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Google Unveils Major AI-Powered Enhancements ​

Google is constantly evolving, and its latest developments are unsurprisingly centered around artificial intelligence (AI). At its annual I/O event last week, Google revealed exciting upcoming advancements in various areas , including Search, Gmail, Video, and AI Virtual Agents. If you want to read more about these developments, check out this article 👉 Google I/O 2024 Highlights.

Google Unveils Major AI-Powered Enhancements

AI Overviews in Search: A Game Changer ​

One of the most significant changes in SEO is the introduction of AI Overviews, formerly known as SGE (Search Generative Experience). This new feature represents a substantial shift from the current display and operation of Google's search engine. Some notable applications include:

  • Asking more complex, multi-part questions in a single query.
  • Following up with additional questions if the initial answer is insufficient.
  • Requesting a simpler answer if the result is not clear enough.

Due to strict regulations in the Netherlands (EU), these developments typically roll out later here than in the US. However, Google aims to make AI Overview available to approximately 1 billion people by the end of 2024.

Keeping an Eye on Changes ​

The stakes for Google are enormous. The company earns tens of billions of euros annually from the ads shown alongside search results. Making major changes to what users see can have far-reaching consequences. At the same time, the rise of generative AI, led by ChatGPT, has shown that the future of search looks different.

Google has spent the past year shaping these changes using its AI technology called Gemini.

Overcoming Challenges ​

Google could use a success in AI developments. Last year, the company stumbled with a demonstration example that caused its stock to drop, and earlier this year, it had to pause an image generator due to incorrect historical depictions. Naturally, Google wants to shed the image of stumbling through the AI race as quickly as possible.

Best Yoga Studio in Town Example ​

Suppose you want to find the best yoga studios in your city—this is Google's own example. You can include multiple search queries in one command: which is the best, what they offer, and how far they are from a specific neighborhood. This information will then be displayed in one overview without needing to click on a link. The company calls this 'AI Overviews'. Given that generative AI is known to make many errors, it's uncertain how well Google will manage to avoid them.

"Research that used to take minutes or even hours can now be performed by Google in seconds," said Liz Reid, who is responsible for the search engine at the tech giant, during the presentation at the annual developer conference. The company hopes users will turn to the search engine instead of gathering information themselves.

Another eye-catching option is using Google Lens (an image recognition function) to record a video and ask—literally by speaking—what something is and how it works.

Limited Application of AI Overviews ​

Not every search result will get an AI-generated overview, Reid told The Verge. It's still unclear how often this will happen. "If you just want to navigate to a URL, like searching for Walmart and wanting to go to, adding AI doesn't make much sense." It should mainly be used in what she calls "complete situations," where you might not have used Google at all before.

Impact on the Web ​

It's clear that Google's announcement could have significant implications. A large part of the web has been designed over the past decades to be well understood by Google. In other words, Google can make or break a site.

Being well-visible through the search engine is essential. An agency that helps brands become visible has calculated that these changes could cause up to a quarter of internet traffic via Google to disappear, according to Bloomberg.

The real-world application will determine if this actually happens. In the examples shown by the search giant, there is still a role for websites—especially for detailed information.

Growing Competition ​

Google remains the most important search engine worldwide by far. For years, this position was unchallenged until the advent of ChatGPT, which made clear that online search could change dramatically. Microsoft hoped to benefit from this through a collaboration with ChatGPT's creator OpenAI, but so far, it hasn't been very successful.

This highlights that Google's position in the search market is still very strong. This is also because it pays billions of euros every year to Samsung and Apple to be the default search engine on the hundreds of millions of phones, tablets, and laptops these two companies produce.

Stay Informed ​

We’ll be keeping an eye on these developments! Do you have any questions about this? Ask them in the comments or contact us!

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