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Google Eyes

Google’s new generative AI search tool gets lukewarm response

Google Eyes

Google’s new generative AI search tool gets lukewarm response

Over the last week or so, figures in the search engine optimisation (SEO) industry have been playing around with Google’s new Search Generative Experience (SGE).

Announced at Google’s I/O developer conference last month, SGE is an experimental generative search tool integrating artificial intelligence (AI), and is part of Google’s attempts to make search more “snackable”, with an increase on visual and conversational features.

Early test driving shows some positive feedback, with Search Engine Land writer Eric Enge concluding that the feature is “solid” and “off to a promising start”, despite some difficulties it had with understanding the nuances of some queries and providing up-to-date information (for example, it appeared to think Donald Trump was still U.S. President).

A search through some headlines on tech websites suggests other gurus have their concerns, however, with several user experience issues flagged up.

“Way too slow”

For The Verge writer Jay Peters, SGE’s main issue is speed. He points out that we have become used to search being instant, so it is somewhat off-putting to see loading animations in the time between a search being entered and results being displayed. He notes that two of his searches took six seconds to return results, which he describes as “an internet eternity”.

“Not really personalised”

Google seems to be making a big push towards more personalisation in search, so it will be a disappointment to the search engine that SEO whizz Barry Schwartz doesn’t seem entirely sold by SGE on this front. Writing on his Search Engine Roundtable website, he notes that results are no more personalised than with a regular Google search, and cites a tweet from Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan indicating that while results may change based on the context of previous conversations, they are not “personalised” as such.

“Cluttered”

As well as criticising its speed, Peters described the interface of SGE as “cluttered”, and the same word is also used by Chinese Gadget Review website GizChina. Writer Efe Udin notes that some answers are lengthy and visually untidy, sometimes unnecessarily including sponsor cards and suggested retailers when a simple, concise answer would have done.

Overall, it’s difficult to escape the feeling that Google has been caught cold by the growth of AI chat and is simply reacting to it rather than using it to power its services. While it should be remembered that SGE is an experimental feature, these criticisms suggest Google has some work to do if it wants to make AI genuinely conducive to user experience.

No matter how much weight AI has in how they work, Google and other search engines want to direct users to the most suitable and highest-quality sites for their query. For help producing authentic, SEO-friendly content, talk to us at Engage Web.

John Murray

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