What Google’s Search Generative Experience could mean for the future of SEO

A person mostly obscured by darkness points to a glowing search bar hovering above a tablet.Since OpenAI introduced ChatGPT in November 2022, generative artificial intelligence has become a hot commodity, with all kinds of companies racing to incorporate it into their products and services. Subsequently, it’s no surprise that the tech giant Google is looking to leverage the power of AI to revolutionize how we search. Last month, Search Engine Land reported that Google was crafting an “all-new search engine” featuring AI as part of Project Magi. This month, Google confirmed that drastic changes are in store by announcing plans to incorporate generative AI into the search engine experience.

In a May 10 blog entry on the Keyword titled, “Supercharging Search with generative AI,” Google Vice President and General Manager of Search Elizabeth Reid wrote that the company was once again revamping the inner workings of their search engine.

“With this powerful new technology, we can unlock entirely new types of questions you never thought Search could answer, and transform the way information is organized, to help you sort through and make sense of what’s out there,” Reid wrote.

The new search will feature an “AI-powered snapshot,” offering an answer to your query at the top of the page. To the right of that snapshot, you’ll find links to sources. It’s similar to the featured snippets we’re already accustomed to seeing in search results, except the snippet is AI-generated instead of pulled directly from a web page.

Beneath the snapshot, you’ll find suggested follow-up questions and next steps. Clicking on these will offer a new conversational search engine results page (SERP), and the engine will remember the context as you continue your journey from query to query.

While Google’s utilization of generative AI is currently only available if you sign up for the Search Generative Experience (SGE) experiment in Search Labs, it’s only a matter of time before the new technology has its public debut and dramatically changes search as we know it. If you’re a marketer and/or business leader, you’re probably wondering what the updated Google experience means for you and your efforts to reach prospective clients.

Keep in mind that there’s no way to say for sure what the future of Google will look like. The Search Generative Experience is still experimental. As Search Engine Journal notes, “We don’t know what Google will eventually launch in the future, but this is the direction Google is thinking about now.”

However, while the AI and search landscapes change rapidly and nothing is set in stone, industry experts have still offered the following predictions and insights into how generative AI is changing SEO and what the SGE could mean for marketers and content writers.

1. High-quality content creation will matter more than ever.

Google’s AI will likely prioritize thorough and authoritative content that can be transformed into accurate and detailed snapshots, Thomas Smith, CEO of Gado Images and editor for The Generator, predicts in a Medium article titled “What Google’s Generative AI Announcement Means for SEO.” If your site caters to E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness), you’ll increase your odds of showing up at the top of the page as one of the sources for the AI-crafted summary.

2. The emphasis on AI-generated responses could lead to less organic traffic to links on the first page/scroll.

On a smartphone, the AI-constructed snapshot will dominate the screen, according to the WordStream article “Google Search Generative Experience (SGE): What AI on the SERP Means for You.” Even if you’re in the No. 1 spot in the linked results listed below, that could mean a loss of visibility when people search on mobile devices.

3. Targeting conversational long-tail keywords will likely help your content appear in Google’s responses.

Regarding the keywords you choose to target, you might need to adjust with a more conversational style in mind. SearchLab Director of Paid Media Mark Irvine told WordStream that it would make sense to focus on phrase and broad match keywords to show up at the top of the new Google search experience.

4. Sites focused on specific topics might fare better.

Because Google wants to synthesize detailed information to help searchers on a journey where context carries over to follow-up questions, authoritative sites that provide comprehensive information on many aspects of a single topic will appeal to the search engine more than those that skim the surface of various subjects, according to Smith.

5. Informational content could take a harder hit in terms of traffic than material that targets navigational and transactional keywords.

In a comment on a LinkedIn post about Google’s SGE, Shopify Chief Growth Officer Luc Levesque predicted that people posing informational queries will get their answers directly from the SERP, meaning a drop in organic traffic for the sites linked on the page. Graphite CEO Ethan Smith, the author of the original LinkedIn post, replied in agreement but added that this drop-off probably won’t be as severe for “informational queries that are complex, high stakes, and benefit from personal experience.”

Ultimately, only time will tell how generative AI and Google’s SGE will affect SEO. If you’d like to learn more about how to improve your SEO strategy and offer better customer experiences online and beyond, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. We have experience assisting businesses across various industries with search engine marketing and optimization.

Connect with us today by calling 877-599-3999 or emailing sales@stratospherenetworks.com.

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