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Technology

Where did all the AI Overviews in Google Search go?


Google Search on a laptop

Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Google’s AI Overviews summaries were a mainstay of its results just a few weeks ago. But now research suggests that things have changed.

Only 15% of Google search results display Google AI Overviews results, down from 84% of results leading up to last month’s Google I/O conference, SEO insights company Brightedge told Search Engine Land on Tuesday. The SEO toolmaker said that AI Overviews results are most likely to appear in healthcare results and least likely to show up in restaurants and travel results, according to Search Engine Land.

Also: How to avoid AI Overviews in Google Search: Three easy ways

Google’s AI Overviews was previously known as the company’s Search Generative Experience (SGE). The feature, which was in testing for months, showed AI-powered results to user queries. Google touted the feature as a more robust search experience, allowing users to get quick answers to their queries using AI. 

However, critics said the SGE feature did a poor job of providing adequate sourcing and would discourage users from clicking through to websites. While Google said its SGE feature increased clickthrough rates, some users disliked the experience and turned it off in favor of the old Google results page.

Also: How to sign up for Google Labs – and 5 reasons why you should

At its Google I/O event, the search giant announced that it had changed the name of its SGE platform to AI Overviews and said it would launch globally to all users. The company touted the feature, saying it would support a better search experience. 

However, users soon criticized AI Overviews for delivering strange and inaccurate results, and some website owners worried that its design, which encourages users to get their answers from Google without going to other websites, would hurt their search traffic.

For its part, Google has been largely tight-lipped about how ubiquitous AI Overviews would be. However, the Brightedge data suggests something interesting is happening with AI Overviews — and for some reason, if the data is accurate, AI is powering fewer results than before.

Also: 3 new Gemini Advanced features unveiled at Google I/O 2024

In addition to analyzing how often AI-powered results appear on Google, Brightedge took a deeper dive to see when they were most likely to be displayed. The company found that queries with questions are more likely to show AI results and local queries are less likely to be powered by AI. Google has also apparently tweaked how results are shown to reduce the likelihood of AI delivering the same answer as a result further down the page.

For now, then, it appears that AI is playing a less important role than Google suggested it would just weeks ago. But don’t expect that to be the case forever. Perplexity AI already offers a search alternative and reports suggest OpenAI will launch its own Google competitor. And while AI Overviews may be losing some of its importance right now, you can fully expect it to play a major, if not critical, role in Google search in the future.





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