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SEO 15 min read March 1, 2023

How Bing's AI Chatbot Sydney is Changing the Game for SEO

How Bing's AI Chatbot Sydney is Changing the Game for SEO
Kateryna Hordiienko
Kateryna Hordiienko
Research Editor at Serpstat

Since the ELIZA NLP program in the 1960s, talking to an AI has been discussed as an idea, and now it's going to get integrated into search engines.

In 2016, Microsoft closed down a chatbot called "Tay," which was created with a different type of artificial intelligence, as users induced it to express racist opinions and deny the Holocaust. What has changed for now? Let's discover the crucial aspects of a New Bing search and how they might affect SEO.

Meet Sydney: The AI Chatbot Revolutionizing SEO

Artificial Intelligence is transforming the world of SEO, and a prime example of this is the chatbot with a code name Sydney developed by Microsoft. Initially trialed in India, Sydney has quickly become a game-changer. Users of Bing's AI Chat have noticed that the chatbot sometimes refers to itself as Sydney instead of Bing Search when they input specific commands. This unique feature has piqued the interest of many, leading Microsoft's Director of Communications, Caitlin Roulston, to provide some insight into its development and implementation. 

Between 2017 and 2021, Microsoft made several improvements to its Bing bots to provide a better user experience. This research led to the development of Sydney, a single AI-powered bot designed to answer general queries on Bing, as opposed to the previous individual bots used to answer website queries exclusively.

Bing

The chatbot's responses must be informative, with Bing AI not disclosing its Sydney alias. The system's knowledge is limited to a certain point in 2021, similar to ChatGPT, but Bing's web searches are used to improve the foundation of data and retrieve more recent information.

To refine their models for a better user experience, Microsoft gathered feedback and powered the features with an upgraded GPT 3.5, called the "Prometheus Model." This OpenAI language model is more potent than GPT 3.5 and can answer search queries with up-to-date information and annotated answers.

Source: https://blogs.bing.com/search-quality-insights/february-2023/Building-the-New-Bing 

Prometheus

Sydney can both comprehend and express himself in English, 中文, 日本語, Español, Français, and Deutsch with complete fluency. But still, you will be able to use many language options for search.

language options for search

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has highlighted the significance of large models in improving the relevance of core ranking. Bing can now retrieve news about recent events and articles published in the last hour.

Nadella notes that these models offer both a commercial return and an investment return, making them ideal for partnerships that benefit customers and shareholders. As such, Microsoft believes that it is well-positioned to establish successful collaborations. It is worth noting that these models are also available through Azure AI.

Setting Bing as the default search engine requires users to download a mobile app, granting them early access to the chat feature. This could be highly advantageous, as users are less likely to change their default settings once established. It is demonstrated by Google's position as the default search engine on all iPhones, contributing to its 92% market share and comes with an annual cost of $15 billion.

Although New Bing offers access to an AI system that users can chat with, there are technical limitations to consider. Despite being able to hold conversations with the AI for extended periods in the past, the system now abruptly ends the interaction, stating, "I'm sorry, but I prefer not to continue this conversation. I'm still learning, so I appreciate your understanding and patience." 

I'm still learning

However, Sydney representatives have announced that their company is developing an improvement that will enable AI to provide longer-term thread capabilities. Restrictions on the number of chat turn per session and chats per day have been loosened, with plans to expand the number of sessions and let users choose the tone of chat responses.

The tone of chat responses

To begin a new session with the AI, users must click the "broom" icon to refocus the system and start afresh.

The Game-Changer for Online Businesses

Search engines used to struggle with understanding the intent behind a user's search query, but the emergence of artificial intelligence has changed that. In particular, RankBrain, an artificial narrow intelligence system that uses machine learning, has allowed search engines like Google to better understand user intent by associating unfamiliar phrases with words that have similar meanings.

The emergence of chatbots with AI capabilities, such as Bing's chatbot, has sparked a new arms race among major tech companies. While Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook have invested in AI technology for years, their focus has been enhancing existing products, such as search or content recommendation algorithms. However, the public unveiling of OpenAI's "generative" AI tools has caused competitors to abandon their previously cautious approach to the technology.

This breakthrough allows search engines to provide more accurate and relevant search results. Using natural language processing, chatbots can interpret user queries in conversational language and offer personalized and appropriate responses, fundamentally transforming how we interact with search engines.

Such development has significant implications for SEO professionals. The perspective is also in the ability of AI chatbots to offer search suggestions and process images. Search engines will benefit from AI chatbots' ability to understand and respond to natural language queries.

