What is Google Search Generative Experience (SGE)?
Google Search Generative Experience (SGE) is an experiment currently being run by Google in their Search Labs department. SGE is a test consisting of cutting-edge forms of artificial intelligence (AI) which is capable of creating content which is directly relevant to the input search term. The AI used in SGE uses data compiled from the millions of websites currently available on the internet.
Google’s official announcement of SGE states that the underlying goal of the project is to redefine search experiences, making them more relevant and personalized.
The use of AI in search results is not a new concept, as Google has been using highly specialized Artificial Intelligence models to serve search results and advertisements to users for many years. However, SGE is unlike anything seen before, as rather than using AI to find relevant websites and results, it uses AI to generate a direct response to a user’s query. For example, if a user was to search “best electric car for long range journeys”, SGE would give a list of recommendations as a response, alongside the usual list of relevant websites.
Why is SGE important for SEO?
It is important to consider the potential impacts of SGE on your website’s SEO due to the fact that, as with many Search Engine Result Page (SERP) and algorithm changes, it presents both an array of risks and opportunities. Google has introduced SGE as a way of keeping searches within its ecosystem while at the same time providing its users with more personalized experiences.
In the past, the introduction of new features onto the SERP has caused no end of issues, and a recent example of this is the introduction of knowledge cards. In 2012, Google added knowledge cards to the SERP, these cards, which were designed to provide quick access to information, pulled relevant information from web pages, displaying the information for the user with a link to the contents source. Once introduced, knowledge cards caused a worrying increase in zero-click searches, however content creators have since begun optimizing their content for knowledge cards, meaning their websites show up more often.
SGE takes up a large portion of the SERP page, taking up lots of vertical space which would often be used for paid advertisements. This shows how important the feature is to google, as they do not often interfere with paid advertisements. This prioritization of AI shows that Google is slowly moving away from keyword focussed content, and now has its sights on long-tail, conversational search terms, which means they can offer a more personalized experience.
How does SGE affect your website traffic?
Since SGE offers much more information than a traditional Google SERP, it will become increasingly more common that searches will start and end without the user having to leave the Google domain. For simple searches (finding general information), the SGE snapshot may be able to provide all required info, meaning the user will not have to go through the listed websites and find the information themselves, resulting in massively reduced web traffic and lower Click Through Rate (CTR).
However, it could also be argued that the use of SGE can help websites rank much higher. If your website content is optimized for SGE, it may feature in SGE results, meaning your website may have an increase in traffic. Appearing in SGE can also help position your website as a trustworthy source of information, generating more traffic for more specific and specialized search queries.
How to optimize your website’s content for SGE
Prioritize content quality and domain authority
Once SGE becomes a go-to tool for information searches, even the highest ranking and most feature rich SERP pages will experience a sharp decline in their click-through rate (CTR)as more and more search engine users will experience no-click searches (searches where a user does not have to click onto an external resource).
Domain authority will always be a crucial metric, as it provides search engines with a numerical representation of a website’s credibility, and with the increase of dangerous and malicious websites on the rise, having credibility is extremely important. Domain Authority was developed by Moz, and is determined by multiple important factors, such as the quality and quantity of backlinks pointing to a website.
Google holds domain authority in high regards, considering websites with a good authority score trustworthy and authoritative, often leading to higher ranks in SERPs. When it comes to SGE, Google will likely only serve data to customers that comes from trustworthy sources, and a good authority score will be a great way to achieve that.
Domain authority is also useful for establishing a website’s reputation in its industry. Websites with higher domain authority scores are often viewed as reliable sources of information.
Optimize for long-tail and conversational speech
Another way in which Google SGE will impact search results is the way in which people search for content. When searching with AI, a user is more likely to use long tail, conversational keywords to get a more specific personalized answer. This makes optimizing a website for SEO much more difficult as people will not search for as many specific keywords, instead choosing to get a more accurate, personalized answer.
However, this can be used to your advantage, as if your content gets featured in SGE, you will draw more traffic. For example, if you run a car blog with lots of specific information about a car, and a user searches for specific information regarding that car, SGE may choose to feature your website, increasing CTR.
Cluster related content
As SGE emphasizes a comprehensive understanding of content, clustering content takes the centre stage for websites seeking higher click through rates and visibility. By grouping related posts and pages around pillar topics, you can show the Google search algorithm and SGE how your website’s content fits together.
SGE also prioritizes personalized content, and as the web evolves, the use of AI and SGE could potentially phase out keyword searches, instead allowing users to find websites and information through the use of conversational chatbots.
How you can leverage SGE for your website
SGE is like having a co-pilot helping you navigate the web. It learns your preferences and recommends content based on those preferences, while only providing accurate and relevant information. To leverage SGE for your advantage, there are many steps that can be taken, however the main ones include grouping your content, breaking down large topics into smaller chunks, and linking related articles and pages in your topic clusters.