Google starts showing AI-generated overviews above search results for some users

This is yet another way that Google gives you an answer to your query without you having to click away from its search engine.
Written by Artie Beaty, Contributing Writer
Screenshot by Artie Beaty/ZDNET

If you're a Google Search user, you might notice your results looking a little different. Instead of a list of links to answer your query, you might get an AI-powered answer instead.

Last year, users who opted into Google Labs started seeing AI overviews for some search results. Relevant links were still listed, but an AI-generated summary appeared above them. Now that feature is beginning to roll out to users not enrolled in Google Labs.

Also: Google's AI-powered Search is expanding its features and availability

According to a report from Search Engine Land, Google has started testing the feature "on a small percentage of search traffic in the U.S." Google is including AI summaries for searches which the company has a high confidence in the quality and value of the generated answer, and on searches where the generated answer is a better response than traditional links.

The goal, according to Google, is to get feedback from real world users who have not opted into receiving these summaries, ahead of a potential broader rollout.

This rollout immediately raises accuracy concerns. It's worth noting that the overviews don't appear to be truly AI generated. Instead, they're more of an AI rewording of text from source pages. Clicking on a link takes you directly to that source if you want to read more.

This means that you shouldn't expect answers for something that doesn't have a source. It also means that you can't simply ask the AI to simplify or reword your results.

Also: 5 reasons to sign up for Google Labs and how to do it

For websites, this means that not only are organic search results pushed further down, users may now not even need to click through to the source. It's possible, however, that the sites Google uses to create its AI summaries may see an increase in traffic from users wanting to know more.

If you're not seeing this feature yet, you can still join Google Labs to test it out.

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