Google Launches BARD AI Chatbot To Compete With ChatGPT via @sejournal, @MattGSouthern

Google has unveiled BARD, an AI chatbot designed to compete with OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Microsoft’s chatbot in their Bing search engine.

In a blog post, Google describes Bard as an early AI experiment to enhance productivity, accelerate ideas, and foster curiosity.

You can use BARD to get tips, explanations, or creative assistance in tasks such as outlining blog posts.

With BARD, Google aims to solidify its presence in the AI chatbot space while maintaining its dominance in the search engine market.

Google Launches BARD AI Chatbot To Compete With ChatGPTScreenshot from:, March 2023.

BARD’s Technical Details

BARD is powered by a research large language model (LLM) – a lightweight and optimized version of LaMDA.

It will be updated with more advanced models over time. As more people use LLMs, they become better at predicting helpful responses.

BARD is designed as a complementary experience to Google Search, allowing users to check its responses or explore sources across the web.

Operating as a standalone webpage, BARD consists of a singular question box instead of being integrated into Google’s search engine.

This strategic move is to adopt new AI technology while preserving the profitability of its search engine business.

Cautious Rollout Amid Unpredictability Concerns

Google’s cautious approach to BARD’s release is in response to the concerns over unpredictable and sometimes unreliable chatbot technology, as demonstrated by competitors.

Google recognizes LLMs can sometimes produce biased, misleading, or false information.

To mitigate these issues, Google allows you to choose from a few drafts of BARD’s response.

You can continue collaborating with BARD by asking follow-up questions or requesting alternative answers.

Google Launches BARD AI Chatbot To Compete With ChatGPTScreenshot from:, March 2023.

Google’s Race to Ship AI Products

Since OpenAI’s release of ChatGPT and Microsoft’s introduction of chatbot technology in Bing, Google has prioritized AI as its central focus.

The company’s internal teams, including AI safety researchers, are working collaboratively to accelerate approval for a range of new AI products.

Google’s work on BARD is guided by its AI Principles, focusing on quality and safety.

The company uses human feedback and evaluation to enhance its systems. It has implemented guardrails, such as capping the number of exchanges in a dialogue, to keep interactions helpful and on-topic.

In Development Since 2015

Google has been developing the technology behind BARD since 2015.

However, similar to OpenAI and Microsoft’s chatbots, BARD has not been released to a broader audience due to concerns about generating untrustworthy information and potential biases against certain groups.

Google acknowledges these issues and aims to bring BARD to market responsibly.

BARD Availability

You can sign up to try BARD at

Access is initially rolling out in the US and UK, with plans to expand to more countries and languages over time.

Sources: Google, The New York Times

Featured Image: Muhammad S0hail/Shutterstock

Bing Image Creator: AI-Powered Visual Content By Microsoft via @sejournal, @MattGSouthern

Microsoft is launching Bing Image Creator, a cutting-edge AI-powered visual content creation tool.

This innovative feature, designed for the new Bing and Microsoft Edge, allows users to generate images by describing them in their own words.

The upgrade will provide a more visually stimulating chat experience and a seamless content creation process.

In a blog post, Microsoft cites research indicating that the human brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text, making visual tools essential for searching, creating, and understanding content.

According to Bing’s data, images are the second most searched category after general web searches.

Previously, search capabilities were restricted to existing images on the web, but Bing Image Creator eliminates those limitations.

Here’s more about Microsoft’s AI-powered image creator.

Integrated AI-Powered Image Creator in Bing and Microsoft Edge

Bing Image Creator: AI-Powered Visual Content By MicrosoftScreenshot from:, March 2023.

Bing Image Creator is integrated into the Bing chat experience, initially available in Creative mode.

You can generate images by typing a description, providing context, and selecting an art style.

This update makes Microsoft Edge the first and only browser with an integrated AI-powered image generator, accessible from the Bing Image Creator from the sidebar or Bing chat in Edge.

Responsible AI Implementation & User Safety

Microsoft is committed to responsibly developing and deploying AI systems per their Responsible AI principles and standards.

The company has partnered with OpenAI, the developers of the DALL∙E model, to ensure the responsible use of Bing Image Creator.

Controls have been implemented to limit the generation of harmful or unsafe images. Each image the tool creates is marked with a modified Bing icon to indicate its AI-generated nature.

