Google Search Generative Experience

Google’s new Search Generative Experience (SGE) is poised to change how we perform searches online. But what does it mean for businesses and their websites? Discover what SGE is, how it functions, and its potential impact on your website traffic.

What is Google SGE?

Google SGE is an evolution of Google’s traditional search experience that uses AI to enhance search results and the user experience. For user searches that prompt SGE, an AI-powered section appears at the top of the search results page (SERP) to summarize the results and offer additional steps for the searcher such as asking follow-up questions. SGE also allows searchers to ask more detailed questions than traditional search could adequately handle, such as asking for comparisons or proactively filtering results.

When is SGE Rolling Out to Searches?

In March 2024, Google began incorporating SGE for a small subset of searches and only for a small amount of US traffic. Google is expected to gradually increase the scale of SGE’s rollout based on user experience and feedback. No official timeline has been shared yet for its “full release” though many experts speculate an announcement may be made at Google’s next I/O event on May 14, 2024.

SGE’s Impact on Website Traffic

As with any of the larger search updates in recent years, some have begun spreading concern that SGE will be the end of website traffic from search engines and the death of SEO/SEM. With the amount of content and ad revenue that Google depends on, this simply wouldn’t make sense.

Regarding SGE’s impact on search advertising, search ads accounted for a whopping 57% of Google’s revenue in 2023. This intrinsically motivates Google to maintain prominent ad placement on SERPs featuring SGE. While it’s unclear yet exactly how text ads will be formatted on these pages, advertisers should expect comparable visibility and traffic.

The more probable impact will be on website traffic from organic search. Similar changes to search have historically reduced traffic for some websites by these features occupying prime SERP placements and increasing “zero-click” searches (in which searchers can receive answers directly on the SERP without visiting a page link.)

SGE’s impact will mostly be felt on websites that produce simple “quick answer” content – not local businesses or websites that feature content of more depth. Searchers seeking more detailed information and Google’s dependence on websites’ display ad inventory will discourage Google from completely upending traditional search results with SGE.

Next Steps

As Google continues to roll out SGE to more searches, businesses should stay aware of their respective search landscapes. Continued monitoring for trends in organic search traffic and search ad performance will be key if SGE does have adverse impacts on website traffic and conversions.

Businesses would also be smart to continue diversifying the channels from which they derive traffic. Regardless of SGE’s impact, websites that wholly rely on one medium for their visitors put themselves in dangerous territory. Businesses should strive to create social content that engages followers to interact with their website, foster industry relationships that result in referral links, and build brand awareness that drives direct traffic.

As with Google’s other search advances, businesses may actually benefit from SGE by earning features in its provided responses. References in similar offerings such as featured snippets released in 2014, have offered businesses heightened brand visibility and website traffic for searchers seeking additional information. To improve your site’s chances of being highlighted in SERP features, maintain SEO best practices including optimizing webpages’ structured data.

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Taylor Brown

Taylor is the owner & digital strategist of Go-To Man Marketing. With a passion for digital marketing and analytics, he's helped clients to grow their businesses for more than a decade.

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