Google Bard SEO - How to Optimize for Featured Results

Discover the impact of Google Bard on SEO and search results. Learn about the new ChatGPT rival and how it will affect your optimization strategies.

Written by
Daniel Højris Bæk
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April 24, 2024

Yesterday Google's with its launch of Google Bard, introduced its much anticipated ChatGPT rival.

The Search behemoth has been in 'Code Red' since OpenAI took the world by storm with it's ChatGPT platform.

With this release of Bard being announced by the CEO Sundar Pichai, it's clear that it's a massive update. And it's something we as SEO professionals need to consider when optimizing moving forward.

But what are the impacts of Google Bard on SEO and search results?

Let's start with reviewing what Google Bard is as far as we know.

What is Google Bard?

Although not launched to the public, only selected "trusted testers," as Google states, we already know quite much about Bard.

First glimpse of Google Bard

It will be implemented as a part of Google's main product, search.

Bard can be an outlet for creativity, and a launchpad for curiosity, helping you to explain new discoveries from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to a 9-year-old, or learn more about the best strikers in football right now, and then get drills to build your skills.

The AI feature is dubbed Bard, an allusion to the classic storyteller, and it is built on Google's LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) technology.

One of the considerations and discussions around if Google would be challenged by ChatGPT was, that those generative Large Language Models (LLMs) were too heavy (and costly) to implement in the billions of searches that Google serves every day.

Apparently, Google has found a way around this based on this statement;

We’re releasing it initially with our lightweight model version of LaMDA. This much smaller model requires significantly less computing power, enabling us to scale to more users, and allowing for more feedback.

Another challenge of the different LLMs has been their creativity, meaning that they, from time to time, just make stuff up.

Google points to earlier discussions around LaMDA and how it uses Safety and Quality (SSI) ratings to ensure correct responses.

LaMDA SSI illustration

It's also clear that Google wants to move away from images or short, simple searches and towards being a platform for learning and a much wider sort of knowledge;

When people think of Google, they often think of turning to us for quick factual answers, like “how many keys does a piano have?” But increasingly, people are turning to Google for deeper insights and understanding — like, “is the piano or guitar easier to learn, and how much practice does each need?”

How will this affect the Search ResultPages (SERPs)?

If we look at the images released from Google it looks like Bard is replacing the 'featured snippet' (today an excerpt from a website) on the search result page.

Instead, Google will serve an AI-generated answer to the query the user post, along with related links.  

How Google Bard will look like on mobile

Google is also touching on the sensitive topic of generating answers, e.g. going from simply displaying what others have written to now composing answers.

AI can be helpful in these moments, synthesizing insights for questions where there’s no one right answer.

It will be interesting to see what legal implications might arise from this.

It's a bit unclear how Google in the answers generated by the AI will highlight what sources the answer is based on.

I think it's highly likely they will point to their sources/links in order a) minimise legal implications b) be aligned with how they facilitate data today c) let people dive deeper into the generated answers.

I suspect that the bold text in the answers might be links, or that the "Check it" button shown in the bottom of the query/answer box might be just this.

Again, something to watch out for as SEOs.

Google Bard compared to ChatGPT

It's clear that Bard is Google's countermove towards ChatGPT, as well as Microsoft Bings upcoming relaunch of Bing, centered around ChatGPT.

The leaked images of the upcoming Bing powered by ChatGPT/OpenAI

If we compare how ChatGPT and Bard would answer, we can take the example queries that Google has shown and place them into ChatGPT with the prompt;

"What new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope can I tell my 9 year old about?"

Answers from Bard and ChatGPT compared

First of all, it's still mind blowing how good both answers are, and clear that this kind of factual results will be the future of search.

This is the kind of answer the users want instead of having to review multiple different websites, for some types of searches.

If we dive into the difference between Bard and ChatGPT, the most striking thing is, that it's apparent (and no coincidence Google uses an example where this is clear) that the Google result is showing information from 2023.

Hereby they clearly demonstrate superior skills compared to ChatGPT, that's only capable of knowing things from 2021 and earlier, as it's training data cuts off in 2021.

It's interesting to see how the Bing approach to this challenge will be.

How to SEO optimize for Google Bard?

When we reviewed how to optimize towards newer generations of search engines built upon LLMs like ChatGPT, the initial challenge discussed was, that all training data was mixed together and it was not built around facilitating links to further information.

With Google this seems to be different and also more in line with their existing business case, as we have reviewed it earlier, where fresher content and web links are essential;

It draws on information from the web to provide fresh, high-quality response
Sundar Pichai, CEO

So what should we do as SEO professionals to optimize their websites toward the Bard release?

My best guess is that it's more or less the same playbook as today. So overall, the winners will be the ones creating great high-quality content.

With Bard, Google gets even better at understanding more complex queries and serving the results in a new way.

But it's not like the underlying technology of crawling and understanding the world's websites is about have changed overnight. This is just an evolution of the many algorithm updates they have made.

But there seems to be two places to optimize towards when speaking of SEO.

  1. Creating content that will be inside the answers generated (so in other words be the source the answer is built upon)
  2. Creating content that will be among the "Read more" links

If we follow the same playbook as when we want to have our content appear in Google's Featured Snippet element, we can follow these steps;

  • Use questions as headings: Using questions as headings can increase the chances of your content being selected as a featured snippet.
  • Use simple, concise language: Write content that is easy to understand and to the point. Avoid using complex language.
  • Use bullet points and numbered lists: Google often uses bullet points and numbered lists in featured snippets, so use them in your content.
  • Optimize content length: Featured snippets typically contain 40-60 words, so make sure your content is optimized for this length.
  • Use schema markup: Adding schema markup to your content can help Google understand the context and structure of your content.
  • Monitor your performance: Regularly check your Google Search Console to see if your content appears in featured snippets and make changes accordingly.

And if you just want to ensure your content is ready for going into the overall content inside the answers, I would recommend focusing on;

  • Create high-quality content: Focus on creating high-quality, informative and engaging content that provides value to your audience.
  • Use related keywords: Use keywords related to the main topic of your content to help Google understand the context and relationships between words.
  • Use synonyms: Use synonyms of your main keywords to add context to your content and make it more likely to rank for various related phrases.
  • Include images and multimedia: Adding images and other multimedia elements to your content can help to break it up and make it more engaging.
  • Utilize internal linking: Use internal linking to help Google understand the relationships between different pages on your website.
  • Make sure your website is easily crawlable: Use a sitemap and make sure your website is easily accessible to search engine bots.

No matter what, it's very exciting to see artificial intelligence introduced as more visible in search engines, than just something powering the engines behind the curtains.

Google Bard SEO - How to Optimize for Featured Results

This is an article written by:

+20 years of experience from various digital agencies. Passionate about AI (artificial intelligence) and the superpowers it can unlock. I had my first experience with SEO back in 2001, working at a Danish web agency.