Google’s search engine is undergoing its biggest makeover yet! In May, the Google announced a new AI-powered platform, currently available in beta mode, that will “make search smarter and searching simpler,” according to its VP of Engineering. This new generative AI search engine will compete with ChatGPT by providing more context for search queries inputted by users. Learn more about Google’s new search engine below and why you should familiarize yourself with now below. 

Does Google Search Use AI Today?

AI is nothing new for Google, which has used this technology for years. The company’s search engine currently utilizes artificial intelligence to better understand search queries and provide more accurate results for users. Google has also rolled out other AI-powered capabilities in recent years, such as Google Lens, which uses your phone camera to provide more context about the world around you. 

Ways Google utilizes artificial intelligence:

Google Assistant

Google Assistant is Google’s AI voice assistant for various smart devices, including smartphones. It automatically carries out tasks based on voice prompts you provide, such as setting alarms and managing your calendar. You can also use Google Assistant to find local services, play songs, sync videos to a smart television, hear the latest news, and more.

Google Translate

Google uses AI to translate text into different languages. For example, it provides contextual translations based on your previous search queries using a technology called neural machine translation (NMT). That can result in more accurate translations than non-AI services currently provide, improving your communication skills in different contexts.  

Google Maps

Google Maps uses artificial intelligence to predict your destination based on historical data from previous trips. For example, Maps can tell you about traffic conditions on the route you take to work every day. In addition, if Maps expects you will make a particular journey, it will automatically suggest the fastest route there, saving you time.
Despite these developments, Google Search has yet to provide AI-generated information summaries, like ChatGPT does, on its results pages. However, that’s all about to change with Google Search Generative Experience (Google SGE), which will have a full rollout at some point this year.

What is a Generative Search Engine?

A generative AI search engine, like Google SGE, provides information summaries based on the prompts you provide it. It’s similar to what ChatGPT does now, which compiles information from multiple sources on the internet to deliver answers to questions about a particular topic. However, unlike ChatGPT, Google SGE lets you click on links to find out more about your topic or access products and services related to your query. 
A generative search engine also lets you search longer queries that you normally would need to break up on a traditional search engine. For example, searching for the best products to clean your bathroom and then searching a second time to find retailers that sell those products in your area. With Google SGE, you can ask Google multiple queries in one search string and then get additional context for your inquiry without having to leave its search engine screen. Google will piece together information from various websites and provide a more comprehensive answer to your prompt. 
A generative AI search engine shares many features with an AI chatbot. You can ask it a question, get an answer, ask another question, and so on. It provides more of an interactive experience than a conventional search engine, allowing you to get additional context to your search queries as your conversation with it develops.  

Here’s an example of how SGE works:

You ask Google about the best new dance artists. It provides information summaries about each artist and links to their respective websites and Wikipedia pages. You can then ask Google for additional information about the artists you are interested in and get their full bios and links to their most popular songs. 

Benefits of Generative Search

Generative search engines like Google’s SGE provide the following advantages:

More accurate results

Generative AI provides a more accurate search experience by considering previous search queries from users. Say you ask SGE to list the best places to visit in New York City and then ask about the best free museums. The platform will assume you mean the best free museums in New York City because of your previous search. 

More personalization

Generative search takes into account historical search data when compiling information about your topic. That can increase personalization by providing information that interests you. Say you are a vegan and ask SGE for breakfast recipes. It will display results about vegan meals without you specifically mentioning that in your query. That’s because it already knows you are a vegan based on historical data. 

Quicker access to information

Unlike traditional search platforms, generative search engines understand the intent of your search queries. They provide more contextual information based on your prompt, which prevents the need to type out several search queries. As a result, you can access the information you need in a quicker timeframe. 

How Does This Impact SEO and PPC?

You might think that AI in Google Search will impact businesses relying on the platform to generate traffic to their websites. That’s because Google SGE provides contextual information about a search query without users having to leave the search results page. However, Google has made it clear that ads will continue to show on results pages, prompting users to visit third-party websites for more information or to purchase products. SGE will also display organic links to websites as it does now. These links will drive traffic to external pages, meaning search engine optimization (SEO) will still be as relevant as it has always been. 
Google’s VP of Engineering, Cathy Edwards, said at a recent Google event that regular search results will still appear on SGE as they do on its regular search engine now:

“Even in a world where AI can provide insights, we know that people will always value the input of other people, and a thriving web is essential to that.”

