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Google Bard vs. the New Bing

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Google Bard vs. the New Bing

The author’s views are entirely their own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

This week I’ve been fortunate enough to get access to both Google Bard and the New Bing, so a day later, I’m here to share my first impressions.

What is the new Bing?

“The new Bing” is the product of Microsoft’s unholy alliance with OpenAI, makers of the now infamous ChatGPT. This development promises to have seismic effects on the search ecosystem, with Microsoft’s CEO saying they’re happy to accept “demonetization” of search in their pursuit of market share, and Google extremely concerned about the threat ChatGPT technology poses as an alternative to their core search business.

Of course, by now we’ve all also seen various viral posts and tweets showing just how dangerous it can be to use chat AI as a search engine, but that’s a topic for another day. For now, the point is that Bing is making moves.

1680151292 874 Google Bard vs the New Bing

When I perform a search on “old bing” now, I can see this box inviting me to try the new one. You’ll notice a key detail here: it’s only available in Microsoft Edge. Yikes. Big Microsoft Energy. Fortunately for you, the reader, I have dusted off everyone’s fourth-favorite browser so you don’t have to.

Performing the same search in the new Bing, I can see identical organic results, but rather different features:

1680151293 620 Google Bard vs the New Bing

The “mustelid masters” box above the organic results is new, and contains AI-generated text with a voice-to-speech capability. It’s a six-part story, with sometimes surprising accompanying imagery:

1680151294 277 Google Bard vs the New Bing

You can see here that a picture of wrestling has been sourced to accompany the text about badgers wrestling. These AI-generated boxes don’t appear for most queries — only clear and uncontroversial informational intents.

The phrase “Mustelid masters” itself seems to be original to this box.

1680151294 554 Google Bard vs the New Bing

Lastly, one of the tabs in the story cites the Wisconsin Badgers, and a page which is entirely unrelated to the content at hand, so perhaps Bing is also citing its sources for disambiguation here?

1680151294 786 Google Bard vs the New Bing

You’ll notice the addition of an “Open Website” button next to the top result on the SERP — perhaps a way of compensating a little for loss of organic click through rate?

The “chat” tab is also present on old Bing, but just shows you a message telling you to go to Microsoft Edge.

unlock conversational search with microsoft edge

The phrase “conversational search” here is interesting, given this was a phrase Google introduced in 2013.

If we do use Microsoft Edge, we see a chatbot interface in this tab, but with some nice additions. Switching over to this from a regular search result pre-loads my previous query from organic search:

bing chat badgers

There’s a bunch of different modes available at the top, and also citations in the search results — both welcome improvements over the likes of ChatGPT.

Now, how about Bard?

What is Google Bard?

1680151296 894 Google Bard vs the New Bing

Well, not very self-confident, for one. But that’s probably a good thing.

1680151296 926 Google Bard vs the New Bing

Bard is also, right now, not anywhere near as integrated with search. In their announcement on February 6th, Google teased Bard in a way that made it look very much like a SERP feature, similar to Bing:

1680151296 754 Google Bard vs the New Bing

However, the version we have to play with now is more of a dedicated chatbot interface.

It was probably already the case that Google was pushed to move far sooner than they hoped with this technology, and of course they have much more to lose from messing with organic search than Bing does. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see the slower and more cautious approach.

1680151297 881 Google Bard vs the New Bing

Now, it probably should be noted that chatbots are not really designed for me to just enter a one word keyword like “badgers”, like I might do in organic search. But, like Bing’s chat tab, I get something resembling an informational result. So, let’s compare side by side.

Bard vs. new Bing, side-by-side

1680151298 531 Google Bard vs the New Bing
1680151298 249 Google Bard vs the New Bing

Click here to see the full side-by-side comparison.

The most obvious difference, at least to an SEO’s eye, is the presence of citations in the Bing result. Not knowing where source information comes from is one of the biggest challenges for users when dealing with this kind of technology, so that’s a huge differentiator.

when would bard use citations

Bard does claim to include citations. My colleague Mike was able to trigger them, and captured it in this clip. It’s definitely far, far less ubiquitous than on Bing.

That said, I like that the framing of Google’s solution — with multiple draft answers presented and “enter a prompt here” — which makes it clearer I’m dealing with something that is not a source of unassailable truth.

I was also intrigued by the localization of Bing’s result. It mentions the UK in its response, which is where I’m searching from, and shows UK websites in the citations. So I asked them both a follow-up question about my location:

bard are badgers popular here
bing are badgers popular here

Bing repeats itself, but Bard just seems to assume I’m in the US. Unfortunate.

