The Google Search Generative Experience - All New AI Google Search Engine

May 11, 2023 - 7:51 am 10 by
Filed Under Google

Google Search Generative Ai Experience Robot

Google announced a preview, a labs experiment, of its all-new search engine, it is calling Google Search Generative Experience. This is where Google brings in generative AI into the search interface and makes a search interface designed more for a youthful audience.

I covered this in super detail on Search Engine Land so here I will give a briefer overview of the changes, after having a night to sleep on it, and consuming feedback from the search marketing community. Also, after I published this article, Google's Prabhakar Raghavan posted on Twitter a link to PDF document that explains all of this in their language, so you can fact-check me.

In short, I was pleasantly surprised by the interface, as I expected the UI to be less generous to content creators, publishers, site owners, and SEOs. But I believe this interface does make efforts to generate clicks from the new search results interface to websites.

Here is a quick first impressions video I recorded for this blog post:

Quick Jump Links To Sections:

How It Looks & Feels

Here is a screenshot from Google that I mocked up to explain the all-new search interface from Google - you can click on the image to enlarge:

click for full size

Google will generate an answer for some, not all questions, and show this animation of Google working up an answer. Google will show some of the more trusted and high-quality web sites as clickable links, with an image, title and URL, right in the answer box. These sites make up part of the answer and are sites Google has a high degree of trust, enough to show them in this answer box.

You can use the toggle expander button to dive deeper into the answers and/or ask follow-up questions below. Or scroll past it to see the more traditional search result listings.

Here is a GIF of it in action - do notice the products from the Shopping Graph (click to enlarge):

Google Search Generative Experience 640

I have to say, I am pleasantly surprised with how Google is showing links to publishers. I don't think most were thinking Google would be highlighting these publishers and content creators as much as they are here, after seeing the laughable way Google Bard handled citations, or lack thereof.

One note, Google said the colors of the answer box or container plays a role. The color can dynamically change based on the searcher's specific journey types and the query intent itself, Google told me.

How It Works

Yea, this uses a bunch of AI, LLMs, and machine learning, including many exciting search algorithms to function. This new experience is powered by a variety of large language models, including an advanced version of MUM and PaLM2. This model is different from what Bard uses, it was trained to carry out tasks specific to search, including ways to identify high-quality sites that corroborate the information presented in the output, Google told us.

Yes, it uses Google Search's core ranking systems for this purpose. Google said this helps them "significantly mitigate: some of the known limitations of LLMs, like hallucination or inaccuracies.

On top of that, Google also deploys its Search Quality Raters to evaluate these results and takes that feedback to improve the models going forward. Google also conducts adversarial testing of these systems to identify areas where the systems aren't performing as intended, the company told me.

YMYL comes into play to, and if Google does show a response here, Google will add a disclaimer to YMYL categories of responses. Google told us "on health-related queries where we do show a response, the disclaimer emphasizes that people should not rely on the information for medical advice, and they should work with medical professionals for individualized care."

And Google might not give generative answers when there is a lack of quality or reliable information, such as with "data voids" or "information gaps." And Google won't respond to explicit or dangerous topics.

Google applies the same policies it uses for featured snippets and autocomplete, as well as its other Search content policies.

Google rather not respond in a fluid tone because searchers are more likely to trust fluidity, Google told us. "We have found that giving the models leeway to create fluid, human-sounding responses results in a higher likelihood of inaccuracies (see limitations below) in the output. At the same time, when responses are fluid and conversational in nature, we have found that human evaluators are more likely to trust the responses and less likely to catch errors," Google told us.

On Google Search Console and tracking clicks from the new search experience. Liz Reid from Google told me it is just a labs experiment now and Search Console integration is not planned right now. John Mueller of Google kind of said the same thing on Twitter:

Although I do doubt Google will add such a feature because they refused to do so with featured snippets.

But it will have a normal search referral:

Search Ads

Finally, Google will show Google Ads in this new experience, just like it does in the normal Google Search. It will label those ads as "sponsored" with the black sponsored label. Your ads that you run in Google Search will potentially show here too. Right now there is no way to differentiate and say, do not show my ads in the new experience or not. But this is a super early beta, and Bing Chat does the same thing.

"We'll test and evolve the ads experience as we learn more," Google told us.

Here is what it looks like:

click for full size

Ginny Marvin, the Google Ads Liaison, confirmed this with this tweet:

How To Sign Up

Google has opened its waitlist for the Search Generative Experience in Search Labs at labs.google.com/search. You can sign up to join the waitlist today. Click on the Labs icon in the Google app or Chrome desktop to express your interest, Google said.

Google won't start inviting people to try it for a couple of weeks and those invites will go out in waves.

It will be available first on Chrome desktop and the Google App (Android and iOS) in the U.S. and English-only.

Search Community Reaction

I believe some of the early reaction, without reading the details, were pretty negative but overall, I think when people see the layouts and links, they are surprised in a good way. I think, SEOs and content creators were expecting a lot worse. And honestly, I personally don't think this is bad at all.

But here are some early reactions:

Here is a quick poll that should update later today with results, so feel free to take it:

Forum discussion at Twitter and WebmasterWorld.

Update: Here is the keynote of the new Google SGE by Cathy Edwards:

 

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