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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Google starts testing AI overviews from SGE in main Google search interface

Google is now testing AI overviews in the main Google Search results, even if you have not opted into the Google Search Generative Experience labs feature. Google said this is an experience on a “subset of queries, on a small percentage of search traffic in the U.S.,” a Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land.

In May 2023, Google opened up a Search Labs section for searchers to opt in to see and use the Google SGE results, that contained AI overviews. Now some users in the U.S. may see these AI answers without specifically opting in to see them.

What searchers will see. Google will show AI overviews to a small subset of US users.

Google is first starting with a set of queries where it thinks generative AI can be especially helpful.

These queries are often more complex, or involve questions where it may be helpful to get information from a range of web pages – like “how do I get marks off painted walls.”

For these tests, Google said it has a high confidence in the quality and value these queries bring to users. In general, Google told us it would show AI overviews when it’s truly additive and in the instances when people would get a better response than what they’d see on Search today.

Google will be testing a few different variations – so what searchers may see in the experiments may not launch broadly to all users in this test.

Why now. Google told us they are they want to get feedback from searchers who have not opted into SGE specifically. This way they can get feedback and learn how a more general population will find this technology helpful, Google explained.

Ads. Google will continue to show ads in and around these new AI overview experiences.

Why we care. These AI answers may push down both the organic and standard search ads. It may result in less, or potentially more, traffic to your site, depending on where the citations are referenced from and where Google places the ads. The likelihood is, these experiences will likely drive less overall traffic to sites than what the current Google Search results do.

Time will tell when Google launches this fully but for right now, you no longer need to be in the SGE labs to see AI overviews, Google is testing it in the wild.


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