So you don’t need to worry about generative search, which will define the future of search engines, impacting traffic to your site. You can still optimize your website to increase your chances of appearing on Google search pages. That means creating content with the right keywords, publishing authoritative and relevant content, using metadata and alt tags, and carrying out other SEO responsibilities. Your marketing team can do this in-house, or you can work with a marketing agency specializing in SEO to do the hard work for you!
SGE will also provide new opportunities for digital marketers to explore. As SGE is in beta mode, marketers can identify new avenues to promote products and services on the platform and capitalize on the growing trend of generative search. Working with a marketing agency that understands this new technological shift will put you in a stronger position when SGE rolls out for all users later this year. 

How Can I Access Google’s Search Labs SGE?

You can play around with AI in Google Search right now and see SGE will impact your digital marketing. Just sign up for Google Search Labs, the app that contains SGE, to see how the platform displays information summaries and links to external sites. At the time of writing this article, there’s a waiting list to use SGE. However, you might be able to access the platform by the time you read this. 
SGE can take a while to get used to, especially if you’ve used Google Search for many years. Its interface looks completely different than a traditional search engine, with colored “cards” that display information summaries about a particular search query. Again, familiarizing yourself with the platform now is a good idea as it’s likely generative search will influence your marketing strategies for years to come. 

How Accurate is Google’s SGE?

One of the biggest issues with ChatGPT is that the information it provides isn’t always accurate, resulting in misinformation spread across the internet. ChatGPT also doesn’t compile information published after 2021, making many of its claims outdated. Google’s SGE will likely face similar issues. These problems aren’t the fault of Google’s technology but of artificial intelligence as a whole, which lacks human understanding and reasoning. 
SGE users who have received early access to the platform have reported that the platform generates better results for basic topics and struggles with more complicated search queries. Like ChatGPT, it also can lack detail when answering a prompt. Google should rectify these issues as it builds on its technology in the future. However, right now SGE is more of a complimentary platform to Google’s conventional search engine rather than a full-out replacement. 

How Does SGE Compare With ChatGPT?

Google says it was developing generative technologies long before ChatGPT 3, which transformed the search landscape when it launched last winter. However, it’s unclear whether users will flock to SGE, especially as ChatGPT has become faster and more accurate since Google announced its new platform. 
It’s important to note how SGE and ChatGPT differ. The former provides a more comprehensive search experience, where users receive additional context for queries before clicking on external links, similar to a conventional search engine. ChatGPT doesn’t provide any links to external websites and serves merely as an information resource. You can’t optimize your website to appear higher in ChatGPT results or pay for ads that show on the platform (PPC). At least, not yet. 
Google’s SGE also provides more of an immersive search experience than ChatGPT. Information cards not only contain text but photos, videos, and even infographics depending on the search query. For example, that search about dance artists will generate images of different acts and YouTube embeds of their music videos. 
With all that said, SGE and ChatGPT prove that customers want to access basic information on a single platform before exploring the rest of the web. Both tools summarize information based on a prompt and provide comprehensive overviews that serve as a primer to a particular topic. For example, you can use both SGE and ChatGPT for meal ideas before visiting a website with recipes.

What About Other Generative Search Engines?

Thanks to the popularity of ChatGPT, other search engines are experimenting with generative search. The most notable example is Microsoft’s search engine Bing, which utilizes ChatGPT to provide users with information summaries based on their search queries. Like SGE, users see cards with overviews of a particular topic and can click on links to external websites for even more insights. Other examples of AI-powered search engines include Bard AI and Neeva AI. 
It’s too early to tell whether search users prefer generative technologies over conventional search. However, Bing’s share of the search market has increased since it implemented its ChatGPT-powered features. One thing’s for sure: Generative search will define how people search for information going forward. Getting to know how this technology works can help you gain an advantage over your competitors and improve your marketing outcomes. 

What to Know About Google SGE

Google SGE is the biggest thing to happen to Google Search in years. This generative search engine automatically generates information summaries from the prompts you provide it, similar to ChatGPT. That can result in a more comprehensive search experience for users who want additional context about their inquiries. 
Google’s new search engine is currently in beta mode, so you can sign up for the service and see how it will impact your marketing and SEO strategies right now. You can also work with a marketing agency that understands generative search and how it’s changing the way users access information on the internet. 
Symphonic Digital is a marketing company that can improve your presence on search engines like Google. Request an SEO audit of your website to learn more about the positions of your pages on search engines and optimize how you market your products and services.