Preparing for Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE)

The Importance of Online Reputation Management in the Digital Age

Have you noticed the evolution in the appearance of Google search results over the past few years? In the early days of internet searches, results would typically comprise a list of websites and advertisements. However, in recent years, there has been a noticeable shift. Nowadays, Google provides users with comprehensive information directly on its platform in response to their searches, followed by ads and links to pertinent websites. This transformation is integral to the development of Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE), a concept that’s been in play for some time now and poses ongoing challenges to brands. As Google continues to refine and implement the SGE, it becomes increasingly crucial for companies and marketers to grasp its nature and implications for our strategies.

What Is Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE)?

Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) utilizes generative AI to provide users with more informative and relevant search results. Usually, we would go through a list of features; however, with SGE, it’s best that you experience it to understand its capabilities so that you can see both the possibilities and the challenges it presents. So, open another tab for Google and click on the Flask icon at the top right of the screen. Select “SGE, generative AI in Search” and “SGE while browsing.” 

Once you’ve turned both of those on, search for a keyword related to either your industry or something that you’re interested in. For example, you might search “interior design near me,” “home care in my area,” or “What is a black hole?”. If it doesn’t give you the AI-generated search results, you will see a button that says “Generate.” Click that button (this is more likely to happen with keyword-based searches rather than questions like “What is a black hole?”). 

For our search of interior design, Google showed us several designers in our area, with short descriptions of the company and services. Below are the local business results, followed by promoted searches and organic search results. Importantly, under the AI-generated results was another search option for “Follow Up.” We asked two follow-up questions: How do I choose an interior designer? And Who is the best interior designer in my area?

The first question gave us generated information about choosing a decorator, followed by links, like what you might get if you search that question on Google without SGE. The second question, however, was interesting. When we asked, “Who is the best interior designer in my area?” and clicked the button to generate the AI results, Google took the list of designers that it initially provided to us and ordered them by their Google ranking. 

What Does SGE Mean for SEO and Content Strategies?

Now that we’ve explored how SGE works, you see both its potential for users and its challenges for marketers and brands. From a user perspective, this tool is exciting, as users can get more information and ask follow-up questions without losing or resetting all their search results. For brands, however, it means that we have some things to watch out for. 

We didn’t talk about the black hole question, but it does illustrate something important: SEO is going to change, and SEO keywords may hold less weight. In our search, Google’s SGE returned an answer summarizing what black holes are and presented an image from NBC News. While other more relevant links, such as to NASA, are present, the image and its embedded link are more likely to draw clicks. Why did NBC feature more prominently than NASA or other scientific sources? Part of that could be because SGE is still in the early stages. Part of it could be because, 

  • Clear and concise is key: While NBC News is a high-value source in general as a major news site with already high SEO, the content in question is written in clear and concise language, asking and answering the question relevant to the search in question. While in the future, we may see a scientific journal or other space-related site in place of NBC News, the sites that will feature here will be the ones that an AI can read information from quickly and easily because it is written in a way that is informative and non-ambiguous. 
  • Content balances informative and engaging: The NBC article SGE linked for us name-dropped Doctor Who, Interstellar, Star Trek, and Einstein, all topics that people interested in black holes are likely to also be interested in. While not directly relevant to the question “What is a black hole?” (well, Einstein is relevant), their presence indicates to an AI trained to look for it that the article will draw on examples and allusions that a reader will find entertaining and engaging. 

While SGE is still early in its development, experimenting with it has shown us some important things to keep in mind as the technology develops. 

  • Keywords are helpful but will take a back seat to content and source reliability.
  • Relevant images with informative alternative text for AI to read are important.
  • Information must be concise and presented unambiguously so that an AI can read, understand, and relay information accurately.
  • For businesses that rely on local consumers, reputation management and Google reviews will be very important.

Are You Ready for Google’s Search Generative Experience?

Media Components can help you prepare for SGE and other emerging AI technologies. Whether you’re an entrepreneur starting out, a small business, or a large company, we have digital marketing solutions we can tailor to your needs. Contact us today.