Google on August 31 announced that it is expanding its generative AI experience for Google Search to India and Japan.
Known as the Search Generative Experience (SGE), Google first launched this in May in the US. As part of this experimental experience, users will find their search queries answered by AI in a snapshot above other search results. Users can then ask follow-up questions or access the source of the info shared. Think of SGE as conversing with Google Bard, but fine-tuned for search queries.
The following screenshot shows an example of SGE responding to the query “how is north goa different from south goa”:
“Unique to India, users will also find a language toggle to help multilingual speakers easily switch back and forth between English and Hindi. And Indian users can also listen to the responses, which is a popular preference,” Google informed.
Why does this matter: Generative AI in Search is one of the most significant changes to Google Search since its launch in 1998. It could fundamentally change how Search, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), web traffic, and advertisements work as user queries are more likely to be answered by generative AI even before they scroll down to find relevant websites. Given these changes, SGE is likely to raise concerns around citation and web traffic, but Google claims that SGE is just a jumping-off point for info on the web and that Google is “committed to continue sending valuable traffic to sites across the web.”
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How to access SGE: If you’d like to try out Search Generative Experience for yourself, you can sign up for the experimental feature through Search Labs in the Google app on Android and iOS or on the Google Chrome browser.
Google will start showing sources of the info in the overview itself: “Starting today, when you see an arrow icon next to information in an AI-powered overview, you can click to see relevant web pages, and easily learn more by visiting the sites. This is launching first in the U.S. and will roll out to Japan and India over the coming weeks,” Google informed. Previously, if you wanted to know what the source of the info was, you had to click on a small icon on the upper righthand corner, which would reveal the relevant sites for each of SGE’s claims.
Feedback of SGE from users: “In the few months since launching generative AI in Search, we’re finding in our research that people are having a positive experience, and are using SGE for help with more complex queries and entirely new types of questions. […] People tell us they find the suggested follow-up questions beneficial to see examples of how to refine their search, and they’re asking longer and more conversational questions in full sentences because generative AI in Search can help them quickly find what they’re looking for. Overall, we’re seeing people try queries that they never may have thought they could search for before, creating new opportunities for Google to be helpful,” Google stated.