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Google Begins Broad Testing of Its SGE Feature in the UK

On Thursday, Google revealed that it had deployed its artificial intelligence (AI) Search Generative Experience (SGE) update in the UK.

Initially, only a portion of UK users will see a generative AI (GenAI) overview at the top of some search engine results pages (SERPs). However, the California-headquartered company intends to make the feature available to everyone in the country within the year.

ESG has been available in the US for almost a year, but only to users who activated it via Google Labs. The tool aims to empower the search engine with Gemini AI technology, following Microsoft’s integration of its Copilot AI into Bing.

Google Director of Product Management Hema Budaraju ESG will focus on accuracy over fluency and formality. Moreover, it will not generate an overview for queries when the number of high-quality information sources available is insufficient.

According to industry specialists, the move also allows the tech giant to accelerate the development of its large language models (LLMs). As of January 2024, 93.51% of internet users in the UK used Google for their searches, while only 3.97% used Bing.

Upon ESG’s nationwide implementation in the UK, around 63 million people will provide test data for Google’s GenAI LLMs. Insiders claimed that Google plans to include the SGE in a subscription-based premium AI search features suite.

SGE Sparks Concern for Google Publishers

Publishers who rely on traffic generated from Google searches worry that the SGE may cut visits to their websites. They fear that users will feel satisfied with the chatbot-style responses and consider visiting other sites no longer necessary.

In addition, some advertisers expressed doubts that the SGE might lead to the company offering an ad-free search experience. They cited how the longer AI answers leave less room for links and ads in SERPs, limiting the reach of advertisements.

Budaraju reassured publishers and advertisers that the revamped search results would continue to display links and ads. She reiterated that sending traffic to content creators will always be a top priority for the search engine.

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