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Google is fixing its AI-driven search experience, but experts say it needs to do more

Since Google debuted its Search Generative Experience (SGE) AI-based interface in beta three months ago, it’s made a lot of updates to alleviate early concerns from testers.

“It hasn’t improved as much as I think it needs to to be a viable product anytime this year,” said Lily Ray, senior director of SEO and head of organic research at Amsive Digital. “But it’s clear that they’ve made some improvements,” including improved results accuracy, which Ray called a “win” for Google.

While Google’s penetration dwarfs rival Microsoft’s, it’s still in a race with the Seattle-based company—which recently launched its new Bing Chat in Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari desktop browsers—to prove its AI-based experience will keep it on top.

More video: In addition to tackling speed and accuracy issues, Google is also incorporating more video into its SGE results where appropriate, such as for recipe inquiries. It’s a defensive move against people searching directly on TikTok, and it could push more users to YouTube Shorts.

“I’m sure it’ll keep a lot more people in the Google ecosystem by having video,” said Ray. “I imagine that YouTube will work great for them to keep people in the search results if that’s their goal.”

Better links: SGE is improving link attribution, which could be good (but not great) news for publishers and brands whose products could be featured within search.

“The links—I’m pretty excited about it,” said Ray, adding that the current test could be improved upon, as links are often repetitive.

Google’s confidence: Google CEO Sundar Pichai called SGE improvements “a clear quality win” on Alphabet’s Q2 earnings call. While the product has improved since its launch, Pichai’s words may do more to win over shareholders than to convince SEO experts.

“SGE feels kind of like a distraction from so many other ways that Google could be improving search,” said Ray, who pointed to spam and poor-quality results that still clutter Google inquiries.

The competition: Google is still the undisputed king of search advertising, with a projected $57.49 billion in US search ad revenues this year, per our forecast. Despite being an early mover in generative AI search, Microsoft is well behind Google, with a forecast $5.84 billion in US search ad revenues this year.

“I think Bing Chat is the best AI product that’s out there right now,” said Ray. “It’s been doing it, well, basically since they launched it. It has links. It has great answers. It has citations. And it’s just been sitting there and people are not really using it. But Microsoft has never really promoted Bing very much.”


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