Google Revamps Search Results to Prioritize GenAI Responses

On Tuesday, Google retooled its search engine results pages (SERPs) to rank generative AI (GenAI) answers higher than website links.

The California-headquartered tech company announced at its annual developers’ conference that the rollout will start this week in the US. As a result, hundreds of millions of users will begin periodically seeing GenAi-generated conversational summaries at the top of SERPs.

However, these overviews will only appear when Google determines that they are the quickest and most effective way to answer a query. They are more likely to appear for complex subjects and searches that require brainstorming and other complicated steps.

Simple searches, such as those for weather forecasts or product recommendations, will mostly remain unchanged, featuring traditional websites and ads. Nonetheless, Google’s search engine crawlers will grant considerable advantage to platforms that offer GenAI responses over conventional static web pages.

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said the company had begun testing adding Bard AI capabilities to the search engine over a year ago. The tech giant’s ChatGPT counterpart was later rebranded to Gemini, which possessed multimodal capabilities to handle text, image, and audio.

Google plans to make GenAi a staple feature of web searches in the US before implementing the updates in other countries. Lastly, it expects recurring AI overviews to become a favorite SERP element for a billion people by the end of 2024.

GenAI Update to Disrupt Google SEO Practices

Search engine optimization (SEO) experts cautioned that the GenAI upgrade to Google SERPs renders many current best practices obsolete. Industry watchers claim that it may cause more confusion than when the Penguin update revamped the search algorithm in 2012.

According to specialists, it may take years to establish new guidelines for organic rankings and paid advertising. Furthermore, websites may risk ruining their placements as they experiment with ways to compete with GenAI responses.

Nevertheless, Google insists that though SERP quality may decline in the short term, the long-term benefits will be worth it. Through GenAI, the tech company aims to shorten even the most complicated searches to a few seconds.

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