Phased Rollout & Future Expansion

Microsoft is launching Bing Image Creator in a phased approach, initially testing it with a set of preview users before a broader release.

The company plans to make the tool available in Balanced and Precise modes over time and optimize its functionality in multi-turn chats.

New AI-Powered Visual Stories & Knowledge Cards

Bing Image Creator: AI-Powered Visual Content By MicrosoftExample of an AI-powered visual story.
Screenshot from:, March 2023.
Bing Image Creator: AI-Powered Visual Content By MicrosoftExample of an AI-powered Knowledge Card. Screenshot from:, March 2023.

In addition to Bing Image Creator, Microsoft is rolling out Visual Stories and Knowledge Cards 2.0.

These features aim to deliver more engaging, interactive, and dynamic content, including charts, graphs, timelines, and more.

In Summary

Microsoft’s introduction of Bing Image Creator marks a significant step in AI content creation.

The tool makes it easy for marketers and SEO professionals to create engaging visual content, catering to the human brain’s preference for processing visual information.

As Microsoft continues to expand its offerings, we can likely look forward to even more immersive content creation experiences.

Source: Bing

ChatGPT Is Down: OpenAI Reports Major Outages For ChatGPT And Labs Users via @sejournal, @kristileilani

OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Labs experienced an outage today. Mobile users report receiving the dreaded “ChatGPT is at capacity right now” message and its outage limerick. ChatGPT Plus subscribers can receive a subscriber login link, which would typically bypass any capacity issues. That option also appears to be broken.

ChatGPT Is Down: OpenAI Reports Major Outages For ChatGPT And Labs UsersScreenshot from ChatGPT, March 2023

Desktop users receive a link to the incident page for this outage, which shows OpenAI began investigating the issue at 9:41 a.m. PDT. They discovered the root cause of the issue and are working on a resolution.

ChatGPT Is Down: OpenAI Reports Major Outages For ChatGPT And Labs UsersScreenshot from ChatGPT, March 2023

The OpenAI Status page shows that in addition to ChatGPT, Labs is having an outage related to an underlying capacity failure. OpenAI is adding extra capacity to resolve this issue. Paid labs traffic has been restored, and they are working towards restoring free traffic.

ChatGPT Is Down: OpenAI Reports Major Outages For ChatGPT And Labs UsersScreenshot from OpenAI, March 2023

DownDetector also has received thousands of reports from ChatGPT users about the outage, which began several hours ago.

ChatGPT Is Down: OpenAI Reports Major Outages For ChatGPT And Labs UsersScreenshot from DownDetector, March 2023

ChatGPT Plus users are particularly frustrated because the premium pricing plan includes “General access to ChatGPT, even during peak times.”

Some users are turning to the OpenAI Playground while OpenAI resolves the issues with ChatGPT. It offers a chat mode (currently in beta) that can use your choice of GPT-3 or CODEX models.

ChatGPT Is Down: OpenAI Reports Major Outages For ChatGPT And Labs UsersScreenshot from OpenAI, March 2023

New accounts receive an initial $18 credit for the OpenAI Playground. Once you reach your usage limits, you must pay for additional credits. Prices are per 1,000 tokens, where 1,000 tokens are equal to about 750 words. Pricing varies based on the language model and context needed.

ChatGPT users can subscribe to updates from the incidents page to be notified when OpenAI has resolved the issue.

Featured Image: Vitor Miranda/Shutterstock

TikTok Will Allow Users To Refresh The For You Feed For Fresh Recommendations via @sejournal, @kristileilani

TikTok introduced a new feature allowing users to refresh their For You feeds if they feel the current recommendations are no longer relevant to their interests. This comes as part of the company’s ongoing efforts to provide an enjoyable viewing experience while balancing the goals of self-expression and content diversity.

TikTok offers various ways to discover new content, from personalized recommendations in the For You feed to trending content in the Explore feed. Users craft recommendations for the For You feed when they follow creators, search for content, and engage with videos (likes, comments, and bookmarks).

How Refresh Encourages Content Diversity

The new refresh feature will allow users to reset their For You feeds as if they had just signed up for a new TikTok account with a fresh start on content recommendations. TikTok will begin surfacing new content recommendations based on new interactions with creators and videos.

This feature will not erase any settings you have in existing content preferences, such as filters for specific keywords, restricted content, and hidden creators.

