On May 10, 2023, Google announced its plan to reimagine the traditional search experience using generative AI. The new search, called Search Generative Experience (SGE), has generated a lot of excitement and curiosity among users and industry experts alike. While this technological advancement promises to revolutionize the way we search for information, it also raises concerns about the potential impact on SEO rankings and website traffic.
In this article, we will explore the key features of SGE, understand how it differs from the current Google SERP layout, and discuss the potential implications for your blog’s SEO ranking. We will also provide some actionable tips on how to prepare for the upcoming changes and optimize your blog to adapt to the SGE rollout.
Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) is an exciting development that promises to revolutionize the search experience using AI technology. However, it also raises concerns about the potential impact on SEO rankings and website traffic. In this article, we will explore the key features of SGE and discuss the implications for your blog’s SEO ranking. We will provide actionable tips on how to optimize your blog for the upcoming changes.
Here are six takeaways to remember:
- Interactive AI-powered snippet: SGE introduces an interactive snippet at the top of the SERP, providing an answer to the user’s query and links to corroborating websites.
- Variety in snippet appearance: The snippet’s appearance varies depending on the query, including background colors, images, maps, and more, adding visual diversity to the SERP.
- Source attribution challenges: SGE often fails to provide clear attribution and clickable links, leading to a potential loss of traffic and difficulty in verifying information.
- Potential for confusing or false information: SGE may generate inaccurate or misleading responses, highlighting the need for ongoing improvements and training of the AI model.
- Potential impact on SEO rankings: The introduction of AI snippets and changes to SERP features may require SEO specialists to reassess strategies and monitor keyword rankings.
- Prepare for SGE rollout: Gain access to SGE, analyze SERPs for focus queries, optimize for relevance, improve source attribution, monitor rankings and traffic, and stay adaptable as Google refines SGE.
By following these takeaways, you can prepare your blog for the SGE rollout and position yourself for success in this new era of search.
Key Features of SGE
- Interactive AI-powered snippet: The most significant change in the SGE is the introduction of an interactive AI-powered snippet at the top of the SERP. This snippet provides an answer to the user’s query and includes a carousel of websites that were used to corroborate the response. The snippet may take a few seconds to generate a response as the AI algorithms are at work.
- Variety in snippet appearance: The snippet’s appearance varies depending on the type of query. It can include different background colors, images, product photos and descriptions, a list of relevant sites, maps, quotes from GBP (Google Business Profile), and more. The textual answer can be formatted as a paragraph or bullet list.
- Follow-up questions: Users have the option to ask follow-up questions within the snippet. Sometimes, the snippet already includes ready-made follow-up ideas, while other times, users can hit the “Ask a follow up” button to continue the conversation.
- Limited availability and eligibility: Currently, SGE is only available in English for users based in the US. Eligible users can gain access through the Search Labs, Google’s dedicated testing environment introduced on May 10, 2023. Search Labs allows users to provide feedback directly to Google teams working on the tested products.
How SGE Differs from Current SERP Layout
The introduction of SGE brings significant changes to the traditional Google SERP layout.
Here are some key differences:
- AI-powered snippet: The most notable change is the inclusion of an AI-powered snippet at the top of the SERP. This snippet provides an interactive and dynamic response to the user’s query, including links to corroborating websites.
- Variety in snippet appearance: The appearance of the snippet varies depending on the type of query. It can include different background colors, images, product photos and descriptions, maps, and more. This adds visual diversity to the SERP layout.
- Separation of ads and AI snippet: Currently, Google Ads and other SERP features like featured snippets or People Also Ask boxes coexist with the AI snippet but are separate from it. In the future, ads will be integrated into AI-generated snippets, and redundant SERP features may be removed.
- Selective generation of AI snippets: Not all search queries trigger an AI-generated snippet. Navigational queries, quick answers, sensitive queries, news and current events.
SERP Results and Source Attribution
One of the challenges with SGE is the issue of source attribution. Unlike Bing, which clearly indicates the sources of the cited information, SGE often fails to provide clear attribution. This can lead to confusion and make it difficult for users to verify the accuracy of the information presented in the AI snippet.
Additionally, SGE doesn’t consistently include links to the mentioned websites, products, or services. This lack of clickable links can result in a poor user experience and may lead to a loss of traffic for websites mentioned in the AI snippets. SEO specialists are concerned about the impact this may have on their website’s visibility and click-through rates.
