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Site Traffic Down? Google Just Made Some Big Search Changes


Google is now doing the Googling for its expansive U.S. audience — and news publishers are facing potentially multi-billion-dollar consequences caused by the change.

Google announced on Tuesday that it is applying AI to high-impact elements of search, from AI summaries to pages of AI recommendations in clustered groups. AI summaries, which appear at the top of search results and neatly summarize content found across the web, started rolling out on Tuesday to all of Google’s 246 million unique U.S. users.

The AI summaries mean that websites across the board will get less traffic, as people simply search and read what the AI has generated without clicking on anything.

As newsrooms get less traffic and less money, their ability to create fresh content diminishes. At the same time, Google becomes less of a gateway to sources and more of a direct source Anastasia Kotsiubynska, Head of SEO at SE Ranking, shared with Entrepreneur.

“Most likely, there will still be misleading information in search results and hallucinations, and many users will probably use this information without double-checking,” Kotsiubynska cautioned.

Google I/O 2024 on May 14, 2024. (Photo by Christoph Dernbach/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Related: Google Introduces Its New Project Astra AI Assistant at Tuesday’s I/O Event — Here’s What Else You Missed

Google’s search changes could cost websites $2 billion collectively; some could lose two-thirds of their traffic, according to data from media industry growth company Raptive.

“This will be catastrophic to our traffic, as marketed by Google to further satisfy user queries, leaving even less incentive to click through so that we can monetize our content,” Danielle Coffey, the chief executive of the News/Media Alliance, told CNN Business.

Google, a major tech company with over 90% of the global market share in search, can now frame search results however it wants with AI summaries, and pull from websites without guaranteeing site traffic or profit.

Related: Two Yale PhDs Are Trying to Make AI Hallucinate 10x Less

“AI Overviews relies on content creators’ intellectual property, which raises serious questions about compensation and fairness,” said Raptive in a statement.

Google does link to sites within its summary, citing its sources.

Unlike OpenAI, which has entered into deals with major publishers like Axel Springer and The Financial Times to compensate publishers for training AI on their articles and linking directly to them, Google has yet to publicly announce a similar deal with a major publication.

OpenAI has also earned the ire of some publishers, with the New York Times filing a lawsuit against the company over copyright grounds in December.

Related: An Elite Financial Publication With a $75 Per Month Subscription Price Is Letting AI Use Its Articles for Training

Google does have a $60 million deal with Reddit, announced in February, to train its AI on Reddit data.



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