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Much like when many caught wind of ChatGPT’s capabilities late last year, ‘New Bing’ has taken over the attention of many in the Search Marketing industry within the past week.
I first gained access to the sample queries on the homepage of New Bing on February 8th alongside the general public, and have now been granted full access to the beta – giving access to search with queries beyond the sample.
After taking it for a test run, I wanted to provide a New Bing review to document some of the newly introduced features. As New Bing knows, I’ve previously referred to New Being as “epic” and “works well”, but I wanted to provide a more nuanced review of how it works.
Within this post, I’ll be focusing on a review of New Bing from both a user’s and an SEO professional’s perspective, along with some general thoughts on its usefulness. A comparison of New Bing against ChatGPT, Old Bing, Current Google, and Bard will be provided.
New Bing vs. ChatGPT
I think New Bing is a big upgrade from the existing ChatGPT functionality and interface. I can see myself using New Bing far more often than I have been with ChatGPT.
Having access to the web and current data is a major upgrade within New Bing. And this goes a step further with New Bing, where there are sources and footnotes included in search results, which was a major criticism that I had of ChatGPT.
One of the biggest downsides to ChatGPT is that it would use data that isn’t current, with the example that was doing the rounds being to ask ChatGPT who the current CEO of Twitter is, which it wasn’t able to tell you. This is something that New Bing will always be able to answer.
An interesting part about New Bing is that it often provides AI-powered answers alongside both knowledge panel and featured snippet results (how they are referred to on Google).
New Bing adds the chat prompts to other features of search alongside the chat box. If users click one of the prompts e.g. “How long has he been there?”, it then takes the user to the more immersive chat experience that scrolls upward to a separate section of the page.
Having the suggested prompts that are related to the search query is another improvement on how the free version of ChatGPT functions. After a few days of testing out New Bing, I’m finding that the results are a lot more useful when selecting a prompt after a search has been made.
New Bing vs. Old Bing
When comparing the New Bing to the old version, the only difference is the chat integration. The core search results appear to be effectively the same, which is a very important part of Search.
Getting core search results functioning to the same standard as Google has been an ongoing goal for over a decade for Bing, and they still have quite a bit of improvement to be made before matching Google.
But that doesn’t discount the impact that New Bing can have with AI-powered results. While featured snippets are still present on New Bing, the search box with prompts does make for a more enaging experience.
Interesting look at how featured snippets operate on an AI-powered Bing. Instead of showing an AI-generated result (as many are concerned about), prompts and an additional search box are presented for additional research. Will be tracking this closely 👀 pic.twitter.com/axUSdSxfDr— SERP Alert (@SERPalerts) February 8, 2023
This is an aspect that I believe has been lost on many with the New Bing release, and an aspect that I discussed with Business Insider when I was interviewed recently for their article focused on the advertising industry. In some cases, it feels like Bing is reinventing the wheel by placing both results alongside one another.
In my opinion, old Bing (the standard results) is packed with features that make it feel like a mess. And then there’s the discussion of ad labelling, which is a whole different can of worms. Old Bing has used a lot of attempts at growth hacks over the years which clearly aren’t in a user’s best interest.
The 3 core issues with Bing’s standard search results include:
- Number of Ads: Bing often goes very overboard with the number of ads that they show in their search results. I regularly come across search results with 5 separate ads (often including extensions that make them larger), with the maximum being 4 on Google.
- Ad differentiation: it is tough to tell the difference between an ad and an organic result on Bing. The difference between the ‘Ad’ and ‘Web’ labels is minor, and this is done on purpose by Bing because they want you to click on an ad accidentally, which is poor UX.
- Prominence of EMD’s: Exact Match Domains run rampant on Bing. And I’m not just showing the example above because it’s my site that ranks #1 on Google (well, maybe partly), but it does go to show how much weighting Bing gives to EMD’s.
The above issues have been very noticeable on Bing for as long as I can remember, and I wouldn’t expect them to change overnight for Bing to be able to compete with Google.
New Bing vs. Current Google
New Bing with AI-powered results isn’t enough to dethrone Google. We did see a substantial amount of search behaviour with ChatGPT, which opened up a new paradigm of what users can gain from using a search engine.
