Google is reigning in a new era of search with innovative breakthroughs to its browser technology spearheaded by AI. The search engine powerhouse has been at the forefront of improving generative AI capabilities within its search experience and other services—enabling users to discover, create, and learn with greater reach.
Over two decades ago, Google’s systems could only connect matching words, which meant users were out of luck when it came to typos, misspellings, and missing information. With more advanced machine learning and powerful large language models (LLMs), users can now benefit from faster, more relevant answers to their queries, regardless of mistakes or typos. This one development from Google empowered people to ask more complex and conversational questions, acquire more helpful search results, and create stronger algorithms to better understand the human thought process.
But this was only the tip of the iceberg.
Following the Google I/O 2023 conference in California, Google introduced multiple unique innovations, including the Search Generative Experience (SGE), to deliver more comprehensive results.
As technology shifts, Google stays ahead of the curve with its latest innovation, changing how users interact with information and even how the browser’s own systems organize and use the data it collects.
What is Google SGE, and how does it work?
Google’s generative AI search feature is a new approach to queries. Google SGE gives users a more organized look at information to get a deeper understanding from just one search. The new layout does not have the same look as ChatGPT, another popular search tool powered by AI, but it will summarize search results for users to quickly get to the root of the topic.
SGE is an experimental feature that aims to enhance the search experience by simplifying complex searches and leveraging the power of generative AI in five ways:
- Bard: AI chatbot that helps boost productivity, accelerate ideas, and fuel curiosity
- AI Snapshot: Generates a unique summary for some longer queries, giving users a quick understanding of the topic they’re searching to save time and effort
- Conversational Mode: Answers follow-up questions while retaining the context of the original snapshot. Users can naturally ask Google questions and gain a deeper understanding of a specific topic with additional resources to explore
- Vertical Experiences: Provides a preferred list of features and more relevant product details in commercial searches
- Perspectives: Helps users understand topics through the experiences and perspectives of others, providing a more human touch to digital information from people with a more profound knowledge of a subject.
While these features are meant to help users find better answers more efficiently, they are also designed to encourage information exploration through search. We’ll go over each SGE feature in greater depth next.
The ultimate goal of Google Search is to make information more accessible and valuable for users. By improving Google Search with generative AI, SGE will reshape search engine capabilities and offer users a more intuitive and efficient way of accessing relevant information.
Bard the Chatbot
Whether or not you were on the waitlist to trial Google SGE, Google announced that Bard, its AI-powered chatbot, was available to everyone. Now in 180 countries, this conversational AI can handle more queries, including coding questions and math prompts.
With deep learning efficiency, Bard leverages reinforcement learning from human feedback and has undergone rapid transformations to better its reasoning and increase its ability to follow instructions. Google has also added a large number of new features like multilingual capabilities with 40 new languages coming soon, easier text export to Google Docs and Gmail, visual search, and dark mode.
However, uncertainty surrounds how Bard selects sites, specifically regarding the possibilities of relying on existing top search results or emphasizing Google’s content quality E-E-A-T guidelines. The chatbot’s inclusion of content sites and sources in search results has also sparked questions about its impact on click-through rates (CTR). Bard facilitates hyper-specific queries, prompting a shift in keyword research from traditional keywords to personalized content aligned with user needs. As a result, the AI interface may push organic links further down the page, potentially affecting traffic for marketers.
If you have a multi-faceted question—i.e., “What is the best car brand for families with three children ages 4-12 and two golden retrievers?”—a traditional Google Search will answer only bits and pieces of your question.
SGE uses AI to generate a unique response to your multi-angle query by drawing information from several sources simultaneously. Called a snapshot, this brief summary holds vital information and products to consider during your browsing journey, depending on your initial inquiry. However, this isn’t meant to be a one-and-done process.
The AI snapshot has three additional resource links with thumbnails to draw the user’s attention to keep the momentum going. More resources allow people to dig deeper. With snapshot, users can discover diverse content from publishers, creators, retailers, businesses, and more and use the information they find to advance their tasks. Additional resources also build trust by transparently showing where information comes from.
If you’re satisfied with the answers to your original question, you may naturally want to ask a follow-up on the subject. Doing so will prompt the conversational mode, where you can continue asking Google about the topic from your first search.
For example, say your question, “What is the best car brand for families with three children ages 4-12 and two golden retrievers?” was adequately answered. But now you want to know about the best car that doesn’t come in red or start with the letter “B.” The results in a standard Google search wouldn’t reflect vehicles for the specific family type mentioned in the previous search.
In conversational mode, context is carried over from question to question, so you can naturally continue your exploration. This is especially useful for follow-up questions that become more complex or evolving informational journeys. You’ll also find helpful jumping-off points to web content and a range of perspectives that you can investigate deeper.
Vertical searches like shopping and finding local businesses often have multiple angles to explore. When it comes to product searches, SGE helps uncover insights to help make complex purchasing decisions faster and easier.
If you’re looking for a specific product that meets certain requirements, SGE will generate a snapshot of noteworthy factors and a range of options. The product descriptions include relevant, up-to-date reviews, ratings, prices, and product images. SGE can understand your parameters and provide relevant product options with the latest information because it’s built on Google’s Shopping Graph, the world’s most comprehensive data set of constantly-changing products, sellers, brands, reviews, and inventory.
Similarly, if your search concerns a specific location, SGE can provide information and AI-powered insights about local places and their exploration options.
Further enhancing Google’s generative search results, the perspectives feature is a new tool to help diversify search results. With so much content available on the web, sifting through information relevant to a query is a challenge.
Perspectives not only continues Google’s mission to focus on providing quick insights, it also connects users to the people and perspectives that will help them understand what they need from a search. With perspectives, users can exclusively view long- and short-form videos, images, and written posts that other users have shared on discussion boards, Q&A sites, and social media platforms. For example, you can better understand a news story by browsing through various noteworthy sources and people.
This allows users to discover quality content from others by receiving advice from a blog, personal stories in video format, or relevant tips from commenters in a forum thread.
How SGE Benefits Marketers and Advertisers
The introduction of AI in search will provide extensive opportunities for the marketing world. Opportunities for B2B SEO to improve and evolve content strategies for better user experiences will increase, diversifying from blog-only content strategies to compete for limited Google real estate.
This will allow SEO teams to establish a closer partnership with social media and PR teams to optimize off-page brand signals. After all, SEO can’t exist in isolation.
Advertisers will also have the opportunity to reach potential customers along their search journeys. In a blog post about generative AI, Google said, “We also believe that ads are a vital piece of how the web works and help people find relevant products and services.”
In this new experience, Google Search ads will continue to play an important role and serve as additional resources to help users discover millions of businesses online. SGE reinforces opportunities to impact consumers and experience growth for all businesses, including large enterprises and small startups.
When ads do appear, they will continue to feature ad labels marked “Sponsored” in bold black text. Search ads will also continue to appear in dedicated ad slots throughout the page, becoming distinguishable from organic search results.
Google is putting AI where it will be the most valuable: within its existing search results. The Search Generative Experience aims to complement and enhance traditional search results, not replace existing ones.
While SGE provides concise overviews and pointers, traditional search results offer a broader array of sources and perspectives. By combining both approaches, users can benefit from comprehensive and diverse information.