The Google Search Generative Experience (SGE) represents a new advancement in search technology, incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) in generating search results. This represents an evolution of Google's primary service - the search engine, which traditionally has used a process of web crawling, indexing, and algorithm-based ranking to deliver results to user queries.
SGE was first unveiled to the public at the Google I/O conference on May 10, 2023.
Unlike the traditional Google search process, SGE utilizes a large language model (LLM), specifically the Pathways Language Model (PaLM) 2. This AI-powered model is used to enhance the search results, inferring results and making suggestions to refine the user's search. However, SGE doesn't completely replace the existing Google index, but rather supplements it. Google's approach to integrating generative AI into its search engine mirrors similar efforts by Microsoft with its Bing search engine.
The user journey in SGE begins just like any typical Google search. But instead of relying solely on Google's PageRank algorithms for results, user queries are also processed through the PaLM LLM, providing an AI-generated snapshot of relevant information and suggesting further steps for the user.
One notable feature of SGE is its ability to remember and allow modification of the user's original query without needing to retype it.
This feature becomes apparent when the user engages with one of the suggested steps provided by SGE, launching the new conversational mode. In this mode, the search resembles an AI chatbot interaction and enables a more explorative search while retaining the context of the original query.
The conversational mode generates responses using the PaLM model, guiding users to additional web resources. This feature has been introduced with a particular focus on shopping, leveraging Google's Shopping Graph that includes over 35 billion product listings.
As of May 2023, SGE remains an experimental product and doesn't offer broad opportunities for business integration. However, Google intends to continue its practice of featuring search ads within SGE. In terms of web content, Google's overall goal remains to guide users towards it, meaning businesses should focus on producing high-quality content and employing effective search engine optimization (SEO) strategies.
Google didn't provide a specific release date during its May 2023 announcement, instead stating that users in the U.S. could sign up for Search Labs, with access to begin in "the coming weeks." Google is known for thoroughly testing its products in beta before official release, as evidenced by Gmail's five-year beta testing period.
Initially, Google Search Generative Experience will be part of the Google Search Labs initiative as an experiment titled SGE. It will be available in English for U.S. users and initially accessible to mobile users of the Google App on Android and iOS. Desktop users will be able to access the SGE experiment through Google Chrome.
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