TikTok hopes this move will reduce repetitive content so users can continue discovering new things. The platform typically avoids recommending consecutive videos by the same creator or using the same sound.

TikTok is committed to creating a safe and enjoyable viewing experience for its users by removing content that violates community guidelines, minimizing harmful topics in recommendations, and filtering mature themes for younger audiences using Content Levels, a system similar to movie and tv ratings.

Additionally, TikTok limits content that may adhere to community guidelines but negatively impact the user experience if viewed repeatedly, such as videos with themes of sadness, excessive exercise, restrictive dieting, or sexually suggestive material.

While TikTok encourages users to express themselves, even during difficult times, it also wants to prevent the promotion of self-injury or other harmful content to others.

Additional Ways To Reset Your Content Recommendations

Users who want to update the recommendations in the For You feed can still do so, even without the new refresh feature. Under your account settings and privacy, in the comment and watch history, you can select and delete some or all of the videos you have watched.

TikTok Will Allow Users To Refresh The For You Feed For Fresh RecommendationsScreenshot from TikTok, March 2023

This has two benefits: it removes your account from the video’s watch history and removes the video from being factored into your future recommendations.

You can also visit your content preferences and filter out specific keywords and hashtags. This will remove videos with those keywords and hashtags from your For You and Following feeds.

To continue shaping the recommendations in your For You feed, you can use the “not interested” option when you see a video you do not want to see again. You can find this option when you tap the share arrow on a video.

TikTok Will Allow Users To Refresh The For You Feed For Fresh RecommendationsScreenshot from TikTok, March 2023

Improvements In Educational Content

The new refresh feature follows TikTok’s recent announcement of a STEM feed. The new feed dedicated to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics videos will be evaluated by third parties to ensure it is safe for kids and includes accurate information for educational purposes.

Douyin, the version of TikTok available in China, already emphasizes educational content over entertainment for younger audiences to influence the next generation positively.

Featured Image: nikkimeel/Shutterstock

Google Explains Why Sites Should Combine Structured Data via @sejournal, @martinibuster

Google’s Lizzi Sassman answered a question in a Google SEO Office hours session about whether it’s okay to combine different structured data types.

The answer illuminated an important point about how Google interprets structured data and whether it’s better to combine structured data or two separate them out.

Combining multiple structured data is called nesting.

What is Nesting?

Structured data is basically about high level data types (called Types) and the attributes of those Types (called Properties).

It’s kind of like with HTML where the main HTML building blocks of a webpage are called Elements and every element has properties that modify them that are called “attributes.”

The HTML of a webpage begins by communicating that it’s an HTML webpage like this:

Similarly, a structured data script begins by saying what the main structured data for the webpage is.

A recipe structured data on a webpage that is about a recipe looks like this:

The Search Party: SEJ’s Weekly News Recap For Search, Social, And AI  via @sejournal, @kristileilani

It’s been a busy week for professionals in all industries, thanks to the latest developments in AI.

To help you stay updated on the latest news that may affect your work life, we have condensed the top stories you need to know – from search to social to AI – into this easy-to-digest post.

This week’s top stories include the release of GPT-4, new AI tools and features across several platforms, the rollout of a Google core algorithm update, and more!

OpenAI Releases GPT-4

One of the most prominent announcements came from OpenAI – the release of GPT-4. Rumors sparked by a recent Microsoft AI event were confirmed this week as GPT-4 became available for immediate use for ChatGPT+ subscribers at $20 per month.

GPT-4 is multimodal, allowing it to accept text and image input to generate text outputs. Greg Brockman, President and Co-Founder of OpenAI, demonstrated this new capability by using GPT-4 to transform a photo of a hand-drawn website mockup into a website in HTML and JavaScript.

OpenAI also showed how well GPT-4 has improved its LSAT, GRE, AP, and other exams designed to test humans.

Even with its improvements in reasoning and conciseness, there are still limitations to the training data ChatGPT uses. Users should, as always, verify the accuracy of responses before trusting them – and, where possible, cite sources.

Google Introduces AI For Google Workspace, Google Cloud

While partly overshadowed by OpenAI’s announcement, Google made AI news this week by revealing upcoming AI features for Google Workspace apps: Gmail, Docs, Slides, Sheets, Meet, and Chat.

