Bard's Future in Search, SERP Upheaval & ChatGPT Plugins - Ep.281 (Apr 7, 2023) - Public Version
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With so much going on in Search and AI lately, newsletter has been getting long and disorganized! This episode is more condensed and to the point. Hope this helps you keep up to date.
Discussed this week:
- Significant SERP turbulence Apr 3 & 6
- ChatGPT published new info on safety
- Sundar Pichai confirms Bard will be a part of Search
- Google flights price guarantee and other changes to travel SERPS
- The latest news in AI
- Example of Shopify ChatGPT plugin in action
- The best SEO tips I could find this week
- Tips and ways to use ChatGPT
- Local SEO
The stuff that’s just for paid subscribers:
- Office hours recording where subscribers and I discussed sites that did very well with the March Core update, ChatGPT use for SEO and much more
- A close look at a site with massive traffic drops Apr 3-6
- Capturing intent in title tags
- How I used ChatGPT this week
- Interesting research papers on AI
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Most important SEO industry news
If you’ve only got a few minutes, here are the most important things to know:
Significant SERP turbulence April 3 and 6
Several people reported seeing wild ranking changes. Many niche site and affiliate owners are reporting seeing big improvements.
Big G playing games with my heart pic.twitter.com/7IgXI2rXzM
— Emil Shour (@emilshour) April 6, 2023
Here are a couple that I monitor that were impacted by March Core and are now seeing improvements.
There are many sites seeing massive hits as well. I looked in great detail at this site and share more on my observations in section for paid subscribers.
The changes seen are not likely a reversal of the core update as many sites that were negatively impacted still are. I have at least one site with big changes March core and further increases April 6. I’ll keep my eye on this and report next week on any observations worth passing on.
There are possibly big changes in Google’s Local algorithms as well, starting near the end of March.
ChatGPT published new information on their approach to safety
From their article:
- Age verification is coming soon. Children will need to be 18 or older (13 with permission) to use it.
- GPT-4 is 82% less likely to respond to requests for disallowed content (unsafe stuff).
- GPT-4 is 40% more likely to produce factual information than GPT-3.
- They are working with Khan Academy to build an AI powered assistant for education. This is very exciting!
- They waited 6 months to properly test and deploy GPT-4. It may take even longer for future versions. AI needs to be properly governed.
They try not to include personal information in training data. This is a big deal. This week ChatGPT was banned in Italy over privacy concerns over a data breach that allowed some users to see the conversation titles of other users’ posts. Canada is investigating ChatGPT too. An Australian mayor is suing OpenAI for defamation (the first known case of its kind) for false claims he served time in prison for bribery. Also, ChatGPT completely falsely named a law professor as someone who had been accused of inappropriate behaviour.
It looks like OpenAI is working on this:
Also important to know this week
Google Bard has improved its math and logic abilities. You can now do mutli-step word and math problems. Coding is coming soon.
Sundar Pichai says more about Bard coming to Search. When asked whether people will be able to engage with language models in the context of search, his reply was “Absolutely.” I found this quote from Mr. Pichai interesting: ““It has been incredible to see user excitement around adoption of these technologies, and some of that is a pleasant surprise as well.”
Also, “You’ll have a whole diverse range of options,” Mr. Pichai said. “The technology will be more accessible than people expect.”
My prediction is that Google’s Palm API toolset will be very similar to ChatGPT plugins in allowing businesses to make AI generated tools that take advantage of their realm of data and experience. The question I have is whether Google will get there fast enough. The article says Google needs to pool its resources, with their two main AI units Google Brain and DeepMind working more closely together.
✈️Google flights will now offer guaranteed price flights. If the price goes down by the time your flight takes off, they’ll refund you the difference via Google Pay. My thought: Prices apparently don’t often go down for flights, but my bet is people will flock to use this service. This could cause significant changes in how people use Google for travel searches and result in changes in the airline industry.
Changes to hotel browsing and attraction booking right in the Search Results. We first started talking about this a month ago in newsletter. When users search for “Soho London hotels”, they can tap an option to explore details about the area or a summary of what people find notable about the property…along with links to purchase tickets. Not good for travel affiliates!
Bloomberg says ChatGPT’s Iphone moment poses a new threat to Google. This is the first mainstream article I’ve seen that dives into the dramatic changes we are likely to see as ChatGPT plugins get more and more used. (As a reminder, they are not yet publicly available.)
