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What's the deal with ChatGPT? What about Sydney and Bard?
This week: Required reading to keep up with the changes in news SEO. What’s the deal with ChatGPT? Who – or what – are Sydney and Bard?
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Hello and welcome back. It’s Shelby here, fighting off a hell of a head cold before I head to sunny Jamaica for a much-needed vacation. Picture this: an all-inclusive resort, a beach and a water slide. What else could you need?
This week: Some required reading to keep up with the changes in news SEO. There are some hot topics up for discussion, so we’re here to keep you informed.
Let’s get it.
What to read this week
What’s the deal with ChatGPT?
You probably can’t talk to anyone working in SEO without AI or OpenAI’s product, ChatGPT, coming up. Everyone is testing the chatbot to see what it can – or can’t – do for us. Additionally, news SEOs are deeply concerned about its potential impact on misinformation and reader trust. But before we get into the impact artificial intelligence has had on news SEO, let’s answer the burning question: What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is a natural language processing model and AI-powered chatbot that is capable of generating human-like responses. ChatGPT can be used for tasks such as text completion, conversation simulation or language translation. It launched in November and within its first week, had over one million users. Microsoft (which owns Bing) is the biggest investor in OpenAI, and have been collaborating to build their own chatbot.
Each session has an associated operating cost for the company. The average cost-per-chat is unconfirmed, but Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, said the price is “probably single-digits cents per chat.”
While it's unlikely that an AI-powered chatbot will replace Google or traditional search in the immediate future, SEOs must understand the magnitude of the technology. AI chatbots have the potential to upend our workflow and threaten the search ecosystem as we know it.
ChatGPT has a variety of functions that can be useful for SEOs, such as:
Write or create content (but beware of situations where an AI-powered tool are writing E.E.A.T or YMYL content);
Help with keyword research (and faster);
Construct regex, code or Schema markup;
Link building or link generation ideas;
Understanding search intent;
Generating SEO headlines or title tag options;
Creating and managing analytics reports.
Amid resource tightening and time constraints, AI-powered tools can help news SEOs work more efficiently. However, the tool is still being iterated and has its drawbacks. For example, ChatGPT only pulls from data prior to 2021, and is unable to provide information on current events. And finally, there’s always the concern that these chatbots will become, well, too human.
🔗 Read more: Aleyda Solis runs through a presentation on how to leverage AI bots as SEO companions.
As a response, Google was very busy last month. Here are the updates.
February was a busy time for Google as they launched multiple updates to various platforms or surfaces, including a chatbot and a product reviews update.
The product reviews update launched Feb. 21 and was said to take two weeks to roll out. This seems to be another update to keep the quality of product reviews in search as high as possible. The update added support for more languages (it now works for Spanish, German, French, Italian, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Russian, Dutch, Portuguese and Polish), and additional questions to consider when providing product reviews that emphasize the new “E” for “experience” in E.E.A.T. The update also includes guidance on how to provide recommendations for certain products, which should help guide your affiliate marketing SEO strategy, too.
An unconfirmed algorithm update seemed to occur around Feb. 14. It’s likely the unconfirmed update was Google testing something that will roll out soon. Follow Google’s list of all of their search ranking updates to be sure the next time an update is released.
In February, Google also launched Bard, their attempt at competing in the AI space. Many users expressed criticism of Google for rushing their prototype without proper testing. With artificial intelligence becoming more commonplace in SEO, Google is trying to stay competitive – the company has a lot more to lose if there is a fundamental shift in how people search. Last Thursday, Jack Kawczyk, the product lead for Bard, said that the AI tool is not search, but an “experiment that’s a collaborative AI service that we talked about.”
🔗 Read more: Lily Ray on how Google’s latest “helpful content system” update is impacting SERPs.
Bing is trying to come to the party, too.
Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, went through a makeover in early February as the company began its launch of the “new Bing,” which included an AI-powered component. The company says it is designed to “deliver better search results, more complete answers to your questions, a new chat experience to better discover and refine your search, and the ability to generate content to spark your creativity.” But it turns out Microsoft has been secretly testing their chatbot “Sydney” for years, at least back to 2020, according to The Verge.
As of January 2023, Bing accounted for 8.85 per cent of the global search market, while Google captured 84.69 per cent. Bing’s refresh is likely an attempt to cut into the market leader’s lion’s share. In their first seven days of testing the “new Bing,” the company reported that they saw an increased engagement across traditional search results, with 71 per cent of their users giving the AI-powered answers a “thumbs up.”
But Bing is still behind the curve. Wil Reynolds, a leading SEO expert, timed the AI capabilities of Bing versus Google and found that the response can be over 50 seconds long and has to be prompted, compared to Google, which takes around five seconds. Speed still matters in search.
Bing is continuing to iterate their new platform, which is powered by a proprietary technology called Prometheus, which is “a first-of-its-kind AI model that combines the fresh and comprehensive Bing index, ranking, and answers results with creative reasoning capabilities of OpenAI’s most-advanced GPT models.” Their next step is to integrate it better, which will be a test for the coming months.
Bottom line: AI is here to stay, and may become an integral component to the search experience. Understanding what it is and how it’s being used is vital to our ongoing effort at helping readers understand the news.
THE JOBS LIST
These are audience jobs in journalism. Want to include a position for promotion? Email us.
Institute for Nonprofit News is hiring a Audience Research Fellowship (Remote).
The New York Times is hiring a Technical Search Manager to work on NYT and The Athletic (NY, Remote).
Samantha Edwards: The Canadian federal government is currently pushing through legislation that would require tech companies like Google to compensate news organizations for content that appears on their platforms.
Matt Stoller: Google is stealing from Canadian newspapers and advertisers (and it's killing our news providers).
Google Search Console Training: Exporting Search Console data to spreadsheets.
Barry Adams on Twitter: As more and more publishers retire AMP, the percentage of non-AMP URLs in mobile news boxes continues to grow. It's almost 50%.
Barry Shwartz for SEJ: Google says update the lastmod tag if you’re providing something new.
The Ezra Klein Show: A skeptical take on the A.I. revolution