Google Search Generative AI and the Future of SEO

Google Search Generative AI and the Future of SEO

Announced at Google I/O on May 10, 2023, Google Search Generative AI (SGE)is the future of Google’s search experience. Google is currently testing generative AI to provide improved contextual information with Google searches.

After introducing their chatbot and competitor to Chat GPT, Bard, in March this year, it’s clear Google continues to feel the pressure of taking AI experiences to the next level. In addition to SGE, Google announced at I/O that they have removed the waitlist for Bard and are planning to launch extensions for the tool that integrate their own apps and third-party tools soon.

Why Bring AI to Search?

So, with all those changes to Bard, why introduce Search Generative Experience? SGE presents a lot more like Bing Chat with an in-search results experience that allows you to dig deeper for additional information with ease. It’s no surprise that Google is pushing to launch an in-search AI feature after Bing gained market share following the launch of Bing Chat.

Plus, SGE will bring AI to the forefront of search, rather than saving it for those who deliberately seek it out. Google’s goal with SGE is to “take more of the work out of searching, so you’ll be able to understand a topic faster, uncover new viewpoints and insights, and get things done more easily.” Want to check it out? The waitlist for SGE is now open, and the video below shows more snapshots of what it will look like:



Shifting SERPs & User Behavior with SGE

Bard originally stood out from Bing Chat as it didn’t cite sources, but just gathered information from across the web. SGE on the other hand, was designed with search in mind. SGE features links to publisher’s sites within the answer and additional relevant sources through their “toggle deeper” feature. SGE isn’t replacing search altogether, upon scrolling you’ll find that search results are still available.

New search generative AI (SGE) on Google

The Continued Rise of the Zero-Click Search?

Because SGE has just been introduced, we don’t know exactly how it will impact user behavior, but it is safe to assume that the click-through rate of that first search result won’t be as high as it once was. Now, with what is essentially going to act as a large, interactive featured snippet, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if zero-click searches continue to rise. At least, what we tend to think of as a zero-click search. Users may use the toggle deeper feature or continue the conversation with Generative AI to find the information they’re looking for, rather than selecting an organic result.

What About Ads?

With SGE doing the “heavy lifting” for the searcher, some industries may see more of an impact than others. But there’s one thing we can promise: Google Ads aren’t going anywhere. After all, ads drove 80.2% of Google’s revenue in 2022. Google has confirmed that with SGE, search ads will continue to appear in dedicated ad slots throughout the page.

Local Search Results from SGE

In the local search space, users aren’t looking for facts. They’re looking for businesses that can be trusted to provide a service. For local and commercial queries, SGE delivers comparative results that take the idea of a local pack to the next level. Google shared a preview of what these results could look like with SGE, and notable features include images, reviews, and context beyond the justifications currently offered in the local pack.

local search results from Google's search generative AI

Reviews Offer Essential Context for SGE

Now more than ever, reviews are essential for local businesses. SGE will put businesses head-to-head and can make more tailored recommendations based on the query, so context from reviews can play an even larger role in influencing results. They’ll provide Google with the themes, services, and anecdotes that just optimizing your Google Business Profile can’t quite capture on its own.

How Does SGE Change SEO Strategies?

Content and Context Matter

Regardless of how the results appear, Google continues its focus on quality content. In late 2022, Google updated its Quality Rater Guidelines to include experience. E-E-A-T, or experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, will still be at the forefront of quality content in the post-SGE search landscape.

Google sees trust as the center of it all as that is what determines if the page is “accurate, honest, safe, and reliable.” We know for a fact that trust will continue to be a focus with SGE, as Google placed a large focus on applying AI responsibly in their SGE documentation.

At Blue Corona, in addition to quality content and E-E-A-T, we believe using natural language is at the heart of creating search-friendly content. Google’s large language model MUM established an increased focus on context and natural language in content back in 2021. The in-search generative AI will build on MUM and at least partially rely on context and natural language to help make connections and deliver results.

Inform Search Engines with Structured Data

Blue Corona adds structured data, or schema markup, to our clients’ sites to provide search engines with additional context and information for their knowledge bases. As SGE emerges, it is possible that structured data will only grow in importance to search. That additional organized information could be useful to AI and as a result, even potentially increase the likelihood of appearing in SGE results.

Measuring SEO Results with SGE

Without SGE being the norm across Google yet, we cannot speak to how it will impact user behavior. But it wouldn’t be out of the question to assume that results, and how we track those results, may change. It is not completely clear yet if we’ll be able to measure results appearing in SGE the way that we could with featured snippets.

Of course, how you measure SEO success is heavily dependent on the industry you’re in. SEO success may begin to look more and more at conversion rate optimization and lead volume rather than keyword rankings as queries grow more specific each day.

Looking for an SEO Partner You Can Trust?

Changes in the search landscape can be nothing shy of daunting. Choose an SEO partner that you can trust to stay ahead of the curve and deliver great results for your business. Contact Blue Corona to request a free consultation today.

Maggi Pier

Maggi Pier

Avid gardener, artist, writer, web designer, video creator, and Google my Business local marketing pro!