Google Testing Lite Version of Search Generative Experience


Google is experimenting with a lightweight version of the Search Generative Experience that displays a more subtle AI-generated answer box with an expand button.


Highlights

  • Google is testing a lightweight version of the Search Generative Experience.
  • SGE lite includes a subtle AI-generated answer box with an expand button.
  • Not all search queries produce the SGE lite version.

Google is testing a new lightweight version of its Search Generative Experience (SGE). Users who have SGE enabled in Search Labs can experiment with this early-stage Google Search experience and share feedback.

Here is a screenshot of the new lightweight Google SGE experiment appearing for the search phrase, “best portable heaters”:

This new SGE experiment is in the early testing stages and does not appear for every Google search. For some queries, Google shows the SGE AI-generated answer box in its current form with the full AI-generated answer. For other queries, SGE displays the following message at the top of the search results, “Get an AI-powered overview for this search?” along with a Generate button. Some queries do not trigger SGE at all.

The new Google SGE could be a positive step forward for publishers and search engine optimization (SEO) specialists who fear that SGE may impact organic search traffic when it is rolled out to the public. SGE was released in beta in Search Labs in May 2023, and many publishers and SEO specialists who tested SGE were not happy with the potential loss of search traffic.

According to an Adweek article, “Experts predict that Google’s Search Generative Experience could reduce up to 80% of publishers’ organic search traffic if implemented in its current form.”

Many publishers and intellectual property holders have long objected to the work of data crawlers that Google, OpenAI, and other web firms use to collect and index information from their websites. Google claims that this practice is fair use, but it has faced multiple lawsuits over it.

Major publishers are taking proactive steps to block AI crawlers like Google SGE from gathering data from their sites. “Nearly 20% of the top 1000 websites in the world are blocking crawler bots that gather web data for AI services,” according to data from Originality.AI, an AI content detector.

Ben Welsh, a data journalist at Palewire, is running a list of news organizations blocking OpenAI and GoogleAI crawlers stated: “In total, 532 of 1,147 news publishers surveyed by the homepages.news archive have instructed OpenAI, Google AI or the non-profit Common Crawl to stop scanning their sites, which amounts to 46.4% of the sample.”

Here are the current totals for each crawler.

Crawler Opt outs Percent
OpenAI 516 45.0%
Google AI 51 4.4%
Common Crawl 391 34.1%
Source: Palewire

Glenn Gabe, SEO Consultant at G-Squared Interactive who studies Google algorithm updates and search engine changes, called this new version of Google Search Generative Experience on X: “SGE Lite”. Gabe also said, “SGE will not roll out unless it’s revenue-neutral or positive.”

Summary

Google is testing a lightweight version of the Search Generative Experience that displays a more subtle AI-generated answer box with an expand button. This new version could be better for publishers who believe SGE in its current form could reduce up to 80% of organic traffic because it gives users a detailed answer directly in Google Search; diminishing the need to visit websites.

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