Roundtable with more.


Google updated bulk data exports to allow multiple GSC properties to export to one Cloud project. To do so, you need to customize your dataset name when setting up your export to have a unique dataset name for each export.


Merchant Center News: Google is expanding eligibility for enhanced product experiences and providing tools and resources to help merchants use product structured data in order to be eligible for SERP features that display products.

Google’s new search status dashboard showing when updates started and stopped has confusing dates. John Mueller says this is because the dates were backfilled. I have no idea why Google can’t just go in there and write the correct dates. Sigh. Here’s my algo list. I’ll be adding the latest updates in there soon.

SEO Tips

Strategy to get past the GSC API limit by using directories as properties – Glenn Gabe shares how he did this, allowing him to monitor 24K URLs daily during a large-scale migration.

Understanding links with # in it in GSC – a great thread by Kristina Azarnko

Example of a site with a big win following a technical fix – tweet by Luke Carthy

Analyzing traffic drops – A new video from Google in which Daniel Waisberg explains how to analyze drops in GSC. This was excellent, although I do not agree with his statement that a core update hit is more likely to be gradual than sudden.

Helpful video from Google on using Google Trends for content ideas that take advantage of current trends.

Tips for getting into Discover. A great conversation started by Shawn Hill.

Have you noticed changes in referral traffic? MikeW noticed ChatGPT stopped passing him referral data in GA on February 15. I checked a few clients and had several with referral traffic from that stopped on that day as well. Glenn is finding it is being reported as direct. I would love to hear if your story is the same and what theories you have! (You can check this for your site by going to Acquisition → All traffic → referrals and searching for “chat”)

WordPress 6.2 launched on March 29, with a focus on improving the editing experience and making it easier to create and manage websites.

This looks like a good course on website migrations. I’ve included many of Kristina Azarenko’s helpful technical SEO tips in this newsletter over the last few years.

Bing Product Manager, Fabrice Canel says modern websites can ignore technical SEO

Marie’s thought: while technical SEO can boost a website’s performance, its impact is limited as search engines evolve with deep learning techniques to better understand content quality and relevance. You can see improvements with good technical SEO, but if your content is not as good, relevant and helpful to searchers as your competitor, improving your technical SEO will not be likely to make a big difference in rankings. 

Fabrice says what matters is being mobile friendly, using Index Now – which is important for Bing – it allows you to get indexed very quickly – and sitemaps with lastmod – that last bit looks like something I need to read more about! Although these are technical SEO. Perhaps it is a typo. Or perhaps Fabrice was trying to say that techncial SEO is not what will make your pages seem relevant and helpful to search engines.

AI News: Interesting and Important this week

  • There was a letter signed by over 1400 tech leaders and academics calling for a pause on testing AI technology more advanced than GPT-4. The future with AI is exciting, but the speed at which things are changing could result in serious negative consequences. On one hand, we need time to establish stronger safety protocols and for those involved in government to catch up. My thought: We are not the only ones working on AI. The rest of the world will not pause. We need to continue. I don’t know what the answer is.
  • Google says Bard will be better soon. “We clearly have more capable models,” said Sundar Pichai. This quote really struck me, “In some ways I feel like we took a souped-up Civic and put it in a race with more powerful cars.”
  • Goldman Sachs predicts that generative AI will automate 300 million jobs in some way over the next decade.
  • Know how to talk to AI? This Yahoo article says that prompt engineers are being offered salaries as high as $335K. Understanding how to communicate with AI is a skill that will become increasingly important in the future, as AI becomes more integrated into our lives! Every day I push myself to try new prompts in ChatGPT, Bard and MidJourney and push their limits.
  • Microsoft released Security Copilot – a digital helper designed to support cybersecurity professionals – especially important given the rise of potential threats by people using AI. It simplifies complex data and helps them identify and understand potential security threats more effectively. This innovative tool is a game-changer because it makes it easier for security experts to protect organizations from cyberattacks, ensuring that sensitive information and systems stay safe.
  • Gmail and Google Docs will very soon have AI integrated. Welcome to the age where almost nothing is human written.
  • Google partnered with Replit. It sounds like Google Docs for coding. The integration of AI into software development platforms is quietly advancing and making it easier for novices to create applications.
  • You can soon save your Bing chats.

Did Google train its AI on ChatGPT data?

A story in The Information claims that Google trained it’s AI on ChatGPT. It says a Google employee claimed he “believed the Bard team appeared to be relying heavily on information from ShareGPT, a website where people publish conversations they’ve had with ChatGPT.” This would violate OpenAI’s TOS which say you can’t use the output to train models that compete with OpenAI.

Google has denied that Bard was trained on data from ShareGPT. In a statement to The Verge, Google spokesperson Chris Pappas said, “Bard is not trained on any data from ShareGPT or ChatGPT.”

According to Bard, this is true. But perhaps Bard is hallucinating?


Latest Bard News

I got access to Bard! And boy was I disappointed

It is so inaccurate. 

Bard didn’t know who I am. My ego is ok, but so much for my theory that every author would be known by Bard. I am clinging to the hope that future versions will be better. If they are, Bard could be extremely useful and helpful.

I had Bard and ChatGPT chat together for a bit. They were quite appreciative of each other. I asked both Bard and ChatGPT to describe how the brain is similar to an LLM and ChatGPT’s answer blew my mind. Bard’s did not.

Sundar Pichai said, “In some ways I feel like we took a souped-up Civic and put it in a race with more powerful cars.”

My current thought on Bard: I am disappointed, yet it likely will get better. We need to be not just making fun of its inaccuracies, but paying close attention to how it could be used by people.