Trusted testers (customers of a Google product or family & friends of Google employees) can use AI to generate content inside Gmail and Google Docs, allowing users to brainstorm, draft emails, craft job descriptions, write blog posts, proofread, and more from inside each interface.

The Search Party: SEJ’s Weekly News Recap For Search, Social, And AI Screenshot from Google, March 2023

Google also announced new and improved generative AI capabilities for Google Cloud developers.

  • Vertex AI upgraded with generative AI support from various foundation models, including PaLM API, Google Research, and DeepMind.
  • The Generative AI App Builder allows developers to build gen apps – bots, chats, digital assistants, custom search engines, and more – in minutes or hours with limited technical knowledge.
  • The new PaLM API and MakerSuite allow experimentation and quick prototyping with large language models.

These features will be available to select trusted Google Cloud Innovators community testers.

Microsoft Reveals AI-Powered Copilot for Microsoft 365

Not to be outdone by Google, Microsoft revealed new AI features for Microsoft 365 users.

During Microsoft’s “Reinventing Productivity” livestream event, Satya Nadella, Chairman and CEO of Microsoft, said that AI had powered the tools we use in the workplace for years – but now, Microsoft is moving AI from autopilot to copilot, making AI as empowering as it is powerful.

Copilot integrates with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Teams to enhance productivity and creativity in the workplace. It can help users draft content faster, explore data with natural language queries, transform ideas into presentations, summarize emails, and more.

The Search Party: SEJ’s Weekly News Recap For Search, Social, And AI Screenshot from Microsoft, March 2023

In addition, Business Chat will help users connect their data and information across all of Microsoft’s productivity apps in a streamlined way through Microsoft Teams.

The goal of these new AI features from Microsoft is to help users automate tedious tasks, freeing up their time for more creative work.

Nadella also reminded people that those who build, deploy, and use AI must use it responsibly to allow AI to evolve into something that fits our social, cultural, and legal norms for our democratic society.

The Copilot System is positioned for enterprise-AI deployment. Copilot goes beyond integration with OpenAI’s ChatGPT – it combines the power of LLMs like GPT-4 with Microsoft 365 and your business data in the Microsoft Graph.

Instead of being tied to limited training data, Copilot applies natural language processing to your data, making it faster to access, process, and utilize in various scenarios.

Copilot and Business Chat are available to select customers with plans to expand to more users in the coming months.

In Case You Missed It

What if AI, search, and social media walked into a bar? We don’t have time to get into everything that would ensue, but let’s explore more of this week’s stories from around the web.

AI News

Anthropic, led by former OpenAI employees, introduced Claude, an AI assistant used by DuckDuckGo, Poe, Notion, and others to create safer, less toxic AI experiences.

Research lab Midjourney released version 5 of its product with more accurate visualizations of text prompts and higher-resolution images. (Midjourney)

Apple computers with M1 and M2 chips may be able to run LLaMA models. (Github)

Search News

Microsoft offered a list of suggested prompts for Bing AI copilot, which is now available. (Microsoft Blog)

Google announced its rollout of a core algorithm update for March 2023.

Google’s John Mueller shares advice on simplifying website structure and landing a job at a major tech company.

Google Ads will solely use GA4’s conversion window settings starting April 1, 2023, to minimize discrepancies in performance reporting between the two platforms.

Google Search Central released a new tutorial on unlocking Search Console insights with Looker Studio dashboards to visualize key SEO metrics.

Using conversational AI, Google unveiled improvements to search results around healthcare and mental health.

Social Media News

TikTok announced a new STEM feed to provide safe, factual information on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics-related topics.

Meta is winding down digital collectibles (NFTs) to focus on alternative ways to support creators with the monetization of messaging and Reels. (Twitter)

Mark Zuckerberg released a memo to employees about upcoming changes to improve efficiency. (Meta)

LinkedIn introduced new generative AI features to help users craft more effective professional profiles and job descriptions that attract qualified candidates.

Featured Image: Photo Kozyr/Shutterstock

We Took The New For A Spin. What Did We Learn? via @sejournal, @kristileilani

HubSpot recently announced the launch of new AI tools – content assistant and – to boost productivity and save the marketing and sales teams valuable time researching, reporting, and summarizing important information.

SEJ had a chance to take these new tools for a spin – read on to find out what we learned about how you can use them.

