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Google's Search Generative Experience (SGE) non-opt-in testing phase

March 28th 2024

Last year, Google launched the Search Generative Experience to a small percentage of US users, adding a large chatbot response at the top of search results. While the usual 10 blue links remained available, users had to scroll past the chatbot to access them.

According to Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land, the feature intercepts users' search queries and displays a generative AI chatbot response at the top of the search results page.

Google recognises the importance of loading speed for search results and displays a time-generation readout at the top of each results page. With SGE enabled, Google Search loads with a blank chatbot above the results, indicating loading with a spinner.

Recently, Google enabled SGE for some users, even if they didn't opt-in to this new feature, intending to gather feedback on how the general population perceives this technology; although users had the option to opt into this testing phase of sorts, Google is testing SGE on a subset of queries to gauge its usefulness to a broader population.

The feature presents outgoing web links as a backup option when the chatbot fails to provide necessary information. This move is part of Google's effort to collect feedback from searchers who haven't specifically opted into SGE.

Since its launch, Google's search response feature has evolved. It now only creates a "generate" button above the search results, eliminating the large chatbot window from the screen and avoiding interference with the search results.

However, the option of not opting in raises questions about data collection and users' ability to opt out of AI in navigational results, prompting consideration of alternatives such as DuckDuckGo, whose main feature is the protection of users' privacy and the ability to select how much data to share with their search engine.

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By Luisa Garcia-Amaya

March 28th 2024

Digital Marketing

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