When people so much as picture the concept of a search engine, it’s Google that comes immediately to mind, and with good reason. Since its founding in September 1998, Google has been setting the standard to beat when it comes to online search technology.
Google’s now-famous algorithm was what originally gave it an edge over the competition and led it to market dominance. Today, search engine optimization is all about finding ways to better please that algorithm and attain higher SERP rankings as a result.
But algorithms and search engines change. And now, Google has officially thrown its hat into the AI-powered search ring with its brand-new Search Generative Experience (or SGE for short). But what is Search Generative Experience, and what might it mean for the future of SEO?
What Is Search Generative Experience?
Google has technically been part of the current generative AI craze for a while. In early 2023, the search engine giant announced Bard, its own answer to the wildly popular ChatGPT. Like ChatGPT, Bard delivers AI-powered answers of all kinds to users everywhere.
However, while Search Generative Experience has some similarities to Bard, it’s really its own animal.
At present, Google SGE is an AI-powered feature added to the Google Search interface that everyone already knows and loves. It leverages the power of cutting-edge generative AI technology to enhance search results, offer handy SERP overviews, and streamline the process of browsing the web.
So far, users who’ve opted to try Google SGE can:
- Access overviews of a search topic at a glance, conveniently displayed near the top of the SERP
- Quickly identify the portions of a webpage that are most relevant to their question
- Explore new ways of posing questions to Google, similar to what’s already possible with ChatGPT, Bing Chat, or Google Bard
Sometimes, SGE automatically generates an AI-powered overview of the searched topic. Other times, a “generate” button appears at the top of the SERP instead, allowing the user to decide if they’d like to view it.
Currently, Search Generative Experience is available to English-speaking U.S. users via both the iOS and Android versions of the Google Search app, as well as the desktop version of Google Chrome. These users can choose to give Google SGE a try by manually enabling it.
How Can Google’s SGE Impact SEO?
As it’s still very much in its experimental stages, no one can say for sure exactly how Google SGE will change SEO. But as is the case with every change to the iconic Google Search, another round of big changes is surely just ahead. Here’s a closer look at some of the possibilities.
SGE might make it harder to rank for standard question-based keywords
As with other recently introduced Google SERP features (like Rich Snippets, to name just one), Search Generative Experience’s primary purpose is to streamline search results and make it easier to answer questions.
As with chatbot solutions like ChatGPT or recent versions of Google Bard, SGE SERP snapshots present the user with a lot of information. But these snapshots are significantly more informative than Rich Snippets, so it may be possible for those seeking simple answers to common questions to get what they need without ever clicking on a SERP result.
This will likely make it much harder to rank for question-based keywords, or at least that will be the case when the questions are simple.
Achieving a top SERP ranking will become more important
Although achieving the highest SERP ranking possible has always been important, digital marketers can expect it to matter even more now that SGE is part of the mix. Currently, the top three to five results can appear as part of a generated AI snapshot—something that would be pretty advantageous if one of them were yours.
In the future, SEO goals may shift from achieving a traditional top-five result to making it into an SGE snapshot, as this offers superior visibility. This goal would be critical in instances where the snapshot adequately answers the user’s question, effectively eliminating the need to scroll further.
Watch for search intent to also become more important
Understanding user intent has been a critical part of crafting an effective SEO campaign for a while now. But with SGE around, it’s likely to become more important still.
So far, the generated snapshots are really nailing this, with any featured links being similar or identical to the highest-ranking SERP results. However, a high authority rank also seems to increase the likelihood of a site earning a snapshot-inclusive recommendation.
SEO pros, digital marketers, and brand owners alike should prepare to focus more intently on both factors if they’re serious about staying on top as Search Generative Experience continues to evolve.
Adapting Your SEO Strategy to an AI-Driven Future
Although Search Generative Experience is the AI-powered solution on everyone’s lips at the moment, it’s far from being the only one that digital marketers should think about.
AI interfaces like ChatGPT, Bard, and others are here to stay. And they can all be incredible assets if you craft your SEO strategies accordingly. Here are some key tactics to try as you move forward.
Use AI to brainstorm topics and format content
As impressive as it is that programs like ChatGPT can craft entire blog posts or articles in seconds, human writers still have the edge here by a landslide. After all, an AI bot can’t speak from hands-on experience, and the results are still highly prone to serious factual errors.
However, AI can easily take the guesswork out of tasks like brainstorming topics for your content creation campaign. It can also really streamline the process of drafting outlines to work from. Just be sure to choose a trusted tool like Rock Content’s AI Content Wizard for the best results.
Supercharge your keyword research sessions with AI
As with topic brainstorming, AI can take a lot of the tedium and time out of tasks like finding the right keywords for your campaign. It’s all about knowing how to approach an AI-powered keyword research session to get what you want out of it.
Start by supplying a conversational AI tool like ChatGPT or Bard with basic information about your business and asking for some suggestions. You can also try providing examples of keywords you’re already targeting and requesting additional suggestions.
Just be sure to confirm search numbers and data for your choices before adding them to your ongoing SEO strategy.
Ensure you really know your audience
Remember, understanding search intent is already incredibly important for SEO. However, Search Generative Experience is likely going to make this even more the case. That said, every digital marketer should make absolutely certain they’re not sleeping on any aspect of truly knowing their target audience.
Conduct continuous research on your target demographics, as well as any demographics you might be interested in tapping in the future. Stay in the know regarding topics that are important to them. Use tools like buyer personas to help your content creation team connect with your ideal customer’s mindset, as well.
Be sure to communicate regularly and directly with your actual readers and customers. Engage with them on social media, and incentivize them to complete satisfaction surveys. Ask them for suggestions that you can implement (or at least seriously consider).
Use AI to refine existing content
Tools like ChatGPT can also provide excellent ways to improve or reassess some of the content you already have. Examples of how to use AI like ChatGPT to refine content include (but aren’t necessarily limited to) the following:
- Ask the AI to suggest awesome synonyms and antonyms for common words
- Request help fleshing out great ideas—as with asking for suggestions on additional subheadings to add to a listicle for a content refresh
- Explore language suggestions that could help make your content more persuasive, engaging, or relevant to your chosen tone
- Come up with great topic ideas for follow-up content
ChatGPT and similar options can help you proofread your writing and ensure it’s perfect, as well.
Level up when it comes to content quality
With or without tools like Google SGE on the scene, content quality and originality will always be vitally important. Yes, it’s important now. But in the future, it needs to be able to deliver more than tools like Search Generative Experience snapshots can on their own, so work on leveling up now.
Remember, focusing on unique, intent-aligned content will boost your probability of appearing as a snapshot suggestion. And the better the content, the more likely a search user will be to click through and check it out instead of simply reading the snapshot result and moving on.
If you’re not already using skilled freelance writers and content creators to ensure your content is everything it should be, now is a great time to start. Consider signing up for an account on an elite marketplace like WriterAccess to ensure that you’re connecting with the vetted, experienced writers your website deserves.
WriterAccess even leverages the power of AI to help match you with the ideal writers for your project!
With the way AI-powered tools like Google’s Search Generative Experience have exploded onto the scene, it’s understandable that many digital marketers aren’t quite sure what to make of them yet. But when used wisely and properly combined with human ingenuity, AI can really help your brand ascend to the next level.
Take the first step into the future today when you try WriterAccess free for two weeks. You’ll love the way the right writers and creators help you supercharge your SEO strategy!