How Will SGE Affect SEO?

Google’s Search Generative Experience, or SGE, is the next step in the evolution of the search engine. According to some insiders, the project will have a negative impact on standard SEO practices, reducing organic visibility, which, in turn, will damage traffic and conversions.

Little wonder the tentative announcements have businesses and SEO agencies spooked. But you shouldn’t be too alarmed. Google has a terrible record of finishing projects – SGE wouldn’t be the first project that ends up completely abandoned. But, even if the new service goes ahead, there are plenty of ways to adapt and prepare.

Understanding SGE and SEO

Let’s start with the basics – search engine optimisation (SEO) is the bread and butter of getting content found online. Google uses a secret formula involving hundreds of ranking factors to determine which content should appear and how it should be ranked for a particular search term.

SEO experts try to learn what these factors are to boost the ranking of a webpage on a search engine results page (SERP). Usually, this involves some combination of keywords, backlinks, on-page content, and more. It’s become something of an art in recent years.

So, how does SGE differ? 

Simply put, it involves a new section in the SERP called the SGE Result. Devised by a generative AI, this result provides a synthesised answer or result based on the most authoritative web sources. This SGE section will appear above the Paid Ad Results and SERP Features – and far above the organic results.

Exploring the impact of SGE on organic traffic – our thoughts

Pushing organic search results further down the SERP isn’t the best news for businesses trying to get ranked. Aside from the questionable legality of using the available content to compile a more succinct answer, the effect of SGE on traffic and clicks could be immense.

The primary effect on organic results is two-fold:

  1. It reduces how far people scroll down the page. The more content that exists above your webpage, the less chance people will see it.
  2. It eliminates the need for people to scroll entirely. If a person’s query is answered immediately at the top of the page (potentially using the information you provided), then people will never scroll down and click through to your website.

The obvious result is that organic results will see fewer impressions, clicks, and traffic. But this raises an interesting problem – why would businesses continue to produce content only to get outranked by SGE results? And if businesses don’t produce content, what will the AI use to create its answers? Talk about a chicken and the egg conundrum.

On the other hand, paid results already appear above organic results and generate less traffic. According to First Page Sage, the top ad position has a CTR of 2.1% compared to the first organic position. Maybe searchers will simply scroll past the SGE Result – although this seems unlikely.

Having worked with the team on a UK website build, maintenance and reporting, as well as regular mangement of Google Adwords, and an international SEO project for a global website, I couldn’t recommend enough. I’d recommend over many of the larger agencies I’ve used over the years.

Gerry Johnstone, Service Express

How does Google SGE influence search engine rankings?

It’s difficult to make predictions as the results will depend on how SGE looks during its launch. Previous additions to the SERP, such as Knowledge Cards, led to an uptick in zero-click searches and other risks to organic traffic. 

That’s a big risk going forward. Informational searches, for example, will lead to a paragraph or two written by Google’s AI providing the answer. So, if you asked it how to make cold brew coffee, rather than clicking on the best link, you’d get a recipe at the top of the page. Of course, whichever companies are cited as a source may actually see more traffic. 

For SEO practitioners and content creators, this raises a critical question: How can you ensure that your content is used as a source by SGE?

Another result is that content for commercial intent becomes even more critical. Why? Well, as informational queries become dominated by synthesised answers, the battle for visibility shifts towards searches with commercial intent. Such content must not only be SEO-friendly but also persuasive and user-centric, designed to engage users and encourage them to choose your business over a competitor’s.

Preparing for the SGE Era

Get ready for SGE’s rethink of SEO with these steps:

  1. Measure. Measure. Measure. Implement robust analytics to understand how changes in search are affecting your site’s traffic. Regularly analyse your SEO performance metrics to identify trends, track SERP positions, and monitor user engagement. Creating a data-driven approach will allow you to rapidly adapt your strategies in response to SGE’s impact. 
  2. Review Search Ads for Intent. Analyse your and your competitors’ search ads to identify the user intent. Matching your ads with search intent will maximise their effectiveness and boost the likelihood your content will feature in the SGE result.
  3. Focus on Bottom of the Funnel Content. With SGE potentially dominating the top of the funnel by answering informational queries, emphasise content that targets users closer to the point of purchase. Create detailed product reviews, case studies, and other content that address specific user needs and decision-making criteria.
  4. Check Content Readability. Early research into generative search results found that easier-to-read content usually ranks better. Create clear, well-structured, and authoritative content to ensure you get sourced in the SGE. That means using headings, bullet points, and concise language. 

Go Multimedia. Images, video, and audio can also appear in the SGE results. Not only do they make your content more authoritative, but they’re also a major incentive for users to visit your site.

Final Thoughts

So, how will SGE affect SEO? It’s going to bring changes to impressions, clicks, and traffic – particularly more informational searches. Predicting the long-term consequences is difficult. However, we can say that companies are likely to shift to a stronger bottom-of-the-funnel strategy and will compete heavily to be an authoritative source.

Don’t enter this new era alone. Let our team of experts guide you through the pitfalls, building a robust SEO (and SGE) strategy that will futureproof your marketing efforts. Book a free consultation today to learn more.

Speak with our team by booking a free consultation.

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Jodie Darnell
Account Executive

I have a passion for small businesses. I believe every business has the potential to succeed online, and I’m dedicated to helping owners and startups leverage digital marketing to grow their businesses.

Specialises in: Social Media, PPC and Content

Jodie Darnell
Account Executive

I have a passion for small businesses. I believe every business has the potential to succeed online, and I’m dedicated to helping owners and startups leverage digital marketing to grow their businesses.

Specialises in: Social Media, PPC and Content

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