This is the reason AI search engines can’t truly replace Google.

18th April, 2024
This is the reason AI search engines can’t truly replace Google.

AI’s Advancements and Google’s Dominance

The advancement of AI in search tools is undeniable, yet there remains a gap in their understanding of the essence of a search engine and how users truly interact with them.

The narrative suggests that AI is poised to revolutionize the search industry, with tools like ChatGPT, Google Gemini, and Microsoft Copilot showcasing impressive progress. Companies such as Perplexity and are positioning themselves as the next wave of search products, while even industry giants like Google and Bing are betting big on AI’s future in search. Traditional search paradigms, epitomized by the iconic “10 blue links,” are seemingly giving way to direct, tailored answers to diverse queries.

However, it’s crucial to grasp that a search engine serves multifaceted purposes. While some users seek scholarly or obscure information, a vast majority employ search engines for mundane tasks like accessing email or finding familiar websites. Surprisingly, many users even search for “google” on Google itself. The real challenge facing aspiring Google alternatives isn’t merely information retrieval; it’s replicating Google’s versatility across myriad tasks.

To gauge the capabilities of these emerging AI tools, I conducted a practical test using a list of top queries from SEO research firm Ahrefs. The results were illuminating: for navigational queries, where users seek specific websites, AI search engines lag behind Google. While Google swiftly delivers the desired link, AI tools often provide extraneous information, delaying access to the target site.

On the other hand, AI performance differs for informational inquiries that have obvious answers. Sports scores and other real-time data could be difficult for AI to handle accurately, while timeless facts are usually handled successfully. But disparities occur, creating contradictions that require users to verify the facts. Google’s speed is still unrivaled in this field.

One prominent exception is in the area of “Buried Information Queries,” where AI shines at providing succinct responses that are hidden beneath layers of web content. User pleasure is increased by this simplified experience, but it has ramifications for the architecture and economics of the web.

Exploratory inquiries offer AI the chance to flourish because they start learning processes. Compared to typical search results, AI-generated responses frequently synthesize information and offer helpful reference, improving the learning experience.

However, obstacles still exist, as demonstrated by AI’s inability to match Google’s personalized suggestions for well-known searches like “what to watch.” AI is good at giving straightforward answers, but it is not very good at mimicking the way Google presents its carefully chosen content.

In the end, the discussion moves beyond technological aptitude and concentrates on product strategy. Although AI has the potential to comprehend and analyze questions, Google’s established position enables it to quickly update its services and interface. Technological innovation alone won’t determine the future of search; search engine providers must also be flexible enough to adjust to changing consumer demands and habits. To truly challenge Google’s hegemony, more than sophisticated AI is needed; search as a concept has to be rethought.