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Internet South Africa

Google uses AI to move Search posts for web publishers

Google is leading an evolution of its Search platform with the introduction of generative AI. This implementation shifts away from the direct links model that has since become a pay-to-play hellscape to instead provide users with quick responses, resolve complex queries, offer personalised planning, and organise results using AI. While this promises a more intuitive search experience, it also represents a significant shift for web publishers.
Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google and Alphabet onstage at Google I/O
Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google and Alphabet onstage at Google I/O

The introduction of Google’s Gemini engine to power AI Overviews is one of the key changes. These brief summaries could reduce the need for users to click through to websites, potentially affecting traffic.

However, Google emphasises that AI Overviews often drive more clicks to a wider variety of sources, especially for complex queries.

“With AI Overviews, people are visiting a greater diversity of websites for help with more complex questions,” Liz Reid, VP and head of Google Search said on stage at Google I/O (the company’s annual developer conference).

Publishers must adapt

Another significant change is the ability for users to pose complex questions in a single search. This could streamline the search process and change user behaviour.

As a result, publishers will now need to adapt their content to cater to these complex queries.

Google Search will now also help users plan meals and trips, offering features like recipe suggestions and customisable itineraries.

This could create new opportunities for publishers in the travel and food industries to integrate their content into these plans.

Moving goalposts

AI will now categorise search results under unique headlines, providing users with diverse perspectives and content types.

This could change how users discover content, favouring websites that align with these AI-generated categories.

With the expanded computer vision ability to ask questions about objects in videos, Google has expanded the scope of its core search business beyond text. Which could have negative impacts on publishers who rely heavily on text-based content.

For web publishers, these changes could mean a shift in traffic

While AI Overviews might initially decrease traffic for some simple queries, they could drive more clicks for complex ones. Publishers need to closely monitor their traffic and adapt their strategies accordingly.

Content optimisation

With the ability to handle complex queries and the introduction of AI-organised results, content optimisation becomes crucial.

Publishers need to ensure their content is discoverable under these new paradigms. This might involve creating content that addresses multi-faceted questions and aligns with AI-generated categories.

The rise of visual search tools will necessitate a re-evaluation of content strategies, potentially incorporating more visual elements to cater to this growing trend.

This integration of generative AI in Google Search could be a turning point in how users interact with information online which is forcing publishers to adapt to thrive in this evolving landscape.

Experimenting with new content strategies will be crucial for web publishers to maintain and grow their audience in this new era of search.

About Lindsey Schutters

Lindsey is the editor for ICT, Construction&Engineering and Energy&Mining at Bizcommunity
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