Google's New AI SGE Revolutionizes Search Results and Impacts SEO

Ardalan Salam, VP, Data & Technology, 06.01.23

06.01.23 Ardalan Salam, VP, Data & Technology

Introduction to Google's Search Generative Experience

Google has begun rolling out its new AI feature, the Search Generative Experience (SGE). This feature expands Google's search capabilities by generating concise summaries of complex information, providing users with a streamlined, information-rich experience. SGE is intended to make Google Search smarter, faster, and more accurate in dealing with complex queries in a way that helps users navigate sprawling, and often overwhelming, search results.

How does Google's SGE work?

SGE provides a visual summary of a search result using a carousel-like format. Users can navigate through the carousel to quickly get a sense of the information available. Each carousel item, or 'card,' contains a concise summary of information derived from multiple sources.

SGE uses a generative AI model to curate and present information in a simplified,intuitive manner. Unlike Google's current rich results, which typically display a brief preview of webpage content, SGE synthesizes information from multiple sources, creating a more comprehensive and informative output. This lets Google provide richer and more detailed search results, prioritizing the user experience.

How is SGE different from Google's Bard AI?

Google's SGE is not the typical Bard-like AI chat-bot many observers expect it to be (that is, it's not like Microsoft's Bing AI bot integration). Although Google's AI search results look similar to responses from its standalone Bard AI, the two are quite different. While Bard, like most AI chatbots, aims to primarily create "original content," Google's SGE does what one would expect a search engine to do — it aggregates content. The majority of search results from Google's Search Generative Experience are near word-for-word copies of selected sources.

Although Google has branded this as an entirely new feature, it is similar to Google's featured snippets, which have been around for years. Essentially, Google's SGE is an upgraded version of featured snippets with the additional capabilities to maintain context and aggregate results from multiple web sources rather than one.

Source of Authenticity & Brand Visibility

To maintain the integrity and credibility of the information generated by SGE, Google has incorporated a robust citation system. Each card in the carousel includes a "Sources" link which leads users to a list of all the sources from which the information was derived.

In the example search for "what is schema markup" below, the copy is taken almost verbatim from pages the Merkle, ImpactPlus, Umbarco, Neil Patel and SEMRush websites.

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Clicking the grid icon in the top right corner expands the generated result, revealing the individual sources:

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Content from all these sites was stitched together to form the AI-generated snippet. This implies that Google's new AI search feature doesn't face as much of an issue with accuracy, given that it doesn't produce content in the same manner as chatbots like ChatGPT and Google Bard.

What about Paid Search Ads?

Google will continue to display search ads as part of this new search experience. Ads will be a native part of the new Google Search. All ads will appear in dedicated ad positions and slots and will carry the "sponsored" ad label.

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While SGE is still in the experimental phase, the positioning of ads has yet to be determined. However, a number of test queries showed results with the sponsored ad label showing up above the SGE results. Changes to where these ads are positioned may have an impact on CTR across both paid and organic results.

Impact on SEO

While Google Search has always been primarily a tool that aggregates links and directs users to resources, SGE means Google itself is becoming both an aggregator and a resource. In other words, Google is making it so that users can complete their search intentions without ever clicking through to any website on the result pages.

Allied has been at the forefront of working with brands to ensure their websites are fully optimized, future-proofed and ahead of the curve when it comes to evolving tech. SEO is even more critical now due to SGE. Through schema markup, content syntax, and more, we work with our clients to optimize their sites for SGE, and with content teams to ensure their content is easily understandable by Google's AI and contains valuable information that can contribute to a broader topic.

Want to make sure your website is optimized for this next evolution in search and SEO? We can help!

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