What is AI Overviews? Formerly SGE – 2024 FAQ

What is AI Overviews? Formerly SGE – 2024 FAQ

Long story short: Google jumped on the AI train and delivered SGE – Search Generative Experience.

SEOs from all around the world are watching this step carefully.

What will the final AI-powered search look like? How is it different from regular search, like featured snippets? And is it really going in the right direction? 

There are many questions and uncertainties regarding Google SGE. That’s why, at Onely, we have been tracking SGE for weeks and have first-hand experience with Google’s AI Search. 

So, let’s answer some of the most popular questions about SGE.

What is Google SGE?

SGE (Search Generative Experience), is a new, experimental type of search snippet generated by AI. It appears in Google Search for users who sign up for the SGE experiment in Google Labs

Google aims to deliver the best possible experience to its users, and SGE is designed to support that. 

What does the new Google search experience look like?

Each SGE result is made of:

  • the AI-generated answer, 
  • multiple links to sources, 
  • buttons that allow you to ask a follow-up question (your own or suggested by Google) 
  • vial icon that links to Google Labs page
  • like + dislike buttons so that you can share your feedback with Google.

Here’s a screenshot of a typical result with a definition:

Google SGE - SEO definition

But keep in mind that Google experiments with SGE layout regularly. 

A while ago, Google updated the SGE with the opportunity to uncover sources for each paragraph (hidden under the blue button). This gives us more chances to appear as a source in the snippet. Additionally, sources listed on the right are becoming less common these days. 

And here’s what it can look like for an e-commerce query:

best 55 inch tv - Google SGE result

We get: 

  • an introduction 
  • product recommendations and links to stores that sell them
  • links to sources about choosing the TV. 

Actually, many “best” type queries return similar SGE results with this exact pattern

As you can see, this feature delivers all critical information about the products, but the first part of the response sounds very generic.

That’s why being listed as a source is critical – users likely won’t be satisfied with AI-generated answers and will seek more information. 

This is not all SGE has to offer, as it can serve many different layouts based on a query we use.

We can even ask Google’s SGE to generate something, just like an AI chatbot would.

Google SGE writing an essay about SEO

So – you can get as creative as you want.

And regarding link carousels on the right, as of February 2024 Google is experimenting with this feature. You can read all about it in our article: Google Is Likely Conducting A/B Testing for carousels

How to use Google AI search? Can I access SGE?

If you want to test Google’s Generative Search yourself and they released it for your country:

  • You need Google app (on Android and iPhone) or Google Chrome browser (on desktop)
  • You have to be 18 years old or older
  • You need to have a personal Google account (not a Workplace one)

Then, follow these steps to enable SGE:

  1. Open the Google app on your phone or Chrome browser on your computer
  2. Sign in to your Google Account with “Incognito mode” turned off.
  3. For desktop, open a new tab, for mobile devices just continue
  4. At the top left, tap the Labs icon
  5. Click “Turn on” on the SGE card
  6. Read the Terms of Service if you agree, select I agree
  7. Click Try an example to see how it works

After completing that process, accessing AI should be possible from your browser or app. If the SGE result is possible, you’ll have an option to generate it. 

Source:

https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/13572151?hl=en&co=GENIE.Platform%3DiOS&oco=0

In what countries and languages is Google SGE accessible?

You can sign up for Google’s Search Generative Experience access in the U.S. and over 120 other countries. For the full list, you can access Google’s documentation on Labs & SGE availability

When it comes to languages, SGE is currently available in:

  • English
  • Hindi
  • Indonesian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Portuguese (Brazil)
  • Spanish (Latin America)

When will Google generative search roll out in my country? 

Unfortunately, we do not have any information regarding releasing Google’s generative AI search on other markets. 

However, Google’s SGE started with U.S.-only access, and they kept adding new countries, as the experiment grew and more data was needed.  

We can expect that this feature will roll out to other markets soon. 

If you want to be notified when that happens, sign up for our weekly Tech SEO newsletter. We’ll give you an update directly to your inbox. 

Does Google SGE result generate automatically?

Yes, for some of the results, Google will display the instant SGE result. For other queries, you can manually request the SGE result to be generated. 

Basically, Google suggests an AI-generated overview, you click on Generate and get a response.

Manually generate an SGE result

Isn’t Google SGE similar to featured snippets?

Yes, and no. 

While new AI results look a bit like featured snippets, SGE is generated based on Google’s LLMs (Large Language Models), such as an advanced version of MUM and PaLM2.

With featured snippets, you would get a direct fragment of a text source from one website.

With the SGE result, you get a response generated from many various sources, which are linked right next to the text (or under it). At least – in theory. In practice, you can see SGE results that use just one or two sources.

