Google began testing links within the Search Generative Experience AI-generated snapshot answers earlier this month. Well, it seems that test is over. Google is no longer showing links or citations in its AI-generated answers.
Link test. Here is a screenshot of the links/citations in these answers. Please note our original coverage showcased three different formats for links in the SGE answers. (You can click on the screenshots below to enlarge them.)
Here is what I see now, SGE answers without any links:
Test is gone. Some of you were unable to see the SGE links test while it was live. But those people who were in the test noticed the links were gone from Google’s AI-generated responses starting yesterday afternoon.
I was in the test, but Google is now no longer showing me links. And so were several others, including Danny Goodwin, Managing Editor of Search Engine Land.
Here are posts from others who no longer see the links:
Have GSE content/citation links been removed?
Maybe an okay thing until better baked out. Noticed soo many that were wrong/out of context (on-page text didn’t support the GSE content). cc @JohnMu @lilyraynyc @rustybrick
— Britney Muller 🇺🇦 (@BritneyMuller) August 17, 2023
Why we care. One of the biggest complaints about the Search Generative Experience is that you cannot click from the text of the AI-generated answer to the source of the information. Having links in these generative answers makes this experience more useful. Hopefully, Google will bring back links within these generative AI answers in the future. But right now, Google has stopped this test.
Postscript. Google’s Search Liaison replied on Twitter saying, “We’ve always had corroborating links. That hasn’t changed. The carousel that we launched with is still there; you can use the menu icon to open for links to appear inline. That said, the experimenting we’ve done with different formats is not over so changes will continue.”