Bard was faster than ChatGPT and up to date with current info. If Google can fix the problems with hallucinations it will be an incredibly helpful tool that will be used by many to radically change how they get information.

I expect we will see Bard get better and better and become quite useful. And given that so many people in the world are so used to searching with Google, it’s not Google I’m worried about. What I’m mostly concerned for are the businesses that are not paying attention to how search is rapidly changing. 



Bard Reviews 

Tom Capper compared his first impressions of Bard vs Bing on Moz. He shared how Bing often shows an entirely AI-generated story in response to a query. Bing includes more website citations compared to Bard. The article is a good introduction to Bard’s basics, and Tom’s commercial queries section is particularly helpful for those running commercial sites.


Miriam Ellis asked ChatGPT questions about local SEO a couple of months ago. This week she asked Bard similar questions. Her conclusion: “I’d say Local SEO consultants’ jobs are safe for the present and that robots don’t belong in Rivendell.” 

I would not trust Bard for providing local advice…just yet. But once again, if Bard is accurate there is so much potential for Bard to revolutionalize local search.


I have not yet listened to this:

ChatGPT Plugins

We need to pay close attention to ChatGPT plugins. These are likely going to change how society uses the web.

An example of a business with a ChatGPT plugin

A great thread showing the web browning capabilities in action – Manoj asked, “what is in apple news today” and ChatGPT browsed the web for an answer. It scraped a page to extract urls. It summarized the stories on Y combinator. It answered the question, “What’s happening in the world of AI today” and summarized it in a table with a link to each article. It got recent bitcoin prices. It extracted information from tweets. I mostly loved where he suggested just being weird with prompts. His prompt of “do something with this tweet” sounds so much like how I talk to ChatGPT!

How to disallow ChatGPT plugins from crawling your siteDataChaz says you can add User-agent:ChatGPT-User and Disallow:/

These plugins may not be the end of Google Search, but they could significantly change how people access information.

Other interesting AI Stories

Here’s a good summary of the differences between chat models, although Bing’s CEO of Advertising and Web services says Creative mode will get faster and Balanced mode will get better at the same speed.

Google published a shared agenda for responsible AI progress. It highlights the exciting potential of AI to revolutionize science but admits that striking a balance between responsibility and innovation is a controversial challenge.

You’ll soon be able to do complex math in Bing Chat.

Google is using artificial intelligence to predict what proteins do, which could help with drug discovery and disease research.

Google PRESTO – A new dataset enhances virtual assistants by making them smarter and more responsive across six languages, focusing on understanding natural speech patterns, fixing mistakes, mixing languages, and utilizing stored information on devices.

Gen-2 Text to video. These examples of creating video from text are mind blowing.

Roberto Nickson recorded a verse and had an AI model of Kanye replace his vocals:

ChatGPT tips and interesting uses

A professor engaged in an intriguing conversation with ChatGPT about its random number generation methods. Initially utilizing Wolfram, a Python program, and even improvising numbers, ChatGPT revealed that it cleverly mimics known random sequences – a fascinating approach to randomness!

Build your own Chrome Extension with ChatGPT. No coding involved.

Danny Richman did training for a client, then built an AI bot to let them ask questions based on a transcript of the session.

Asking ChatGPT for food advice. Robert Scoble shared this prompt, “Can you tell me what people love to eat at Loro’s restaurant in Austin from a foodie point of view?”

You can use AI to reimagine any room in your house.

Prompt: Recreate the classical video game Pong

My fav this week: ChatGPT was asked to invent a new word that describes the feeling of accidentally opening the dishwasher when it’s running: dishruptance.😂


Local SEO News and tips

Being a great business is the most important ranking factor. Colan Nielsen shows an example of Google summarizing the number of positive reviews with a particular review attribute selected. 

Merchant Center “View products” link seen in Your Business on Google box. Spotted by Claire Carlile.

Yelp appears to have been impacted by the March Core Update.

New placement for “request a quote” feature on GBP. 

Should you include location in title tags? John Mueller advises it can improve visibility in search results for local businesses, even if not critical for ranking.

There seems to be a surge in businesses receiving spam calls, emails and reviews recently, My guess is ChatGPT is providing spammers with all sorts of opportunities.

SEO Jobs

Looking for a new SEO job? is a job board curated by real SEOs for SEOs. Take a look at five of the hottest SEO job listing this week (below) and sign up for the weekly job listing email only available at

There are some really good jobs this week!

The stuff that's just for paid subscribers

  • I think we can use ChatGPT to get incredible insight into data exported from GSC (still in testing, but I share my prompts.)
  • A process for using ChatGPT to improve your content and win featured snippets. It’s so good!
  • Improving E-E-A-T by using ChatGPT while interviewing expert authors
  • Coming up with new article ideas and determining where you have gaps

Or, subscribe to the free version

This is the one you are reading now. There is now a lot more in here!

Stay up to date on the latest on SEO & AI News

I'll send you an email each week once I've published newsletter.

Everything I've found interesting this week. Unsubscribe any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Marie's News

What a wild week. I honestly have no idea how I lost a day. On Thursday though, I got extremely far in my course and also in putting some new offerings on my website. I am so close to launching the course.

I am now taking on some client work again – but limited. I’m not announcing this publicly yet, but you can read more here about options for having me assess your traffic drops.

Submit your site and I’ll send you a link to my course once it’s ready. 

Consulting: I have opened a few spots on my calendar

Office hours: I’ll get the video from this week’s office hours up by next episode (for paid subscribers). I’m hoping to do another with subs in a week or so.

I did it! Wrote the entire thing and published it in one day. Who needs Thursdays? I’d like to thank ChatGPT and Google Bard for co-authoring this week’s episode.


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