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Search Generative Experience: this is what Google’s future looks like
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Google is starting to roll out a new version of its search engine powered by generative AI. “Search Generative Experience, or SGE for short, uses conversational AI similar to ChatGPT to enrich search results. A lucky few have been able to beta-test this new experience. Let’s look at what we can learn from these first steps!
What is Search Generative Experience?
At its Google I/O conference, the web giant announced the future of its search engine. A future where artificial intelligence is king since it is at the heart of most of the new features announced (with SGE at the top of the list!).
Put simply, and Google is integrating generative AI into its search engine to enrich results and change the user experience. This technology will change the way information is searched for and the browsing habits of Internet users. The AI’s answers will appear at the top of the page on coloured cards. Google’s AI will draw answers to the query from all over the Web and then present them in the most orderly way possible. If the system is perfected and the answers are satisfactory, Internet users will no longer necessarily be interested in scrolling to visit the sites proposed by Google.
More than just a search engine, Google is becoming more and more of an “answer engine”. Here’s a video presentation if you want to see in more detail how it works.
What can we learn from the first SGE tests?
Several experts, including Barry Schwartz from the Search Engine Roundtable site, were able to preview the Search Generative Experience. Based on their initial observations, here are some of the first things to remember.
Using the Search Generative Experience
This new feature of Google’s search engine will be available on desktop and mobile devices. On Chrome, click on the dedicated insert below the search bar to access the SGE and enter your prompt.
It’s just as accessible from a smartphone. The “Converse” button is under the search bar.
The SGE, based on conversational AI like Google’s Bard, offers a new presentation of results. They appear at the top of the page, coloured and clearly visible below the search bar. The design is successful and overshadows all the other traditional elements of the SERP: the organic results, the knowledge panel, and the “people also ask” are under the AI’s response. These elements are relegated to the background. This can be seen in this example of a query carried out by a Search Engine Journal.
On the right of the screen, just next to the AI-generated response, Google inserts the sources used. These are not always the articles ranked in the top three positions of the organic results.
The result is also promising for those who want tutorials or detailed methods for accomplishing a task.
A local pack generated by AI
Obviously, the Search Generative Experience is a powerful tool for local searches. The beta testers experimented by asking the AI to list the best results in an American city.
5 results appear instead of 3 in the “classic” Local Pack. Overall, the results are fairly similar to those of the Local Pack, which appears below the SGE insert, just before the organic results. Above the Local Pack is also a carousel compiling the sources used to produce the rankings.
In this example, the AI response perfectly replaces the Local Pack and renders it almost obsolete. By obtaining this detailed response, Internet users no longer necessarily need to consult the rest of the results.
When Google perceives a potential intention to buy in the query, the AI also suggests a substantial list of products that could interest the surfer.
After a quick summary of the key factors for making the right choice, Google pushes out a long list of products. These are different from and better placed than the sponsored results and are not to be missed.
In terms of design and user experience, the Search Generative Experience seems to have been really well thought through. The results are clear, well-presented and relevant. Overall, SGE testers praised the accuracy of the results, which matched their search intent. The results are enriched with links and the click-through rate could be high on one condition: that Internet users are not content with the answer provided by the AI. And they decide to go further by visiting relevant websites.
With the arrival of the SGE, a major change is on the horizon for the Web. The future of the Internet will be conversational and powered by artificial intelligence. More than a search engine, Google is increasingly becoming an answer engine. Generative AI is only accentuating this trend, which has been underway for several years now.
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