What Is integrates the power of ChatGPT & GPT-4 with the HubSpot CRM, so users can ask questions and provide detailed instructions for a task through natural language in a chat interface.

This new AI chatbot allows users to perform various tasks, such as adding contacts to the CRM, creating custom reports, summarizing HubSpot data, and drafting effective, personalized marketing messages and emails.

Combined, these features can save marketing and sales teams a lot of time.

Instead of going to multiple places to run reports based on your HubSpot data or research a competitor, you can just ask to compile the information in the chat.

Inside, you’ll find suggested marketing, sales, generative AI, and research prompts.

We Took The New For A Spin. What Did We Learn?Screenshot from, March 2023 also has a prompt library with 40 more prompts to help you learn how the AI chatbot can help you be more productive in your marketing and sales efforts.

Examples Of Responses

The following are examples of responses you can expect from when utilizing it for marketing and sales.

First, we can ask the chat to list PPC keywords for a popular design tool, Canva. The AI chatbot will respond with a list of the top keywords that drive paid search traffic to its website.

We Took The New For A Spin. What Did We Learn?Screenshot from, March 2023

You can continue researching Canva by clicking on the Organic Keywords to see a list of Canva’s top organic keywords in search. Again, you’ll get a list of the top keywords that drive organic traffic to its website.

We Took The New For A Spin. What Did We Learn?Screenshot from, March 2023

The link next to each PPC and organic keyword will take you to the target landing page for those keywords to inspire your page’s design and copy.

Second, we can ask for research on specific companies, like OpenAI. The tool will pull basic information about the company from social profiles, like Twitter and LinkedIn – helping users become briefed on a potential customer quickly before making a sales call.

We Took The New For A Spin. What Did We Learn?Screenshot from, March 2023

Beneath the company info, you can click on links to see the company’s PPC and organic keywords.

Third, can help you draft blog content about specific topics.

As with any ChatGPT-based response, verifying the information (and sources) presented and rewriting it in your own words is important.

That kind of due diligence can help prevent your blog content from matching other companies that use the same prompts for generating content.

If everyone asked what SEO is for blog inspiration, they would likely get the same answer that looks like this. The only way to ensure it is unique is to rewrite it with your unique tone of voice and insights.

We Took The New For A Spin. What Did We Learn?Screenshot from, March 2023 is currently in Alpha mode. Users may find it struggles to answer questions beyond the prompts provided by HubSpot.

It should be fully functional and ready to assist with your marketing and sales needs with time.

How To Access

Sign up for the waitlist to get access to

Also, sign up for the Content Assistant waitlist for a more powerful content generator for your marketing strategy.


The implementation of AI by Google, Microsoft, HubSpot, and others highlights the potential benefits of AI for everyone, from small businesses to enterprises. As AI tools become more available and easier to use, businesses should leverage them to increase efficiency and productivity, leading to faster achievement of business goals.

Featured Image: 4H4 PH/Shutterstock

Microsoft Shares 5 Starter Prompts For AI-Powered Bing via @sejournal, @MattGSouthern

As digital marketers and SEO professionals, we find ourselves amid rapid advancements in artificial intelligence (AI).

While trying to understand the implications of AI, we must adapt our strategies to this new technology landscape.

In a blog post, Frank X. Shaw, Microsoft’s Chief Communications Officer, shares ways to integrate AI into your existing workflow.

Shaw’s goal in publishing these tips is to guide people along the change curve and highlight the opportunities AI offers to writers and communicators.

Among its capabilities, Microsoft’s AI-powered Bing has shown impressive results in assisting with creative communication tasks.

Shaw uses these five prompts, which can help familiarize you with the new Bing and enhance your written work.

“The results were crazy impressive,” Shaw states in the blog post.

See the results for yourself by entering the following prompts into the new version of Bing.

5 Prompts To Get You Started With The New AI-Powered Bing

1. Media Coverage Snapshots

Bing can provide quick snapshots of media coverage to gauge the impact of news stories, helping you stay updated on current trends.

Shaw lists several examples in the blog post:

“It’s been a crazy few weeks of news here at Microsoft and I’ve started using Bing to help me get quick snapshots of media coverage to see how news is landing in the moment. Here are a few examples I pulled recently:

  • “What’s the latest news about today?”
  • “What’s the overall tone of these stories?”
  • “How does this compare with news about in the same time period?”

