Pagoda Blog

What Does Google’s Bard Mean for Online Search and Your Business’s Bottom Line?

May 4, 2023

We’ve grown accustomed to entering any question that comes to mind into online search. The traditional online search tools like Google and Bing then provide us with pages of links directing us to content written by a wide variety of content creators. These creators vary from topic experts and established organizations to passionate (and often biased) individuals. 


With this type of search, you can see who created the content, allowing you to verify their professional background and level of expertise. You can view their sources and determine their legitimacy. You can cross-check claims and then make an informed decision as to whether or not the creator is providing accurate information. You can also discover new businesses, from online services to brick and mortar locations in your area. 


But what does it mean for online search when your search engine feeds you answers without any citations or links to the original content creator? 


How can you verify that information or ensure you’re getting more than just one point of view? 


And how can businesses drive traffic to their websites? 


These are just some of the concerns triggered by new AI tools like Bard, AI-powered Bing, and ChatGPT. While these chatbots aren’t yet intended to replace search engines, people are using them to answer search queries with mixed results


Let’s look closer at Google’s Bard which released in March, tease apart how it works, its intended use case scenarios, and its potential to change the future of online search. 


How does Bard answer your queries? 

Google’s Bard chatbot synthesizes information across the web on a topic and distills it into a digestible answer. It is supposed to look at different perspectives on a topic and use those disparate views to provide users with a big picture summary or bullet points. 


It provides three answers to every question to account for different perspectives. Sometimes, however, each of the answers are nearly the same and there’s no way for the user to discern when Bard is accurately summarizing information or providing a skewed version of the facts.   


This form of AI-powered search may appear similar to traditional search engines on the surface (there’s the familiar search query box, after all) but this couldn’t be further from the truth. 


As mentioned above, Bard rarely links to its sources. It only provides citations when quoting at length directly from a webpage. This glaring lack of citation means that users have no way to verify the legitimacy of Bard’s sources. In an age of rampant misinformation, the process of fact-checking and verifying a content creator’s expertise is crucial.  


To Google’s credit, Bard does have pop-ups and multiple reminders stating that the answers Bard provides could be inaccurate. Underneath the text box it reads, “Bard may display inaccurate or offensive information that doesn’t represent Google’s views.” 


Google says Bard is not a search engine

Rather than use Bard as a search engine, Google would like users to see it as a creative collaborator. It’s a tool to help you generate ideas whether that’s for a blog post or a birthday party. You can also safely use it to find tasty restaurants or fun activities in your area. 


The fact remains, however, that people are using Bard (and Bing’s AI and ChatGPT) as search engines, whether they’re ready to be used that way or not. 


What does AI-powered search mean for SEO? 

Besides the dangers of chatbots spreading misinformation and leveraging biased content, AI-powered search will also dramatically change SEO. If users no longer have to visit a website to get an answer to their search queries, where does that leave your business? 


Today’s SEO strategies rely on tactics such as keyword optimized website copy, regularly published blog posts, targeted social media marketing, and paid advertising such as Google ad words. All of these tactics are trying to capture the attention of people who are searching for related content online. Bard, Bing, and ChatGPT, however, essentially take out the middleman (aka a content creator like your business or brand) by directly feeding users the answer to their question without requiring them to click-through to a website.  


For more complex queries, however, AI-powered chatbots still end up directing users to relevant websites. If you ask a series of follow-up questions, for example, Bard may share a link to a business’s online content. (Remember, Bard does sometimes quote website text and link back to the original source.) 


Other AI-powered search engines like the new Bing do include citations in their answers. This means that the way we write content will most likely shift to be more conversational, encouraging chatbots to quote and link back to our site. 


What else will change in the world of SEO? 


Keywords will probably lose their value and it will become even more important to create high-quality content that directly answers your target audience’s most sought after questions. 


Google is also planning to replace rich snippets with an AI-generated answer from Bard that includes links to several websites. 


As AI-powered chatbots like Bard are still in beta mode, it’s still too early to tell exactly how online search will change. For business owners, however, there’s one thing we can say for sure: As AI-powered chatbots replace traditional online search, it’s not a matter of if the way you market your business will change, but how


Feature photo by on Unsplash


Related Reading: 

ChatGPT: The Opportunities and Risks of AI-Generated Content

6 Ways to use Microsoft Power Automate to Improve Workflows 



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