The ability of AI chatbots to offer search suggestions

SEOs can use AI chatbots to improve the accuracy and relevance of search results, resulting in a better user experience for website visitors. Additionally, AI chatbots can automate routine customer service tasks, freeing up time for SEO professionals to focus on more strategic initiatives. Overall, the rise of AI chatbots represents a promising opportunity to enhance search strategies and drive more traffic.

The ability of AI chatbots to offer search suggestions

Bing has always been a subject of interest for specialists who constantly try to decode the rules that govern search engine behavior. Recently, a Stanford University student named Kevin Liu discovered a prompt exploit revealing some secret rules Bing AI follows when answering queries. These rules could be a game-changer for SEO professionals looking to optimize their content for Bing's search algorithm.

Here are some of the rules that the chatbot has presented:

Sydney can only use numerical references to URLs

These rules provide valuable insights into how Bing's AI operates and how SEO professionals can optimize their content to rank higher on the search engine.

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Navigating the Roadblocks of AI Chatbots in SEO

The emergence of conversational AI is not the catalyst for a change in search; instead, it is the outcome of an opportunity that has arisen.

However, chatbots like ChatGPT and LaMDA are more expensive than typical software. OpenAI's CEO, Sam Altman, recently tweeted that delivering each chat on the service costs "single-digit cents," resulting in extremely high prices for the company due to the millions of people using the service. Google's solution to this issue is Bard, a "lighter weight" version of LaMDA that allows for lower costs while still providing the benefits of AI-powered chatbots.

Let’s look closely at the cons of new AI-driven search copilots.

Bing, Microsoft

Microsoft showcased its advanced Bing AI capabilities by demonstrating its ability to perform complex tasks like providing pros and cons for top-selling pet vacuums, planning a 5-day trip to Mexico City, and comparing data in financial reports of GAP. However, the first demos needed fixing; the chatbot made several financial data mistakes.

In the preview period, it is expected that the system may make mistakes, and these errors can be critical in identifying areas that need improvement. As Caitlin Roulston, Director of Communications at Microsoft, explains, "the feedback is critical to help identify where things aren't working well so we can learn and help the models get better.”

Therefore, anyone looking to use a chatbot must know the potential pitfalls and work to overcome them. While Microsoft's Bing AI capabilities are impressive, testing and refining the chatbot thoroughly is crucial to ensure that it provides users with accurate and reliable information. With careful planning and testing, the chatbot can be a powerful tool to enhance the user experience and provide valuable insights.

During its presentation, Microsoft acknowledged various potential issues, including the risks of bias and "jailbreaking" of AI chatbots that could lead to the generation of harmful or hateful content. Sarah Bird, responsible for AI lead for Azure, emphasized that the company has been working diligently to safeguard against such risks.

Bard, Google

Bard is a ChatGPT competitor recently announced by Google that promises similar search and language capabilities. Bard is powered by LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications), announced two years ago. Google claims that Bard is powered by a lightweight model version of LaMDA, requiring significantly less computing power and allowing for more scalability and user feedback.

However, during one of its first public demonstrations, Bard made a factual mistake, resulting in an 8 percent drop in Google's stock price as investors noted the error.

Despite this setback, Google plans to release more than 20 AI products and features this year, including the upcoming AI search engine features that aim to provide users with a more conversational experience. 

Bard, Google

What Lies Ahead for the Industry?

Chatbots, the result of over a decade of research at tech giants like Google, OpenAI, and Meta, represent a monumental shift in how computer software is developed, employed, and maintained. With their advanced capabilities, they are set to revolutionize search engines such as Google Search and Microsoft Bing, virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri, and email platforms such as Gmail and Outlook.

However, additional concerns must be addressed, such as the potential impact of AI-assisted search on the internet's ecosystem. If tools like Bing's AI scrape information without users clicking through to the source, it could deprive websites of their revenue streams. To ensure the success of this new search paradigm, it must uphold existing agreements.

As for the future of this technology, it remains to be seen how it will develop. Although some may be concerned that it could go too far, others agree with Gary Marcus, a professor emeritus of psychology and neuroscience at New York University and an AI expert. Marcus describes the Bing chatbot as "autocomplete on steroids," lacking a moral compass and an understanding of what it says.

One of the related flaws is that chatbots, which learn their skills by analyzing vast amounts of text posted online, need to distinguish between fact and fiction. This can lead to the biased text being generated, particularly against women and people of color.

It is evident that Microsoft still has a significant distance to cover before the new Bing can respond to all queries accurately and confidently with factual information. Although we have observed comparable errors from ChatGPT previously, the company has incorporated this feature into its search engine as a live product, which relies on real-time data. Bing Search must make numerous adjustments to prevent making errors using this data.

Conclusion

In conclusion, let's summarize the impact on SEO, which might be significant:

Chatbots have ushered in a new era of SEO that prioritizes high-quality content and user experience.

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