If the recent AI fiasco has you wanting to turn off Google AI Overviews, then you’re not alone. After Google officially announced the AI feature during the Google I/O event on May 14, 2024, users began to see the AI results pop up at the top of their search results more frequently. While some hated the concept and wanted to block Google AI’s search results from the get-go, others decided to give the feature a chance and see what it could do. Soon enough, we began to see images of erroneous results begin to circulate, with people reporting that the AI was giving them outrageous, dangerous advice. More and more folk began to turn off the AI search results.

Since then, Google has made an official statement about what went wrong, and it claims that a lot of the results were made up of a “large number of faked screenshots shared widely.” Now while they say the “faked results were obvious and silly,” they admit that the other odd results were due to an information gap where satirical content available online was used to fill in the data void. Despite all the negative press, Google still hasn’t provided users with a way to turn off AI Overview entirely. There are some ways to block Google AI search results, but they’re not a permanent fix. 

Block Google AI search results

Image: Google

Should You Turn Off Google AI Overviews?

Before you make a decision about whether to block Google AI search results, you may want to know a little bit more about what it is and how it works. Google search is the most common way of looking up information where we open up our browser, type in our query, and wait for the most relevant results to show up. In some cases, an excerpt from the most relevant result appears on top but in most cases, the different articles that are relevant to the question are organized according to how well they handle SEO. 

How Does Google AI Overview Work?

With Google AI Overviews, although it relies on a language model to power its workings, according to Google, “the model is integrated with our core web ranking systems and designed to carry out traditional “search” tasks, like identifying relevant, high-quality results from our index.” The search model doesn’t just get trained to generate its own response but instead relies on existing search articles that you can read to elaborate your understanding of the topic. The service is only meant to summarize top web results by interpreting what you’re looking for with your query. 

Despite all the talk of turning off AI search results due to its tendency to make errors, according to Google these actual errors only happen infrequently, occurring when the AI misinterprets the queries of the language used. The only other cause for error is insufficient data or the existence of only satirical data to feed that topic. Google has been clear that the AI Overview was put through extensive testing but with millions of users searching for data, some nonsensical searches aimed at finding ridiculous results, the data void came to light. 

Not too many articles have been written on how you should not eat rocks, but when people began to search for answers on how many they should eat, the was a dearth of sufficient content to inform users that zero was the right answer. We understand why this problem occurred but is there any way to solve it? Considering how people clung to all the inaccurate results, it’s clear that people will inevitably look for ways to trick the system and find its weaknesses, even going so far as to create content and fake data to trick the AI. The “information at a glance” feature is problematic for more reasons than one.

Did The Company Respond by Stoping Google AI Summaries?

No, Google AI Overviews have not been turned off, but reports indicate that people are seeing fewer AI results than they did when the AI was launched. Along with scaling back on AI Overviews, a blog post by Liz Reid, VP and Head of Google Search, was released on May 30, 2024, to go over everything else the company has done to improve Google AI Overviews. Instead of fixing the problematic results for the queries that have already come to light, Google has identified patterns behind these errors and made structural changes to the tool instead. This includes: 

  • Building detection mechanism for nonsensical queries that don’t require an AI Overview
  • Limiting humorous or satirical content
  • Limiting user-generated content for responses where misleading advice may arise
  • Adding restrictions where AI Overviews were not found to be helpful
  • Limiting AI Overview for news topics that are recent and still evolving as well as additional restrictions on health topics
  • Monitoring feedback and reports on the performance of the AI

How to Disable Google AI Overviews

Despite all the work done to improve the AI in Google Search, it’s going to be a long time before the company is able to perfect the search results and completely eliminate errors. Despite their claim that the AI does not hallucinate, it’s not a fact they can guarantee. The situation grows more dire as we consider that the errors in the results aren’t the only problem that has been associated with AI. Increased use of AI Overviews has sparked concerns of various websites losing all the resources that have poured into building up their readership and establishing their presence online. If people begin to read and stop at AI Overviews, will they bother opening up an article again? It’s hard to tell.

Whether you see a similar problem with the tool or you have your own reasons to block Google AI search results and do your research on your own, we understand the desire to turn off the results. Unfortunately, Google has not provided users with an easy way to block Google AI search results which is unsurprising. There are a few ways to try and stop Google AI summaries.

Block Google AI Search Results with Individual Queries

When you type in a specific query and hit search, you may not always see AI Overviews. If you do, you can then asks the page to give you web results only.

  • Look at the category tabs there—All, Video, Images, etc.
  • Click on the three dots next to the “More” option
  • Click on Web and you should see the page reload with web results and articles only

Add a New Default Search Engine

You can also try to open up our Google browser and go to your settings page to reset a default search engine as the Google “web” page.

  • Go to your Chrome settings
  • Click on the “Search engine” tab from the menu on the right
  • Under “Site Search” find the “Add” button and click on it
  • Add a name for your Google search tab and a shortcut title such as Google Web
  • Enter the URL in the last section: {google:baseURL}/search?udm=14&q=%s 
  • Click on “Add”
  • Scroll down to find the name and shortcut you just created and click on the icon at the end
  • Make the search engine your default and you should now have your web results prioritized every time you open up your search

Use a Different Browser To Stop Google AI Summaries

Google AI Overviews results do not appear on other browsers so you can switch to another browser so you really don’t have to encounter the AI. Using a Firefox browser or more daringly, Microsoft Edge may be the final solution but do this at your own risk.

Try Extensions To Turn off AI Search Results 

There are extensions available online that offer to block the AI Overview feature and they work just like ad blockers do. The problem with these extensions is they are not always safe, especially when downloaded from unauthorized sources, so it’s a risky choice to make. If you’re certain it is worth the risk, try to look for more legitimate extensions and check all the permissions and features carefully before you use it.

Google is committed to its AI strategy and the feature is a permanent one that they will only continue to build on from here on out. You may feel like blocking it is the best strategy but at some point, you might have to accept it as a part of the progress towards the future and build strategies to ensure you use AI tools as safely as possible.