In a way, SGE result seems like a much advanced featured snippet, but how it’s generated differs. 

It poses both benefits – like including more perspectives in your response, but also dangers – since the response generated by AI doesn’t always make sense.

Hopefully, as the product improves, SGE responses will get more reliable. 

Are the Google SGE results generated in real time, or are they cached? 

While we don’t have an official confirmation yet – from our observation, Google seems to cache some of the SGE results for the user. However, with SGE it is tricky to differentiate between caching and personalization, so we don’t have a 100% answer yet. 

We know that the technological cost of generating millions of AI responses in real time will be huge, and they will need some kind of caching. 

Our theory is that Google Generative Experience results will be heavily cached, at least for popular queries. It can be tricky to do it, considering the conversational approach SGE has, but it’s almost sure to happen. 

Does Google SGE “remember” our previous conversations?

Yes, provided you ask a follow-up question in the same thread. Other than that, we don’t have a confirmation that Google SGE “remembers” conversations made from the same Google account.

Some level of personalization is likely involved, though.

What Does Generative AI Search Mean for SEO?

The actual impact of Google SGE remains to be seen, but it will likely force SEOs to rethink their strategies. 

If you signed up for our SGE webinars, you know that SGE is very much different than regular search. This new Google Generative Search will focus on delivering the best results from the SERP page, without needing to click on many links. Ultimately, search is Google’s most famous product, so it is obvious they’ll go in that direction.

The final verdict in this matter relies on search users. Some will likely scroll down to regular results and won’t use SGE at all, while others might rely on it 100% and abandon search as we know it. 

However, we don’t expect Google to back down from AI-powered future.

Even if SGE in its current form fails to deliver, Google will likely improve it to meet users’ feedback. 

For better or worse, the era of simple blue links on a white background may end soon.

How will Google’s AI Search impact ads?

As of February 6th 2024, the SGE results served in Google Labs don’t include a standard for ads (they can happen for some queries, though). However, as Google states in their document about Google SGE:

With SGE, Search ads will continue to appear in dedicated ad slots throughout the page. In this new experience, advertisers will continue to have the opportunity to reach potential customers along their search journeys. We’ll continue to test and evolve the ads experience as we learn more.

So while we don’t know how SGE will incorporate ads in its layout, we can definitely expect it to include them. 

Will Google SGE actually get released? Isn’t it just a Google Labs experiment?

While Google Search Generative Experience is currently just an experiment, we suspect that’s going to change soon.

AI-based online products and services are becoming more common, and we can expect them to influence every area of our online presence. As an industry leader, Google cannot stay behind. 

SGE may change before it’s introduced to a wider public, but it will definitely get released – sooner or later (and we suspect it’s sooner).

Depending on Google’s progress, the process may look like this:

  • SGE gets released for more markets as Google Labs experiment
  • SGE gets officially released as part of Google Search for selected markets and/or users
  • As Google makes this product more reliable, SGE gets released for more and more markets across the world

How does Google use AI? Is it only SGE? 

While SGE is Google’s brand new feature in search, AI has been included in their services for quite some time. 

However, their main AI tool is Bard – an alternative to ChatGPT. 

Will SGE performance appear in Google Search Console?

At this point, there are no SGE reports in GSC. 

After SGE gets released, we expect Google to introduce some kind of reporting, as they currently do for features like Google News or Discover performance. 

What about Google AI images or image search? Will that happen?

Actually, in a way, it’s happening right now! 

If you’re interested in AI-generated images, you probably know about tools like Midjourney. Google takes a similar approach, and SGE can now generate images based on a prompt. You write your prompt in a Google Search, get 4 images to choose from, and then you can refine them further with additional prompts. 

However, this feature is quite fresh and doesn’t always deliver proper results.

SGE generating an image

And when it comes to AI-driven image search – you can access it with the Google Lens feature, that’s been present for quite some time. 

Wrapping up

At this point, SGE is far from perfect. However, in the past months, we’ve closely monitored all the changes that Google has made to their AI search. In that time, SGE significantly improved and Google definitely used a lot of time and resources to improve it.

One thing is sure: AI-powered search is not going anywhere. Even if SGE evolves into a different service, it is going to be implemented at some point – and we suspect it’s going to be sooner rather than later.

If you want to prepare yourself for its release, sign up for our newsletter. We’ll inform you about any critical changes to SGE (and SGE in general). 

And if you want to start working on your SGE optimization, we can help you with that. We’ve been tracking how SGE behaves for weeks and are prepared to start working on it. 

Just message us, and we’ll see what we can do for you.


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