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Google’s AI Integration Could Be A Game-Changer for Online Publishing – Including for Lawyers

As reported by Kevin Roose of The New York Times, online publishing could be impacted in a big way in what looks to be Google’s most significant change in online search in twenty years.

Google announced Tuesday that it is integrating A.I.-generated summaries, called “A.I. overviews,” into its search results.

These overviews provide concise summaries of search queries, potentially reducing the need for users to click through to external websites.

This feature, powered by Google’s Gemini A.I. technology, will begin appearing this week at the top of search results for users in the United States, with plans to expand globally by the end of the year.

The move has sparked concern among online publishers, including major outlets like The New York Times, which rely heavily on Google-driven traffic for revenue through advertisements and subscriptions.

The traditional relationship between Google and publishers (including lawyers who publish primarily for SEO/search) —where content drives traffic — may be threatened if these A.I. summaries sufficiently satisfy users’ informational needs, leading to reduced website visits.

Roose shared his personal experiences with Perplexity, an A.I.-powered “answer engine” that offers concise summaries instead of traditional search results. In his testing of Perplexity, Roose found himself rarely clicking on external links, as the A.I.-generated summaries provided the information he needed quickly and efficiently.

Roose shared that this behavior and experience could foreshadow a significant shift in user interaction with search on Google.

Google executives have attempted to assuage these fears, suggesting that the A.I. overviews could lead to more diverse web searches and increased clicks on linked content within the summaries.

However, Roose sees the implications for web traffic as uncertain, with some analysts predicting significant declines in traffic from search engines, potentially impacting the viability of many online media platforms.

This development underscores the growing influence of A.I. in shaping digital publishing.

In the case of legal blogging, establishing influence and a name in a niche will be key.

You’ll not only have more people coming in the “front door” by following your publication, directly, but you’ll be more likely to be referenced in Google’s AI summaries at the top of the search engine results pages.