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Monday, March 4, 2024

Google’s SGE and its impact on SEO

Google’s SGE and its impact on SEO

With thriving AI advancements, the digital industry is witnessing a massive progression. From chatbots, voice assistants to generative AI, how people interact has undergone a significant change causing a disruption.

Following this evolution, the next revolutionary AI adoption lies in search. It’s called the generative search developed by Google. Yes! You’ve heard that right.

Google’s SGE (Search Generative Experiment) is redefining the search era. SGE uses generative AI to deliver relevant results within seconds.

So what is generative AI? It is a machine-learning model that gets trained based on observation and pattern matching.

Consider the AI model has to be trained on understanding what is a mop stick. The input will be millions of mop stick images. Eventually, it will get to know that a mop stick is an object that has a thin long handle used to clean floors.

Likewise, if your search query is like “what is” questions, how-to tutorials, discovering topics, recipes, etc search AI generates results instantly.

These results are compiled and displayed in an enclosed snapshot so you need not have to scroll through individual web pages. However, SGE is in the experimental stage and we can also expect a lack of accuracy at times.

Now that you’ve got an idea of Google’s SGE, next, I will be walking you through its entire structure, analyzing its response for different inputs, and finally unveiling its impact on SEO.

Let’s get started!

To get started with SGE, you need to;

  • Open Google Chrome and search for Google Labs (ensure that you’re signed in).
  • Another way is to directly click on the labs icon in your new tab.
  • Next, you’ll see a screen as shown below:
Google SGE login
  • Click on “Get Started” in generative AI and enable the “try example” toggle.
  • Once this is done, you can start typing your examples in the generative search bar.

To begin with, you can type your desired search content and generative AI will display relevant results.

For instance, if you search “how to make a paper plate mask” generative AI will break down the result in an easy-to-understand manner.

Google generative AI search

As seen in the above image, generative AI search displays a list of instructions on making a paper plate mask. There are web pages (on the right side) to help you with in-depth content. Besides, individual links are also available when you click the blue drop-down icon.

We know that generative AI is not only about providing meaningful information but letting you immerse into an interactive search experience. This is possible as it displays logical follow-up of questions trying to shed meticulous detail about your search intent.

So coming back to the above example, generative AI displays relevant follow-up questions like ”how do you make paper plates?”, “how do you make a paper mache mask?”, etc. You can also type your individual question in the “ask the follow-up tab”.

generative AI follow up

Another interesting fact is that generative AI will also aid you in enhancing your shopping experience. If you’re planning to buy a home speaker and want to know important factors to be considered before purchasing, you can ask generative AI to assist you through this process.

generative search shopping

Adding further, it lists down several parameters like sound quality, size, cost, frequency, etc each embedded with a relevant link.

Google AI search shopping

This clearly shows that generative AI not only guides you with explanatory contextual topics but also strives to improve your shopping experience by letting you unveil potential factors to consider before committing your valuable investment to a product.

From these observations, we can understand that generative AI search extracts data from top-performing web pages and aggregates them into a snapshot of data. This means Google blends generative content with traditional search results and does not completely replace search by AI.

To sum up the key highlights, generative AI helps you with:

  • simplification of complicated topics
  • delivering super-fast and conversational search experience
  • providing tailored or personalized results based on user input
  • allowing you to discover a wide range of factors while shopping

I hope you’ve got a clear idea of how generative AI search works. Generative search provides astonishing results within a blink of an eye. However, this also leads to the following speculations:

  • With AI search data covered in a snapshot will it impact organic rankings?
  • Though links are embedded alongside the results will users click and read them?
  • How can brands try to cope up with paid advertising?

More about that in the next section.

Now let’s come to the first question — will generative search impact organic rankings? This question has a mixed set of opinions based on expert’s assumptions and statistics.

According to insight partners, generative search contributes to a decline in search traffic in the range of 15–25%. Since the results are displayed in summarized versions the likelihood of people navigating to the content below fold might decrease.

On the other hand, some people will still need in-depth content. So there are high chances that they will navigate to multiple web pages for additional information other than those presented in AI snippets.

So organic clicks or rankings based on SGE have both benefits and downsides.

In terms of paid advertising, generative search might contribute to less visibility. As per sources, SGE pages account for fewer ads compared to conventional ads (1.2 vs 2.4 ads).

However, Google is also testing AI-powered ads, so until we get a final rollout it’s not possible to conclude based on assumptions.

Considering these potential impacts, brands must try adapting to merge with generative AI search. This will be a challenging process but to diversify search trends with AI, brands must optimize their SEO strategies. Some important points include:

  • Implementing relevant long-tail search keywords
  • Structured content to improve readability — direct headings and clear answers
  • Try to include semantic keywords as SGE can better surface your content for relevant searches
  • Add rich text and multimedia
  • Focus on updating your content to active trends as SGE prioritizes fresh data

The future of SGE on SEO — is it a game-changer or a threat?

The answer is both but the ratio might differ.

Google’s SGE involves complexities and will be highly competitive. I also believe that Google is striving to improve the search algorithm and will not diminish the reach of content creators or brands as they contribute to delivering outstanding content. This forms the primary base for Google.

So having this in mind what is the need of the hour?

As a marketer, you can invest more time in researching how SGE can help in optimizing your brand’s SEO strategy. Focus on creating valuable content in simple and natural language that meets your user intent.

Overall the ground search is evolving and the way we consume information is set to experience a great paradigm shift.

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