2. Social Media Post Inspiration

The AI-powered Bing chat can be used as a brainstorming tool to generate creative and engaging social media content.

Shaw lists the following prompts for generating copywriting ideas for social media posts:

  • “Generate a few tweets that include information and uses a tone” (such as “lighthearted tone”)
  • “Write a LinkedIn post for this blog,
  • “Generate a few tweet ideas for about
  • “Take the following information and turn it into a character tweet / LinkedIn post: ,” then “Can you write it again but make it more engaging?”

3. Headline Generation

Bing can help create multiple headline variations for blog posts or other content, saving time and energy.

Shaw uses the new Bing to write headlines with the following prompt: “Suggest a few variations of headlines for the following,”

Next, copy your text and paste it into the Bing chat window.

4. FAQ Generation

Using Bing, you can generate relevant and engaging FAQs for your content, improving user experience and boosting SEO efforts.

Here’s how Shaw does it:

“FAQs is another type of writing I’ve been keen to accelerate with AI. Here’s how I’ve done that:

  • “Suggest five FAQs for < text or link>”
  • “Give me a few more”

5. Media Interview Preparation

Shaw demonstrates that you can generate interview questions using the new AI-powered Bing.

Here’s a prompt he used to prepare for a podcast episode with Kara Swisher:

“Help me prepare for a podcast interview with Kara Swisher. The topic we’ve agreed to discuss is the rise of Artificial Intelligence tools and services. Based on her most recent writing and podcasts, give me 10 questions I should anticipate.”

If Bing is familiar with the person you’re interviewing, you can ask it for potential questions based on their web content.

In Summary

Microsoft’s AI-powered Bing marks a new era for content creators.

It can save time, inspire ideas, and kickstart content that resonates with your target audience.

These five prompts shared by Shaw are only the beginning.

As you become more familiar with Bing’s AI capabilities, you can explore additional prompts and applications tailored to your unique needs and objectives.

Whether brainstorming social media content, crafting compelling headlines, or preparing for media interviews, AI can be a powerful ally in your digital marketing arsenal.

Try for yourself by signing up for the preview at

Source: Microsoft

Featured Image: rarrarorro/Shutterstock

After Semrush Acquired Traffic Think Tank, What’s Next? Insights From Co-founder Matthew Howells-Barby via @sejournal, @MattGSouthern

In a significant move, SEMrush has acquired a highly-regarded community for SEO professionals: Traffic Think Tank.

Founded by renowned digital marketing experts Matthew Howells-Barby, Nick Eubanks, and Ian Howells, Traffic Think Tank has gained a global following since its inception in 2017, thanks to its invaluable insights and resources for SEO enthusiasts.

Since 2017, Traffic Think Tank has built a reputation for providing valuable insights and resources, earning a loyal following among digital marketers worldwide.

To delve deeper into the success of Traffic Think Tank and to gather career advice for SEO professionals, we had the privilege of interviewing one of the minds behind it all.

Howells-Barby expresses his excitement about joining SEMrush and the opportunities this acquisition will bring for both Traffic Think Tank and SEMrush customers.

In this article, you’ll learn more about the success of Traffic Think Tank, why it was sold to SEMrush, and Howells-Barby’s career advice for SEO professionals.

Can You Tell Us About The Early Days Of Traffic Think Tank?

As Howells-Barby recalls, Traffic Think Tank was born out of a desire to create a community that mirrored one of his career-defining experiences:

“When I look back to the very start of my career, when I first came into the SEO space, I would say the single most valuable thing that happened to me … is I got invited into a small private Facebook group with about 15 people that were far more intelligent about SEO than I was.

And the kind of rules of the group were to share what’s working with one another, and everybody helps each other. And nothing goes outside of the walls of this private Facebook group.”

When the beta version of Traffic Think Tank launched in November 2017, only 100 people were permitted to join.

Howells-Barby believes that strategy was helpful because it allowed them to build a strong community before the recent hype around remote work and online education companies.

The Value Of Closed-Knit Communities

Closed-knit groups that share what works with one another and everyone helps each other are essential for innovation, Howells-Barby says.

“You can get rid of all of the noise of the millions of articles telling you the generic advice… I think if you’re going to truly be able to go a step further, it requires immense trust between a closed-knit group that is willing to share the things they don’t really want to share publicly.”

