With AI having a big moment this year, it was only a matter of time before Google got in on the act and showed their hand, and they did so back in May. Wanting to “supercharge search”, Google announced that they were “reimagining what a search engine can do”. Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) aims to completely change the way people search and find information using generative AI.
As there is lots to take in, here we’ll look at four parts of Google SGE you’ll want to know. The promise and potential of this new era of Search are huge, so whether you’re a site owner, tech enthusiast, or simply someone keen on staying informed about what’s happening, it’s going to be big and may need websites to rethink their approach to SEO in the long-term. So, let’s see where the future of search is planning to go.
For decades, Google has been on a relentless quest to redefine the way we search for information. From BERT to MUM, a model 1,000 times more powerful than BERT, these innovations have consistently elevated the quality of search results, enabling users to explore topics with ease. MUM’s mastery of over 75 different languages and a wide range of tasks has expanded Google’s capabilities significantly.
Google Search Generative Experience (SGE) is the next stage of their ambition, experimenting with the capabilities of generative AI within Search. Generative AI has immense potential, aiming to bring users a more immersive and efficient search experience. This phase is set to redefine the way we interact with digital information, promising a future of smarter, more intuitive search results. This of course means an impact on other results that appear in the SERPs, with generative AI taking up more ‘real estate’ on these pages at the top. It’s led to theories that SGE may impact organic traffic by up to 30%, but this remains to be seen.
User behaviour could change dramatically. If they can get all the answers they need from the generative AI response, this may mean they will not need to click anywhere else. In the same way that Featured Snippets provide a quick snapshot, generative AI is this but supercharged, giving users an AI-powered snapshot with much more information. It will even show definitions of certain words and phrases when hovered over for even more context. Users will be able to ‘converse’ with SGE to ask follow-up questions, or click on the suggested other questions, similar to People Also Ask queries that appear on the SERPs currently.
family holiday, SGE is designed to provide thoughtful, well-rounded responses.
Getting Quick Insights – SGE provides a snapshot of key information on a topic, enabling users to grasp the essentials quickly. This snapshot is accompanied by links to related, in-depth results, so you can choose to explore further or get a swift overview, depending on your needs. This also includes ‘perspectives’ where you can choose to see user-generated content (UGC) related to the query too.
Streamlining Tasks – If you’re in a hurry to complete a task, SGE can help you get started without delay. Whether you’re crafting drafts or generating visual content, SGE is there to assist, right from your search results page, without the need for the use of another AI tool.
Easy Progression and Exploration – As mentioned, SGE enables conversational follow-ups, allowing you to refine your queries or explore new parts of your topic without the need to reiterate your context. As you delve deeper into your search for whatever it may be, SGE maintains context continuity, ensuring a seamless exploration experience. It also provides a diverse range of web content and perspectives, providing a richer and more engaging information journey.
SGE capabilities open the door to complex, more dynamic, informative, and user-friendly results. Google is aiming to be the all-in-one destination users need for any query. This potentially means that whilst this may take some organic traffic away, it could lead to directing more quality leads to your site – if your site is featured within its answers for offering a certain product or service.
While SGE represents a significant advancement in the world of search, it raises questions about Google’s commitment to responsibility and user safety. We already know that AI can hallucinate and sometimes provide inaccurate answers or bias, so Google recognises the transformative power of generative AI and is determined to wield it carefully.
SGE aims to alleviate these challenges by applying existing Search quality systems and emphasising the importance of high-quality, reliable information. It will also remind users that “Generative AI is experimental. Info quality may vary” at the top of the generated answer as a disclaimer.
As a trusted source of information for millions of people, Google remains committed to delivering reliable and high-quality results. This will mean special attention is still given to topics in the YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) category with Google SGE, where people rely on accurate information for critical decisions, such as finance or health. It could also mean that, for now, generative AI results for some searches will come up blank or not be available.
It will also still ensure that SGE complies with Google’s policies for content, ensuring that explicit, hateful, violent, or controversial topics are handled with care. Google is working to make image generation safe by filtering out images that contravene their policies, indicating when images are AI-generated, and watermarking images invisibly.
It will also aim to strike a balance between providing fluid, conversational responses and maintaining information quality. While maintaining a conversational style is vital for user trust, SGE will prioritise the facts, ensuring that responses are accurate and supported by reliable sources.
SGE aims to deliver a safer, more accurate, and trustworthy search experience, all while innovating and learning from user feedback along the way.
Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) is not only a game-changer for users but also holds significant implications for existing marketing strategies. Google wants to be the main destination for people to find the answers they need, evolving into an all-in-one package that keeps users with them. Marketers and businesses are bound to feel the ripples of this innovation. Here’s how SGE could impact marketing efforts in the foreseeable future:
Content Optimisation and SEO – SGE’s enhanced understanding of context and the ability to answer complex queries means that businesses must tailor their content to match user intent more precisely. As highlighted in the Helpful Content Update, content needs to be highly user-focused and not just written to please the bots. Marketers will need to invest in content that addresses user needs directly and provide in-depth, authoritative information.
Featured Snippets and Position Zero – The race to secure the coveted ‘Position Zero’ on Google Search will only intensify. With SGE’s AI-powered snapshots providing succinct, informative overviews, businesses will want to capture this prime real estate. Crafting content that is eligible for featured snippets may become a crucial SEO tactic to ensure visibility and generate organic traffic.
Voice Search Optimisation – As voice search continues to gain momentum, SGE’s conversational capabilities will play a pivotal role in shaping voice search results. Marketers will need to optimise their content for voice queries, focusing on natural language and providing comprehensive answers to user questions.
Greater Emphasis on Brand Authority – SGE’s ability to verify information with reliable sources will put a premium on brand authority. Businesses will need to establish themselves as trusted sources of information within their respective niches. Building authority will not only enhance SEO but also bolster user confidence in a brand’s expertise.
Evolving Paid Advertising – Search ads won’t disappear with SGE, so paid advertising will continue to be a key aspect of online marketing. With SGE’s role in shaping search results, advertisers will adapt their strategies to align with this. The effectiveness of ads will depend on their ability to complement the user’s search journey seamlessly.
SGE’s impact on marketing is set to be profound, but it’s early days so far. All businesses and marketers can do is stay agile and adapt strategies to fit the changing search landscape. By focusing on helpful content, businesses can position themselves effectively in the generative AI era and connect with users in a more meaningful way. With Google SGE still only in the testing phase in the US, with Japan and India added back in August, we wait to see when we can expect UK availability and when the full roll-out will be.
Please visit our blog for further insights, and if you are concerned with the impact Google SGE may bring to your organic traffic and performance, why not reach out to the team today and contact us.