Logged-out Icon

Google Search Introduces “Web” Filter as Focus Shifts Away from Web Results

With the introduction of the AI Overview and the new "web" filter, Google Search is undergoing its most significant transformation yet, blending AI-generated content with options for conventional web searches

Google Augments AI Rivalry with $2 Billion Investment in Anthropic, Amazon Follows Suit

Google has made a significant change to its search engine, introducing a new “web” filter option in response to the company’s increasing focus on AI-powered features. This move comes on the heels of Google I/O, where the tech giant announced the rollout of its “AI Overview” feature, previously known as “Search Generative Experience (SGE),” to all users in the United States.

The AI Overview feature represents a major shift in how Google Search presents results. For many queries, especially questions, the top of the search results page now features an AI-generated summary box that scrapes information from the web and attempts to provide a concise answer without requiring users to click on any links. This change is arguably the most significant alteration to Google Search since its inception.

Compared to the earlier SGE trials, AI Overview boasts improved speed, with Google likely caching AI answers for popular queries to reduce the high computational costs associated with running generative AI. When a cached result is available, the AI box loads instantly alongside the initial search results. In cases where a cached result is not available, users will see a blank AI overview box that displays “searching” while it loads the response, which typically takes a second or two. Occasionally, Google may attempt to load an AI Overview and fail, displaying the message “An AI overview is not available for this search.”

One notable aspect of this update is that users cannot completely opt out of AI overviews in the main search engine. While some users may still see a “Labs” icon in the top right corner with checkboxes for AI features, these checkboxes are no longer respected, and certain queries will display an AI overview regardless of user preferences.

To address this, Google has introduced a new “Web” filter, which can be found alongside other filters such as “Videos,” “Images,” “Maps,” and “Shopping.” This filter allows users to view search results in a more traditional format, displaying only the classic “10 blue links” without any additional features like Google Maps or answer info boxes. However, it is worth noting that these web results still reflect Google’s current algorithm, which tends to favor SEO-optimized sites over page quality.

Accessing the Web filter may require some effort, as it is not always prominently displayed in the main tab bar. Google states that the filter’s appearance depends on the query, but some users have reported only finding it nestled within the “More” section.

The rollout of AI Overviews is expected to reach “hundreds of millions of users” this week, with plans to expand the feature to “over a billion people” by the end of the year as Google introduces it to more countries. While the company claims that links included in AI Overviews receive more clicks than traditional web listings, this assertion has been met with skepticism. Critics argue that when Google presents the full content of one or more sites at the top of the results page, rearranged by AI, users may be less inclined to click through to the original sources.

For power users who prefer a more traditional web search experience, accessing the desired results now requires several clicks. Users must first click on “More” and then “Web” to view actual web results. To ensure that Google strictly adheres to the entered search terms, users must also click “Tools” and change “all results” to “verbatim.” Alternatively, users may choose to explore other search engines that prioritize web-focused results.

As Google continues to emphasize AI-powered features in its search engine, the introduction of the “web” filter serves as a reminder of the shifting landscape of online search. While AI Overview aims to provide users with quick, concise answers, it remains to be seen how this change will impact web publishers and the overall sustainability of the online ecosystem. As users adapt to this new search experience, it is clear that Google Search is undergoing a significant transformation, and the future of web search is likely to be shaped by the ongoing advancements in artificial intelligence.

Posts you may like

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website