How Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) Will Affect SEO

SEO is an ever-changing landscape, especially with rapid advancements like artificial intelligence and now with Google’s Search Generative Experience adding new layers of complexity.

Recently, a report by Insight Partners made a rather alarming prediction: Organic search traffic will decline a lot due to Google’s new experiment they call “Search Generative Experience” (SGE).

But is it time to hit the panic button? Let’s dissect the situation and what it really means for businesses and digital marketing professionals.

Yaniv Masjedi
CMO, Nextiva

Their expertise has helped Nextiva grow its brand and overall business

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What the Heck Is Search Generative Experience?

Search Generative Experience (SGE) is a new way to search the web using generative AI. Generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence that can create new content, such as text, images and code. SGE uses generative AI to provide more comprehensive and informative answers to your search queries.

For example, if you search for “how to make a paper airplane,” SGE will not only provide you with a list of links to websites with instructions, but it will also generate a step-by-step guide with images and videos. Or, if you search for “what is the meaning of life,” SGE will provide you with a variety of different perspectives on this question from philosophers, theologians and scientists.

Here are just a few of the ways SGE is intended to help search engine users:

  • Understand complex topics quickly: SGE can generate summaries of complex topics, such as scientific papers or historical events, in a way that is easy to understand. This can save you a lot of time and effort, especially if you are new to a topic.
  • Compare and contrast different options: SGE can help you compare and contrast different products, services or ideas. This can be helpful when making decisions, such as which car to buy or which university to attend.
  • Get creative: SGE can help you generate creative ideas, such as recipes, blog post topics or even code snippets. This can be helpful if you are looking for inspiration or if you need to get started on a project.
  • Add to Sheets function: This feature allows you to “insert a search result directly into a spreadsheet and share with friends. It’s your perfect research companion for planning a trip and adding info to your itinerary, or keeping track of other information you’ve found on Search.”:

SGE add to sheets feature

SGE is still under development, but it has the potential to revolutionize the way we search the web. By making it easier to understand and learn from information, SGE is meant to help streamline the search process and help users get the answers to their questions faster.

Here’s an example of how SGE might look in the SERPs:

how SGE might look in the SERPs

SEO’s Future: A Decline in Traffic?

According to Insight Partners’ analysis, the SERPs are increasingly dominated by Google-owned properties and paid ads, pushing organic results further down the page.

They predict that SGE will impact the amount of traffic being funneled to websites.

They foresee that organic search traffic will decline by 15-25% due to Google’s evolving algorithm and the introduction of this “new experiment,” Search Generative Experience:

Google SERP with search generative experience

But how accurate is this projection?

Here’s an interesting stat: Insight Partners’ study found that only 57% of links cited by SGE are from the first page of organic search results. Furthermore, they note that the evolution towards a zero-click SERP could mean less overall traffic reaching your web page.

Danny Sullivan’s Counter Argument

While Insight Partners may paint a somewhat gloomy picture, it’s worth considering other perspectives.

Danny Sullivan, the public liaison for search at Google, once pointed out that Google has driven more traffic to websites each year since its inception — even considering all the changes to its algorithms. The essence of this argument is that although Google is capturing a larger share of clicks for itself, its sheer growth and popularity mean that there’s still plenty of organic traffic to go around.

So what’s the X-factor many people are missing?

Google’s changes are designed to improve user experience.

For instance, when you type in “Los Angeles weather,” Google directly shows the weather data instead of directing you to a weather website. Although this reduces the number of clicks going to websites, it increases user satisfaction, driving more search queries and, consequently, traffic over time.

Screenshot of today's weather from Google

Search Generative Experience is considered to be the next frontier in search experience, especially with Google increasingly using AI in its algorithms.

As a step towards adapting to this new landscape, Insight Partners recommends signing up for Google Search Labs and engaging with SGE to understand how it impacts search behavior and results. Not doing anything about this could put you at a disadvantage, especially since Google plans to roll out SGE in limited circumstances for additional data collection and product tweaking.

The Real Takeaway: Diversification Is Key

So, is SEO dead or dying?

Far from it. Yes, it’s getting more complex and competitive, but that’s true for many digital marketing channels. Insight Partners’ report shouldn’t serve as a prophecy of doom, but as a call to diversify your digital marketing strategies.

You should not solely rely on SEO for traffic and leads. Think about where your audience spends their time online and optimize for those channels, whether it’s social media, email or other content platforms.

And what about SGE? While it’s crucial to understand and adapt to this emerging technology, it’s also important not to lose sight of the fundamentals of good SEO and content marketing: providing value to your audience.

Search Generative Experience or not, value will always be a currency that attracts and retains audiences.

Last Word on Google’s Search Generative Experience

At the end of the day, Google’s objective aligns with ours — providing the best possible answer to a user’s query. Even as they strive to improve their algorithm and user experience, they’re not about to marginalize the content creators who make their service valuable. After all, Google needs high-quality content to retain its user base and, by extension, its advertising business.

So, is the sky falling? Probably not. But the ground is definitely shifting, and adapting to those shifts is what will set you apart in the SEO landscape.

If you’re ready to boost your online visibility and drive business growth, Single Grain’s SEO experts can help!👇

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