When Google sneezes, SEO gets a cold. This is why the optimization world is as concerned about the looming Search Generation Experience that the megalith has been working on since early 2023. Here’s what you need to know about the coming changes.
What is Google’s SGE?
“As AI tools become more embedded in our daily lives, Google has decided to undertake and implement more AI-driven searching into its user experience,” says Stephan Marais, Head of SEO at Somebody Digital. “What this means is that users’ searches will be supplemented by generative AI, designed to help them understand a topic, and make a decision faster.”
Google has spent many years perfecting the art of search for its users and using generative AI to provide rapid answers and context for queries is the next logical step. “The idea behind SGE is to help users connect the dots faster on a subject they are searching. For example, if they are trying to decide between purchasing two cars, SGE will serve up quickly digestible answers, like features, pricing, and maintenance plans, to help them become better informed faster,” notes Stephan.
What does SGE mean for SEO agencies and technical SEO services?
Consultant SEO services are always working around Google updates and algorithm changes, and SGE will be no exception. “What is interesting about generative AI, is that provides potential for those not ranking in the top 10 on Google’s home page to appear as links in SGE responses,” notes Stephan.
The testing phase for SGE has been extended, and Google continues to research and refine the process. It’s currently only available for users in the States but is said to be rolling out to India and Japan in the next phase.
“As an SEO, it’s important to sign up for the trial and begin testing SGE, so that you can get a feel for how it answers queries and serves up information, and then apply your findings to how you do SEO for clients,” notes Stephan.
While PPC agencies will get new ad formats, SEO companies will need to add SGE strategies into their current processes.
Another suggestion Stephan provides is to continue to abide by the sacred principle of EEAT. “By continuing to provide factually correct and useful information, along with managing technical search engine optimisation on sites, a website should still be rewarded with good SERP rankings.”
At the same time, considering user intent and how users ask questions (for example, using voice search) should also be factored into any SEO service impacted by SGE.
Good SEO Never dies
“AI is transforming everything we do; in our SEO agency, we’ve long been making use of available AI tools to streamline processes and perfect keyword research. SGE presents another opportunity for us to learn how we can optimise content for our clients so that they can reach the audience they’re looking for with their content, services, and products,” Stephan concludes.
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1. How does Google SGE work?
SGE uses a large language model (like PaLM 2) to generate AI-powered snapshots of key information relevant to a user's query. It offers an AI snapshot at the top of the search engine results page (SERP), allowing users to interact with the AI to get quick answers or follow-up queries. SGE doesn't entirely replace traditional search results but supplements them, providing a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the query. It also retains the context of original queries, allowing users to modify their search without retyping the terms.
2. What are the key features and implications of SGE?
Personalization and Adaptability: SGE personalizes search results based on user behavior and preferences, continuously evolving from user interactions. Unlike traditional search engines that rely on static algorithms, SGE is dynamic and adapts in real time.
Interactive Exploration: It offers an interactive exploration of content, enhancing user engagement with search results.
Impact on SEO and Websites: SGE could significantly affect organic discoverability, as it provides answers directly on the SERP, potentially reducing the need for users to click through to external sites. This change necessitates a shift in SEO strategies, focusing on creating content that aligns with user intent and leverages natural language.
3. How can businesses and websites adapt to SGE?
Optimize for Natural Language: With SGE's emphasis on understanding natural language, businesses must optimize their content accordingly, using conversational language and long-tail keywords.
Diversify Content Types: Given SGE's ability to process various content types (text, images, videos), diversifying content is beneficial.
Stay Agile with SEO Strategies: As SGE evolves, SEO strategies should be flexible, focusing on user-centric content that aligns with diverse search intents.
Utilize Analytics: Monitoring performance through analytics tools and adjusting strategies based on user interaction and engagement metrics is essential.