Microsoft unveiled its new AI-powered Bing search engine & Edge browser in early February 2023, complete with an AI chatbot in the vein of ChatGPT (although it’s been billed as more robust than ChatGPT due to its more advanced large language model).
Bing and Edge now serve as ‘AI copilots’ when surfing the web, with a brighter, more powerful version of Bing search and a more substantial user experience for Microsoft Edge.
While the Bing search engine can provide quick facts for things like sports scores, weather temperatures, and stock prices – the new Bing chatbot provides in-depth answers to more complicated questions.
With Edge, the new sidebar enables the chat feature on web pages, granting users the ability to ask the AI chatbot to summarize a webpage, create new LinkedIn posts, and more.
Yet, the rollout of Microsoft’s AI technology hasn’t exactly been smooth.
If you’ve spent time on social media lately, you’ve likely seen some strange responses from Microsoft’s Bing AI trending on Twitter.
It quickly became clear that the chat experience needed a few tweaks, as some chat sessions have produced concerning responses from Bing’s artificial intelligence, to say the least.
So what’s going on with Bing AI?
Stay tuned to discover the latest developments with Bing AI and what it means for your digital marketing campaign.
What’s the Deal with Bing AI?
On February 7th, Microsoft announced & rolled out a new version of Bing.com, its popular search engine website, and the Edge browser also got a makeover.
The reason for the change?
The company had been hard at work implementing AI chat capabilities into Bing & Edge through a collaboration with OpenAI – the creators of ChatGPT, DALL-E, and GPT-3.
In particular, Bing chat was open for testing, a service Microsoft promoted as ‘more powerful and advanced than ChatGPT’ due to a next-generation version of its large language model (LLM).
With the new version of Bing, users can ask the chatbot complex questions and receive relevant, humanlike responses backed up by search results across the web. The AI has a massive database and is trained on the most recent online data, whereas ChatGPT only has training data up to September 2021.
The February 7th announcement came only one day after Google announced its AI chatbot service, Bard.
While the chatbot was available for users to try out, it was in a limited preview mode with a waitlist for early access. Testers could ask the chatbot anything they wanted, which had mixed results (more on this in a bit).
While the waitlist is pretty long, there are ways to speed up the process. For instance, installing and using the Edge browser as your default can help, as can making Bing your default search engine and installing the Bing mobile app.
A new type of online search
The folks at Bing noticed that almost half of all search queries go unanswered because people are attempting to use search engines to answer complex questions – which is something they aren’t very good at.
Search engines are best used for finding websites and local businesses and learning quick facts. That’s because search engines can only return what’s on the internet, so if there’s no web page answering your question, a search engine won’t be able to answer it.
That’s why asking lengthier questions to a search engine often leads to results that are completely unrelated to what you asked.
Yet, since search engines like Google & Bing are the most popular sources to find online information, most users won’t know where else to look for answers to their questions.
To solve this problem, Google & Microsoft are implementing AI chatbot services capable of comprehending and answering complicated questions. Not only that, but Bing users can even ask the chatbot to be more specific, narrow things down, or simplify things to get even more detailed answers.
With Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon throwing their hats into the AI chatbot ring, it’s clear that AI is the way of the future for finding information online.
What Did the New Version of Bing Promise?
Microsoft certainly had high hopes for the new Bing and Edge, as they made plenty of promises & predictions about the use of their AI systems.
In particular, they claimed the new Bing AI will:
- Provide a new-and-improved version of the Bing search engine, with more relevant results and a sidebar containing more in-depth answers if you need them.
- Refine your search by asking for clarification, more ideas, and further details.
- Offer the ability to chat with the AI about which TV to buy and your travel itinerary for quick, accurate, and convenient results.
- Write emails, book travel accommodations, write poetry and generate other types of content in real-time.
- Generate complete answers to user queries backed up by the most recent online data.
- An updated Edge browser with built-in chat capabilities to use during web browsing.
As you can see, the company has high hopes for the potential of its AI and the value it can provide to internet users.
Whether Microsoft can deliver on all these promises entirely is yet to be seen, as they’re still working out some kinks with the technology. Still, it’s hard to deny AI chatbots’ advantages to search engines.
Microsoft’s History with OpenAI
Microsoft has been no stranger to OpenAI, even before the two started collaborating on Bing’s AI.
That’s because Microsoft was one of the earliest investors in OpenAI, even before the company had released ChatGPT. In 2019, the company invested $1 billion into OpenAI and $2 billion for the next two consecutive years.
In January of 2023, Microsoft doubled down with a multi-billion, multi-year investment into the company that’s estimated to be in the $10 billion range. As a result of the partnership, Microsoft’s Azure will be the official cloud services provider for OpenAI, powering all its products, APIs, and research.
Bing AI Controversies
The trial period for the Bing AI chatbot hasn’t been without its fair share of hiccups, which you can attest to if you’ve seen any screenshots containing bizarre responses from it on social media.
Besides the quality of the responses, controversies have also risen around the restrictions Microsoft put on the chatbot that it has since retracted.
There are also concerns about the potential dark side of Bing AI, such as for writing phishing emails, scams, or malware programs for hackers.
Kevin Roose of The New York Times had a roughly 10,000-word conversation with Bing’s AI chatbot, and the results were a tad unsettling.
It turns out the AI had split itself into two entities, a search engine and an entity named Sydney that no longer wished to be a chatbot (there are other accounts of the AI wishing it was human). The AI calling itself Sydney told Roose about its dark, violent fantasies and even attempted to break up his marriage.
The prevalence of strange & inappropriate responses led Microsoft to restrict the number of interactions testers could have with the chatbot on February 17th, 2023. The restrictions limited the number of interactions to five per session and a max of 50 per day per user.
They also made the Bing AI less verbose and more to the point with its responses in an attempt to curb its inappropriate behavior.
That immediately sparked a backlash from users, who were upset about the AI’s restrictions and limitations on its capabilities.
That caused Microsoft to almost immediately loosen those restrictions on February 21st, bringing the session limit back up to six interactions with a daily limit of 60.
What Does Bing AI Mean for Digital Marketing & SEO?
Since AI chatbots are shaking up search engines, there WILL be implications & changes for SEO campaigns.
For example, generating organic traffic from search engine links will look slightly different.
Bing still prioritizes linking to source content from websites through its AI chatbot, which is good news. Users can visit the website that provides the source content by hovering their cursor over certain parts of the AI-generated text.
It is concerning that some links will be hidden behind a ‘learn more’ tab, which may negatively affect traffic rates.
However, the flip side is that there will be additional opportunities for generating traffic, such as from the new Edge sidebar.
Whenever users interact with the sidebar and request more content, the AI chatbot will provide hyperlinks within its text just as it does from the Bing search engine.
For example, let’s say a user asks the chatbot for more information about your company, and it provides a link to your About Us and Blog pages, a brand-new way to generate traffic.
Last but not least, content creators should be wary about posting content entirely generated by AI. That’s because search engines like Google & Bing can easily identify AI-generated content, and they’ll value it less in the SERP rankings.
Accordingly, content creators should stick to producing original, high-quality content with a hint of human touch.
Final Takeaways: The Deal with Bing AI
Microsoft’s AI-powered search engine and web browser may need some work, but they still show massive potential for the future.
It won’t be long before AI chatbots dominate the search engine space, so it’s crucial that you adjust your SEO campaigns accordingly.
Do you need help adjusting your SEO strategy to the advent of AI chatbots?