Traffic Think Tank was founded on this ethos and built a community of people with a common thread in search or marketing.

Over time, the community grew to include some of the most respected names in the SEO industry, with members from various backgrounds and skill levels.

Howells-Barby notes that community members have formed lifelong friendships, launched successful businesses, and even gotten hired through the group.

While Traffic Think Tank offers educational content, Howells-Barby believes that the community aspect is what people love the most, as nearly 70% of all messages are shared via private DMs.

The closeness of the Traffic Think Tank community has been maintained by charging for the group early on and keeping it to a maximum of a thousand people.

How Would You Describe The Community To Non-Members?

Through our discussion with Howells-Barby, we learned Traffic Think Tank aims to provide a psychologically safe space for members to discuss digital marketing and SEO topics.

Howells-Barby stated that one of the first things that excite new members is the realization that they can openly discuss topics that were previously difficult to access or discuss.

“I think one of the first dopamine hits you get is where you kind of go in and it’s like, oh wait, people are actually talking about this. It’s kind of like the first time you have that open conversation about compensation with … peers in an organization and you’re like, oh wait, people talk about this? Like, okay, this is kind of interesting.”

This has resulted in successful initiatives such as Failure Therapy, a popular channel where members can share their failures and learn from one another.

Howells-Barby emphasized that Traffic Think Tank takes its values and code of conduct seriously and that any violation of the code of conduct results in immediate removal from the community.

Community values include diversity and ensuring that everyone feels comfortable and safe to contribute to the conversation.

Additionally, Howells-Barby mentioned the importance of leaving your ego at the door when joining Traffic Think Tank.

Why Sell Traffic Think Tank To SEMrush?

Speaking about why Traffic Think Tank decided to sell to SEMrush, a big corporation in the SEO industry, Howells-Barby said there were several reasons behind it.

Traffic Think Tank had been running as a side business for nearly six years and had always been stretched thin.

Despite having an operational team to help run day-to-day tasks, there were still big things on their to-do list that they needed help to do.

Howells-Barby, Eubanks, and Howells, the founders of Traffic Think Tank, felt like they were letting down the community and needed to consider options to level up growth.

“We knew that either we needed to consider bringing on additional partners or building out the team more significantly or looking at something like an acquisition to really level up kind of on the growth side. We grew the team pretty significantly, but we realized that that still wasn’t delivering what we needed. And bringing on additional partners got a lot more complicated [and] incentives could get misaligned.”

SEMrush, one of Traffic Think Tank’s earliest supporters, proposed the acquisition, and Howells-Barby and his team were impressed with SEMrush’s commitment to keeping the underlying culture and values of Traffic Think Tank.

SEMrush’s incentives align with Traffic Think Tank’s goals of delivering value to its community.

Additionally, SEMrush has promised to invest in new community initiatives, like delivering value back to the community, helping level up content production and production value, and producing in-person experiences.

The acquisition by SEMrush will enable Traffic Think Tank to deliver on its extensive to-do list in a way that itsr lightweight, agile team couldn’t on its own.

What Trends Do You See Shaping The Future Of SEO?

Discussing how SEO has evolved, Howells-Barby says the fundamentals and principles of ranking content in search have not changed much over the years.

Howells-Barby noted that while AI has become a major discussion point in recent years, its impact on search has been gradual rather than sudden. He pointed to the evolution of smart speakers and the shift towards conversational search as examples of how search has changed.

AI-generated content is likely to become more prevalent, which could make content creation more challenging. However, he emphasized that AI will not likely replace all content and that content creators will still have jobs.

“I think on the content creation side, [quality] is going to suffer a lot. I still think that AI is definitely not going to just replace all content. I think it’s going to take certain segments. I mean, it’s been in financial services and finance for a long time already. It’s just people often didn’t realize it. So I think that’s kind of like a place where it’s going to become a little bit more challenging on the content side.”

In the coming years, Howells-Barby sees search becoming more fragmented, with Bing gaining more market share and offering different opportunities than Google.

“Do I think Bing is going to beat Google? No, I don’t. Do I think it’s starting to really kind of gather up and hoover up more market share? Definitely. And I think for the longest time, I wouldn’t even look at Bing when I was doing anything in organic search. I think you have to now, and the rules are going to be slightly different and there’s going to be opportunities across each of these kind of platforms to do stuff.”

