Hello generative AI search

In February Microsoft announced the launch of a new version of its Bing search engine that is powered by ChatGPT artificial intelligence.

Users can ask questions of max. 2000 characters by typing these into a box. Bing will respond with a list of search results on the left-hand side.

On the right a chat result appears, which offers the same content as the chat link in the top navigation. This is a single result this is accompanied by links to several relevant websites as well as additional clickable related questions.

On May 10th during its annual Google I/O event Google revealed how it will incorporate generative AI in the Google search engine, which is referred to as Search Generative Experience (SGE). In essence the search bar now caters for more complex questions and will respond with a written text in a shaded section that provides the SGE answer, which, similar to Bing, is accompanied by links to relevant sites and clickable related questions.

This SGE answer appears below the search box and sponsored ads but above traditional search results. There is a certain fear that by providing detailed SGE answers the click-through rate from SERP’s will decrease. We believe the impact will be less dramatic. Google introduced featured snippets several years ago which essentially did the same: provide detailed answers to questions. This indeed made organic CTR’s decrease. The new iteration seems to entail that featured snippets are replaced by SGE, possibly with the same net result.

Since SGE is all about providing quick answers, website owners need to continue what they were doing to obtain featured snippets. Essentially this means creating pages that provide answers to user questions. Use questions as h1 headings and provide the answers in short paragraphs or lists.

With regards to ads, Google communicated that ads will continue to appear in “dedicated ad slots throughout the page”, accompanied by a “Sponsored” label. Wait and see how that pans out but don’t expect radical changes.

The Search Generative Experience is only rolled out to the US for now. Users need to request access via Google Labs, https://labs.withgoogle.com/. To do so use a VPN with a US location.