Bing is picking up steam
February 2023: What's New In SEO?
I know you've been waiting for the latest news from the world of SEO. Just give me a second...
Is that good enough? 😁
I hope not because there's a lot more interesting stuff. Such as new features for audience analysis or a trick to increase your ranking in local SEO.
The New Bing
In early February, Microsoft announced the "new Bing", which includes a chat mode that provides a conversational experience similar to ChatGPT. The biggest difference from ChatGTP is that Bing Chat uses a technology they call Prometheus to combine data from Bing's fresh index with OpenAI's GTP model.
Bing wasn't done with this news in February. During the month, they announced algorithm improvements and added the ability to set "Response tones". Those of you who have experimented with GPT-3 will be familiar with the temperature setting option, which is basically the same thing.
Along with that, we're seeing voice search signals and an expansion of results from Bing Chat to Answer boxes (which are Featured Snippets on steroids):
And, of course, you can also see ads in Bing Chat.
Google's response was hurried at best. Their Bard presentation was poor, including incorrect answers in the demo materials.
We haven't had a chance to test Google Bard yet, but it's clear that Google has a lot to lose in this game, unlike Microsoft, which can use this as an opportunity to grow.
What does it mean to us?
As I mention in my Content Optimization Guide, the long-term trend is that search engines are less and less willing to send users to publishers' sites and want to keep them on their own sites.
Innovations like Bing Chat and Google Bard are right in that spirit. For us, this means even less diversity in search results and sources. No matter how search engines give credit to sources (if at all), fewer established sites will get the majority of attention depending on what data the model is trained on.
The winner takes all.
At the same time, Microsoft has made access to Bing's Search API 10 times more expensive. Some speculate that this is due to higher costs due to the introduction of the new technology. I guess that it may be more of an effort to make it more difficult for other smaller search engines to operate - many of them using Bing's search results.
NeevaAI is expanding
One alternative search engine that utilizes Bing's data is Neeva - an ad-free and tracker-free search engine.
It features recently released NeevaAI - quick answers in SERPs generated from top sources using generative AI in a similar fashion as Bing Chat (they had it sooner though).
Last month, this feature became available to users in Europe and Canada.
Even though the quality of search results is a bit lacking compared to major search engines, it's very refreshing to see a search engine without ads that's backed by paying subscribers. By using these alternative search engines, you support search diversity.
New in Google Search Console
Exciting new feature - Bulk data export - a new feature of Search Console which allows users to export data to Google BigQuery on an ongoing basis.
It includes all performance data, except for anonymized queries, and is not affected by the daily data row limit. It is beneficial for large websites with large amounts of traffic.
Google also recently improved user management in GSC. The new features include: distinguishing between verified and delegated owners, easier removal of verified owners, or the ability to view user verification tokens.
Small Updates in Google's SERP
Google has launched the blue highlights in featured snippets within the Google search results, which are visible in many snippets:
Google Search has apparently expanded its feature of People Cards, which was initially only available in India, to the United States. People Cards provide a quick and easy way to find information about a person on Google.
Google also recently implemented a carousel at the top of search results for hotel queries. This carousel was previously located inside the hotel pack but now appears at the top of the page:
SparkToro: Custom Search & Custom Audiences
SparkToro's new Custom Search and Custom Audiences feature allows users to find even more specific audiences, such as Data Scientists who talk about R or those who post about Organic Chemistry and follow New Scientist.
Additionally, Custom Audiences now allows users to analyze their email lists by providing SparkToro with the list. SparkToro is also working on a new infrastructure to be rolled out in the next 6-9 months, with the goal of ingesting and displaying more kinds of data from more sources.
Local SEO: Services in GMB impact rankings
Joy Hawkins and her team have conducted a study that has revealed that services listed on Google Business Profiles now impact local rankings much more than in 2019. Adding services to a Google Business Profile, even custom ones, can lead to improved rankings.