While Howells-Barby doesn’t see AR or VR impacting search in the near future, he believes that search queries will become more specific, and relevance will remain essential for ranking.

He highlighted the importance of links in SEO and noted that they’re still the most critical factor in determining authority and ranking.

Career Advice For Aspiring SEO Professionals

As someone who has succeeded in the SEO industry, Howells-Barby has valuable advice for others looking to grow their careers.

There are two essential steps to building a successful career in SEO, Howells-Barby says.

The first step is to acquire a foundational knowledge of SEO, which can be obtained from various free and paid resources.

However, Howells-Barby believes building a solid network of trusted individuals is the most critical step in building a successful SEO career.

He suggests joining communities, whether paid or free, and reaching out to people in the industry at all levels of your career for casual chats.

That can help you build relationships and share information and knowledge, which can pay off 10 to 100 times throughout your career.

“I would say the thing that delivered the most value for me early on in my career, and I still do this today, is I would reach out to people in the industry at all levels of my career, and just try and line up at least one call per week with someone operating at the same level as I was.

When I was … early in my career, I would hit up people that were working early in their career in organic search, and have a casual 30-minute chat, whether that be at the time over Skype, or a coffee if it was nearby, and just compare notes, and start doing some, I guess, do people favors with no expectation of like getting anything out of it, just starting to build these early networks.”

Having a network of people who are invested in your career and can provide support and guidance is more valuable than any online course or job title, Barby emphasizes.

Lastly, he recommends not obsessing over social media followers or being the most famous person on SEO Twitter, but instead focusing on building a community of people who can help you succeed.

In Summary

The acquisition of Traffic Think Tank by SEMrush marks a significant move in the SEO industry.

Founded in 2017, Traffic Think Tank quickly gained a global following thanks to its close-knit community that shares valuable insights and resources for SEO enthusiasts.

The acquisition by SEMrush will enable Traffic Think Tank to accomplish its long list of tasks and take advantage of new community programs, improve its production quality, and host physical events that it couldn’t do independently.

Overall, this acquisition sounds like a positive development for both SEMrush and Traffic Think Tank customers, and we look forward to seeing how it will shape the future of the SEO industry.

Citations: BusinessWire

Featured Image: Shutterstock

Microsoft 365 Copilot: AI-Powered Tools To Boost Productivity via @sejournal, @MattGSouthern

Microsoft has unveiled Microsoft 365 Copilot, a groundbreaking AI-powered tool designed to enhance productivity and creativity in the workplace.

By combining the capabilities of large language models (LLMs) with data from the Microsoft Graph and Microsoft 365 apps, Copilot promises to become an indispensable resource for business professionals worldwide.

Copilot: A Powerful Assistant For Microsoft 365 Users

Microsoft 365 Copilot works with popular apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Teams. Its goal is to help users boost their creativity, increase efficiency, and sharpen their skills.

This AI-driven tool aids in making documents, examining data, and designing presentations.
Here’s how copilot enhances the following Microsoft apps:

  • Microsoft Word: Copilot can write, edit, summarize, and create content within Word. It can offer suggestions to improve your writing and help you choose an appropriate tone.
  • Microsoft Excel: In Excel, Copilot can help you analyze and explore data using natural language queries. It can reveal correlations, propose scenarios, and suggest new formulas based on your questions.
  • Microsoft PowerPoint: Copilot can transform your ideas into visually appealing presentations by creating decks with speaker notes and sources or starting a new presentation from a prompt or outline.
  • Microsoft Outlook: Copilot helps manage your inbox and messages to save time and improve communication. It can summarize email threads, draft responses, and create calendar invites.

Introducing Business Chat

Business Chat is a new feature that works across your data and apps to streamline your work.

It connects information from documents, presentations, emails, calendars, notes, and contacts to provide a seamless experience in Microsoft Teams.

In Summary

Microsoft 365 Copilot has the potential to revolutionize the way we all work.

By automating mundane tasks, users can focus on the creative aspects of their job and save valuable time.

Microsoft is testing Copilot with select customers and plans to expand the previews in the coming months.

Microsoft notes that Copilot adheres to the company’s AI principles, Responsible AI Standards, and data security commitments.

The tool prioritizes human agency and user control, encouraging users to review, fact-check, and fine-tune generated content.

Source: Microsoft

Featured Image: Screenshot from, March 2023.