The new AI-powered model will be integrated into search results, marking yet another evolution and revolution in the development of search.
With the context of Bing’s upcoming GPT 4 integration, it’s no wonder Google has felt the pressure to advance its own AI integration timeline significantly.
This will undoubtedly mark another significant milestone in the development of SEO, and the ramifications and changes needed will only become apparent in the coming weeks, months, and years as we settle into a world of more overt AI integration with search results.
Looking for the TL:DR? Skip ahead to our takeaways and handy summary graphic.
What Is Google Bard?
Google Bard is a development upon Google’s LaMDA large-level language model.
Google’s “Deepmind” department (their in-house lab dedicated to AI development) has been working on Bard for some time, with a chatbot named “Sparrow” originally rumored to be preparing for imminent release. This has been coupled with a lightened version of their LaMDA language model to create a powerful but computationally lightweight competitor to ChatGPT.
Bard is an experimental conversational AI service, powered by LaMDA. Built using our large language models and drawing on information from the web, it’s a launchpad for curiosity and can help simplify complex topics → https://t.co/fSp531xKy3 pic.twitter.com/JecHXVmt8l
— Google (@Google) February 6, 2023
Bard will be a conversational AI that, importantly for SEOs, will also have direct integration into Google’s search results.
Big News: Google’s response to ChatGPT just arrived. It’s a new experimental conversational AI service powered by LaMDA – they’ve called it ‘Bard’. If you work in SEO, you’re about to see some new features roll out very soon in Search. More info: https://t.co/onLIIcWtOC pic.twitter.com/5PYcOUfWHm
— Brodie Clark (@brodieseo) February 6, 2023
How Does It Differ From ChatGPT?
The fundamental difference between Bard and ChatGPT is the data sources they can draw from.
ChatGPT is trained on a specific data set limited to a certain point in 2021. This means it cannot currently comment on recent or current trends and developments.
Bard will have a continually updating data set trained on Google’s available data. While ChatGPTs data can, of course, be updated, this will give Bard an immense headstart out of the gate as its responses can be more timely and relevant.
The language models used also differ, with ChatGPT currently using GPT 3.5 and Bard using Google’s LaMDA model. Again, these can be updated over time, and for now, it’s not clear that either one is definitively better than the other but Google certainly has the muscle to back up its moves:
After some research, comparing Google and OpenAI is not even a fair comparison; Google has not one, but 3 Language Models on the way… ChatGPT just provoked the beast. Google AI models are actually several years ahead of OpenAI’s GPT; GPT3 itself is based on Google’s Transformer pic.twitter.com/DltCRjKt1D
— Mark Gatere (@gatere_mark) February 6, 2023
With that said, the LaMDA model has been available to play around with for a while and has generated some, err, mixed results (check out Joe’s thread here to see some of the interesting responses he got to his prompts):
Still wondering how Google will respond to ChatGPT?
Google’s own AI Chatbot can now be used in demo. Here’s how I used it👇 pic.twitter.com/0JY9vEwuRj
— Joe 🔎 (@joecowmanwd) February 1, 2023
Google has been keen to stress, however, the fact it is highly experimental at this stage, and neither LaMDA nor Bard is currently the finished product. Bard, in fact, is only available to “trusted testers” currently, with the public launch set to come in the “near future”.
What Does It Mean For SEO?
AI integration into search results will, of course, mean big changes for the world of SEO.
Google’s launch screenshots set the SEO world abuzz when it became clear the AI-generated auto answer did not contain any attribution.
This has driven fears of a continued move to zero-click results pages, with potentially catastrophic effects on website’s CTRs and organic traffic.
In light of these possible changes, there is increased buzz around the concept of AEO vs SEO.
Google just introduced Bard, while Microsoft is fully committed to integrating Bing with ChatGPT (launching tomorrow!). This marks the end of #SEO and the start of Answer Engine Optimization #AEO pic.twitter.com/1m06ZaDpgy
— Sachin Ganesh (@_SachinGanesh) February 6, 2023
AEO, or Answer Engine Optimization, is what some are heralding as the next step in the world of SEO.
The concept is not a new one, but it is taking on new significance with Google’s AI integration and Bing’s move to include OpenAI’s work within their results. Yes, Bing is an important factor here, especially given the somewhat muted response to Google’s latest launch.
The answer may well be that Bard doesn’t kill SEO, but rather creates its own new Google Bard SEO, or AEO as we may soon call it!
Keen-eyed observers didn’t need to read the stars to spot the fact that Bard actually provided an incorrect answer in Google’s own advert. This had a profound effect on Google’s shares, sending them spiraling down and showing AI perhaps isn’t quite ready to take over the world just yet.
Google’s keynote Live In Paris event as a whole actually garnered a less than enthusiastic response leaving many rather underwhelmed after what was meant to be a series of revolutionary new announcements:
My notes from Google’s Live from Paris event:
➖I was waiting the whole time for more insights into how Google goes to town with Microsoft but the keynote spent way too much time on Visual Search and Maps (also “the blobs”? RLY?)
Bad sign for G
— Kevin_Indig (@Kevin_Indig) February 8, 2023
Where Next For SEO and Search?
There’s no arguing that both Google Bard and Bing’s ChatGPT developments will have a profound effect on SEO and may even fundamentally change the way we interact with search. Updates like Transformative Generative AI announced at Google I/O show that SERPs and even the nature of search answers will continue to evolve and adapt.
While Google Bard is a significant step forward, it’s certainly not flawless. It won’t change SEO overnight, instead, it will be part of the continual evolution and revolution within SEO.
We’re not quite in the revolution yet, and the same principles still apply. Generating high-quality, well-researched, and authoritative content aligned with Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines remains the most foolproof way to attain good performance in the SERPs, especially as the way users engage with the results could change significantly.
Google’s lack of attribution remains a concern for the practice of generating click-throughs to webpages, but only time will tell how Bard vs ChatGPT will pan out and how much the trend of AEO vs SEO will develop.
We’ll continue to post about AI in SEO and the exciting new opportunities and challenges this presents.