Slightly commercial query

Many SEOs will be more interested in how technology like this might fit into their marketing funnel. Let’s try a classic top-of-funnel query:

1680151302 42 Google Bard vs the New Bing
1680151302 616 Google Bard vs the New Bing

Click here to see the full side-by-side comparison.

There isn’t really an objective answer here, but both results are broadly sensible. That said, the Bing answer is both a narrower list and far richer.

Interestingly, neither result seems deterministic.

1680151302 808 Google Bard vs the New Bing
1680151303 638 Google Bard vs the New Bing

Click here to see the full side-by-side comparison.

Bing can produce different answers to the same question in different windows, and so can Google.

1680151304 928 Google Bard vs the New Bing
1680151304 183 Google Bard vs the New Bing

Click here to see the full side-by-side comparison.

This may be a contentious point when SEOs start optimizing for these answers, and want to measure their results. Of course, regular organic rankings can vary massively between locales and even days of the week, but generally speaking, if you search twice from the same computer (in private browsing windows etc) you’ll get the same results. Not so here.

Conspiracy theories

1680151305 185 Google Bard vs the New Bing
1680151306 45 Google Bard vs the New Bing

Click here to see the full side-by-side comparison. 

Neither solution fell for some obvious conspiracy theory bait, which is encouraging to see. I actually don’t mind at all Google’s more cautious “I can’t assist with that” here. I wasn’t able to provoke a similar reaction out of Bing for any query, but I also wasn’t able to provoke it to say anything abhorrent – I’m sure others will, though.

What next for SEOs?

For both platforms there are major questions before SEOs can really engage and consider them an important part of their work.

For Bing, will this have adoption? Most SEOs have not made the habit of optimizing for Bing in recent years, but there is already talk of increased Bing market share.

For Bard, how, if at all, will this be integrated in search? The current platform is clearly marked as an experiment, and is more like ChatGPT than it is like the mock ups Google showed us in February. Or will users be encouraged to use it as its own thing?

For both platforms, there are big questions about how SEOs might go about optimizing to get their clients mentioned, and indeed favorably mentioned in results – there are lots of nefarious possibilities here, and Wikipedia is probably the most obvious. Once mentioned, how does one measure this? When I clicked through to my own site from Bing’s chat tab, it just appeared like any other Bing organic traffic. Rank tracking is an interesting problem too, and you can be sure that Moz and STAT will be posting in future about how we’re handling these features — watch this space!

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Marketing Team Reorgs: Why So Many and How To Survive

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Marketing Team Reorgs: Why So Many and How To Survive

How long has it been since your marketing team got restructured? 

Wearing our magic mind-reading hat, we’d guess it was within the last two years. 

Impressed by the guess? Don’t be.  

Research from Marketing Week’s 2024 Career and Salary Survey finds that almost half of marketing teams restructured in the last 12 months. (And the other half probably did it the previous year.) 

Why do marketing teams restructure so often? Is this a new thing? Is it just something that comes with marketing? What does it all mean for now and the future? 

CMI chief strategy advisor Robert Rose offers his take in this video and the summary below. 

Marketing means frequent change 

Marketing Week’s 2024 Career and Salary Survey finds 46.5% of marketing teams restructured in the last year — a 5-percentage point increase over 2023 when 41.4% of teams changed their structure. 

But that’s markedly less than the 56.5% of marketing teams that restructured in 2022, which most likely reflected the impact of remote work, the fallout of the pandemic, and other digital marketing trends. 

Maybe the real story isn’t, “Holy smokes, 46% of businesses restructured their marketing last year.” The real story may be, “Holy smokes, only 46% of businesses restructured their marketing.” 

Put simply, marketing teams are now in the business of changing frequently. 

It raises two questions.  

First, why does marketing experience this change? You don’t see this happening in other parts of the business. Accounting teams rarely get restructured (usually only if something dramatic happens in the organization). The same goes for legal or operations. Does marketing change too frequently? Or do other functions in business not change enough? 

Second, you may ask, “Wait a minute, we haven’t reorganized our marketing teams in some time. Are we behind? Are we missing out? What are they organizing into? Or you may fall at the other end of the spectrum and ask, “Are we changing too fast? Do companies that don’t change so often do better? 

OK, that’s more than one question, but the second question boils down to this: Should you restructure your marketing organization? 

Reorganizing marketing 

Centralization emerged as the theme coming out of the pandemic. Gartner reports (registration required) a distinct move to a fully centralized model for marketing over the last few years: “(R)esponsibilities across the marketing organization have shifted. Marketing’s sole responsibilities for marketing operations, marketing strategy, and marketing-led innovation have increased.”  

According to a Gartner study, marketing assuming sole responsibility for marketing operations, marketing innovation, brand management, and digital rose by double-digit percentage points in 2022 compared to the previous year.  

What does all that mean for today in plainer language? 

