In our latest blog, we'll be taking a look into Google's new AI announcement - and how this impacts the future of search.
February 8, 2023
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BREAKING NEWS. This week, Google introduced the world to its innovative new tool known as “Bard” – their response to the immense success of ChatGPT and a way for them to gain more traction in the AI market.
As of Monday the 6th of January, Google announced that its “trusted testers” are assessing Bard, which will be accessible to users in Google Search and other products within the next few weeks. Bard, like ChatGPT which was released to the public by AI research company OpenAI in late November, is built on a large language model. These models are trained using vast amounts of data online in order to generate responses to user prompts. Google’s Sundar Pichai has said that “Bard seeks to combine the breadth of the world’s knowledge with the power, intelligence and creativity of our large language models, it draws on information from the web to provide fresh, high-quality responses”.
To put this into context, Google provided an example. Whereas user searches in the past have been more simple e.g. “how many keys does a piano have?”, they’re becoming increasingly complex e.g. “is the piano or guitar easier to learn, and how much practice does each need?”. AI is a powerful tool to use when the answer to your questions isn’t black-and-white. In Search, you’ll soon see AI capabilities that gathers intricate data and numerous perspectives into easy-to consume formats so you can quickly grasp broader ideas and learn more from the web – such as searching for different viewpoints like blogs written by both piano and guitar players or exploring further in terms of how to get started as a musician.
Just a few months after its public launch, ChatGPT has created a considerable stir by allowing users to produce essays, stories, blog posts and much more, as well as answering questions that would have previously been searched for on Google. The Bard AI announcement comes at a time when many believe that the core product of Google, online search, is in danger like never before.
As if Google didn’t have enough to worry about with the success of ChatGPT, Microsoft recently announced that it plans to launch a new version of its Bing search engine powered by a similar AI model. This move is sure to be seen as a direct response to Google’s introduction of Bard and could cause further disruption for the tech giant in an already crowded marketplace.
If you visit Bing.com, you can take a look at the example searches and try them out (if you see the new interface). Once clicked, they will direct to a Bing search page with classic results on the left-hand side while an AI-generated answer pops up in the chat window located to the right. It’s clear that Microsoft is hoping to capitalise on the success of ChatGPT and is making a bold statement with this move.
It’s obvious that AI-centric search engines are becoming a priority for the big names within the space. This means that people will be relying less on traditional results and the webpages they generate, and more on AI-generated answers. All of this is great news for users as it allows them to quickly get an answer or solution to their queries without having to trawl through endless pages of search engine results.
However, for brands that rely on organic search traffic to generate leads and sales, this could be cause for concern. If users are bypassing the results pages altogether, how will they ever find your website? What is really crucial here for search is the display and utilisation of the AI integration, is this a simple addition to an already heavily populated SERP? As the bing example suggests.
For Google, this could make life harder in some respects as they’re increasingly being forced to compete with other players in the market such as Microsoft and OpenAI – all of whom have created solutions which provide instant, AI-driven answers to user questions. However, Google still has a strong hold over the search engine market and will be keen to ensure that users still rely on them for answers, even if those answers are provided by AI.
The increase of the zero click search is nothing new to search as Google has increasingly, over the years, tried to integrate different features on the SERP to answer users questions quickly and efficiently without having to navigate to a website – so search professionals will be all too familiar with the changing goal posts. What doesn’t change with this announcement is the focal point on the user, every piece of content, every piece of information, everything on your website should be user centric and provide value. That’s how you win in an increasingly zero click environment.
Of course, it’s still early days and we don’t know exactly how these new chatbot tools will impact search in the long run. But one thing is for sure – the way people use search engines is changing, and brands need to start thinking about how they can adapt their marketing strategies to stay ahead of the curve.
So the answer to “What does this all mean for search?” Well… it depends.
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