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Google To Limit AI Overviews For “Nonsensical” Queries

Google addresses concerns about AI overviews, while continuing to claim they lead to higher user satisfaction and more clicks.

  • Google addresses AI overview criticism and aims to improve accuracy.
  • Nonsensical queries will no longer trigger AI overviews.
  • Google still claims most users are satisfied with the feature.

Google has addressed concerns regarding the accuracy and quality of its AI overview feature in search results.

The company acknowledges the criticism and odd results generated by the AI overviews but claims that the feature leads to higher user satisfaction and more complex queries being answered.

As Liz Reid, Head of Google Search, continues to repeat the same talking points, here’s what’s being done about AI overviews.

Background On AI Overviews

Google launched AI overviews to provide users with comprehensive responses to complex questions that would have previously required multiple searches.

The feature is powered by a customized language model integrated with Google’s core web ranking systems.

Unlike chatbots and other large language model (LLM) products, Google claims that AI overviews are built only to show information backed up by top web results and include relevant links for further exploration.

Google alleges that, in testing, the accuracy rate for AI overviews is on par with featured snippets, another popular AI-powered search feature.

Addressing Odd Results & Criticism

The widespread use of AI overviews by millions of users has surfaced some odd and inaccurate results.

Google attributes these issues to several factors, including:

  • Misinterpreting queries
  • Misinterpreting nuances in web content language
  • Limited high-quality information available for specific topics

In its statement, Google addresses the viral example of “How many rocks should I eat?” which generated an AI overview based on satirical content republished on a geological software provider’s website.

The company explains that this is an instance of a “data void” or “information gap,” where limited high-quality content is available on a topic.

Improvements & Updates

In response to the criticism, Google says it’s made over a dozen technical improvements to AI overviews.

These updates include:

  • Better detection mechanisms for nonsensical queries
  • Limiting the inclusion of satire and humor content
  • Updating systems to limit the use of potentially misleading user-generated content
  • Adding triggering restrictions for queries where AI overviews were less helpful
  • Enhancing quality protections for sensitive topics like news and health

Google’s company message is that less than one in every 7 million unique queries with AI overviews contained a content policy violation.

Why SEJ Cares

The lessons from Google’s AI overview launch will shape the future of search and have implications for the SEO industry.

The concerns about accuracy highlight the need for search engines to be transparent about how these AI features work, their limitations, and how issues are being addressed.

SEO professionals, content creators, and website owners should push for clearer communication. By actively engaging in these discussions, you can guide the responsible use of AI tools.

Google’s challenges present an opportunity for competitors to prioritize transparency, user trust, and ethical AI deployment to differentiate themselves. It will be interesting to see if anyone steps up to the challenge.

Featured Image: DIA TV/Shutterstock

Category News SEO
SEJ STAFF Matt G. Southern Senior News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt G. Southern, Senior News Writer, has been with Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a bachelor’s degree in communications, ...

Google To Limit AI Overviews For “Nonsensical” Queries

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