From the article: “…for the plugins to work, users have to visit the website of ChatGPT itself, according to demos of the new system. For instance, American users of ChatGPT will soon be able to go to the tool’s main page and select the plugin for Klarna Bank AB, a payments facilitator for thousands of brands like Nike Inc. and Gucci. Once they select Klarna, they could ask ChatGPT to make product recommendations for a gift for their sister. Thanks to the powerful language model underpinning ChatGPT, known as GPT-4, they can give the kind of detail they’d share with a human retail employee, laying out at length how their sister loves movies and kayaking and is in their 30s, for instance. ChatGPT can then make the recommendation.”
Google reveals its newest AI supercomputer. Google has built a new system with over 4000 processing units which is a massive amount of computing power. Both Bard and ChatGPT are currently powered by Nvidia’s A100 chips, requiring lots of computers and hundreds of thousands of chips to train models.
ChatGPT Plugins will change how people search for information online. This is a great article by Brett Tabke. Brett describes his concern over traditional Google Search saying, “The big Search Engine Era is over. Welcome to the new era of the Action Engine.”
Sam Altman tweeted about Worldcoin – a project that will help you prove your humanness as it gets difficult to distinguish between AI and humans. They call it “future-proof unique human credential through a secure biometric device in a privacy-preserving matter.”
Bing chat increased limits for AI chat to 20 turns in a conversation, up to 200 per day. Also, image and video search is in Bing AI chat now.
Bing says there are two pathways in their AI chat model. One runs fast and checks if the answer is good. If not, it runs a slower pathway that improves the answer.
Ads are appearing in Bing AI chat
Expedia is integrating ChatGPT into its app along with their ChatGPT plugin.
🛒Shopify ChatGPT plugin example in action (not publicly available yet). This is a much cleaner experience than Google Search in my opinion:
Wild increase in businesses signing up for Stripe with domains ending in .AI.
Lex Fridman interviewing Eliezer Yudkowky on AI and civilization.
Lex Fridman interviewing Sam Altman from OpenAI
Podia-3D – Using text to generate 3d models/
MidJourney new /describe command – put in an image and MidJourney creates the prompt to recreate it. This is wild!
Tips for prompts for using MidJouney for stock photography. “woman holding up blank white cardboard on isolated red color background…”
Google, when asked (again) whether E-E-A-T is a part of its ranking system
"While E-E-A-T itself isn't a specific ranking factor, using a mix of factors that can identify content with good E-E-A-T is useful." https://t.co/NaRQqb1l0Z pic.twitter.com/LDn0owSbbP
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) April 3, 2023
As a reminder, Google has said in the past that E-E-A-T is considered for every single query on Google.
From Patrick Stox at Ahrefs: Does Going Viral Help With SEO? Not Really – a super interesting look at several sites that received links from viral campaigns. His conclusion: “I think SEOs may overvalue links from media sites. They really don’t seem to have much impact.”
My thought: Links can help Google understand when others are recommending your content and finding it helpful. But with each improvement they make in deep learning, they can rely less on links as a proxy for quality. Some links can likely help Google understand your E-E-A-T, but overall getting links just for the sake of getting links is not likely to help improve rankings like they used to.
SEO Technical checklist – So good, by Shaun Anderson
New podcast from Google on staging and launching a site.
You can now track free product listing performance in GSC with Merchant listings filter
You can see spikes in crawling in GSC following big changes to your site
John Mueller says the location of your CDN doesn’t matter for SEO.
Ahrefs updated their search volume estimates on March 31. If things look off in Ahrefs, this could be why.
New SERP features spotted
Shopping carousel for products gaining attention.
Google showing cheaper options.
Related products in organic product carousels.
In the new featured snippets that highlight the words related to user intent, you can click on entities and get definitions:
This featured snippet feature 👌 pic.twitter.com/yUO0M6lTPL
— DEJAN (@dejanseo) April 3, 2023
More great content from the SEO community:
How to create easy to understand SEO reports – Sophie Brannon on Wix.com
Daniel Cheung auditing a site’s schema
In times of E-E-A-T: Why simple SEO is no longer enough – Olaf Kopp on the Oncrawl blog
How the best companies measure content quality – Kevin Indig
Use ChatGPT to explain a complicated subject or paper in the style of a 90s sitcom.
Use ChatGPT or Bing to replace you as your house’s IT support person.
Have it create step by step games and interactive scenarios.
Ask it to find you money (once the web browsing plugin is available.) This guy found $210 that was his to claim on a government website.
If ChatGPT gives you a wrong answer, ask it to reflect on why it was wrong and generate a new prompt for itself, taking that reason into account until it is correct.
Analyze Twitter’s source code even if you don’t know code. (More on this below.)
