Artificial intelligence is changing how many different industries operate, especially digital marketing. One of the most recent of these changes is Google’s AI-powered search engine, called Search Generative Experience (SGE). This technology is still in development, and now is a great time for businesses, marketers and users in general to learn what you need to know about Google Search Generative Experience (SGE).
What is Google Search Generative Experience?
Google Search Generative Experience (SGE) is an AI-assisted search engine. It uses generative AI models, such as the GPT architecture, to create dynamic, interactive, and information-rich search results. This technology generates results that are significantly different from the traditional list of search results, or even the search snippets Google currently provides. SGE quickly reads through relevant search results and uses AI to summarize the information in a way that is most useful to the user. Users can then ask follow-up questions, review relevant images or statistics, and take a closer look at any webpages provided.
SGE was publicly announced in May, 2023, and it’s still in development, but users can experiment with it now. These results are still being refined, but this program is showing a promising capacity to answer more complex questions with more accuracy. These results are similar to snippets, which are designed to answer a direct query, like “what is the capital of Thailand?” However, SGE results provide more nuanced answers to more complex questions, like “what do I need to do before traveling to Thailand?”
Google Search Generative Experience is designed to answer users’ queries more efficiently, allowing them to get answers without having to click around through several different pages. The AI system reads through the pages the user would have been likely to read through, and summarizes the data succinctly. Though this means users are likely to save time, it also means the pages users would have visited themselves probably won’t see this traffic. We’ll discuss these implications and what marketers need to know about SGE later in the post.
Google Search Generative Experience vs. Google Bard
You may have also heard about Google Bard, Google’s AI-powered assistant. While Google Bard and Google Search Generative Experience both integrate AI capabilities, these are not the same.
SGE is integrated directly into Google’s search engine. As of this writing, users can elect to turn the feature on or off. By contrast, Google Bard is a separate tool, with its own URL. It delivers responses to questions or comments in a more conversational or story-telling format. It may provide some images or links to other sources, but generally focuses on text-based responses. On the other hand, SGE’s responses are derived from search engine results, and it uses additional links and other types of media to provide more information.
Things You Need to Know About Google Search Generative Experience: As a User
Google SGE has the potential to reshape how we all use search engines (primarily Google). Also, Google is not alone in using AI to invigorate its search engine; Microsoft’s Bing now integrates with OpenAI’s GPT-4 program. Understanding the benefits that AI can offer search engines—and, in turn, users—can help to then understand the challenges that it presents to SEO experts, web writers, and marketers. We’ll discuss these challenges in more detail later in the post.
1. Natural Language Usage
One of the most notable ways in which Google Search Generative Experience enhances user search is through natural language interaction. Traditionally, search engines work best with queries using specific keywords and phrases, which doesn’t always represent how users naturally think or communicate. This can lead to frustration and inaccurate results. With the Generative Experience, users can use the search engine in a more conversational manner, asking questions in their own words. The AI models behind the technology can comprehend the nuances of these queries, allowing users to receive relevant and precise results using queries in their own words.
2. Answers with Context
Google Search Generative Experience also has the ability to provide contextually relevant responses. Traditional search results often present a list of static links, requiring users to click through multiple sources to gather the information they’re looking for. SGE, however, generates dynamic responses that incorporate relevant details and contextual information. This means users can obtain comprehensive answers directly within the search results, eliminating the need to navigate multiple pages. Whether it’s seeking information about a complex topic, troubleshooting an issue, or researching a product, users will be able to find tailored answers without diving into a collection of individual pages.
3. Simplifying Complex Questions
Many user queries involve complex answers with multiple layers of information. Google Search Generative Experience simplifies these layers of information, and organizes them in a way that is easier to understand. This feature is particularly beneficial when users are seeking explanations for intricate concepts, exploring in-depth analysis, or comprehending technical subjects. By transforming complex information into accessible language, SGE can help users grasp challenging topics without feeling overwhelmed.
4. Interactive Exploration
Currently, search results often require users to click on multiple links to gather different facets of information, and make new queries and dive into new information as new issues arise. With the Generative Experience users can ask follow-up questions or delve deeper into related subjects in a more conversational manner. This interactive approach empowers users to explore information in a more intuitive way. Whether users are researching a travel destination, understanding a historical event, or planning a project, they can uncover layers of information without the need for extensive clicking and backtracking.
What You Need to Know About Google Search Generative Experience: As a Marketer
Some of the benefits that SGE provides to users also present challenges to marketers and businesses. Organic search traffic—that is, the measurement of users who arrive at your site by making a search and clicking on a link which is not an advertisement—is a critical part of a successful online marketing strategy. If the Generative Experience answers a user’s query without the need to click on results, this can have negative effects on traffic, and digital marketing strategies overall. Continuing with our list, here are a few of the things you need to know about Google Search Generative Experience as a marketer.
5. Optimal Content Will Be Conversational
Traditional search engine optimization (SEO) often involves tailoring content to fit specific search result formats, such as featured snippets. However, with SGE, the format of search results is less predictable. This unpredictability can pose a challenge for marketers and SEO experts who are accustomed to optimizing for static snippets.
Since SGE is oriented towards a more conversational interaction, online content with a conversational tone is likely to be successful. Content that integrates long-tail keywords, question-based headings, and colloquial language is likely to perform better with AI-assisted search engines.
6. Falling Click-Through Rates
SGE’s ability to provide direct and detailed answers within the search results could lead to reduced click-through rates. Users may find all the information they need directly on the search page, so there’s no need to click on the source website. For marketers, this means a potential decline in organic traffic and may require a shift in the way user engagement is measured.
Adapting to this change might require reevaluating content strategies and how they’re measured. High organic traffic has been one good measure of a web page’s or website’s overall health, but this may change as users change the way they navigate search results. Instead, metrics that measure more engagement, such as interaction rates, page dwell time, or lead magnet downloads, may provide better insights. Furthermore, it may be helpful to explore other ways to share content, such as through social media.
7. Misrepresentations and Inaccuracies
It’s become fairly well-known that AI models have a tendency to simply make up facts or misrepresent important information. AI-assisted search engines like SGE may also show this tendency. The search engine may misunderstand some information and misrepresent it in the summary it provides, or it may simply provide incorrect information to some queries.
This problem has been difficult for AI experts to fight, and there’s little that businesses, writers, or marketers can do. Properly researching information and citing sources is one way to fight misinformation, and show readers that they can rely on your business and your content. Taking a strong stance and clearly stating your values as a business can also help to fight misrepresentations on a brand level.
8. Providing Value is Critical
Since the Generative Experience works to answer users’ queries comprehensively, without the need to explore multiple pages, it’s important for websites to provide relevant information that they can’t get from SGE by itself. This means online content will be valuable when it provides in-depth information from experts.
Long-form articles, guides, and FAQs that delve into the intricacies of a topic not only provide value to users but also increase the chances of being featured prominently in SGE-generated search results. This type of content will also engage users that show more than a cursory interest. Users that are looking for a single answer to a single question are probably unlikely to become leads anyway, but users who are more invested in the topic are more likely to dig deeper, past the SGE response, and download content or contact someone at your site.
9. Stay Up-to-Date
The digital landscape is ever-evolving, and SGE is no exception. Marketers and SEO experts should continually monitor how their content performs in SGE-generated search results. This involves analyzing engagement metrics like interaction rates, time spent on result pages, and user feedback. Based on these insights, adapting content strategies to align with the preferences of SGE users can lead to ongoing success.
The technology behind search engines, websites, and the internet in general is changing fast. Keeping up with these trends and adjusting your online marketing strategy accordingly will help you stay ahead of the competition, and allow you to move fast.