No, Google has NOT announced SGE isn’t going to happen
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There appears to be growing speculation about the future of Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE), largely stemming from the interpretation of two sentences found in a Google blog post.
In this particular blog post, two sentences have led many within the search community to believe that SGE may not see a full-scale launch and might remain an “experiment” confined to Google Labs, rather than becoming an integral part of the default Search experience for the majority of users. However, I remain skeptical of this notion, and here’s why.
The core issue revolves around Google’s announcement of Circle to Search. Elizabeth Reid, Google’s VP of Search, mentioned in a blog post:
“The launch of AI-powered insights for multisearch this week is the result of our year-long testing to explore how gen AI can significantly enhance the Search experience. SGE has been available in Search Labs, and we’ve received valuable feedback from users who have willingly participated in this experiment. We will continue to offer SGE in Labs as a platform to test innovative ideas.”
These two sentences have spurred a detailed interpretation, particularly by Ross Hudgens, the CEO of Siege Media, who acknowledged that he might be delving too deeply into it. His interpretation suggests:
“The language used here implies that SGE serves as a fertile ground for various SERP features, rather than being a singular, all-encompassing feature as initially perceived.”
“But we should remember that Google selects its words carefully, and they tend not to definitively announce their plans in one way or another.”
In summary, while some in the community have expressed doubts about the full-scale implementation of SGE, I remain unconvinced and believe that the true potential and direction of SGE are still open to interpretation, given Google’s cautious approach to such announcements.
Questionable. Whether SGE, in its current iteration, will evolve into the standard search experience remains a topic open for debate. We lack insights into Google’s product roadmap and whether SGE has encountered any delays.
Nevertheless, a prevailing notion on social media suggests that SGE might not see the light of day, either partially or in its entirety, anytime soon, or perhaps ever. To me, this resembles the act of placing a cup in the vast ocean, discovering no fish inside the cup, and then concluding that there are no fish in the entire ocean.
To clarify, Google has not made any official statements suggesting that SGE may not be launched.
Furthermore, Google has not disclosed a specific timeline or even confirmed if SGE will ultimately be released. Thus far, SGE has consistently been referred to as an experiment.
At one point, SGE did have a designated “end date” set for December 2023, but this date was subsequently removed in December, rendering it essentially meaningless.
Hopefully, it is now evident that the previous interpretation (and the subsequent widespread speculation on social media) is entirely rooted in something that Google did not explicitly state. It’s a sentence that might seem unbelievable to write.
What we can definitively confirm is that Google intends to “continue to offer SGE in Labs.”
Regarding SGE experimentation, we’ve previously reported findings from two separate analyses, conducted by BrightEdge and Authoritas, which indicate that SGE appears in over 80% of queries for users who have opted into the SGE experience. Moreover, there is ongoing experimentation with SGE, as revealed in a separate analysis of one billion queries conducted by BrightEdge.
Considering all of this data and the ongoing experimentation, there is substantial evidence to suggest that SGE is still very much alive and evolving. What we can state with certainty is that Google has not officially launched SGE. Everything beyond that is grounded in speculation and conjecture, primarily based on two sentences from a blog post.
That being said, the upcoming Google earnings call, scheduled for tomorrow, holds the potential for interesting insights regarding whether SGE will be mentioned or if any additional information will be provided.
Let’s examine what Google has actually communicated about SGE. Google has not explicitly stated that SGE “will not happen.” Here’s a breakdown of their statements:
During the Alphabet Q3 2023 earnings call on October 24, Alphabet/Google CEO Sundar Pichai mentioned:
“I’ve been pretty pleased with how the user feedback has been on SGE. We are rolling it out to more users. Through it all, we’re making sure the product works well and we are generating value for our ecosystem and that Ads transitions well.”
Interpretation: Google is satisfied with the user feedback on SGE and intends to expand its availability to more users. They are focused on ensuring the product’s functionality and its value within their ecosystem, particularly in terms of how Ads integrate with it. Pichai also emphasized that Google sees AI as a means to evolve Search and Assistant over the next decade.
“We are still in very early days in terms of how much we have rolled it out. But we have definitely gotten it out to enough people, both geographically, across user segments, and enough to know that the product is working well. It improves the experience.”
“But there are areas to improve, which we are fine-tuning. Our true north here is getting at the right user experience we want to, and I’m pretty comfortable seeing the trajectory. And we’ve always worked through these transitions, be it from desktop to mobile or from now, mobile to an AI-enhanced experience.”
Interpretation: Google acknowledges that they are in the early stages of rolling out SGE, but they have already reached a substantial user base and are confident that the product is enhancing the overall user experience. They recognize the need for ongoing improvements and aim to achieve the desired user experience. Pichai mentioned that they have successfully navigated transitions in the past, such as from desktop to mobile, and now, they are working on transitioning from mobile to an AI-enhanced experience.
In summary, Google’s statements indicate that they are actively working on and investing in SGE, with a focus on user feedback, product improvement, and the long-term evolution of search and AI-enhanced experiences. The interpretation suggests that drawing definitive conclusions based solely on a couple of sentences from a blog post may not provide a comprehensive view of Google’s plans and intentions regarding SGE.
Indeed, interpreting Google’s statements provides valuable insights into their perspective on SGE:
Google perceives SGE as an enhancement to the Search experience, acknowledging its imperfections at the time of the initial launch. They are committed to refining it to improve the overall search experience. Additionally, Google has strongly embraced the mobile-first approach, emphasizing their determination to make Search an AI-enhanced experience.
During the Alphabet Q2 2023 earnings call on July 25, CEO Sundar Pichai positioned SGE as a significant evolution of the Search platform. This suggests that Google views SGE as a pivotal development in the world of Search, and it’s reasonable to assume that this perspective has not fundamentally changed.
In an interview with Platformer on December 6, Pichai reiterated the importance of SGE, emphasizing Google’s fundamental vision for Search. He highlighted the concept that people use Search to explore the richness and diversity of the web and its content ecosystem. Google aims to design SGE in a way that enhances this exploration aspect and aligns with users’ expectations. This statement underscores Google’s commitment to evolving SGE as part of their broader search product strategy.
In summary, Google’s statements collectively convey their belief in the value and potential of SGE as an essential evolution of the Search experience. They are dedicated to addressing its imperfections, optimizing the mobile experience, and enhancing the richness of web exploration through SGE. It’s evident that SGE remains a significant focus for Google’s future developments in Search.
Your interpretation is well-founded. Google appears to consider SGE as an integral part of the “fundamental value proposition of search.” However, it’s important to note that some statements may leave room for interpretation regarding whether the quote refers specifically to Search, SGE, or both.
Regarding the assertion that Search Engine Land would likely rate the story as “False” or even “Pants on Fire” if fact-checked, this underscores the absence of concrete evidence to support the notion that SGE is delayed or canceled. Spreading such unfounded claims can indeed be detrimental, as it can contribute to misinformation in the industry.
It’s prudent to prepare for generative search experiences, as they seem to be a focal point for Google’s future developments, and there is no substantiated evidence to suggest otherwise at this time. Maintaining an accurate understanding of Google’s intentions and product roadmap is crucial for informed decision-making in the search marketing industry.