Hook it up to a Furby and fear for the future of humanity.
i hooked up chatgpt to a furby and I think this may be the start of something bad for humanity pic.twitter.com/jximZe2qeG
— jessica card (@jessicard) April 2, 2023
Here are some tips from Aleyda Solis on creating content with an incredible spreadsheet to help you with prompting.
Other interesting information
Google Drive rolled out an update this week that blocked out users with more than 5 million files. Then they reversed it.
Twitter shared its code, including their ranking algorithms. I’ve been playing with using ChatGPT to analyze this alongside my export of tweet activity from Twitter to help me improve my tweets. Here is some info on how things are weighted. This is interesting, but I really want to dig into the machine learning modules. Ryan Jones pointed out how Twitter uses PageRank across follower data to determine a user’s reputation. Here’s a Twitter Space about the code being released.
Twitter algo 101
– Likes 30x
– Retweets 20x
– Twitter Blue 2-4x
– Trusted circle 3x
– Images/videos 2x
– Replies 1x
– URL only
– No text
– Report pic.twitter.com/mrCuGXB2gJ
— Peter Yang (@petergyang) April 1, 2023
We should be paying close attention to Bing local search! As people soon start using ChatGPT with Bing integrated soon (in the web browsing ChatGPT plugin), it will pull from Bing Local results. Bing said, “This week, we delivered enhancements to make Bing give better answers if you’re trying to find a park, a store, or a doctor’s office near you. Expect us to make further improvements in local grounding based on your feedback.”
If you are an SEO who is looking to carve out a niche for yourself, we need more people who understand what is important to Bing local search. I can’t think of a single person whom I’d call a Bing local search expert.
Some evidence that Bard will likely soon show Google maps info.
Still struggling to show a local map when asked…although it's obviously coming 🏻 pic.twitter.com/GTumxJVKm5
— Andy Simpson 🇬🇧 (@ndyjsimpson) April 3, 2023
Google blocked 20 million attempts to generate fraudulent Google Business Profiles and over 115 million fake reviews last year.
GBP allows photo access to suspended profiles
Darren Shaw tested adding Google’s suggested predefined services to a GBP and within a few days rankings increased dramatically. This is really cool, but I noticed something. The rankings for this site increase starting on March 15, the beginning of Google’s March core update. Core updates don’t tend to affect Google’s local algo. But, if a site improves organically that can indirectly help. It will be hard to prove that these increases are due to the changes Darren made. Might need more tests!
Local Search Ranking Factors with Darren Shaw
"Having a dedicated page for each service" increased by a whopping 186% in the 2023 Local Search Ranking Factors.
Take this as a friendly reminder that having a separate page for each service you offer helps your website rank for more keywords.#localseo #seo pic.twitter.com/Pbie6aAtYy
— Darren Shaw (@DarrenShaw_) April 3, 2023
The stuff for paid readers only
In the paid version:
- Office hours recording (plus a summary) where subscribers and I discussed sites that did very well with the March Core update, ChatGPT use for SEO and much more
- A close look at a site with massive traffic drops Apr 3-6
- Capturing intent in title tags
- How I used ChatGPT this week
- Interesting research papers on AI
Looking for a new SEO job? SEOjobs.com 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 SEOjobs.com.
SEO Manager ~ Bananas Marketing ~ $52k-$60k ~ Remote (US)
SEO Specialist ~ Constellation Software ~ $65k-$75k ~ Remote (US)
SEO Specalist ~ Text Royal.com ~ 60k-96k ~ Remote (WW)
Senior SEO Analyst ~ Crate & Barrel ~ Remote (US)
Senior SEO Strategist ~ Directive ~ $60K+ ~ Remote (CAN)
I made so much progress on a few things this week. I’ve decided to stop predicting dates on when these will be out. I am actively working on:
My traffic drop assessment course – The free version is so close to complete. I’m partway through the advanced version which will be a paid product which includes more resources (more info soon.) Submit your site and I’ll send you a link to my course once it’s ready. I promise it is coming soon!
Consulting – I am now offering some traffic drop consulting options and a few spots on my calendar.
Newsletter changes– I’ve been in conversation with the makers of Beehiiv, a newsletter platform and likely will be switching newsletter over there. There are so many moving parts to figure out, especially considering I’ve cobbled this thing together with a mixture of WordPress plugins and other platforms over the last 10 years. Stay tuned. Newsletter will soon be much better with fewer UX issues. Thank you for your patience!
Hang in there! I have heard a lot of reports of people being significantly overwhelmed with anxious thoughts this week. So much of our world is changing in ways that are hard to comprehend.
I would love for you to tweet about it!