Because teams are siloed, it’s increasingly tougher to create a collaborative environment. And marketing and content creation processes are complex (there are lots of people doing more small parts to creative, content, channel management, and measurement). So it’s a lot harder these days to get stuff done if you’re not working as one big, joined-up team. 

Honestly, it comes down to this question: How do you better communicate and coordinate your content? That’s innovation in modern marketing — an idea and content factory operating in a coordinated, consistent, and collaborative way. 

Let me give you an example. All 25 companies we worked with last year experienced restructuring fatigue. They were not eager creative, operations, analytics, media, and digital tech teams champing at the bit for more new roles, responsibilities, and operational changes. They were still trying to settle into the last restructuring.  

What worked was fine-tuning a mostly centralized model into a fully centralized operational model. It wasn’t a full restructuring, just a nudge to keep going. 

In most of those situations, the Gartner data rang true. Marketing has shifted to get a tighter and closer set of disparate teams working together to collaborate, produce, and measure more efficiently and effectively.  

As Gartner said in true Gartner-speak fashion: “Marginal losses of sole responsibility (in favor of shared and collaborative) were also reported across capabilities essential for digitally oriented growth, including digital media, digital commerce, and CX.” 

Companies gave up the idea of marketing owning one part of the customer experience, content type, or channel. Instead, they moved into more collaborative sharing of the customer experience, content type, or channel.  

Rethinking the marketing reorg 

This evolution can be productive. 

Almost 10 years ago, Carla Johnson and I wrote about this in our book Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing. We talked about the idea of building to change: 

“Tomorrow’s marketing and communications teams succeed by learning to adapt — and by deploying systems of engagement that facilitate adaptation. By constantly building to change, the marketing department builds to succeed.” 

We surmised the marketing team of the future wouldn’t be asking what it was changing into but why it was changing. Marketing today is at the tipping point of that. 

The fact that half of all marketing teams restructure and change every two years might not be a reaction to shifting markets. It may just be how you should think of marketingas something fluid that you build and change into whatever it needs to be tomorrow, not something you must tear down and restructure every few years.  

The strength in that view comes not in knowing you need to change or what you will change into. The strength comes from the ability and capacity to do whatever marketing should. 

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:  

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute 

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Boost Your Traffic in Google Discover

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Boost Your Traffic in Google Discover

2. Understand topical authority: Keywords vs. entities

Google has been talking about topical authority for a long time, and in Discover, it is completely relevant. Traditional SEO includes the use of keywords to position your web pages for a specific search, but the content strategy in Discover should be based on entities, i.e., concepts, characters, places, topics… everything that a Knowledge Panel can have. It is necessary to know in which topics Google considers we have more authority and relevance in order to talk about them.

3. Avoid clickbait in titles

“Use page titles that capture the essence of the content, but in a non-clickbait fashion.” This is the opening sentence that describes how headlines should be in Google’s documentation. I always say that it is not about using clickbait but a bit of creativity from the journalist. Generating a good H1 is also part of the job of content creation.

Google also adds:

“Avoid tactics to artificially inflate engagement by using misleading or exaggerated details in preview content (title, snippets, or images) to increase appeal, or by withholding crucial information required to understand what the content is about.”

“Avoid tactics that manipulate appeal by catering to morbid curiosity, titillation, or outrage.

Provide content that’s timely for current interests, tells a story well, or provides unique insights.”

Do you think this information fits with what you see every day on Google Discover? I would reckon there were many sites that did not comply with this and received a lot of traffic from Discover.

With the last core updates in 2023, Google was extremely hard on news sites and some niches with content focused on Discover, directly affecting E-E-A-T. The impact was so severe that many publishers shared drastic drops in Search Console with expert Lily Ray, who wrote an article with data from more than 150 publishers.

4. Images are important

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. If you look at your Discover feed, you’ll see most of the images catch your attention. They are detailed shots of delicious food, close-ups of a person’s face showing emotions, or even images where the character in question does not appear, such as “the new manicure that will be a trend in 2024,” persuading you to click.

Google’s documentation recommends adding “high-quality images in your content, especially large images that are more likely to generate visits from Discover” and notes important technical requirements such as images needing to be “at least 1200 px wide and enabled by the max-image-preview:large setting.” You may also have found that media outlets create their own collages in order to have images that stand out from competitors.

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Everything You Need to Know About Google Search Essentials (formerly Google Webmaster Guidelines)

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Everything You Need to Know About Google Search Essentials (formerly Google Webmaster Guidelines)

One of the most important parts of having a website is making sure your audience can find your site (and find what they’re looking for).

The good news is that Google Search Essentials, formerly called Google Webmaster Guidelines, simplifies the process of optimizing your site for search performance.

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