New Bing captures a lot of that search behaviour, which in my opinion, wasn’t really being reflected in Google’s search engine anyway. This would essentially mean that New Bing in its current form has the ability to take some potential traffic away from Google, which would only make a small dent in Google’s search volume.
But if Google were to release their own version of New Bing’s chat results (which they are about to release), I would expect that to counteract New Bing’s efforts quite effectively. And the major PR disaster for Google with the James Webb Telescope query, but have you looked as closely at Bing’s results yet?
New Bing vs. Bard
At the time of writing this review, Google is yet to show anything publicly about their new AI chat results. Google has demonstrated a very basic walk-through of Bard, but it doesn’t show much at this stage.
An aspect that is very important to note about Google’s announcement of Bard is that the focus is on queries that have NORA (No One Right Answer), which appears to be different from the approach being used by New Bing.
The best walk-through of what Google’s AI offering looks like can be seen in the preview below.
The information SEOs have been waiting for. And yep, Google’s AI results currently don’t provide sources/footnotes like the other search engines do. But this is an experimental period and Google says they still want to keep sending more traffic to websites 🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/8cC26j4tZ4— Brodie Clark (@brodieseo) February 8, 2023
If we were to do the same search shown above in New Bing, it provides the best comparison of Bard against New Bing that we have at this time from a quality standpoint.
In Google’s Bard example, it mentions that the best constellations are Orion, Cassiopeia, Ursa Major, and Pegasus. Whereas New Bing has the results shown below within Chat, which details a different set of recommendations, including Taurus in second, along with several others that aren’t in Google’s list.
While the ‘best’ answer is always going to be subjective, I have more trust in the list that Google is generating based on my overall experience with Google compared to Bing. Bing’s featured snippet also includes different results from what their Chat has, which again doesn’t give me too much confidence in their answer.
An aspect that’s worth highlighting here is how long-winded a lot of the Chat results provided by New Bing are, but New Bing does include bolding of text, an area of ChatGPT which was missing and an approach from Google that has been tried and tested over many years.
By comparing New Bing against Bard at face value, the approach being used by New Bing has publishers in mind, whereas Google isn’t using direct referencing and footnotes for the source of specific pieces of content. But again, if Google stays true to the NORA approach, it may not be as far-reaching as New Bing’s implementation.
Once Bard is released, much like my Bing chat review, I’ll also write an Apprentice Bard review to unpack how it operates and how it shapes up to Bing’s offering.
As for some final commentary around Bing’s new search offering, based on my Bing AI review, I’m quite impressed with what they have released so far. Despite there being plenty of room for improvement and the need for addressing core issues with their search engine.
Here is a summary of some of the main points in my review:
- New Bing has near real-time (there’s a delay) access to the web, which is a major advantage over ChatGPT and makes their dataset significantly stronger than OpenAI’s free offering.
- Instead of replacing SERP features such as featured snippets, New Bing is instead incorporating Chat functionality as an extension, and doubling up on answers in many cases, which does appear quite messy in its current form.
- Old Bing still has a long way to go, and hasn’t addressed many of the issues that have held them back from being competitive with Google. Bing’s new offering doesn’t have the capacity to compete with Google’s search engine in a meaningful way.
- The Bard proposal doesn’t currently site sources for results in a way that would provoke a click to a website for users. New Bing’s approach allows for effective referencing, similar to what Neeva does currently.
- NORA (No One Right Answer) is a key term for SEO professionals to keep in mind. I would expect that Google’s Bard will focus more heavily on these queries, continuing to use SERP features such as featured snippets which already address the intent of a high portion of queries quite effectively.
It is still very early days with respect to AI-powered chat results in Search. While progress is happening rapidly, I expect there will be clarity and a new segment of Search carved out very soon, which is an exciting prospect. Will these changes impact SEO negatively? I doubt it. Concerns get raised every few years, and the industry has continued to grow despite them.
Update: here’s what the results look like after I published this article. And yes new Bing, I like you even more now that you’ve done what I was hoping you would. If you’re looking for more New Bing reviews, make sure to read my follow-up related to New Bing’s indexing speed.
Wow. New Bing is blowing my mind 🤯 pic.twitter.com/E8lJyxBWyp— Brodie Clark (@brodieseo) February 13, 2023