SEO breaking news: Google’s ‘Bard’ search engine integrated Chat GPT competitor and the impact Bard will have on SEO

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few months – it is more than likely you have heard of Chat GPT. Likewise, but more dramatically, unless you have not been living at all for the last few decades, you will have heard of Google.

Well, it was only a matter of time until the David and Goliath story played out with the two aforementioned topics. A Goliath such as Google was never going to lay dormant for longer than it needed to while Open AI’s Chat GPT ‘David’ ran amok across the web. When you sprinkle on top of this the fact that Microsoft has planned to integrate Chat GPT into their Bing search engine – it was indeed Google’s turn on the AI chessboard.

“Soon, you’ll see AI-powered features in Search that distil complex information and multiple perspectives into easy-to-digest formats, so you can quickly understand the big picture and learn more from the web: whether that’s seeking out additional perspectives, like blogs from people who play both piano and guitar, or going deeper on a related topic, like steps to get started as a beginner”.

Googling animation

According to Sundar Pichai, Google and Alphabet CEO, the scale of the largest AI computations is doubling every six months, far outpacing Moore’s Law.

“We re-oriented Google around AI six years ago - we see it as the most important way we can deliver on our mission: to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Introducing Google’s Bard: a conversational AI, powered by LaMDA, integrated into Google’s search engine

Bard, powered by LaMDA (short for Language Model for Dialogue Applications) is being called an ‘experimental conversational AI service’ by Google. Bard’s mission, as Google states, is to ‘combine the breadth of the world’s knowledge with the power, intelligence and creativity of our large language models’.

How does Bard work and what does Google want us to use Bard for?

Bard, as an artificial intelligence service and language model, draws on information from across the web to provide fresh, high-quality responses to the user. Pichai states that ‘Bard can be an outlet for creativity, and a launchpad for curiosity, helping you to explain new discoveries from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to a 9-year-old, or learn more about the best strikers in football right now, and then get drills to build your skills’.

google bard explainer gif

What impact will Bard have on SEO?

The generic SEO answer to anything is, of course, ‘it depends’. But, I will aim to be slightly less insufferable in this answer! If we analyse the various images and gifs of Bard that Google has teased us thus far, it looks clear that Bard will replace the ‘featured snippet’ area at the top of SERPs (search engine ranking pages). Instead of displaying a featured snippet taken from a webpage across the web that Google has deemed answers the user’s query succinctly with expertise – we will be presented with Bard’s AI box.

Many in the world of search engine optimisation have been discussing since the first murmurings of Bard what impact Google’s AI system rollout will have on SEO and organic website traffic. It is inevitable (at least, it should be) that Bard will provide citations and sources to where it is receiving its information from when chatting with the user and answering its questions. So, as with most things SEO in recent years, if your website is set up for SEO success and you are regularly publishing expertly written content that is helpful for the user – you shouldn’t need to worry too much.

Although, if Bard is indeed replacing all featured snippets currently owned by websites, those websites in question will of course say goodbye to the organic SEO traffic generated from those snippets and be left praying that Bard sends some juice their way.

Alongside this impact Bard may have on your SEO – Bard is of course set to take up a fair amount of space and real estate in the SERPs. This, paired with the fact that Bard may answer a user’s query without them having the need to visit a web page, is likely to result in decreased web traffic from you owning less space in ranking pages and receiving less traffic from user queries.

So, as always, may the best content win! And, pray that AI in SEO does not create too much of a tectonic shift.

google bard ai explainer gif

How can you use Bard in Google?

Currently, as of writing this close to Google’s initial Bard announcement in February 2023, Bard has only been released with a ‘lightweight model version’ of LaMDA only to a small sample of trusted testers.

“This much smaller model requires significantly less computing power, enabling us to scale to more users, allowing for more feedback. We’ll combine external feedback with our own internal testing to make sure Bard’s responses meet a high bar for quality, safety and groundedness in real-world information.”

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