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It’s happening (continued)

Yesterday I looked at what the new AI-powered searches would return when asked to recommend suppliers. They weren’t at all reticent to do so, which surprised me. Until now, I thought they’d waffle a bit about subjectivity, and then perhaps link to some sort of suppliers guide.

Instead, both just piled straight into a list (and their lists were different). Bing gave some references, indicating where it had got its suppliers list from; Google did not.

Either way, we’ve now got to the point where the search engines are taking it upon themselves to offer what look like definitive buyers’ guides. This of course will infuriate those not on the lists.

Bard’s lack of references is rather irritating. However, Bing – which does provide them – is perhaps more mystifying.

After its response, Bing says: “You can find more information about these manufacturers and their products in this article”.But when you click the link, it’s simply to the website of a UK-based supplier in that sector. It’s not an ‘article’ ‘about these manufacturers and their products’. I can’t 100% confirm this, but I think this link is simply the top advertising result for my query.

Bing then gives the link to where it got its list of suppliers from: the website of an independent industry publication. That’s fair enough. However, it goes on to give two supplementary references. One of these is a major distributor, the other apparently an independent educational site (although not one which offers any independent credentials).

So where does this leave us? Being featured in independent (non-paid-for) ‘suppliers guides’ has always been important. But if search engines are now going to start making recommendations by stealing these guides’ content, being featured is more important than ever.

If I was not appearing in the lists being used in my sector (even if it was deservedly, because my company wasn’t significant enough), I’d be marking this as a major issue. I think you should be too.

I’ll look at one possible remedy tomorrow.