Google's New Search Generative Experience

Posted by admin at 11:23 AM on Jul 13, 2023


SGE (Search Generative Experience) is a new approach to search engineering that Google is currently testing in its Search Labs environment. The SGE uses AI to collate results and provide answers to search queries that wouldn't have been possible with traditional search techniques.

If we think about the Local Pack, the frame of three results plus a map that Google often returns when a user makes a local search (like “plumber near me”), we can start to see what the SGE results may look like. They return in a similar format but notably, the geographic area for SGE results is wider than that of traditional Local Pack results. This is good news for businesses as they will have more chances to show up in searches cast with this wider net.

Google's AI chat tool, Bard, is also capable of making searches and it too casts a wider net. Both are able to make determinations about the exact results you want, so will benefit from very specific queries. The more parameters you can put in, the more tailored the results will be to exactly what you want.

The example Google uses is that of a family on holiday making a decision between two attractions, based on what is better for their family make up. The SGE result weighs up the benefits of both options and presents this information in the result. This means that rather than searching through pages of FAQs and reviews hoping to find the information they want, the family is presented with the relevant information on the results page.

Currently SGE is in testing phase and it is not a 100% certainty that it will be rolled out to all users. That said, the amount of time and money sunk into the project so far suggests that it will be available in some form in the near future. There are a few things Google will be keeping an eye on in this testing phase, and that is whether people will stop clicking through to websites, or keep scrolling and clicking on ads, if their query has been answered comprehensively in the SGE.

Google will not want to harm its revenue model with paid ads, so if people click on paid ads less due to the layout or experience of SGE (which currently occupies the whole screen pushing ads and organic search results below the fold) it may change the design or availability of SGE results.

It is worth noting that the AI results are not automatically given for all search queries in the Labs environment; many require the user to click to generate, while some queries do not have the SGE option. This may be informing Google about which queries benefit from an SGE, and it could also be the case that some queries require an AI system more capable of nuance than is currently available.

Google has previously taken an anti-AI stance when it comes to content creation, being very open about the fact that it will consider AI generated web copy to be cheating, and websites found to be using solely AI to create content will be downranked accordingly. It is interesting then, that its own Bard chat tool is being used to generate bespoke answers to search queries, based on content found by crawling the web. Only time will tell whether SGE is here to stay, and whether Google will change its stance on AI content in different of contexts.

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