Google will soon start using GenAI to organize some search results pages

At the Google I/O 2024 developer conference on Tuesday, Google announced that it plans to use generative AI to organize the entire search results page for some search results. That’s in addition to the existing AI Overview feature, which creates a short snippet with aggregate information about a topic you were searching for. The AI Overview feature becomes generally available Tuesday, after a stint in Google’s AI Labs program.

A search results page using generative AI for its ranking mechanism will have wide-reaching consequences for online publishers. “We don’t think AI overviews is all of what there is,” Elizabeth Harmon Reid, the head of Google Search, said in a press briefing ahead of the announcement. “There’s opportunities to use generative AI to infuse throughout search, and one of the areas where I’m personally really excited about is building an AI-organized results page.”

For now, Google plans to show these new search results pages when it detects that a user is looking for inspiration. In Google’s example, that’s visiting Dallas for an anniversary trip. Soon, it will also show these results when users look for dining options and recipes, with results for movies, books, hotels, shopping and more coming soon.

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“We are going to use generative AI to actually organize the whole results page, to think about the topic and understand what’s interesting, recognizing that you might want recommendations. Rooftop patios are great in Dallas, because of the season. It’s also known for historic elegance and so you can really dig in to get something that’s really inspiring for you and Google can do the brainstorming with you on this.”

In the example Reid showed, the results page featured lists of “anniversary-worthy restaurants,” organized in a carousel with the usual star ratings but also short, GenAI-generated summaries of reviews. That list was augmented with discussions from Reddit (what else), and AI-generated lists of places to see live music in an intimate setting, romantic steakhouses and critic picks. At the bottom of that page, there is also an option to see “more web results” for what we can only assume is a more traditional search experience.

As of now, it’s not clear where Google will place its ads on these pages.

In the pre-I/O press briefing, a reporter asked CEO Sundar Pichai if the traditional Google Search would survive Gemini. Pichai, unsurprisingly, didn’t really answer this question and instead argued that Google wants to stay focused on the user.

“You meet them as their needs evolve,” he said. “Overall, when we do that, people respond, people engage with the product more. So across search and Gemini, I’m excited we can expand the kind of use cases we can help users with. I already see it. You see examples of the kind of complex questions we can solve, how we can help them more along their journey, how we can integrate them with our products, and help them more deeply. And so I view all that as a net positive. And to me, it feels like this is a moment of growth and opportunity, not the other way about — and so we are pretty excited about what’s happening.”

Maybe SEO is dead after all.

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https://techcrunch.com/2024/05/14/seo-is-dead-google-will-soon-start-using-genai-to-organize-some-search-results-pages/

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