Google announced a new set of upgrades to its search engine on Tuesday, integrating new generative AI capabilities that aim to improve how people find and digest information online.
This latest release builds upon the company’s new Search Generative Experience (SGE), which launched in beta earlier this year. SGE allows users to harness the power of AI to get more contextual overviews and recommendations along with their search engine results.
Generative AI is a subset of AI research that focuses on creating new content using previous references. Popular generative AI tools include ChatGPT (which generates new text-based creations like poems, answers, and summaries based on previously learned information) and Stable Diffusion (which generates new image-based creations after being trained on billions of images).
The most notable addition to Google’s SGE is a new feature called “SGE while browsing,” currently in early testing. When enabled, users can tap a button while viewing a web page to get an AI-generated list of key points covered by the page content. Each point links directly to the relevant section, making it easy to jumping to the information you’re seeking within long or complex articles.
Google’s AI engine analyzes page content to identify core topics. Google product lead Rany Ng said this helps people “better learn and make sense of information” whether they’re trying to grasp complicated concepts or simply track down a recipe detail.
Microsoft’s Bing Chat already offers similar summarization features, beating Google to the punch in deploying generative AI in February. However, Google believes that its strength in understanding web content and semantics gives it an edge.
Other new SGE upgrades aim to aid in learning technical subjects. AI-generated coding overviews will display highlighted syntax for easier digestion, for example, while hovering your pointer over unfamiliar terms in AI-generated responses will also surface definitions and related diagrams.
According to Google, generative AI allows searching with less effort, enabling people to “uncover new viewpoints and insights.” But some experts say over-reliance on AI risks the diminishment of individual analytical skills.
Behind the scenes, meanwhile, Google is training models to better meet its quality standards. Safeguards include limiting the queries where AI features appear.
Many organizations are adapting content strategies to this new era. Rather than traditional SEO, some are pursuing “AI Engine Optimization”—creating information ecosystems optimized for AI consumption. The goal is to rank prominently in AI results, unlike classic SEO, which focuses on bringing visitors to a website.
Google’s SGE—like other enhancements to search, like knowledge panels—may mean websites get fewer visitors because users get the information they need within Google’s sandbox.
“The advertising model as we know it will break,” analyst Jeremiah Owyang told VentureBeat while discussing this new era of digital content marketing, “Marketers must ready themselves to influence AI behaviors.”
With Google and Microsoft vying for the lead in generative search, the competition between the world’s largest doors to the internet may fuel AI’s integration into our daily digital lives.