Confusing or False Information
As with any AI system, there is always a risk of generating confusing or false information. SGE is not exempt from this. There have been instances where the AI snippet provided inaccurate or misleading information. For example, recommending boiling eggs for an excessive amount of time or providing irrelevant responses to user queries.
SGE also struggles with understanding user intent accurately. It may provide generic information instead of specific answers, or it may offer advice on sensitive topics without clearly stating that it is not medical, financial, or legal advice. These issues highlight the need for ongoing improvements and training of the AI model to ensure reliable and helpful information is provided to users.
Rollout and Potential Impact
Google has not officially announced the full-scale rollout date for SGE, but based on information from the Search Labs, it is projected to be completed by December 2023. As the rollout progresses, it is important for SEO specialists and bloggers to understand the potential impact on their SEO ranking and website traffic.
Here are some potential implications of the SGE rollout:
- Local businesses: Local businesses may benefit from increased visibility in SGE. The SERP layout for local searches resembles the Local Pack and may feature up to five listings, compared to the traditional three in non-AI search results.
- Ecommerce retailers: Ecommerce businesses that effectively manage their product feeds and utilize structured data may have an opportunity to be featured in the free product listings within AI snippets. However, it is important to note that SGE may prioritize reviews from users and smaller players over brand manufacturer websites.
- Blogs covering informational queries: Blogs that provide answers to informational queries may experience a decline in traffic. With SGE, users can obtain the necessary information directly from the AI snippet without clicking on any links. To adapt to this change, bloggers should focus on providing highly relevant and comprehensive content that goes beyond what is presented in the snippet.
- Implications for SEO ranking: The introduction of AI snippets and potential changes to SERP features like featured snippets may require SEO specialists to reassess their strategies. It is crucial to monitor how SGE affects rankings for target keywords and adapt content accordingly.
Preparing for the SGE Rollout
As Google continues to refine and expand SGE, it is essential for SEO specialists and bloggers to prepare for the upcoming changes. Here are some actionable tips to optimize your blog for SGE:
- Gain access to SGE: If you are eligible, try to gain access to SGE through Search Labs or by using a proxy or VPN. This will allow you to explore and understand how your blog’s content appears in AI snippets and make necessary adjustments.
- Analyze SERPs for focus queries: Analyze how the new SERPs look for your focus queries and identify patterns in snippet structure and content from top-ranking websites within the snippet. This analysis can help you understand the new ranking principles and incorporate relevant information into your content.
- Optimize for relevance: Focus on providing highly relevant and comprehensive content that goes beyond what is presented in the AI snippet. Offer unique perspectives, additional insights, and actionable advice that cannot be easily replaced by the snippet.
- Improve source attribution: Clearly attribute the sources of information in your blog posts by providing proper citations and references. This can enhance your credibility and increase the chances of being included in AI-generated snippets.
- Optimize structured data: If you have an ecommerce blog, optimize your structured data markup to increase the chances of being featured in the free product listings within AI snippets. Pay attention to user reviews and feedback, as AI heavily relies on this information.
- Monitor rankings and traffic: Continuously monitor how SGE affects your SEO rankings and website traffic. Stay updated on any changes or improvements Google makes to SGE and adjust your strategies accordingly.
- Adapt and iterate: The SGE rollout is an ongoing process, and adjustments will be necessary as Google refines the system. Stay adaptable, analyze user feedback, and iterate your approach to ensure your blog remains visible and competitive in the new search landscape.
Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) represents a significant shift in the traditional search experience, powered by generative AI technology. While there is excitement surrounding this technological advancement, there are also concerns about its impact on SEO rankings and website traffic.
Understanding the key features of SGE, such as interactive AI-powered snippets, variety in snippet appearance, and limitations of source attribution, is crucial for SEO specialists and bloggers. Adapting your content strategy, optimizing for relevance, improving source attribution, and monitoring rankings and traffic will help you navigate the changes brought about by SGE.
As Google continues to refine SGE and expand its availability, staying informed and proactive will be essential for maintaining visibility and competitiveness in search results. By preparing your blog for the SGE rollout, you can position yourself for success in this new era of search.